An Openbox Guide


1. Introduction

Welcome. This guide is meant to help you set up and configure the window manager Openbox on Ubuntu (though much of the information below will also be useful for users of other Linux distributions).

This guide is not meant to help you set up a minimal install of Ubuntu with Openbox, though it might be useful for anyone attempting to do that. I only cover how to set up, configure and use Openbox, and assume you already have Ubuntu up and running, either in a command line install, a normal Ubuntu install, or something in between. (If you need help with a minimal install of Ubuntu, have a look here and here)

You can use Openbox on its own, or as a window manager in Gnome, KDE or Xfce. This guide is meant for a stand-alone Openbox set-up. For help how to use Openbox in one of these desktop environments, have a look at the Openbox website. You can use both Gtk (Gnome) and Qt (KDE) applications in Openbox and I have tried to give both equal attention, though there are generally more solutions using Gtk apps than Qt apps.

Openbox is very minimalistic and does little more than manage the windows (but does that extremely well!). This often intimidates new users, who may find Openbox too spartan or simplistic. Rather than being a flaw, Openbox’ minimalism is actually its strength. It doesn’t come with panels or desktop configuration tools, but, as you will see, there are plenty of applications available that accomplish such tasks very well. You can pick and choose whatever you like best. By doing less, Openbox thus gives you more control, and the option to turn your desktop environment into something that is exactly what you like it to be (or at least close).

I mention a lot of applications in the following pages, and often mention some configuration options. I recommend reading the manual pages of whatever application you are interested in (open a terminal and type ‘man nameoftheapplication‘; press ‘q’ to exit) as you’ll find plenty more options to try out. The websites of the applications often give helpful guides as well. If an application has a website, I have linked to it. Many applications are much more configurable than they initially appear to be! Explore and settle on the configuration that suits you best.

I have tried to give guidelines for doing things both from the command line and a graphical interface (using file managers, text editors, etc.). Pick whatever method you prefer. In the end, they both accomplish the same thing.

For those who may find it useful, I have uploaded my own Openbox configuration files. You can access the rc.xml file here, and the menu.xml file here. There is nothing very special about them (other than that they work for me), but I have learned a lot and gathered many ideas from looking at the configuration files of other users; perhaps you will too.

If you’ve never used Openbox before and are wondering what it can look like, behold some of my screenshots here.

2. Sources

Most of the information presented here is drawn from other sources. I am particularly indebted to

Special thanks also to those that have helped me discover Openbox and offered assistance when problems arose: fuscia, K.Mandla, moore.bryan, bonzodog, ynnhoj, and raublekick (all from the Ubuntuforums), and the folks on the IRC #openbox channel. A lot of their instructions, guidelines and ideas are incorporated into this guide.

3. Installing Openbox

The latest version of Openbox (3.4.7) is not in the Ubuntu repositories. Though it is much easier to install the Openbox version that is in the repositories (3.4.6 in Hardy), the latest version has plenty of features that make it worth it to do it the (slightly) harder way.

Compiling from source is not as hard as it looks, though. First, you’ll need to make sure you have installed the proper dependencies that are needed to compile and run Openbox. To do so, open a terminal and enter the following command:

	sudo aptitude install build-essential pkg-config checkinstall
	sudo apt-get build-dep openbox

The first command will install some basic packages that you need to compile and install applications from source. I’ve added checkinstall, as it is a useful tool to install packages compiled from source in Ubuntu. Checkinstall creates a .deb package and installs that. This allows you to remove the application very easily using apt or Synaptic. If you prefer not to use it, leave it out and replace ‘sudo checkinstall‘ with ‘sudo make install‘ everywhere below.

The second command tells apt, the package manager of Ubuntu, to install all the dependencies that are needed to build Openbox.

Next, download the Openbox source code from the Openbox website, extract the archive and open a terminal in the newly extracted directory. To do all this from the command line, use the following commands:

	tar xzvf openbox-
	cd openbox-

Now you can build and install the package:

	./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc
	sudo checkinstall

All those commands will produce a lot of output in the terminal. You can ignore all of it, unless it reports an error in which case only the first error reported is important. What do these commands actually do? The first command checks whether you have all the required dependencies installed and builds a ‘make’ file suited to your system. The ‘make’ command builds the source code with the ‘make’ file (which may take a while, so be patient), and checkinstall installs that source code using your computer’s package management software (apt/dpkg in the case of Ubuntu).

On some computers that I have tried to install Openbox in this way, checkinstall would abort (‘chmod: changing permissions of `/usr/lib/libobparser.a’: No such file or directory was the reason given). If you run into this, you should be able to install it with sudo make install (instead of sudo checkinstall). If you’d still like a .deb package (to be able to remove Openbox through apt or Synaptic), you should be able to reinstall it with checkinstall after you’ve installed it with ‘make install’ without any difficulties.

If all goes well, Openbox is now installed. If you use GDM or KDM, you should be able to select Openbox in the sessions menu (F10 > Sessions). If you have KDE or Gnome installed, you should also see options to use Openbox as a window manager in either desktop environment (‘KDE/Openbox’ and ‘Gnome/Openbox’). Select Openbox, and login. Now you can start the configuration.

4. Configuring Openbox

4.1 Menus

The first time you log into Openbox, you’ll be greeted almost instantly with a blank screen. This is Openbox. Right click on the desktop and you will find your root-menu. Middle click on it and you will have the client-list–combined-menu, which shows all running applications on all desktops. The ‘Exit’ entry on the root-menu is to log out of Openbox (be aware that it doesn’t ask for a confirmation and will automatically kill all running applications); ‘Reconfigure’ reconfigures Openbox, which you will need to do to apply changes you made to your configuration files.

The default menu in Openbox is very bare and empty, but editing the menu is relatively easy, so don’t despair!

First of all, copy the default menu.xml file, found in /etc/xdg/openbox/, to the Openbox configuration folder in your home directory, /home/USERNAME/.config/openbox/ . This last directory is where all your configuration files for Openbox will be stored, so remember the location! You can copy the file using the file manager of your choice, or using the terminal by entering the following command:

	cp /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml

Now you can open the menu file (texteditorofyourchoice ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml in the terminal) and start editing it à volonté. Editing the root-menu is very simple and straightforward, and is done by editing this single file.

To make things even easier you can use Obmenu, a graphical application to edit the Openbox menu. Obmenu is in the Hardy and Gutsy-backports repositories. Use the following command to install it:

	sudo aptitude install obmenu

Unfortunately, Obmenu is not any other Ubuntu repository. If you are using a version older than Gutsy, you’ll have to build it from the source code. First install its dependencies:

	sudo aptitude install python2.5 python-glade2 python-gtk2

Now download the source code from the Obmenu website. Extract the package and move into newly extracted Obmenu directory with the terminal.

	tar xzvf ~/obmenu-1.0.tar.gz
	cd obmenu-1.0

Install the application with the following command:

	sudo python install

Once it is installed, you can start Obmenu with the command ‘obmenu’. Once it is loaded, you can edit your menu by clicking a few buttons and typing the entries of your choice. It couldn’t be easier! Here is what Obmenu looks like:

If you want to have all the applications installed on your computer to appear in your menu, you could use Menumaker. Download the source code, unpack the archive and move into the extracted directory with the terminal

	tar xzvf menumaker-0.99.7.tar.gz
	cd menumaker*

You can install Menumaker with the usual commands (./configure, make and sudo checkinstall), but you can also run it without installing with the following command:

	./mmaker OpenBox3

(If you installed menumaker, run it with the command mmaker OpenBox3). You should now have a full menu available. Note that Menumaker will not overwrite existing menu.xml files. If you have already changed your menu.xml file, you’ll need to back it up, remove it, and then add the changes to the new menu.xml file Menumaker created, or force Menumaker to overwrite any existing file with the -f flag (mmaker -f OpenBox3).

If you would like to use the Debian menu in Openbox, follow the instructions found here.

Be creative with the menus, and make your life easier! You can enter basically any command in the command part. If the application needs administrative privileges (such as Synaptic), add ‘gksudo’ before the application command and you will be asked to give your password before you can run the program. You can create submenus for wallpapers, using Feh (see below); add entries to change configuration files (TEXTEDITOR “/path/to/text/file”) or to open certain folders (FILEMANAGER “/directory/of/choice”); you can add entries to back up documents (cp -a /original/directories /destination/directory); etc. If you like entries to turn off applications, such as panels or conky, you can create a new entry with the following command: killall nameoftheapplication.

You can also use ‘pipe menus‘, menus that are automatically generated every time you select them. There are pipe menus available for Gnome’s ‘Places’, Gmail, rss feeds, mpd players, changing of themes, setting wallpapers, and much more. You can find several pipe menus and installation instructions here.

When you edit your menu.xml file manually make sure to ‘Reconfigure’ Openbox (in the root-menu) so the changes become visible. Obmenu should do so automatically when you ‘Save’ the menu you are working on. If your menu file contains broken xml code, Obmenu will not start. When you launch it in the terminal, you’ll get an error message that ends with a line like this: xml.parsers.expat.ExpatError: not well-formed (invalid token) followed by the line of the menu.xml file that contains the error. Luckily Openbox 3.4.7 warns you whenever it starts or reconfigures when your menu and configuration files contain errors.

You can also create custom menus, that can be launched separately from the root menu. For more info on this, see the Openbox documentation.

Note that, unlike Fluxbox or Icewm, Openbox does not support icons in the menus.

4.2 Obconf

Once Openbox is installed and your menus are set up to your liking, you can configure Openbox further. All of the Openbox’s configuration is done in the rc.xml file in /home/USERNAME/.config/openbox. You can edit this file manually, in your chosen text editor, but you can also use Obconf to change many of the settings in that file.

The latest version of Obconf is in the Hardy (and Gutsy-backports) repositories, but you won’t be able to use it, as it has been compiled for the older versions of Openbox. You will, in other words, have to build it yourself from source. Note that if you already you have Obconf installed you will also need to recompile it to be able to use it with the latest version of Openbox.

Download the source code, extract the files and move the terminal into extracted directory. To do so from the command line, type the following:

	tar xzvf obconf-2.0.3.tar.gz
	cd obconf-2.0.3

Compile Obconf as follows:

	PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig ./configure –prefix=/usr
	sudo checkinstall

Once Obconf is installed, run the following commands in the terminal to associate the .obt file type (used by Openbox theme files) with Obconf:

	update-mime-database /usr/share/mime
	update-desktop-database /usr/share/applications

You can then run Obconf with the command ‘obconf’. Here is what it looks like:

The many options in Obconf should be fairly straightforward. The dock of the rightmost tab is the place where you can load ‘dock apps’, such as system trays, launchers, pagers, clocks, etc. (more info about these below).

