I’ve added or edited some settings in the configuration files, but nothing changed. What now?

If you make any changes in the menu.xml or rc.xml files, you will need to reconfigure Openbox before the changes take effect (see below on how to do that). Changes made through Obconf should appear instantly, but changes made to the menu through Obmenu will only take effect after you have saved those changes.

How do I reconfigure Openbox?

Right-click on the desktop to bring up the root menu and click on the entry ‘Reconfigure’. If you want to recreate that entry in the menu, you can do so with Obmenu by selecting ‘Reconfigure’ in the ‘Action’ list. Alternatively, you can reconfigure Openbox from the terminal with the following command: openbox –reconfigure

I made some changes to the configuration files and now xyz no longer works. Help!

Chances are you’ve made a syntax error in the rc.xml or menu.xml. If just a single < is missing or you accidentally deleted the closing tag of an entry everything that comes after it is read wrong. To fix this you just need to find the error in your configuration file. Luckily, Openbox 3.4.7 checks for errors every time it is run or reconfigured. If your menu.xml or rc.xml contain errors, a little dialog will appear telling you where the error is.

I want the root menu to have a/no header. How do I do that?

To add a menu header to the root menu, add the following to your menu.xml file, just below the line that contains <menu id=”root-menu”>: <separator label=”Openbox”/> Replace “Openbox” with whatever text you want to appear in the menu header. Note that this “header” is really a fancy separator, which means you can add this anywhere in your menu.xml file. If you want to give sub-menus a header, for example, you can add the above mentioned line at the beginning of the sub-menu with whatever label you find appropriate.

To remove the menu header from the root menu, remove that line from your menu.xml file.

Can Openbox show icons in the root menu?

No.

What is the dock, and how do I use it?

The dock is a place where you load dockapps, such as system trays, clocks, launchers, pagers, etc. There are quite a few dockapps around, so do an Internet search and you’ll find plenty of them (for example here). The behaviour of the dock (its position on the screen, autohiding, etc.) is controlled through Obconf or the rc.xml file. Note that unless you load dockapps, you won’t see the dock. To load dockapps when Openbox starts, just add them to your autostart file, like you would for any other application (e.g., ‘peksystray &’ or ‘obpager &’). If you would like to load your dockapps in a certain order, read this. Once the dockapps are loaded you can move them around with the middle mouse button.

How can I change the colour of the dock?

The colour of the dock is controlled by the theme you are using. The settings in the ‘osd’ section (osd.bg.color and so on) of the theme’s themerc file define the looks of the dock as well as the ‘on screen display’ dialogs like the desktop switcher or the alt-tab dialog. Change the colours to your liking, reconfigure Openbox, and the changes should be visible.

Why is the wallpaper I use in Gnome loaded when I start Openbox?

Gnome-settings-daemon, which manages the Gtk theme, icons and fonts in Gnome, also controls the wallpaper. The default autostart.sh file for Openbox (in /etc/xdg/openbox/) loads this daemon whenever Openbox starts. To change this, create your own autostart.sh file in ~/.config/openbox/ as mentioned in the Openbox guide on this site. If you want to keep using the gnome-settings-daemon, but don’t want it to set the wallpaper, you can disable this in gconf-editor under /apps/gnome_settings_daemon/plugins/background/ (untick ‘active’).

What applications go well with Openbox?

You can use early any application in Openbox, provided they do not depend on fundamental Gnome, Xfce or KDE elements (such as gnome-sessions, etc.). Many Openbox users prefer lightweight applications, but you since Openbox itself runs very light, applications that are heavier on resources run very well in Openbox. For suggestions of light-weight applications, have a look at this thread, this thread, and this post on the ubuntuforums.

I love command-line applications. How do I add them to the Openbox menu?

To add applications that are run on the command line in a terminal, use the following command: name of the terminal -e name of the application. For example, to run rtorrent in xfce4-terminal you would use this command: xfce4-terminal -e rtorrent. If you are also using gmrun, you can add the command-line application to the AlwaysInTerm list in the ~/.gmrunrc file to open it in the terminal of your choice.

Can I run KDE applications in Openbox?

Sure you can. Just add them to your root menu as you would with Gtk applications. You can add ‘kdeinit &’ to your autostart file to make the first KDE app load faster. If kdeinit is not automatically started, the first KDE app will start it, so you won’t speed up the loading of all other KDE apps.

I use Openbox as a stand-alone window manager, but also like Xfce/Gnome. How can I use a different Gtk theme in both sessions?

Both Gnome and Xfce read your ~/.gtkrc.2.0 and ~/.gtkrc.mine files, so if you specify the Gtk theme you want to use in Openbox in either of these files (either manually or through gtk-theme-switch or gtk-chtheme), that Gtk theme will also be applied in Gnome and Xfce. Gnome-settings-daemon and xfce-mcs-manager do not override these files (though this does not concern the icons, oddly enough). If you want to apply different themes in Openbox and Gnome/Xfce, you can use either gnome-settings-daemon (if you also use Xfce) or xfce-mcs-manager (if you also use Gnome) in Openbox to set the Gtk theme, icons and fonts. Obviously, this will not help you much if you like to use both Xfce and Gnome as well as Openbox. Also read this post on this blog.

The autostart file does not work! Please help. I’m using Openbox in Gnome/KDE/Xfce.

When you login to pure Openbox, openbox-session is run, which launches Openbox and runs everything in the autostart file. When Openbox is run inside a desktop environment, such as Gnome, KDE or Xfce, only Openbox is loaded (and not openbox-session). If you want to start applications automatically, you’ll have to use the session manager of the desktop environment you are using with Openbox.

Can I run Beryl, Compiz or Compiz-Fusion alongside Openbox?

No. Like Openbox, these are window managers and you can only have one window manager running. You can use xcompmgr for shadows and fading menus, xcompmgr and transset for true transparency, 3ddesk for a desktop cube and skippy for an scale/exposé-like effect. If you’d like your moving windows to create ripples on the desktop, have a look at xdesktopwaves.

3 Responses to “Openbox FAQ”

  1. […] A compositing-et igénylő dokkok, úgy mint Avant-window-navigator, Cairo dock, vagy Kooldock, is használhatóak Openbox-ban a xcompmgr segítségével (lásd lejjebb). (Mivel sok új felhasználó nincs megelégedve, hagy tisztázzuk: az Openbox dokkja (ami az Obconf-fal állítható) nem tartozik ezen dokkok közé. Ez egy hely, ahova a dokk alkalmazűsok kerülnek betöltésre, és ez minden. Több infóért lásd ezt.) […]

  2. […] Openbox FAQ | urukrama’s weblog – I’ve added or edited some settings in the configuration files, but nothing changed. What now? How do I reconfigure Openbox? I made some changes to the configuration …… […]

  3. […] Openbox On Ubuntu 13.04 & 13.10 by Rob, got my basic setup there – Openbox guide and Openbox FAQ from urukrama’s […]