Lightweight and customizable windows manager, introducing fluxbox

December 9th, 2006 mysurface Posted in fluxbox, Misc, nautilus, X11 | Hits: 27528 | 2 Comments »

Okay, when I first install fluxbox, I feel so lost, there have nothing at all, donno how to access my programs, donno what to do, it is clean and clear. With the ease of geek00L‘s hints, and fluxbox wiki, I have learn the way to cope with it. I have customized my fluxbox, I have my own set of key binding to execute programs I usually runs. I have my root menu, where I can access some programs which I do not bind on any specific key. I have my startup script which automatically load all the programs when I login. I compile my own fluxbox, and now I can’t feel comfortable without fluxbox.

I am a windows user, and become gnome user, and I install fluxbox on top of ubuntu. Therefore my customization is some how have connections to these tools. Okay, let me start with installation. Fluxbox should be in your repository, if not, download it from fluxbox official site.

To download at debian based distro, use apt-get

apt-get install fluxbox

To download at red hat, fedora based, use yum

yum install fluxbox

You are done installing, to login to fluxbox, easy, logout KDE or Gnome (most distro have either one installed by default, just my assumption) and choose other session, you should be able to find “fluxbox”, pick that, and login.

Its emptiness! fluxbox is your drawing block, you now can start yo sketch some outline. First, you have to read up the fluxbox wiki for details customization, they are well written, I am not going to repeat the same steps at here, because I do not think I can write better compare to them. So, why this post? I wish to share my experiences and gives some examples to start up.

So for all simple customization, its all in text format and all configuration files is locate under home directory ~/.fluxbox

Most of the time, I only touches 3 files, they are

menu – where you customized how your root menu is going to look like, insert all your frequent use of programs here. To get root menu show up, right click on the desktop.

keys – keybinding, you may like to have your own set of shortcut key, for example when I hit windows-key and ‘f’, I would like to fire up my firefox.

startup – put all your programs to load at startup.

Fireup your editor, and edit the file menu under ~/.fluxbox, you will notice, the first line is like

[include] (/etc/X11/fluxbox/fluxbox-menu)

[begin] is begin of root menu, [end] is to close the tag. The (fluxbox) in a bracket is the wording shows up as a title of root menu, change any name you like.

Next, add in your entry, for me, I add a submenu and add all program list in my submenu.

[submenu] (Surface)
[exec] (Firefox) {firefox} <~/.icons/OSX/scalable/apps/mozilla-firefox.png>
[exec] (Gaim) {gaim} <~/.icons/OSX/scalable/apps/gaim.png>
[include] (/etc/X11/fluxbox/fluxbox-menu)

Observed at above, I add a submenu call “Surface” and in my submenu have 2 programs, (Firefox) is the name that shows in the submenu, {firefox} is the command line to trigger firefox when the menu is clicked, and <~/.icons/OSX/scalable/apps/mozilla-firefox.png> is the location of my icon.

Bare in mind, if you want to show the icon in png format, your fluxbox must compiled with imlib2 support. To check whether your fluxbox is compiled with support imlib2, do this

fluxbox -info

Check out some hints to compile your own fluxbox here.

Save it when you done editing, and right click on your desktop to see the results.

You can see some default settings come with fluxbox for switching workspace. Mod1 is Alt key, Mod1 1 is pressing alt key and number 1 to switch to first workspace. What we need is to have keybinding to trigger programs. I am a windows user, so I used to pressing windows key + E to trigger file explorer, and I like nautilus so much, so I customized windows key + E to trigger nautilus, add in entry as bellow:

Mod4 e :ExecCommand nautilus --no-desktop --browser

Mod4 is windows key. Nautilus always start with gnome-desktop by default and it do cover up my fluxbox desktop, so i disable gnome desktop with –no-dektop and browser mode with –browser.

The easiers script, add in the programs you wanna load during startup, I start my gkrellm (a tool uses for monitor cpu, disk and internet traffics) during startup, I add this entry:

gkrellm &

Start the things you want and put it into background with & sign.

That’s it you can do? No! but I can’t put all the tips at one post, fluxbox gives you more to do with. I think, three simple examples here is enough for you to start up. Discover more in fluxbox wiki.

Beautify your fluxbox is fun with styles, where you even can design ur own style using only normal editor. At last, this is one of my fluxbox screenshot. Have fun!

2 Responses to “Lightweight and customizable windows manager, introducing fluxbox”

  1. Andrew Tokarski Says:

    i’m quite disappointed by this post :) but i’m delighted that somebody shouted “fluxbox”, maybe cause some response and maybe convince others to experiment. fluxbox is super for those who want to have low memory usage (old machines!) or just make some heavy app development with extensible use of memory (me). but the final outlook of tuned fluxbox may be beautiful – just check out styles and ~/.fluxbox/init file. maybe you will stick to this for good, have fun! :)

  2. [...] With this, you can bind to your key in fluxbox or other X windows manager that support key binding. [...]

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