4.3 Keyboard bindings, mouse bindings, and application settings

Not all settings in the rc.xml file can (at present) be changed with Obconf. You’ll have to edit the rc.xml file for those.

Keyboard bindings

Openbox makes it very easy to assign particular key combinations (keyboard bindings) to particular commands (such as launching an application, showing a menu, or switching to a particular workspace). These bindings can be added or edited in the “keyboard” section of the rc.xml file. Here are some example settings:

1.For an application or command, using Thunar as an example:

    <keybind key="A-F4">
    <action name="Execute">

2. For a menu, using the root-menu as an example:

    <keybind key="A-F1">
    <action name="ShowMenu">

3. For switching to a particular workspace:

    <keybind key="A-1">
    <action name="Desktop">

A= Alt, C= Control, W= Windows key. Escape= escape key, Delete= delete key. If you want to use a particular key, but are unsure of its name, you can use xev to find out what it is called: type xev into a terminal and then press the key you want to use. A lot of information will appear; you need what comes after ‘keycode’.

To assign two (or more) commands to a single keybinding, you’ll have to use the following syntax:

    <keybind key="A-F4">
    <action name="execute">
    <action name="execute">
    <command>osdctl -s 'Thunar'</command>

This will launch the file manager Thunar and prompt osdsh to display the text “Thunar” on my screen.

For more information on keybindings, have a look at the Openbox documentation. If you’re insterested in my keybindings, have a look at this post.

Mouse bindings

The next section in the rc.xml file concerns the mouse. It governs the things that happen when you click, drag or press a particular mouse button in a particular area. For more information, have a look at the Openbox documentation. For some examples of what you can do with both keybindings and mousbindings, have a look here.


At the end of the file, you will find settings that affect the way applications are run. For example, if you want your terminal only to appear on workspace 2, or would like xclock to always hide its window decorations, or you want orage to skip the taskbar, or you would like to combine several of these actions for one application, you can set these settings here. Here is an example:

    <application name="xfce4-terminal">

Everytime you now run xfce4-terminal, it will open on workspace 3, maximized, without window decorations, but below all other applications.

If you want remove all window decorations, you can use the following settings:

    <application class="*">

For more info, read this

When you change your rc.xml file make sure to ‘Reconfigure’ Openbox (in the root-menu) so the changes take effect. The changes made through Obconf should appear immediately.

5. Themes

5.1 Openbox themes and fonts

Changing the theme for Openbox is very simple. Open Obconf, and select the theme of your choice. To install new themes, you can either use the option in Obconf to install an .obt archived theme, or just extract the theme archive to /home/USERNAME/.themes and then select the theme in Obconf (you’ll have to restart Obconf if it was running before you copied the theme files there). Alternatively, you can edit the rc.xml file manually to change the theme (search for “theme”).

Good places to find more Openbox themes are and There is also a package called openbox-themes in the Ubuntu repositories that contains a large number of Openbox themes.

You can easily create or modify your own Openbox themes. For more info on this, have a look at the theme options.

To change the font used by Openbox (in the window decorations, menus, and on-screen-display, you can use Obconf (under the second tab ‘Appearance’)

5.2 Gtk themes, fonts and icons in Openbox

When you start Openbox, you will notice that your Gtk applications use the default (‘ugly’) grey theme and icons and the default font. There are several ways in which you can change the Gtk themes in Openbox:

1. Use LXappearance, Gtk-theme-switch or Gtk-chtheme

LXappearance, Gtk-theme-switch and Gtk-chtheme are three small applications that enable you to change the Gtk themes and fonts. Of these three, LXappearance has the most options: it can set the Gtk themes, fonts and icons. Gtk-chtheme is a little more polished than Gtk-theme-switch, though Gtk-theme-switch allows you to change both Gtk-1.2 themes (using ‘switch’ as command) and Gtk-2.0 themes (using the command ‘switch2’). Both allow you to change the Gtk theme and font, but neither allows you to change the icon theme, for which you will have to use the second method (below). All three offer a preview window. They save the theme information in the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file (see below).

Gtk-chtheme and Gtk-theme-switch are in the Gutsy and Hardy repositories. Earlier versions of Ubuntu only have Gtk-theme-switch in the repositories. LXappearance can be downloaded from

2. Use the gtkrc-2.0 and gtkrc.mine files

You can force all Gtk applications to use a particular theme, icon and font by specifying those in the /home/USERNAME/.gtkrc-2.0 and /home/USERNAME/.gtkrc.mine files.

To specify a Gtk theme, add the following to your ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file (create it if it doesn’t exist):

    include "/path/to/your/themes/gtkrc/file"
    include "/home/USERNAME/.gtkrc.mine" 

For themes you installed in your home directory, the path to your gtkrc file is generally /home/USERNAME/.themes/THEMENAME/gtk-2.0/gtkrc. For themes installed system-wide (as with themes installed through Synaptic or apt-get), this is /usr/share/themes/THEMENAME/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

In this file, you can also specify what font or icon theme Gtk applications should use. If you use Gtk-chtheme or Gtk-theme-switch (as in the first method) it is best to specify your icon and font details in the ~/.gtkrc.mine file (in /home/USERNAME/), though, as changing the theme with these applications overrides the settings in the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file, but leaves the ~/.gtkrc.mine untouched. Make sure you specify the path to your ~/.gtkrc.mine in your ~/.gtkrc-2.0 (as shown above) and add the following to that file (create it if it doesn’t exist yet):

	style "Sans" 
	font_name = "Sans 10" 
	widget_class "*" style "Sans" 
	gtk-font-name = "Sans 10"
	gtk-icon-theme-name = "nameoficontheme"
	gtk-toolbar-style = GTK_TOOLBAR_ICONS

Change ‘Sans’ and ’10’ with the font name and size of your choice. Make sure the name of your icon theme matches the name of the folder where they are stored, either in /home/USERNAME/.icons or /usr/share/icons/, or it will not display.

The last line allows you to change the toolbar style of Gtk applications. You can choose from the following options (you can remove the comments):

	gtk-toolbar-style   = GTK_TOOLBAR_ICONS	#Only icons 
	gtk-toolbar-style   = GTK_TOOLBAR_TEXT	#Only text 
	gtk-toolbar-style   = GTK_TOOLBAR_BOTH	#Both icons and text; default, used if nothing is specified. 
	gtk-toolbar-style   = GTK_TOOLBAR_BOTH_HORIZ	#Icons and text next to the icons 

If you want smaller icons in the toolbar, add the following line:

gtk-toolbar-icon-size = GTK_ICON_SIZE_SMALL_TOOLBAR

If unspecified, the icons in the toolbar will be large. For more Gtk options, see the Gtk+ Reference Manual

If you want to easily change or add keyboard shortcuts (accelerators) to entries in the menus of Gtk applications by pressing the new keybinding while you select the menu entry, add the following to that file:

gtk-can-change-accels = 1

Note that the settings in the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file will affect all Gtk applications run with your username, even when logged in another window manager or desktop environment.

3. Use the Xfce settings

If you add ‘xfce-mcs-manager &’ to your autostart file (see below), all Gtk applications will use the Gtk theme, icons and fonts specified in the Xfce settings dialog. To change these, just start ‘xfce-setting-show’ and change everything you want. (To make things easy, add an entry in your Openbox menu for this)

Note that these changing these settings will also change your Gtk settings in Xfce.

4. Use the Gnome settings.

If you add ‘gnome-settings-daemon &’ to your autostart file (see below), all Gtk applications will use the Gtk theme, icons and fonts specified in the Gnome settings dialog. To change these, just start ‘gnome-control-panel’ (To make things easy, add an entry in your Openbox menu for this).

Gnome-settings-daemon will also set your wallpaper. If you prefer gnome-settings-daemon not to handle this, you can disable this with gconf-editor, under /apps/gnome_settings_daemon/plugins/background/active (untick the box), or with the following command:

	gconftool-2 --set /apps/gnome_settings_daemon/plugins/background/active --type bool False

Gnome-settings-daemon controls more than just the Gtk theme and the wallpaper: it also governs keyboard settings, mouse settings, etc. Gnome-settings-daemon will therefore override any changes you try to make to these settings with commands like xset in your file, though you can change those settings through gconf-editor. Note also that these changing the settings of gnome-settings-daemon will also change your Gtk settings in Gnome.

5.3 Qt themes and icons in Openbox

To control and change the theme settings of Qt or KDE applications, you can use Qt3-qtconfig (for Qt3) or Qt4-qtconfig (for Qt4). It allows you to change the Qt theme and fonts. The theme configuration options it offers are rather limited, though, and you can also not use it to change the icon theme. For more control, you’ll have to rely on the robust Kcontrol, which governs every KDE setting (but note that this carries some heavy dependencies!).

Qt themes are more complex than Gtk themes, and are therefore harder to change through text files than Gtk themes are. But if you want to edit the Qt theme settings manually, you can do so in ~/.qt/qtrc. In that folder, you can also specify or edit the Qt theme engine settings. You can change the icons in ~/.kde/share/config/kdeglobals.

5.4 More on Fonts

Earlier I mentioned how you can set the Openbox, Gtk and Qt fonts, but if you don’t use gnome-settings-daemon or xfce-mcs-manager, these fonts could look rather ugly. How can you have sharper, antialiased fonts without the use of these daemons?

The font configuration for X is done through a single xml file, either /etc/fonts/fonts.conf (default, system-wide) or in ~/.fonts.conf (you can create this file if it doesn’t exist yet). The Arch Linux Wiki has an excellent page detailing what to do with this file; at the bottom of that page, you’ll also find a sample fonts.conf file you can experiment with.

If you want to use the artwiz fonts in your Gtk, Qt or Openbox themes, this post will help you install these fonts.

5.5 Mouse cursor themes

What do you do when you want to change the mouse cursor theme? You can do this in two ways: system-wide, or for a single user.

If you install an X cursor theme, such as dmz-cursor-theme, system-wide (in /usr/share/icons) you can change the default X cursor theme with the command: sudo update-alternatives –config x-cursor-theme, which will show you a list of available cursor themes. Select the one you like, and when you restart X the new cursor theme should be used. The same is also accomplished if you edit /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme and add or adjust the following lines (using the cursor theme DMZ-White as an example):

	[Icon Theme]

You can also specify the mouse cursor theme in /home/USERNAME/.Xdefaults to change the theme for a single user only. To change the mouse cursor theme in this way, add the following to that file:

	Xcursor.size:  SIZE #optional

Change the mouse Xcursor.theme to whatever your preferred theme is named. Some cursor themes support can display more than one size; if you use such a theme, you can specify the size with the second line (normal sizes are 32, 48 or 64). If the cursor theme only has a single size, this line is meaningless.

