Tyler Menezes

Picture-in-Picture in i3

January 3, 2016

I’m a huge fan of speedrunning (I was actually close to a few world-records for Mirror’s Edge back in 2010) so I’m always really excited when AGDQ — a huge, semi-yearly speedrunning marathon for charity — rolls around.

Unfortunately, AGDQ is hosted on the first week of the new year, which is the first week many people are back from break, so a busy week of meetings for me. In order to be able to keep an eye on what’s going on during the week, I wanted a way to overlay the stream on my desktop.

Setting Up a Picture-in-Picture Window

Luckily, i3 added support for marking a window sticky” in 4.0.1, meaning we can create a quick keysym for our i3 conf file to get most of the effect we’re after: 1

bindsym $mod+c exec "i3-msg 'floating toggle; sticky toggle; resize shrink width 10000px; resize grow width 400px; resize shrink height 10000px; resize grow height 250px;move position 10px 10px;'"

Getting a Twitch Window

This is the easiest step! Livestreamer is a wonderful app which can load streams from livestreaming websites, and pass them onto a media player — we’ll use mpv for its minimal interface.

I’m also using livestreamer-twitch-gui to find the stream and send it over to Livestreamer. This is optional, but it’s nice enough that I haven’t found the need to load up the Twitch website in several weeks.

There’s no special configuration needed for any of these three packages, just install them as usual.

Making the Window Transparent

It’s already looking pretty good, but to avoid blocking the entire screen, I also wanted to make the window partially transparent. Transparency is only possible by installing a compositing manager alongside i3. I’m using Compton, which provides a somewhat-obscure configuration language for specifying opacity rules per-window.

We’ll ask Compton to make all stickied mpv windows 25% transparent (75% opaque) by adding the following to compton.conf:

opacity-rule = [                                                                                    
    "100:[email protected]:a !*?= '_NET_WM_STATE_STICKY' && class_g='mpv'",                            
    "70:[email protected]:a *?= '_NET_WM_STATE_STICKY' && class_g='mpv'"                               
];

(Note that we also need to reset the transparency back to 100 for non-stickied windows.)

With a quick restart of Compton, we’re done!

The final productThe final product


  1. i3 doesn’t support setting the size of a window, only growing and shrinking it. Since we don’t know the inital size, the provided snippet first makes it 0x0, then grows it to the desired size.