Swapping Plasma for i3

Having laboured with a new installation of Endeavouros using the default kde-plasma DE, I have finally depaired of ever succeeding in getting my mind round how plasma works. It may be my old braincells, used to the previous default xfce4, that are incapable of absorbing the deluge of system settings and the strange terminology their help pages use, but after trying for nearly a month to get it working as I want, I have decided to either go back to xfce4 or try the window-tiling DE i3 which I have installed on an old thinkpad and works super fast.

When I realised that I have been spending half my time looking for a simple, clear introduction to Plasma, I saw that it was pointless trying to emulate all the “ricing” whizzkids who seem to flash through the infinite customisations of the environment. Hence, my decision to throw in the towel and go back to something refreshingly simple and familiar.

My desktop installation of Plasma uses a separate drive mounted to my home to store the larger part of my personal data, so to avoid another reinstallation that would involve a lot of reconfiguration of my most used programs I would like to know if the procedures set out in the Discovery page are still applicable as they date from nearly 3 years ago.

The scripts I downloaded from the github page seem to simply install the needed packages from the Endeavouros-packages-lists but would I have to uninstall those packages used for Plasma beforehand?

I have located from my pacman database about 20 packages that seem specific to KDE-plasma. From what I have read it appears that installing i3 on top of KDE and simply switching to the tiler DE would be a workable starting point, especially as I got rid of sddm (too buggy) and now use lightdm to log in. My only doubt would be networkmanager which seems specific to Plasma, or is it a more sophisticated wrapper around networkmanager as the same package exists on my Plasma installation as with i3. Is it the package plasma-nm?

One further question about the install script used to set up the i3 scripts in the users ~/.config folder: should I make a backup of my present config folder as it seems to overwite the complete folder?

You just install it and it works! I don’t understand how you can spend a month messing with it. It is pointless trying to emulate all those "ricing: whizkids and it’s totally unnecessary. EndeavourOS Kde works fantastic out of the box. You can install additional packages that you want and make some changes to it to make it look the way you want. Installing i3 on top of Kde can be done but if you are having this much of an issue with Kde i don’t think you will find that this is going to make it any better. You can choose to do what you want but i wouldn’t recommend it.

This may be the same instructions but I think these ones are kept up-to-date. https://github.com/endeavouros-team/endeavouros-i3wm-setup

NetworkManager isn’t specific to plasma. All our installs use it.

While not wishing to be overly critical of the basic Plasma setup, I have found that it is confusing to the point of exasperation at times, as the documentation when looking for an explanation of the terms used is often short on details and in my experience not relevant to the answer I’m looking for.

I have yet to understand what the difference between a Task Switcher and a Skip Switcher is; the Activity Manager which pops out of the left side asks you to create a new one, but how? I had hoped to set up window tiling and read that Krohnkite used keyboard shortcuts like i3, which I had started to get used to on my Thinkpad, but after installation I found that half of them didn’t work and in the end uninstalled it to go back to the default list which did seem to work. However, in the System Settings Kwin still shows krohnkite and I don’t know how to get rid it.

While the majority of the KDE apps seem to work well and have useful features, I could not get Kmail to work reliably and Discover, which I’d read was a good tool to find new applications, refuses to work because of missing backends. And the default display manager, sddm, was prone to the problem of long shutdown waits which others have complained of. I also found that after logging out it would freeze my system and I had to force shutdown with the power switch. It was only when I switched to another display manager that the problem was solved.

This is beginning to sound like a bit of a rant, which I suppose it is, though I admit it is probably due to my old habits with xfce4 - a much simpler DE - but the plethora of possible customisations in the system settings of Plasma is somewhat overwhelming for this old dog. You can’t teach him new tricks, as they say :wink:

Task switcher is already set and works well for my use. Alt+Tab and Alt+Shit+Backtab is the reverse. Skip Switcher? I don’t know what you mean. Windows tiling also works but it’s not like i3 nor is it going to be. These are the default key bindings for Kronkite.