You can install cursor themes in /home/USERNAME/.icons or /usr/share/icons/. Make sure the name you specify in ~/.Xdefaults matches the name of the folder the theme is stored in (as always case sensitive). When you restart X, the new cursor theme should be applied.

If you prefer graphical tools, you could try out gcursor, a Gtk application to change cursor themes (with previews).

6. Autostarting applications

To start applications automatically when Openbox starts is very simple. You can achieve this by editing the autostart file. If you haven’t done so already, create a file called in /home/USERNAME/.config/openbox.

In this file you can add any applications that you want to be started whenever openbox-session is started. If you do not have such a file in >/.config/openbox/ Openbox will launch the default system-wide script, located at /etc/xdg/openbox/. The default autostart file loads quite a lot. If sets a plain colour background, loads either gnome-settings-daemon or xfce-mcs-manager if you have them installed to govern your wallpaper and Gtk settings, and launches kdeinit if you have KDE installed so that your KDE applications start faster. If you desire, you can start the default autostart file with the following command: .$GLOBALAUTOSTART &.

I generally build up my own file and load only those things that I need. Here is what a typical file on my computer looks like:

numlockx on &
.HOME/.fehbg &
docker &
lal &
bbpager &
gtodo &

Make sure that you have a & after each entry, or any program after it will not run!

If you want your disks and removable media to be mounted automatically, you can use Thunar’s volume manager (thunar-volman), gnome-volume-manager (as in the above example), or ivman using the command “ivman &”. If you use Thunar as your file manager, thunar-volman is the lightest as it doesn’t require an extra daemon running but is activated automatically whenever you run Thunar. If you want Thunar to load faster, you can launch it as a daemon with this file using the command thunar –daemon &.

If an application mentioned in your file does not load when you start Openbox, you might want to try moving it up or down in the list. Sometimes an application loads best before or after another application is loaded. You can also use the ‘sleep‘ option, and force the application to wait some seconds before loading. This is especially useful for panels, which can easily pull Openbox down if they do not load properly. Here is an example:

	(sleep 3 && pypanel) &

Pypanel will now load with a delay of three seconds, i.e. after Openbox has fully loaded.

If you use the Xfce or Gnome settings for your Gtk themes, you’ll want to add either of the following two lines as well:

	gnome-settings-daemon &
	xfce-mcs-manager &

The above example illustrates how to set the wallpaper using Feh (see infra). If you prefer to use Nitrogen, add this command:

	nitrogen --restore & 

If you run a lot of KDE applications in Openbox, it might be worth it to add the following to your autostart list:

	kdeinit &

If you’d like your dockapps to start in a particular order, read this.

Note that when you use Openbox as a window manager in Gnome, KDE or Xfce, Openbox’s file is not used. You’ll have to use the autostart options of the desktop environment you are using.

7. Managing the Desktop — Wallpapers and Icons

7.1 Wallpapers

Openbox itself does not manage the desktop, but using other applications, you can set your wallpaper in many different ways. I will illustrate two methods here at length – Feh and Nitrogen – as these are the most popular, More are mentioned at the end of this section.

7.1.1 Wallpapers with Feh

Feh is a very fast and light image viewer that is also capable of setting the wallpaper. This is a simple method, but my favourite. First we need to install Feh:

	sudo aptitude install feh

Once you have Feh installed, you can set a wallpaper with Feh using one of the following commands:

    • To scale the image:

  • 		feh --bg-scale “/path/to/image”
    • To tile the image:

  • 		feh --bg-tile “/path/to/image”
    • To centre the image:

  • 		feh --bg-center “/path/to/image”

    If you use Feh also as an image viewer, open the image, right click on it and go to File > Background and select your preferred option. If you use Thunar, you can also create a custom action (Edit > Configure custom action > ). Create a new action called ‘Set as Background’ and use the following command: feh –bg-scale %f (or tile/center/etc.) and select ‘Image files’ in the ‘Appearance condition’ tab. Now you’ll just have to right click on an image file in Thunar and select the ‘Set as Background’.

    To make sure Feh loads the wallpaper again when you start Openbox, add this to your autostart file (see above):

    .HOME/.fehbg &

    If you would like to use a graphical user interface in combination with Feh, you can use CWallpaper or the simpler Oboinus. For more information on CWallpaper, have a look here (little over half way down).

    7.1.2 Wallpapers with Nitrogen

    Nitrogen is graphical application that allows you set a desktop wallpaper, and it provides previews of the wallpapers. Nitrogen is only in the Ubuntu repositories from Intrepid onwards. If you use an earlier version of Ubuntu you can easily build it from source. First you’ll have to install the dependencies:

    	sudo aptitude install libgtkmm-2.4-dev libgtk2.0-dev libglib2.0-dev

    Download the latest version of Nitrogen here. Extract the archive, configure, make and install:

    	tar -xzvf nitrogen-1.4.tar.gz
    	cd nitrogen-1.4
    	./configure --prefix='/usr'
    	sudo checkinstall

    To run the application use the command ‘nitrogen /path/to/your/wallpapers/directory’, and select the wallpaper you like. To restore the last used wallpaper when you log into Openbox, add this to your autostart file:

    	nitrogen --restore & 

    7.1.3 Other tools

    There are other applications as well you can use to set a desktop wallpaper, such as hsetroot, Habak, or xli. See this post for more information.

    7.2 Icons on the desktop

    To have icons on the desktop, you can use iDesk, though it only supports launchers. There is a graphical configuration tool for iDesk available, called iDesktools that should make using iDesk even simpler, but I’ve never managed to get it to work properly. Others, though, have had more success.

    If you want the files and directories that are in your /home/USERNAME/Desktop/ folder to show on the desktop, you can use a file manager that draws the desktop, such as PCMan-FM, Rox-filer, or Gnome’s Nautilus. Note that when some file managers, like Nautilus, draw the desktop you will also lose your right and middle click Openbox menus on the desktop.

    8. Panels and the like

    Unlike Fluxbox, Blackbox or Icewm, Openbox does not come with a panel. If you do want to use a panel, you’ll have to add one yourself, but, since you have a wide selection of panels to choose from, this allows you to have everything just the way you want it.

    8.1 Panels

    The following are some panels that are popular with Openbox users:

    • Pypanel: A very minimalistic panel, that is light and quite configurable. Supports launchers, a system tray, a clock with time and/or date, and a workspace indicator. I give some tips on what to do with Pypanel in this post.
    • Fbpanel: A light panel with many plug-ins (pagers, task bar, menu, clock, etc.) that follows your Gtk theme and supports transparency. You can run two panels at the same time (top & bottom), Gnome-style.
    • Lxpanel: A light panel with all the things that normally come with a panel. Lxpanel is similar to fbpanel, but easier to configure. It is part of the the LXDE project.
    • Perlpanel: As the name suggests, perlpanel is written in perl. It is heavier on resources than the above mentioned panels, but has a lot of extensions that can be loaded.
    • BMpanel: A lightweight panel with a taskbar, system tray, desktop switcher and a clock. The panel is themeable. It is based on fspanel, which is no longer developed.
    • Barpanel: A themeable panel with lots of plugins and nice menus. It is a continuation of Foopanel. I’ve had some issues with this panel (it only showed up on one workspace), but others seemed to have had more luck with it.
    • Xfce4-panel: The panel that is used in Xfce. Everything will work in Openbox, including all the applets (clocks, pagers, launchers, etc.), except for the power options (shut down, restart, etc.).
    • Gnome-panel:The panel that is used in Gnome. Everything will work in Openbox, including all the applets (clocks, pagers, launchers, etc.), except for the power options (shut down, restart, etc.).
    • Kicker: The panel that is used in KDE. Everything will work in Openbox, including all the applets (clocks, pagers, launchers, etc.), except for the power options (shut down, restart, etc.).

    8.2 Task lists

    There are also some applications that offer only a task list:

    • Tint2: Tint2 is a continuation of Tint task manager, a text-only task list that is very configurable in looks. Tint2 added more configuration options, as well as a clock to it. It seems launcher icons are also planned for future releases.

    Instead or in addition of a task list, you can also use Skippy, a full-screen task-switcher that shows you the (non-iconified) windows that are running in your current workspace.

    8.3 System trays

    For an system system tray/notification area, you can either use those that come with one of the above panels, or a stand-alone system tray (some of with can appear in Openbox’ dock). There are several of these available:

    • docker: A very simple and very light system tray that runs in the dock. It is my favourite system tray: does what it needs to do well, without any complications.
    • peksystray : A system tray that appears in the dock, and is a bit more configurable than docker.
    • stalonetray: A stand alone tray, that is somewhat configurable, and can be placed in the dock (if you run it in the withdrawn mode: stalone -w)
    • trayer: A lightweight GTK2-based system tray, extracted from fbpanel‘s code. It supports transparency.

    If you use Gkrellm, you can use the gkrellm trayicons plugin to add a system tray to it.

    8.4 Launchers and docks

    If you want icons to launch the programs of your choice, here is what you can use (besides panels with launchers):

    • Wbar: Wbar is a quick launch bar that is fairly configurable. It doesn’t autohide (yet), so don’t spend hours looking for that option.
    • WMdrawer: A drawer with launchers that goes in the dock. Like most dockapps, it is quite ugly with its default settings, but its looks can easily be changed.
    • Apwal: A simple icon-box application launcher. It is quite neat and fast and gives you quick (graphical) access to whatever commands you configure.
    • Tablaunch: A quick launch bar that is configurable and remains hidden when not used. It is based on yeahlaunch.
    • Simdock: A light and customizable dock, that doesn’t require compositing to work. It seems still in early stages of development, but is functional.
    • Tabble: Tabble is “a small alternative X shell which presents your programs in tabs for easy launch” (have a look at the picture on the website; that will explain better what Tabble actually is). You can use it as a light-weight graphical menu, if you add it to your panel.
    • BBDock: BBDock is an application launcher that loads into the dock. You can configure it so that clicking on already launched icons will raise the corresponding application instead of invoking a new instance. The default size of the icons (no matter what size your image file is) is 64×64. If you’d like it smaller, read this post

    Docks that require compositing, such as Avant-window-navigator, Cairo dock, or Kooldock, can be used in Openbox with xcompmgr (see below). (Since a lot of new users (including me!) are terribly confused by this, let me clarify: the Openbox ‘dock’ (which is configured through Obconf) is nothing like these docks. It is a place where dockapps are loaded, and that is its only use. Have a look here for more information.)

