Nautilus is opening the desktop, making the experience miserable under i3 when all you're trying to do is 'view files in directory'.
XFCE's Thunar is lightweight, and it doesn't try to create a desktop window.
To get apps such as Chrome to handle "open directory" commands using Thunar, teach
xdg-mime about it:
$ sudo apt-get install thunar $ xdg-mime query default inode/directory nautilus.desktop $ xdg-mime default Thunar.desktop inode/directory # yep, Thunar's desktop file is titlecased on Debian-derived systems $ xdg-mime query default inode/directory Thunar.desktop $ xdg-open . ...thunar opens...