I'm doing some development on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4gb of ram. After about a week of using the default WM, lxde/openbox, I decided a really needed a tiling capability. So much better for development. I've always been a fan of DWM because it's fast and simple. However, in my brief experience with i3wm, I like what I believe to be a unique feature when it comes to containerizing desktops. For example, if I'm on desktop 1, and open firefox, then I move to desktop 2 and open two terminals before firefox finishes loading, I want firefox on desktop 1. Not on 2 cluttering up my terminals.

The problem is that i3wm is running stupid slow. It's driving me nuts. Does i3 have known performance issues compared to other tiling window managers? Is there a lighter alternative which still behaves as described above? Or is this some other type of issue? I haven't used i3 much but I'm pretty certain I used it about a decade ago without issue, on a desktop which at the time was probably significantly slower than a modern rpi.

1 Answer 1


If Super+Enter launches a terminal immediately, but starting firefox takes a log time, then the problem could be firefox instead of i3. It's not uncommon (actually it's expected) for GUI applications to take a few moments before they are visible.

I have the same situation:

  • I start firefox via i3's demu on workspace 1 (desktop 1). Then,
  • I switch to workspace 2 with Super+2, then
  • Firefox appears on my current workspace (workspace 2), not the workspace where I was when I started the application.

The solution is one of:

  • Be patient and wait for a GUI to appear on workspace 1 before changing to workspace 2, or
  • When the GUI appears on workspace 2, send it to workspace 1 with Super+Shift+1, or
  • If this is a constant layout you commonly use, consider layout saving to specify which workspaces each application starts on, or
  • Tell i3 to always move all new class "Firefox" windows to workspace 1 by adding this line to ~/.config/i3/config: assign [class="Firefox"] 1
  • The primary issue is STDIN lagging in the terminal. Extremely difficult to write code like that. Firefox takes maybe 5 or 6 seconds to load. Nothing crazy but I like to open a web browser and move to the next desktop and start working.
    – mreff555
    Feb 24, 2021 at 19:43
  • Ah, the original issue sounded like you had a problem that new windows appear on the current workspace instead of the workspace you started it in (which are only different if it there is time before an application initializes the window). If stdin is always lagging, then there is something very wrong with your configuration. With my i3 install, every window (terminals, firefox, etc) all respond to the keyboard without lag as you would expect on any system, so we can probably say that this is not a simple case of "i3 is slow".
    – Stewart
    Feb 24, 2021 at 19:53
  • My bad, I tend to rant. The reason for trying i3 was that feature. I just wasn’t happy with the performance. I guess I’ll try compiling natively and see if it makes a difference.
    – mreff555
    Feb 24, 2021 at 19:55

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