    8.5 Pagers

    For pagers, you can either use a panel that has a pager, or use a standalone pager. Here are a few standalone pagers:

    • Obpager: Obpager is a pager specifically designed for Openbox. I’ve never liked it, as I find the pager squares too big, but tastes vary. It is in the repositories.

    • Netwmpager:Netwmpager is a simple pager application that can be run on the desktop or on top of all other windows. It is my favourite pager. Its size, colours and basic behaviour can be changed in a simple text file. Netwmpager supports transparency if xcompmgr is running. You can download it here.

    • Ipager: A transparent pager with some nice touches. It has an (optional) mouse-over effect, and its colour and size can be configured. It is not in the Ubuntu repositories, and despite what the website says, you don’t need Fluxbox installed to compile this.

    • BBpager: This is the Blackbox pager. BBpager can run in the dock, and allows some basic configuration: it can use whatever colours and size you want it to use, and the number of rows and columns can be changed. It is in the repositories.

    • Minipager: A very minimilastic pager that represents the desktops as very small coloured squares.

    8.6 Clocks

    If you want to know what time it is in Openbox, you again have plenty of choice.

    1. Use a panel that has a clock to display the time
    2. Use conky or gkrellm to display the time (If you want conky to remain always visible, you could adjust Openbox’s margin settings in Obconf)
    3. Use a dock app. There are several clocks available that you can load into Openbox’ dock. The best available, in my opinion, is Lal, a great simple dock clock that is light, and somewhat configurable. You can also use bbtime and/or bbdate, two very simple Blackbox apps that display the time and date respectively; if you run them in a withdrawn mode (‘bbtime -w’ or ‘bbdate -w’) they will appear in the dock. There are also several WindowMaker dockapps available, though most are ugly. Have a look here and here.
    4. Use xclock. To make it more attractive, you can configure its colours and looks (have a look at ‘man xclock‘), and set it to display without window decorations (change the settings in Openbox’ rc.xml file).
    5. Use a desklet. Both gdesklets and adesklets have clock desklets.
    6. Display the time in the root menu of Openbox: use the pipe menu mentioned in this thread on the Ubuntuforums
    7. Use Osdsh to display the time. Use the command osdctl -c 1 and osdctl -c 0 to turn the clock on and off. Run osdshconfig to configure colours, fonts and position on the screen.
    8. Place a clock next to your computer. 🙂

    9. Shadows, Fade-in/out menus, and more fancy stuff

    9.1 Shadows and Fading menus

    If you thought that drop shadows, fading menus and true transparency were only possible in heavyweight desktop environments, here is a surprise. All of this is possible in Openbox (provided your hardware supports it – check this thread first) when you use xcompmgr. Here is how you do it:

    Install xcompmgr through Synaptic or apt:

    	sudo aptitude install xcompmgr

    Enable compositing in your Xorg file. Open a terminal and open the Xorg file:

    	sudo your_text_editor /etc/X11/xorg.conf

    and add the following to the end of the file:

    	Section "Extensions"
    		Option "Composite" "Enable"

    Save and close the file. You’ll now have to restart X (the graphical environment). Make sure you have everything saved that is still open, and press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. You will be back at your login screen. Once you are back in Openbox, you can start using xcompmgr. You have plenty of options to experiment with. Have a look at jdong’s thread about xcompmgr on the Ubuntuforums; you’ll find it very useful in finding the right xcompmgr settings for you (drop shadows, acceleration, fading menus, etc.).I prefer the following settings, which only displays drop shadows:

    	xcompmgr -cC -t-3 -l-5 -r5

    Xcompmgr is quite light. The above settings consume about 1-2 MB on my laptop. If you’d like a pipe-menu to control xcompmgr from your Openbox menu, this will make you happy.

    Xcompmgr may interfere with conky. You’ll need the following settings in your ~/.conkyrc file to run conky and xcompmgr together without any issues:

    	own_window yes
    	own_window_transparent yes
    	own_window_type desktop
    	own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager 
    	double_buffer yes

    9.2 Transparency

    But what about true transparency? For that you’ll need an additional application: transset. Install the application:

    	sudo aptitude install transset

    Make sure xcompmgr is running, and then run transset by typing:


    Your cursor will change, and the next window you click on will become transparent. You can change the level of transparency by adding a value after the command (0 is fully transparent, 1 is fully opaque):

    	transset .4

    If you want to bind transset to the scroll button on your mouse, you’ll need transset-df. It is not in the repositories, so you’ll have to compile it from source. Download the source code here, extract it and install it:

    	tar xzvf transset-df-6.tar.gz
    	cd transset-df-6
    	sudo checkinstall

    You can bind transset to the mouse wheel (thanks K.Mandla) if you add the following to your rc.xml in the mousebind section (make sure you haven’t assigned the mouse binding to something else already)

    <mousebind button="C-Up" action="Click">
    <action name=”Execute”>
    <execute>transset-df -p --inc 0.2 </execute>
    </action> </mousebind>
    <mousebind button="C-Down" action="Click">
    <action name=”Execute”>
    <execute>transset-df -p --min 0.2 --dec 0.2</execute>

    The first of these makes Ctrl+mousewheel-up on the titlebar of a window increase the opacity of the window, the second makes the window grow more transparent when you do Ctrl+mousewheel-down on the titlebar of the window.

    9.3 Desktop cubes

    If you like desktop-cubes (when you change the workspace), you can play around with 3ddesktop. Install it:

    	sudo aptitude install 3ddesktop

    Add the preferred keybindings to the rc.xml file (Ctrl+Alt+Left and Right Arrows, or whatever else you like to use to change workspaces), and use the command 3ddesk. Note that it doesn’t run too well if you are on older hardware or have limited RAM, especially when used with xcompmgr and transset.

    10. File Managers

    You can use any file manager you like in Openbox. Thunar, PCMan-FM, Rox-filer, Xfe, or Nautilus seem to be popular graphical file managers with Openbox users. If you are a KDE fan, you can also use your favourite KDE file manager: Konqueror, Dolphin and Krusader all run fine in Openbox. If you want to use Nautilus, make sure it doesn’t draw the desktop, as you will lose your Openbox desktop menu. To prevent this, run Nautilus with the following command:

    	nautilus --browser --no-desktop

    Alternatively, you can prevent Nautilus from drawing the desktop in gconf-editor, under apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop (untick the box), or with the following command:

    	gconftool-2 --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop --type bool False

    11. OpenOffice in Openbox

    When you load OpenOffice in Openbox, it will look very ugly (grey with huge ugly blueish icons and big fonts). To change this, and make OpenOffice follow your Gtk theme, do the following:

    Install (sudo aptitude install and add this to the very beginning of your autostart file (right after #!/bin/sh)

    	export OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome

    When you login next time, OpenOffice should follow your general Gtk theme.

    If you prefer KDE or Qt styles, you can force OpenOffice to use the Qt widgets. To do so, install (sudo aptitude install, and add the following line to your autostart file:

    	export OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde

    12. Tile windows in Openbox

    If you want to be able to tile windows in Openbox, here is what you have to do:

    You can use a small application, called ’tile’, to tile windows in any window manager. Download the appropriate .deb package from the tile website (that website seems to be down frequently, so I’ve uploaded the source code here and the deb package for i386 here; rename the files to remove the pdf extension and turn them into .tar.gz and .deb files respectively).

    Double click on the package to install, or use the terminal and install it with the following command (make sure you are in the right directory!):

    	sudo dpkg -i tile_0.7.4_i386.deb

    Once installed, all you need to tile windows is use the command ’tile’. Add a menu entry or a keyboard binding with that command, and your windows are tiled instantly.

    Alternatively, you can use whaw to tile a selected number of windows either horizontally or vertically, using either the entire screen, or a selected area of it.

    Note that cascading of windows (un-tiling) is not possible, as far as I know. Neither tile nor whaw support it.

    13. Shut down and reboot, hibernate, suspend and locking the screen

    13.1 Shut down, reboot, and suspend

    Gnome, KDE and Xfce are all able to shut down, restart, hibernate or suspend your computer without administrative privileges. Window managers, such as Openbox or Fluxbox, are unable to do this on their own. Even if you use gnome-panel or xfce4-panel, you won’t be able to use the power buttons that come with it (they depend on gnome-sessions and xfce4-sessions to work if I’ve understood correctly). Advanced shutdown applications like gshutdown or kshutdown won’t work either.

    Shutdown, reboot and suspend using gdm-control

    In the latest Openbox release (3.4.7), you can shutdown, reboot or suspend from within Openbox with gdm-control, by telling GDM (The Gnome Display Manager) to perform these actions.

    To shutdown the computer with gdm-control, use the following command:

    	gdm-control --shutdown && openbox --exit

    To restart, use this command:

    	gdm-control --reboot && openbox --exit

    And to suspend, use the following line:

    	gdm-control --suspend

    If you’d like a little dialog for these options, have a look here (using PyGtk), or modify this appropriately (using Gmessage).

    Other options

    If you are not using GDM, are not using the latest version of Openbox, or prefer not to use this method, there are two other ways in which you can perform these tasks: one that requires administrative privileges, one that doesn’t.

    1. Shut down and reboot with administrative privileges

      Add the following lines to your menu.xml file, wherever you want them to be in your menu. If you want to use Obmenu, add what is specified in the “Label” part in the “Label” box and what comes between the “execute” tags in the “Execute” box.

      <item label="Reboot">
      <action name="Execute"> <execute>gksudo 'shutdown -r now'</execute> </action> </item>
      <item label="Shut down">
      <action name="Execute"> <execute>gksudo 'shutdown -h now'</execute> </action> </item>
      <item label="Suspend">
      <action name="Execute"> <execute>gksudo pm-suspend</execute> </action> </item>
      <item label="Hibernate">
      <action name="Execute"> <execute>gksudo pm-hibernate</execute> </action> </item>

      The good thing about this method is that you get some sort of confirmation before you shut down or reboot, as you’ll be asked to give your sudo password first. This might be useful to prevent your computer from shutting down unexpectedly when you accidentally press the Shut down entry in your menu. Note that you need gksu installed for this to work.