I don’t use Kmail nor do i use all things Kde. I use Thunderbird. Discover is not a tool that is installed on EndeavourOS Kde. We have tools built into welcome for that. Also you can use pamac if you like as a search tool but mainly it’s yay to install programs from the AUR. I have zero issues with sddm. My systems shut off instantly. I also use the magic sysrq key REISUB) if necessary. I’ve been running Kde on EndeavourOS for over 4 years. Do i know everything about all the customization settings that can be done on KDE Plasma? No but i’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. Everything works, if i make changes i try them out and if things don’t work the way i would like i don’t use that customization and i try something else. Not everything that’s an add on from the KDE store will always work. I only use what I know works. And yes you can teach an old dog new tricks. You just have to do it differently. :wink:

@agrandl … Endeavouros i3 good choice if it 1st WM you try … go for it !! i wish you all best on wm journey .

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Thanks @Shjim for the encouragement. I have finally decided to simplify matters for myself. Instead of having to learn another set of keybindings for Plasma, since I already use i3 on my Thinkpad, I took the plunge and followed the Arch wiki page on replacing Kwin and as @frizzfrizzlol did to install the Awesome WM I repeated the same steps following the installation of i3. The only extra step I needed was to switch to LightDM as it gave the cog icon to select i3 as my new window manager.

Now everything seems to be working well thanks to @joekamprad 's hard work on adapting i3 to EndeavourOS. All I need to do now is to bury myself in the i3 User’s Guide for a few days to set up the i3bar and the workspaces as I want. It will be interesting to see if I can get some of the KDE tools to work in i3.

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Thanks @dalto for that detail about NetworkManager. The i3 WM had no problem finding my previously configured settings, including all the VPN connections I’d set up - only had to fill in passwords again to get them going. And the i3wm-setup pages on the github site worked with no problem.

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Is your intention to keep KDE along with i3wm?

If not, you could have a look at the following post for how to replace one DE with another without leaving any trace behind.

Of course you would need to do some modifications and perhaps perform some extra steps in your case:

I can appreciate that your knowledge of Plasma is obviously much deeper than mine and maybe I should have persevered with trying out some of the myriad settings available in System Manager but I felt I was getting out of my depth and as there is no default reset (or at least I couldn’t find it) I was afraid of disturbing some Plasma’s basic functionality with no way of going back to zero. The Skip Switcher BTW is in the Kwin scripts and what it does I have no idea, but hiding windows from the Task Manager for example seemed somewhat risky as you have to know how to get them back. No doubt there is a way as @dalto pointed out in another post by just pushing the mouse into the top left corner you can display everything.

I may give Plasma another go sometime later once I’ve got i3 set up as I want so at least I can have something to go back to if I get lost again. Perhaps when Wayland becomes more mature and stable I may have to switch to Sway or Hyprland, so this old dog will probably have to learn new tricks in any case :wink:

Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to dissuade you from going to i3. I think it’s great for a WM. I just like the typical desktop and Plasma for me, i just like the way it works. It’s just very fast and fluid. I am looking forward to eventually seeing a Hyprland version here. I have tried it and I’m hoping to see a version that is configured like what has been done with the i3 version on endeavour. I think it would be a great addition. I wish you luck in getting your i3 set up the way you want it. I’m sure you’ll get there since as you say you are already using an i3 version. :smile:

FWIW, I’ll share my personal experience … having dallied with various DEs on a range of Linux distros, I have settled into a mode of highest efficiency, fastest performance, and greatest reliability using i3 (on EndeavourOS).

By going text-based wherever useful (e.g., file management & directory navigation, application selection & start, CLI/terminal use, etc.) it still lets me use a GUI app whenever that makes sense (OfficeLibre, browser, photo/media editing, etc.).

Being able to “tile” both text-based and GUI windows around the screen and across monitors is ideal - the very best of all worlds with great speed and minimal keystrokes.

There are times when I have to go look for my mouse because I haven’t picked it up for so long during a productive session.

i3 is awesome. :+1: