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Example of Debian menu

Source installs or prepackaged .debs from will not configure your setup to show the Debian menu. There are a few simple steps to get it working.

If you have already installed openbox with a working Debian menu

Add the following line to your "~/.config/openbox/menu.xml" file (if it isn't there, copy it from "/etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml" file):

 <menu id="/Debian" />

You should place the line, where you would like it to appear in the root menu. Location matters!

Add one of following lines to your "~/.config/openbox/rc.xml" file between the "<menu>" and "</menu>" tags, before the code "<file>menu.xml</file>":


The second line allows you to copy the "debian-menu.xml" file from "/var/lib/openbox" to your local "~/.config/openbox" directory, where it becomes static (command update-menus will not affect it). You can then edit it by hand and your changes will be permanent.

That's all you should have to do, though it's a good idea to run command update-menus (from package "menu") as root every now and then, if you don't have a cron job assigned. It refreshes the list of currently installed apps.

Then choose "reconfigure" on your root menu, and you should get a Debian submenu within the root menu.

If you haven't had a working debian menu

This is a little trickier, but no big deal.

Then there's this little humdinger: you'll need to get a copy of an executable script named "openbox" and copy it to "/etc/menu-methods" directory. The script actually creates the Debian menu, when you run "update-menus.

Method 1

The easiest way is to install Openbox from official debian repository using "apt", "aptitude", "synaptic" or other program. This will normally ensure, that you have all the packages required to create and use the Debian menu.

After installation copy the script (from "/etc/menu-methods" directory) in a known directory (your home directory will fine), then uninstall the official openbox (with "apt", "aptitude", "synaptic" or other).

Then, copy the script back to "/etc/menu-methods" directory and finally, issue the command update-menus as root.

Method 2

If you don't want to do that, download an official Openbox package (.deb) from, create a dummy directory in "/tmp" and type the command

 dpkg-deb -x /path/to/official-openbox.deb < /tmp/dummy_dir

This will unpack a mini-filesystem, that includes the script you need, in "/tmp/dummy_dir/etc/menu-methods" directory. Set its execution permissions, copy the script to "/etc" directory and issue the command update-menus as root. The latter command will create the file "/var/lib/openbox/debian-menu.xml".

To set the execution permissions type:

 chmod ug+x /tmp/dummy_dir/etc/openbox

The reason to create a dummy directory is that running the dpkg-deb -x command will change the ownership of the directory to root. These could become a bit of a problem later; putting it in a subdirectory of "/tmp" makes that issue, inoffensive.

Also, you should make sure you have the following packages installed before running update-menus:

  • menu;
  • menu-xdg.

Now follow the instructions, listed above.

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