    2. Shut down and reboot without administrative privileges

      If you don’t want to have to give your sudo password every time you shut down or restart, you can edit the sudoers file (in /etc/sudoers) to allow anyone to shut down or reboot the computer without administrative privileges. The sudoers file specifies who has administrative privileges on your computer and what user can do what. You’ll edit the file so that any user can use the ‘shutdown’ command without the need to give your sudo password. To do so, open a terminal and type

      	sudo visudo

      (It is best to edit the sudoers file with visudo, as visudo will check for possible errors before saving, thus preventing you from messing up your system)

      Add the following at the bottom of the page:

      	ALL   ALL=NOPASSWD:/sbin/shutdown

      Save and exit, and you won’t be needing your password to reboot or shut down. You can then add the following to your menu.xml file, wherever you want them to be in your menu. If you want to use Obmenu, add what is specified in the “Label” part in the “Label” box and what comes after “execute” in the “Execute” box.

        <item label="Reboot">
        <action name="Execute"> <execute>sudo 'shutdown -r now'</execute> </action></item>
        <item label="Shut down">
        <action name="Execute"> <execute>sudo 'shutdown -h now'</execute> </action></item>

      You will no longer be asked to give your password to shut down or reboot now, or be a user with administrative privileges. (Note, though, that you’ll still need to preface the command with sudo!) The downside is that you also will no longer receive any warning before your computer shuts down. If you would like a confirmation window that comes up whenever you want to shut down, have a look at this post.

    13.2 Lock screen

    You can easily add an entry in your Openbox menu or assign a keyboard binding in the rc.xml file to lock the screen. You can use xlockmore for this. Read the man page to see the many ways in which you can use this. I prefer a simple black screen (no animation) that asks for your password when a key is pressed or the mouse is moved, and use the following command for it:

    	xlock -mousemotion +description -mode blank -bg black -fg grey30 -font '-adobe-helvetica-bold-r-normal--*-110-*-*-*-*-*-*' -planfont '-adobe-helvetica-bold-r-normal--*-110-*-*-*-*-*-*' -timeout 6 -info " " -username "  " -password " " -icongeometry 30x30

    If you use xscreensaver, you can also use that to lock the screen with the following command:

    	xscreensaver-command -lock

    To use this, you need xscreensaver running, so make sure you add a line for it to your autostart file (cf. supra):

    	xscreensaver -no-splash &

    14. More useful applications

    There are several other useful applications that can be used with Openbox. Here are a few of them:

    14.1 System monitors

    In Openbox you can use the system monitor from Gnome or KDE, but if you’d like something a lot more lighter have a look at Gmemusage, gPS, gTaskmanager, or htop.

    There are also quite a few applications available that enable you to display system information, such as cpu and memory usage, hard disk and network status, etc., on the desktop, in Openbox’ dock, or in a panel-like form. Here are a few of these:

    • Conky

      Conky is a light-weight system monitor that can display system information (such as uptime, kernel version, cpu and memory usage, etc) on the desktop. It is highly configurable. For examples of conky setups, have a look at this thread on the Ubuntuforums. It is in the repositories.

    • Dzen2

      Dzen is a “general purpose messaging, notification, and menuing application.” You can use it to display all sorts of information. Have a look at the wiki to comprehend its potential. Dzen2 is in the Hardy repositories.

    • Gkrellm

      Like conky, Gkrellm is a light-weight system monitor. It looks a little less nice than conky can look, but you can use themes to change its looks (use the ‘Invisible’ theme if you would like to see only the stats and no borders). There are a lot of plugins available. Gkrellm is in the repositories.

    • Light-monitor

      Light-monitor is a light transparent panel-like system monitor that can display and/or manage the volume, cpu and memory usage, network traffic, battery and power status, as well as the date and time. A component of light-monitor is light-calendar, which you can use to display a transparent calendar on your desktop (which allows you to also cycle through the next and previous months).

    • Noteo

      Noteo is a little app that runs in the system tray and displays notifications. It can notify you of the status of your laptop battery, emails in your Gmail account, what mpd is playing, etc.

    14.2 Other applications

    • Backstep

      Backstep draws icons of your iconified applications on your desktop. If enabled, it can also draw miniature versions of the iconified windows on the desktop. It is a bit rough, and since long no longer developed, but it works. It is in the repositories.

    • Dmenu

      Dmenu is the application menu developed for dwm and used by several other tiling window managers. It can easily be used in Openbox as well; read this post for more info on using Dmenu in Openbox. Dmenu can be used for a wide variety of things: see, for example, here for how to use dmenu with mpd, or this post on how to easily access your configuration files with it.

    • Gmrun

      Gmrun is a small run dialog, in which you can enter commands, application names, or files to run or open. You can easily bind it to Alt+F2 in your rc.xml file, to have it work like the run dialog in Gnome, KDE or Xfce. It is in the repositories.

    • Gtk-tray-utils

      Gtk-tray-utils is set of little Gtk utilities that load in the system tray. It consists of gbatt (a battery status indicator), gtim (a clock), gdat (a date indicator) and gvtray (a volume control). David Barr (mulberry) made a modification of gvtray you might be interested in.

    • OSDsh

      OSDsh (and its component osdctl) is a little application that enables you to display all battery status, a clock, volume levels or any text on your screen. It is themeable, allowing you to change the font, colours, and position on the screen. Unfortunately, the volume control applet causes your CPU to be fully consumed on recent versions of Ubuntu.

    • Parcellite

      Parcellite is a light and simple Gtk based clipboard manager. There is a deb package available at

    • Unclutter

      Unclutter is an application that runs in the background, and hides the mouse cursor when it has not moved and no buttons are pressed and the mouse is not on the desktop. This is a useful tool if you like things uncluttered. It is in the repositories.

    • VolWheel

      VolWheel is a little application which lets you control the volume through a tray icon you can scroll on. It is written in Perl/Gtk2. You can download it here.

    • Wmctrl

      Wmctrl is a command-line application that can interact with EWMH/NetWM compatible X window managers. It doesn’t add any functionality to your window manager, but allows you to control it from the command line. For an indication of its potential, see this post. Wmctrl is in the repositories.

    • Xautolock

      Xautolock “monitors input devices under the X Window System, and launches a program of your choice if there is no activity after a user-configurable period of time. You can use this to automatically start up a screen locker if you have left your computer unattended for some period of time. The program launched need not be a screen locker such as xlock.” See this post for how to use it with Skippy. It is in the repositories.

    15. Conclusion

    That’s it. Now you are fully ready to use Openbox! Configure it more to your liking and needs, and don’t feel afraid to try things out. Openbox is small and light, but is highly configurable. Settle on what you like best.

    Where do you go from here? You can visit Planet Openbox, a feed aggregator for blogs with (some) Openbox content, or you can hang out on the Openbox IRC channel and join the active Openbox mailing list (see here for more info).

    If you run into problems, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a large number of knowledgeable Openbox users on the Ubuntuforums. If you can’t find a solution for your problems elsewhere, try the mailing list or IRC channel.

    I’d like to receive feedback on this guide. If you find errors or inconsistencies, if you think sections could be improved on, or you have material that could be added to it, please let me know. Leave a comment, send me a pm on the Ubuntuforums (user urukrama) or send me an email at ukdasa AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you.


    252 Responses to “Openbox guide”

    1. […] 26, 2007 My Openbox guide has been updated (a little) and now has its own page. Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: linux, openbox, […]

    2. […] most popular ways to set a desktop wallpaper in Openbox is by using either Feh or Nitrogen (see my Openbox guide), but there are many other possibilities. I will discuss a few here. If you know of any others, […]

    3. Lost said

      Thank you _so_ much! I was getting quite frustrated — your guide just answered /all/ my questions. 🙂

    4. Lou said

      Excellent guide.

    5. Susie said

      Thanks for the awesome guide =) I was in need of up-to-date information on Openbox, and this is exactly what I was looking for. Extremely helpful.

    6. Sky said

      …great job! your guide is the best.

    7. heri said

      Thank you for this excellent guide.
      Two weeks ago I found Crunchbang Linux, a remastered Ubuntu with openbox. I really like it and want to learn more about openbox.
      And then I found this guide.. WOW.. I guess I am really lucky 🙂

    8. anzan said

      Thanks for all of your work on this.

    9. AddiKT1ve said

      This howto pwns asses. Keep up the good work!

      (Actually I think that you should add more informations about Openbox’s dock. I didn’t find anything about it… ?)

    10. […] default menu by right-clicking on the desktop. Information about configuring the menu by hand and automagically is available online, but we’ll rarely use the menu, so we won’t spend time now […]

    11. trogdor said

      Does anyone know how to enable the toolbar in openbox in Ubuntu?

      Help please.

    12. Hanna said

      Thank you for the gread guide 🙂 I think I’ll stick now on with Openbox.

    13. N.N. said

      Good guide. In the section about “Shut down, Reboot and Hibernate with administrative privileges”, though, you need to correct the commands for shutdown and reboot. These should be quoted as follows: gksudo ‘shutdown -r now’ and gksudo ‘shutdown -h now’. Otherwise, there’s no reliable way to tell which argument belongs to which program, and you’ll simply get the following error message: gksudo: invalid option — r. Cf. page 107 in the random openbox chatter guide:

    14. Michael said

      wonderful guide. thanks for sharing.

      just one thing: you used the wrong quotes in the settings for xorg.conf. if people copy and paste this they ruin the file and may be in trouble.

    15. urukrama said

      Thanks for spotting it, Michael. I’ve fixed it. 🙂

    16. Bobby said

      A very good guide. A couple of things I use that were not mentioned:

      Pager: minipager –
      LockScreen: (xlock)

      xlock -mode swarm

      in conjunction with this for quick locking..


      xlock -bg black -fg white -mode swarm

    17. Bobby said

      That previous post did not format my menu.xml or rc.xml cut/pastes.. 😦 So now it doesn’t make sense…bummer.

    18. Cosmin said

      Just wanted to thank you for this excellent guide.

    19. tangram said

      Great detail on the guide. Excellent quality!

      Inspiring work, hope to see more.


    20. Jeremy said

      Thanks for this Guide. This was EXTREMELY helpful.

    21. chris4585 said

      Your guide is pure awesomeness…

    22. mojoman said

      Nice guide. I’ve just started to dabble with OB and it’s a bit different from Fluxbox which I normally use but not at all bad.

      ps: I noticed that your hyperlink to pypanel lead to the fbpanel page at sourceforge. ds

    23. Simon said

      thanx very much 🙂

    24. wayne said

      sheesh this guide is hot!

