This page describes how you can customise your PIE environment on your EPITA account to make it better and more beautiful and fancy. This is intended for the i3 environment only.

A foreword: Do not trust the PIE or the IONIS WiFi networks

The CRI has many ways to screw up your session. I would advise you to only use the computers at EPITA if you have no other choice or if you want to train on using the tools you will have at the exams. Other than that, I highly recommend not using them.

If you do want to use them, be aware that the CRI (most probably) has full access to which apps are running, which websites you visit, and probably more. Stay safe, use your own laptop as well as your own Internet connection through a hotspot on your phone if that is possible.

This is not an invitation to break the rules, just a notice to inform you of what the CRI can do.

Also, as a reminder, it is apparently forbidden to unplug the monitors and use them on your own PC. Dumb rules are dumb, but you have to follow them unfortunately.

Helpful commands

Run the following commands in your favorite terminal if you have some issues.

If your AFS does not work

Run aklog. If it still doesn’t work, try a restart. If it STILL does not work, blame the CRI.

i3 config file stuff

Using gedit is highly recommended, mostly because it’s a very simple and convenient text editor. And because I hate terminals. And I hate Linux.

Open the file ~/afs/.confs/config/i3/config. You may not see the .confs directory: if you are using thunar, press Ctrl+H to show hidden folders. In this folder, you will find a text file: config. This is the configuration file for i3, in which we’ll edit some things.

If the i3 config file does not exist

Launch i3-config-wizard and follow the instructions. Make sure you select the option to create a config file!

Background image

Adding a background image is fairly simple: you might have noticed that there is a default ugly EPITA background on your desktop. This background is actually applied in this config file. Look for a line which contains feh in it. This is the line that applies the background – it is actually a command that is ran when i3 starts (or restarts). Change this line to

exec --no-startup-id feh --bg-max ~/afs/somethingsomething.png

Replace somethingsomething.png by the name of your file (or its path if it is not at the root of your AFS). It can also be a JPG file, or any other type that feh supports. You can replace --bg-max by a few other options, such as:

  • --bg-center : centers the background on your screen, without scaling it
  • --bg-fill : zooms in the image, ensuring it fills the entire screen (without leaving any black border), while still preserving its aspect ration (the image will not look stretched).
  • --bg-center : zooms in the image, ensuring either its width or its height matches the screen’s size. There will be either vertical or horizontal borders. The aspect ration is preserved (the image will not look stretched)
  • --bg-scale : stretch the image so that it fits the screen. The aspect ration is NOT preserved (the image may look like crap)
  • --bg-tile : tiles the image. Repeats the image until it completely fills the screen, preserving its size and aspect ratio.

The --no-startup-id ensures that you do not end up with a “waiting” cursor if for some reason feh hangs.

i3lock shortcut and lock screen background

Go to the very end of the config file. Add the following line:

bindsym $mod+Shift+t exec i3lock -i ~/afs/somethingelse.png

Let’s break this down:

  • bindsym is the command in the i3 config file to define a shortcut
  • $mod+Shift+t means “Mod key and shift and T”. Our shortcut will be mapped to Mod+Shift+T. Mod is either the Alt or the Windows (Meta) key, depending on how you configured i3 at the very first startup. I chose this mostly because it is pretty easy to remember (the L
  • exec indicates that, when we use this shortcut, we want to execute a command
  • i3lock -i ~/afs/somethingelse.png is the command that will be launched when we use our shortcut.

You should know by now that i3lock is the command to use when you want to lock your PC. Here, we are just saying that we want to use a background image with i3lock. However, there are a few things you need to know about this:

  • Background support is terrible. It must be a PNG file.
  • It needs to be at exactly the right size if you want it to actually fit the screen. Said size is, at least for most of the monitors at EPITA, 1920x1200 or 1680x1050. Any other size is either cropped or has ugly borders (the image is always displayed starting from the top left corner).

Once you have done this, save the file, use Mod+Shift+R to reload i3, and try using Mod+Shift+T to lock your computer.

Remember to always lock your computer, even if you’re 3 meters away. No one knows when an ACDC may strike.

Using xfce4-terminal instead of that other crappy terminal

The default terminal is ugly as hell and far from being useful. You can easily replace the Mod+Enter shortcut to use xfce4-terminal instead. Inside the config file, look for a line that has $Mod+Return. Replace this line by:

bindsym $mod+Return exec xfce4-terminal

Use Mod+Shift+R to reload i3. Using Mod+Return should now open the XFCE4 terminal instead of the default one.