    25. william7 said

      thx a lot. all about openbox in one place.

      great job!

    26. king.pest said

      wonderful guide. /me is very grateful.

    27. rtom said

      Great guide, thanx for your job!

      Do you mind if I translate some parts of your writing to hungarian?

    28. rtom said

      Just a short remark: since Gutsy 3ddesktop isn’t in the official repos anymore.

    29. Bernd said

      Very nice guide. Thanks!
      The link to Pypanel is not correct.

    30. Great, great guide…

      And as mojoman said, the link to pypanel’s page directs to the fbpanel’s one.

      Again, awesome work. This is very helpful.

    31. James Nealon said

      Kick ass

    32. tom said

      nice guide

      only the line
      “cat ‘$HOME/.fehbg’ &”
      in did do nothing for me

      instead i made it
      “sh ~/.fehbg &”
      witch worked like a charm 🙂

    33. alex hidel said

      if one were to compile the latest openbox release, how do you update those packages if and when there are updates? Same method?

    34. Scruffy said

      Excellent guide. Thankyou very much.

    35. Jose Catre-Vandis said

      Following a command line install from an Alt CD, I have built up Openbox without any gnome/kde/xfce libraries. Firefox runs with olde worlde cursors. How can upgrade to Ubuntu/Xubuntu cursors, is the Human theme needed?

    36. Jose Catre-Vandis said

      It’s OK, finally found a working guide on ubuntuforums here:

      Just have to find the right theme now 🙂

    37. karlzt said

      i suspend typing this:

      pmi action suspend

    38. […] used Urukrama’s Openbox guide when I was first installing and configuring Openbox. And I still check it occasionally if I have […]

    39. […] Sobota, október 4, 2008 zapisky Tags: navod, openbox Openbox som nastavoval podla tejto prirucky a wiki. Obidve stranky su pisane v jednoduchej anglictine. Pre dalsiu inspiraciu ako si prisposobit […]

    40. […] was designed to be easy so I’ll give you a easy guide to setup openbox here. Tags: base, faster boot, release notes | October 15th, 2008 | Posted in Updates […]

    41. […] was designed to be easy so I’ll give you a easy-to-follow guide to setup Openbox here. Tags: base, gdm, installplus, kdm, openbox startx, release notes, slim, ubiquity | October 17th, […]

    42. Jake said


      really helpful article!

      just wanted to say, that the link to pypanel is wrong.

    43. Gigi said

      I followed most of this guide and celettu’s icewm guide to setup icewm just the way I wanted to 🙂

    44. […] past)? The answer became clear once I saw some screenshots. Then I found Urukrama’s awesome guide to Openbox, and I’ve read Kmandla’s post on how hard it is to stop using this WM. […]

    45. […] Openbox guide – urukrama’s weblog (especially “4. Configuring Openbox”) […]

    46. karlzt said

      i set the wallpaper in thunar

    47. […] Ich werde hier, in unregelmässigen Abständen, versuchen zu beschreiben, wie OpenBox einzurichten ist bzw. einige Tricks u. Tipps zu verraten. Ein ausführliches, englischsprachiges Tutorial finden Interessierte in Urukrama’s Weblog […]

    48. steel realm said

      excellent guide, thanks!
      looking to change my system around a little, and this is a great help.

    49. ZeroTruths said

      First off, excellent guide!
      I’m currently in the process of switching from Metacity to Openbox, and am LOVING OpenBox’s flexibility.

      I think there’s something wrong with your guide tho.
      I don’t think that dmenu is available anymore, seeing as the link you provided gives me a 404 error.

      …eerr, upon checking, this might be the link you want:

    50. urukrama said

      Thank you, ZeroTruths. As you noticed, dmenu finally has its own page now at suckless. I’ll update the link.

    51. Evan said

      Hey mate — just wanted to say thanks for this excellent walkthrough. Count me a newly-converted openboxer.

    52. Mark said

      Regarding wallpaper, icons and panels. If you use rox-filer as your file manager it’ll take care of all three if you add the line rox -s (or –session. Try both) & to your openbox autostart file. Alternatively if you want to use a different panel (the roxpanel can be a bit sparse) add rox -p=MyPinboard & to your autostart file. Launchers can then be added to the panel (and the pinboard) simply by dragging files from /usr/share/applications and dropping them where you want. If you want stuff like clock, system tray/notification area and tasklist on your panel consult the rox desktop website at

      PCManFM also has the ability to set a background and display icons on the desktop, but doesn’t come with a panel (for that you need to download and install lxpanel from sourceforge or the lxde website ( To install icons on the desktop with PCManFM you need to add the appropriate .desktop files to your Desktop folder.

      Of the two approaches I find the rox one more satisfying since it gives you greater freedom in placing your icons.

    53. Mark said


      Sorry, that should be rox -S

    54. Mark said

      A screenshot is worth a thousand words

      That’s Rox. In case you were wondering

    55. David said

      I just thought I would make a note for anyone who is interested in rotating background images. I used chbg once upon a time, but it conflicted with conky, which I was also using at the time, so I stopped the whole rotating background thing. Having recently switched to using dockapps for system monitoring I decided to have a go at chbg again, but it didn’t want to play this time. I have however, just written and successfully tested a bash script which allows me to use feh to cycle through a folder of images as the desktop background. It seems to work quite nicely!

    56. Stefan said

      Great guide!
      Thanks alot. =)

    57. stepan said

      Thanks for great guide! I am happy fluxbox user but now I am tempted to give openbox a try. But there is one feature I would really miss – grouping windows together and adding tab to this group. Does anybody know a way to get similar functionality into openbox?

    58. stepan said

      PS after some more digging I know now that openbox developers are not going to add tabs into openbox itself. But is there any way to get similar functionality into openbox via some tool? I was looking for some tool that just creates window with tab-bar and allow other applications to be run inside, creating one tab for each.

    59. michel said

      Thanks for this excellent guide. Please continue 😀

    60. rent0n said

      Thank you very much: this guide helped me to solve most of my problems. It’s a must for openbox beginners!

    61. Klaus said

      First of all, thanks for your great resource!
      I would like to know how you configured bbpager to appear inside the dock?
      I don’t find any information on the internet on this.
      Thanks for any help.

    62. schneida said

      Really really good guide! Thank you very much!

    63. […] On ubuntu forums, I found an extensive installation and configuration guide for openbox here, which is more or less the second official […]

    64. chimes said

      You’re a real man, man. Awesome work.

    65. SDA said

      Really great. That helped me a lot!

    66. bluepumpkin said

      Best OpenBox guide on the net. Thanks a bunch!

    67. HelmutVonKrusenchat said

      Awesome guide ! Thanks a lot !

    68. Vönyc said

      Amazing guide. seems to be down, however! Please update?

    69. rent0n said

      I’ve already told you how much i appreciate this guide.
      I was looking for a printer status tray icon that popups when i send a job to my printer, saying “Printing…” or “Error!”

      Could you suggest me such an applet (i use trayer for tray management)?

      Thank you!

    70. mark said

      When you use slim as a login manager it is possible to use slim’s wallpaper as normal wallpaper. To do so, don’t set any wallpaper and just login in. Slim’s wallpaper will stay!

    71. […] experiências no portátil, tentar encontrar um window manager leve e com alguma beleza.Escolhi o Openbox com o fbpanel, nitrogen para as imagens de background e a cairo-dock para algo mais eye candy, mas […]

    72. […] default window managers. Arch’s excellent wiki, together with Urukrama’s incredible Openbox guide, helped me through the initial hurdle of editing the configuration files by hand, and afterwards I […]

    73. D said

      Pretty cool.

      Anyone knows if it is possible to do two things:

      1 – a clock at the title bar, I picture it would be perfect at the left side of the shade, minimize, maximize and close buttons.

      2 – a pipe menu to replace the system tray.

    74. […] Thanks primoturbo and urukrama! Szólj hozzzá Trackback 9 olvasás, 5 ma Segítség kell? Érdemes benézni a fórumba, további információkért. Akár kérdés feltevéshez, vagy csak segíteni másokon. […]

    75. HamzaED said

      […] guide -link- : its a very long , outstanding blog post about openbox installation , configurations , and […]

    76. nulll said

      Very nice, complete and detailed guide!
      Thank you sooooo much!

      Just one thing… i’d like to have more details on how-to have and user *as a normale DE* icons on the desktop…

    77. Agus said

      Thank You very much 😀

    78. […] Urukrama has a wonderfully extensive Openbox config page, I didn’t find the “make all inactive windows 60% transparent” like I was looking […]

    79. FNorberg said

      I’ve been following your guide but when I try to install obconf and get to this command “PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig ./configure –prefix=/usr” I get a response of “invalid prefix”. I tried adding an extre “-” like this “–prefix=/usr” then it seemed to work. No visible errors, but I couldn’t do the command “make”. And for some reason I can’t install obconf using “sudo apt-get install obconf” because that just complains about needing to install dependencies that are already installed when I did Openbox install. And it can’t overwrite them.

      Any suggestion on what I can do to sort this. I’m not at home so I can’t give more accurate information.


    80. […] cambiado a un gestor de ventanas. Una de las mejores guías, sino la mejor, de openbox es la de urukrama, muy completa y nos da muchas alternativas como para poder escoger bien lo que mas nos funcione, […]

    81. sector said

      I get this error when I try to run obmenu (i’ve runned it before for about 100 times):

      File “/usr/bin/obmenu”, line 42, in createTree
      self.createTree(hijo, it[“id”])
      File “/usr/bin/obmenu”, line 34, in createTree
      for it in
      File “/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/”, line 327, in getMenu
      mnu = self._get_dom_menu(menu)
      File “/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/”, line 40, in _get_dom_menu
      if item.attributes[“id”].nodeValue == menu: return item
      File “/usr/lib/python2.5/xml/dom/”, line 822, in _get_attributes
      return NamedNodeMap(self._attrs, self._attrsNS, self)
      RuntimeError: maximum recursion depth exceeded

    82. […] 最后,找到一篇 openbox 配置指南,慢慢研究吧。 […]

    83. Ben Moore said

      In your section about using transset with the scroll wheel, you forgot to mention that the xml lines need to be added to the section in your rc.conf file with the context named “TitleBar”

      makes a big difference, wont work other wise.


      great write up though

    84. […] you wish to further investigate the Openbox Window Manager be sure and have a look at Urakrama’s Openbox Guide which provides a much more thorough look at what can accomplished with […]

    85. […] pour ne pas rester avec un écran noir. site officiel : Openbox documentation : doc ubuntu et un blog sur openbox très utile pour une aide à la configuration. Leave a […]

    86. Chias said

      Fantastic guide! Thank you so much for getting me up and running.

    87. dckirba said

      I’ve used this guide so many times and I haven’t thanked you for putting it together, so thank you 🙂 It’s been a great help and I come back to it whenever I’m installing Ubuntu on a weak system. Great work.

    88. ph said

      Is it possible to have a clipboard like parcellite as a pipemenu?

    89. darrin said

      Wow, excellent guide! I’ve been using OpenBox now for about 2 years and really like it, and am now experimenting more and more with PekWM. A lot of information from your guide can be applied also to PekWM.

      Also, thank you for filling me in on the long-time-mystery of why Nautilus takes over my desktop during the times that I open it (there’s a nice tool available for Nautilus that allows you to bulk resize photos, which really comes in handy… it’s called nautilus-image-converter).

    90. chombee said

      The simplest way to lock the screen is using `slock` from . You just run `slock` (no options) and it blanks the screen until you type your password. In Ubuntu or Debian just `sudo aptitude install slock`.

      There is also Gnome Screensaver. Like X Screensaver you have to have it running first, then do: `gnome-screensaver-command -l`. It’s a lot less old school than xlock and xscreensaver.

    91. […] -wbar (una barra linda y simple como la que tengo en mi escritorio) […]

    92. Peter said

      Another option for the root window is “Dali Clock”

      start it with the -root option (or for the truly adventurous both the -root and -cycle options).

    93. Thanks, my friend
      thanks a lot for this wonderful guide that i’ll translate as soon as possible, in italian language to all italian Linux users.

      Thanks again 🙂

    94. […] items to the categories you desire and to your applications. For a complete guide on openbox, check urukrama’s guide. One of the most complete ones for OpenBox. You could also check the wiki about it 2) create an […]

    95. bazzany said

      good guide…. i like it

      i have quetions on gdm-control and exiting openbox
      i do set nopasswd in sudo
      if i try to run gdm-control –shutdown && openbox –exit
      it’s only exit from openbox and just like ‘logout’ session and back to gdm.

      may any one has same problem and fixed, please share

      thank you

      • Ariszló said

        Both `gdm-control –reboot` and `gdm-control –shutdown` fail with the following error message:

        WARNING **: Failed to establish a connection with GDM: No such file or directory

      • jan said

        you might be able to use dbus to shutdown and reboot, which is better than messing with the sudoers file. My exit script is like this:

        command=$(zenity –list –title=”Exit openbox” –text=” ” –hide-header –column=”command” –hide-header “Logout” “Reboot” “Shutdown”)
        if [ “$command” = “Logout” ]; then
        killall openbox
        if [ “$command” = “Reboot” ]; then
        dbus-send –system –print-reply –dest=org.freedesktop.Hal \
        /org/freedesktop/Hal/devices/computer \
        if [ “$command” = “Shutdown” ]; then
        dbus-send –system –print-reply –dest=org.freedesktop.Hal \
        /org/freedesktop/Hal/devices/computer \

        Add that to your openbox menu (it uses zenity which you might not have on your system, but you probably have everything else)

    96. D said

      Has anyone succeeded in making openbox get along with kde4 suff? Konqueror does not render properly, and the whole “use qt style and fonts in gtk applications” does not seem to work in openbox, unless I do something with “kdesudo”. Weird.

    97. spikyjt said

      Great guide. I love openbox. The joy of logging in and everything appearing instantly is very refreshing. Just a note about OpenOffice. With KDE4, you need “export OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde4”.

    98. Cuong Dang said

      Thank you very much for offering a great guide to the community.

      I have just created a backup page on my Google Docs for this great guide.
      Everyone can view it (publicly viewable)at:


    99. […] urukrama's weblog – Openbox guide […]

    100. […] Nautilus has a tendency to take over your desktop if you are an OpenBox user.  If you are unsure of what I am saying, just launch Nautilus and you will see what I am talking about.  Your desktop wallpaper image will likely change or go away, and you will loose the ability to right-click on your desktop and obtain the beautiful menu that you are so accustomed to seeing.  Urukrama has written a very detailed guide to using OpenBox (much of which also applies to Pekwm) and he explains how to prevent Nautilus from taking over your desktop settings. […]

    101. ethnopunk said

      How do I save my desktops? I keep having to add them (I need at least 4), but when I exit they disappear. Obconf says I have four, but doesn’t seem to set them.

    102. […] fbpanel will install and work inside of openbox…e/#systemtrays […]

    103. yuga said

      Greate! Really healpful, thanks a lot.

    104. […] ormai deprecato programma….Ecco qualche fonte che mi ha ispirato:ArchWiki Urukama1) Installare Arch e X:Qua vi linko la mia guida sul, da seguire fino al punto 9. […]

    105. […] Archlinuz Xz , Urukrama, […]

    106. marinz said


      any way for preload gtk base library for gtk applications? (like gnome-applications, Firefox, etc..)?

      thx.. nice guide 😉

    107. Jitendra Nair said

      Nice guide, quite useful.

    108. […] and you can set this up a million different ways. Here's a good link to get you started: Urukrama's Openbox Guide. (I don't know about making GTK apps look like QT. I run mostly GTK stuff, so I configure QT to […]

    109. […] Informationen zum Fenstermanager Openbox. Urukrama bietet hierzu einen vollständigen englischen Openbox Guide und ist meiner Meinung nach damit auch die Referenz im Netz. Weiterhin liegt ein Schwerpunkt seines […]

    110. […] 先要了解下openbox,参考网上的教程openbox-guide和Openbox 入门指南,然后从仓库安装,重启后就可在GDM中选择openbox会话,当然你还可以选择openbox只是作为Gnome的窗口管理器,替代Gnome默认的metaciy,但我选前者,这样才来得彻底。 […]

    111. maruel said

      Excelent guide, thank you very much for sharing it

    112. Prinzzchavo said

      I have been trying the Tiling under Openbox and…well, let me suggest an alternative:

      (East, West, South…)

      Yesterday, as I tried to deal with both tile and whaw, I found them quite useful for automated tiling, but sometimes they don´t behave as we expect them to, or sometimes we simply want some “irregular” tiling.

      And that’s where Openbox gives us the choice of manual resizing. Join that to a keybinding in your rc.xml and… well, you got a fast way of controlling the tiling.

      You can even do something like this:

    113. […] Openbox guide « urukrama’s weblog (tags: linux debian) […]

    114. Lalo. said

      Wow excelent guide 😉

    115. Transset-df is in repositories 🙂 Fyi

    116. Taoshi said

      Gracias por tan buena calidad de guía!
      Tnkz for this excelent guide! the years pass but openbox is just better and better XD

    117. Mike said

      Thanks for posting this, I found it very informative. 🙂

    118. Patrick said

      I just wanted to add that this is my absolute favourite website connected to openbox. My eee PC’s are happily serving openbox to me and the tools are used are all found via this site.

    119. Ed said

      Nice guide. Thanks a lot. I was looking for a way to remove window decorations for chrome, autostart applications to different desktops and this was just what I needed. Much appreciated.

    120. Saul Hidalgo said

      It is the BEST site to customize OpenBox. THANKS you very much!
      Good job.

    121. slifer2006 said

      Awesome Tutorial, i love this.
      Thanks so much pal 🙂

    122. Saul Hidalgo said

      It is really amazing. Great job!!!!!!!!

    123. […] und Drittens Tips zu Openbox finden sich im Netz reichlich. Sehr zu empfehlen sind der Openbox Guide von Urukrama und der Wikieintrag bei Openbox ist selbst gut dokumentiert. Ein Blick in die […]

    124. Irek said

      Thanks man, this is what I really need.

    125. […] used an Openbox tutorial written by Urukrama, which was very thorough — it contained more information about programs than I thought […]

    126. ga5ket said

      Fantastic! Just started getting into Openbox. Your guide rocks!

    127. ocameredesupraveghere said

      Hey guys, nice to be here! I love!

    128. bapun said

      excellent guide , thanks for this…..

    129. […] Ambiance Cold Box by GhostAssassin, which works. I did discover from Urukrama’s blog under the Openbox Guide there is a .deb package containing a stack of Openbox themes directly available from the Ubuntu […]

    130. […] There are also other distros which use Openbox such as the Arch Linux based ArchBang and CTKArch, Lubuntu and TinyMe. If you want to learn a little bit more about how to configure Openbox visit urukrama‘s Openbox Guide. […]

    131. Valera said

      Realy nice guide about openbox wm. Thanks.
      That is I was looking for a customize and tune my Openbox envirement.

    132. Facundo said

      Thank you, than you very muuch!

    133. […] Urukramas Openbox Guide (englisch) Openbox im ArchWiki (englisch) Openbox bei […]

    134. Cym13 said

      I’m sorry but there’s something I would like to do and I didn’t found in this article (but it’s really the only thing ;).

      Actually, I would be able have a grid of Desktops instead of just a line (I am on ubuntu and my previous window-manager let could do it : I’m addict).

      Is there a solution ? Or may I have to forget this idea ?

      Thank you.

    135. RiyaButler said

      I’m an American. I would like to Set up an Animation Studio in India. Currently i’m researching for computer animators. I picked India mainly because it is lower priced as compared with U.S. I need to fully understand the procedures for starting off a business in India, especially an animation studio.

      Could you people please guide me out?

    136. ne4ve said

      Just wanted to say thanks. A very helpful guide to a noob Openbox user.

    137. 6invivo said

      Urukrama, a fantastic article. Everything I need is there. I am using also a netbook, so its resources are rather limited, but basically I like when the machine runs as fast as possible. I do not like that bloated stuff found massively elsewhere. I chose ubuntu and the next step was to get fast response from the desktop. I chose openbox. You helped a lot. Cheers

    138. Selim said

      Excellent tutorial to begin using openbox.

    139. groggygreebo said

      wow ! this has to be one of the best openbox manuals I have ever read !

      thanks a lot for putting all this on the web !

    140. Marti said

      Thank you for section 10! I experienced the same thing in losing my Openbox menu by starting Nautilus. I now have Openbox, PCMan-FM, and the Avant window navigator. Yes, it looks very 90s, but I do not like this forced, upcoming Unity desktop on Ubuntu, despite the fact that coding must have taken really smart programmers.

      This really is a great Openbox guide.

    141. > Note that, unlike Fluxbox or Icewm, Openbox does not support icons in the menus.

      Openbox v3.5 does.

    142. Mattia said

      grazie 🙂

    143. roger64 said


      Your text is very clear and provides precise and up to the point information.

      I wished to prepare an Openbox session to stand the incoming Gnome 3 storm. I managed to get it much quicker than expected thanks to your guide.

    144. […] aquellos que tengan Openbox, aquí les van 22 temas para instalar. Y si no saben cómo hacerlo, acá tienen un toda la información que necesitan para hacer los cambios, pero está en […]

    145. Joe Linux said

      Is there a way to configure Open Box so that you can just single click on a desktop icon to launch it?

    146. […] benutze sehr zufrieden den Window-Manager openbox ohne Desktop-Umgebung mit tint2 als Panel, conky zum Anzeigen von Informationen auf dem Desktop, […]

    147. […] I want to tile two or three windows. In the past I’ve used tile or whaw for this. I also know of such applications like Pytyle. But all of these require me to have an additional […]

    148. diesel said

      Killer guide, it has helped me through many tweaks already and I’ll be coming back for more as I work through my customization.


    149. amateurlivesex1 said

      I think that people will do more than they used to. any problem will be solved successfully. good luck!
      ” Amateur Telefonsex “

    150. […] nak bagi panduan untuk install pure OpenBox dalam Ubuntu. Aku buat ni pun berdasarkan panduan dari sini, sini dan sini, kemudian aku ubahsuai mengikut keselesaan sendiri. Anggap korang dah ada satu […]

    151. […] Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    152. paijo said

      you was forgeting tint2 as cool panel… 🙂

    153. paijo said

      oh… you got it…. 😀

    154. Clive said

      Brilliant Guide..

      Thanks very much, saved me a lot of time.

    155. Greg said

      I appreciate all of your work on this. It has been tremendously helpful.


    156. Windsor said

      This is an awesome guide; I keep coming back here to help perfect my openbox config. I run Debian and decided that the default gnome GUI was a bit too heavy for my taste. Openbox rocks, and thanks very much for writing this!

    157. […] Página muy buena con muy extensa información sobre instalación, elección de aplicaciones y configuración de openbox: […]

    158. arunreddy said

      Thanks a lot for the wonderful guide. Super Awesome.

    159. […] is a place where you could place “things”. More info. Answered by […]

    160. Bernd said

      There is another use for using it with xcompmgr which is not mentioned here in this guide: If you run xcompmgr -a (and no other options) it will not draw fancy shadows and stuff but it will instead *greatly* boost performance when moving windows and and switching between windows on the same workspace. It will enable the x-server’s hardware-accelerated compositing and applications whose windows were partially hidden will not need to be redrawn when they come into the foreground. This makes switching between windows on the same workspace happen not only fast but instantaneously, even on older hardware! (tested with an old IBM ThinkPad and open source radeon driver).

      This might be worth mentioning in the above section about xcompmgr.

    161. Alex said

      Your guide is well done!
      Thanks a lot

    162. PaBLoX said

      It would be great if you update this guide a bit. Some points are very outdated. If you need help in something, contact me.

      Regards and congrats 😉

    163. evilestmark said

      Typo: search for “-config” replace with “–config”.

    164. […] found a good tutorial about customizing OpenBox in a website, please visit this tutorial for more details about customizing […]

    165. Colin said

      I’ve been referencing this page off and on for around 3 years. Just thought I’d finally say thanks.

    166. sigdrifa said

      I’m currently trying out OB on my netbook running Ubuntu, since full-fledged desktop environments, including the 2D version of Unity, are painfully slow. This guide was a great help, thanks a lot!

      Just one question: Can you get a Gnome Look & Feel for LibreOffice as well?

    167. Antony A. N. Other said

      I always come here for reference. Thank you mate.

      An addition though:

      You can change the openbox theme manually by adding the theme name ( name of the theme directory either in /usr/share/themes or ~/.themes) between the tags in rc.xml

    168. glen said

      nice tutorial. trying it out on my Arch Linux. will get back if i have any doubts. thank you…

    169. me said

      The Openbox menu now (3.5) supports icons:

    170. basil said

      This is amazing. Thank you so much!

    171. […] y muy buena información de cómo dejar al pelo Openbox en la Wiki de Archlinux y también en el blog de urukrama. Hay varias cosas de Openbox que me gustan mucho y que, para mí, lo erigen como uno de los […]

    172. Carl said

      Thanks for this excellent tutorial. This really helped me a lot!

    173. Arthro said

      Excellent !
      Thank you very much !

    174. […] guida ad OB sul blog di Urukrama (leggermente datata, ma nel blog ci sono informazioni […]

    175. […] how-to on Urukrama blog (slightly out of date, but you’ll find some updated blog posts on […]

    176. […] edits the right-click desktop menu. This looks like a good guide to get everything started in OB: Openbox guide | urukrama's weblog There is some information about automounting in there as well. Try what he suggests before you try […]

    177. Del G said

      This is a very comprehensive guide. Thanks

    178. DIXX said

      This is the greatest article that i ever encountered about openbox.
      Thank you very much for your detailed analysis. Keep up good work.

    179. I love your Openbox guide so much, I wrote an article about it on my blog. I don’t have a huge readrship, but I get over 3k people a month…

    180. […] See how to set up keyboard bindings for Openbox | Fluxbox. […]

    181. Igor Ugolnokov said

      great job! very helpful indeed

    182. Paul said

      Extremely helpful! Thanks!

    183. Duncan said

      Thanks for this awesome guide.

    184. Stephen said

      Thank you for all your work on this very useful guide.

    185. […] it was based. In my opinion, the most transparent and digestible knowledge can be found at this link. In addition, I recommend a look at the guides man obprofile and xgo. In the nearest future I will […]

    186. great guide!

      Still perfect for ubuntu 14.04. Congrats and thanks!

    187. Anonymous said

      […] es tremendamente rapido y estable. Te dejo una guia Openbox en Ingles la mejor que hay en Web – Openbox guide | urukrama's weblog Registrate para […]

    188. Jim Matheny said

      Can You tell me why Openbox divided up my hard drive into four sections? 120MB Active Healthy Primary Partition, 7.45GB Healthy Primary Partition, 658.64GB Healthy Primary Partition, and 32.36GB unallocated. Can I extend all the Partitions to be one Active Healthy Primary Partition?

    189. […] Nice Openbox guide […]

    190. Marco said

      This tutorial works with FreeBSD

    191. liuxueyang said

      thank you so much! great blog.

    192. Desktopper Harley said

      If you’re looking for a really decent system monitor including date and time display, check out xmobar. It’s simply brilliant.

    193. fossi said

      This guide is exactly what I was looking for quite a while. Thank you for your effort to line this up and for sharing!

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

    195. […] The OpenBox Guide by Urukrama […]

    196. […] Urukrama’s Openbox guide […]

    197. […] ako samostatného DE (Desktop Environment; desktopové prostredie). Niečo málo o OpenBoxe: Urukrama, Arch […]

    198. […] Openbox guide | urukrama’s weblog – Both allow you to change the Gtk theme and font, … got my basic setup there – Openbox guide and Openbox FAQ from urukrama’s […] Reply. Sobre o OpenBox … […]

    199. […] Urukramas Openbox Guide (englisch) Openbox im ArchWiki (englisch) Openbox bei […]

    200. […] In this video I show you how to theme and configure your Linux Openbox Installation. Hope you enjoy! Links: Openbox guide […]

    201. Excellent article. Note that, unlike Fluxbox or Icewm, Openbox does not support icons in the menus. However this might need update

    202. Okeke Uchechukwu C said

      2017, still a great guide. For my icons I use nautilus file manager(I love appearance of gnome apps), I use nitrogen to set wallpaper initially and variety as wallpaper changer(could not get nautilus to set wallpaper). Ubuntu openbox seems heavy, so I used antix base linux , installed openbox and removed the other window managers. The result, lightweight and rock solid computer.OMG openbox! No more DEs!

    203. […] como configurar ligações de teclado para Openbox, e se você quiser usar o daemon Skippy-XD em vez disso, veja esta página […]

    204. Rosika Schreck said


      I´ve got a question which I believe has something to do with openbox.

      From time to time my mouse-pointer changes to a symbol that represents something like an arrow melted together with a loading-circle.
      I tried to find out something about it and believe that it means “background activity”.

      So far so good. But there´s one thing I cannot really explain:

      Whenever I open my file-manager pcmanfm in a “normal” way, i.e. by clicking on a desktop-icon or the respective symbol in the task-bar, the window immediately opens – without any mose-pointer activity.

      However when I start pcmanfm by clicking the key-combination “WIN-key + e” the window opens as well but with the addition of the “background-activity” symbol.
      That one can be seen for about 20 seconds and then vanishes.

      Another example:

      I use “firejail” (sandbox) and the associated tool “firetools”. When opening “firetools” from the menu there´s the same thing: background activity-symbol for a few seconds. But when opening via command line: no symbol whatsoever.

      Just to be clear: everything works fine without any delay – even with that mouse-pointer-symbol. I just want to know why that is?

      And: when right clicking on my desktop everything that opens via the right-click menu produces this “background-activity”-symbol.

      Just to be clear: everything works fine without any delay – even with that mouse-pointer-symbol. I just want to know why that is?

      Many thanks in advance.


      system: Linux/Lubuntu 16.04.4 LTS, 64 bit

    205. […] In this video I show you how to theme and configure your Linux Openbox Installation. Hope you enjoy! Links: Openbox guide […]

    206. […] my laptop to quit Fluxbox. Then i try another WM, Openbox. With the power of Google i found greate site that teach how to configure Openbox from scratch. I’m in love with how light weight it is. […]

    207. hoek said

      Nice article, thanks!

    208. Imanifew said

      Hello to all
      In this baffling span, I disposition you all
      Prize your family and friends

    209. Thanks for your continued support 🙂

    210. […] vollständige Dokumentation zu Openbox finden Sie unter Openbox. Kleiner Tipp für einen Systemmonitor – […]

    211. […] openboxu akosamostatného DE (Desktop Environment; desktopové prostredie).Niečo málo o OpenBoxe: Urukrama, Arch […]

    212. asharrem said

      Fantastic Guide. Helped me a lot on my Custom builds.
      With regards to “Cascading windows (un-tiling), I figured out how to do it using ForEach Actions. Thought I would share the love…

      I use monitor 2, but you can easily keybind for other monitors 🙂

    213. […] Few other apps – Feh and Nitrogen […]

    214. […] Dock is a place where you could place “things”. More info. […]

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