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It is entirely possible to run Openbox as a standalone window manager alongside modular components to completely replicate the functionality of more heavyweight/resource intensive Desktop Environments such as Gnome, KDE or XFCE. There is even a Desktop Environment (LXDE) built around Openbox.


Power management

Tips for Power management and Suspend and Hibernate.

Menu Generation

Pipe menus are applications that dynamically generate your Openbox menu. They can provide a dynamic applications menu, system information, amongst other fun things. See here for more information, and to download them.

Panels, widgets, desktops, pagers, etc..

Besides the programs included in GNOME and KDE...

  • Avant Window Navigator "(AWN/Awn) is a dock-like navigation bar for the linux desktop that positions itself at the bottom of the screen. It can be used to keep track of open windows and behaves like a normal window list."
  • BBDock "BBDock is an application launcher for Blackbox (and others) that allows you to create application buttons in the slit/dock. It works with PNG files rather than XPM images. It supports alpha blending at 16, 24 and 32 bits color-depth. Also, the raise-window function is available to window managers which implement the EWMH specification." (untested. EWMH capable) Tested by CrossWind, Fully operational!
  • bbtools "BB-tools are a number of simple X-Window programs to display the status of different resources. The style and part of the code is copied from Blackbox a small and extremely fast X11-Windowmanager."
  • bmpanel2 "Nice NETWM-compatible panel for X11."
  • conky "Conky is a free, light-weight system monitor for X, that displays any information on your desktop. Conky is licensed under the GPL and runs on Linux and BSD."
  • fbpanel "fbpanel is a lightweight, NETWM compliant desktop panel. It works with any NETWM compliant window manager (e.g. xfwm4, sawfish, openbox, metacity, kde wm)"
  • feh An image viewer with many features.
  • flauncher "The project is intendent to replace the common panels (top panel and bottom panel in Gnome). It gives speedup of application management reducing the distance of mouse movements." (An attempt to get the panel functionality into a separate window.)
  • gDesklets "gDesklets is a system for bringing mini programs (desklets), such as weather forecasts, news tickers, system information displays, or music player controls, onto your desktop, where they are sitting there in a symbiotic relationship of eye candy and usefulness. The possibilities are really endless and they are always there to serve you whenever you need them, just one key-press away. The system is not restricted to one desktop environment, but currently works on most of the modern Unix desktops (including GNOME, KDE, Xfce)."
  • iDesk "iDesk gives users of minimal wm's (fluxbox, blackbox, openbox, windowmaker...) icons on their desktop. The icon graphics are either from a png or svg (vector) file and support some eyecandy effects like transparency. Each icon can be confgured to run one or more shell commands and the actions which run those commands are completely configurable. In a nutshell if you want icons on your desktop and you don't have or dont't want KDE or gnome doing it, you can use iDesk."
  • kooldock "A kool dock for KDE. It attemps to resemble the Mac OSX dock."
  • nitrogen "Nitrogen is a background browser and setter for X windows. It is written in C++ using the gtkmm toolkit. It can be used in two modes: browser and recall. Nitrogen has been in development for over 2 years, due to real life and laziness. For more info, check out the features section."
  • Oboinus "X11 background previewer and setter."
  • ObPager "OBPager is a lightweight pager designed to be used with NetWM-compliant window managers like OpenBox. Unlike many other pagers out there, OBPager has very few dependencies, requiring only Xlib and glibc++ (no Gnome or KDE necessary)."
  • perlpanel "PerlPanel is an attempt to build a useable, lean panel program (like Gnome's gnome-panel and KDE's Kicker) in Perl, using GTK 2. It has an object-oriented design for easy customisation and extension, and an applet architecture that means that you can create an applet in a matter of minutes."
  • pypanel "PyPanel is a lightweight panel/taskbar written in Python and C for X11 window managers. It can be easily customized to match any desktop theme or taste. PyPanel works with EWMH compliant WMs (Openbox, PekWM, FVWM, etc.) and is distributed under the GNU General Public License v2."
  • PyTyle "PyTyle is a manual tiling manager that can slide into any EWMH compliant window manager, inspired by XMonad. It will allow you to enable/disable tiling on a per screen per workspace basis, and continually tile your windows."
  • ROX Desktop "ROX is a fast, user friendly desktop which makes extensive use of drag-and-drop. The interface revolves around the file manager, or filer, following the traditional Unix view that `everything is a file' rather than trying to hide the filesystem beneath start menus, wizards, or druids. The aim is to make a system that is well designed and clearly presented. The ROX style favours using several small programs together instead of creating all-in-one mega-applications."
  • Screenlets "Screenlets are small owner-drawn applications (written in Python) that can be described as "the virtual representation of things lying/standing around on your desk". Sticknotes, clocks, rulers, ... the possibilities are endless."
  • Screenpager "Screenpager is a screenwise pager for X workstations running Xinerama. It works like a desktop pager, but acts at the level of screens. Instead of paging the desktop as a whole, it can page each screen independently, or move pages from screen to screen."
  • Set Layout A small program to set your desktops into a grid if you do not use a pager.
  • stalonetray "Stalonetray is a stand-alone and KDE system tray (notification area) for X Window System/X11 (e.g. X.Org or XFree86). It has full XEMBED support and minimal dependencies: an X11 lib only. Stalonetray works with virtually any EWMH-compliant window manager."
  • Super Karamba "SuperKaramba is, in simple terms, a tool that allows you to easily create interactive eye-candy on your KDE desktop."
  • SuperSwitcher "SuperSwitcher is a (more feature-ful) replacement for the Alt-Tab window switching behavior and Ctrl-Alt-Left/Right/Up/Down workspace switching behavior that is currently provided by Metacity."
  • tint2 panel/taskbar "tint2 is a simple panel/taskbar unintrusive and light (memory / cpu / aestetic)."
  • visibility-python "gtk2 x11 pager / window list." (click snapshot to download a .tar.gz)
  • wbar "wbar is a quick launch bar. It's developed with speed in mind and is highly tweakable."
  • wmctrl "wmctrl is a UNIX/Linux command line tool to interact with an EWMH/NetWM compatible X Window Manager". Example of changing number of desktops:
    wmctrl -n 4
  • xfce4-panel "The Xfce panel supports multiple panels, with many options for their position, appearance, transparency and behavior. There are many items available by default to customize your panels, like application launchers with detachable menus, a graphical pager, a tasklist, a clock, a system tray, a show/hide desktop switcher, and even more."
  • xprop is utility for displaying and changing X server window and font properties. To change number of columns and rows of desktops grid layout run:
xprop \
  -root \
  -format _NET_DESKTOP_LAYOUT 32c \
  -set _NET_DESKTOP_LAYOUT <orientation>,<columns>,<rows>,<starting_corner>
where <orientation> is «0» or «1»; <starting_corner> is «0», «1», «2» or «3»; <columns>, <rows> - number of columns and rows respectively (more). Example:
xprop \
  -root \
  -format _NET_DESKTOP_LAYOUT 32c \
  -set _NET_DESKTOP_LAYOUT 0,2,2,0
  • ksuperkey (daemon) uses XTEST extension to bind the modifier key (like ctrl, alt (meta), windows (super)) to any shortcut (like Alt+F1).

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


ksuperkey -e 'Super_L=Alt_L|F1' &
This allow you to open Openbox menu using super (windows) key.
  • xdotool "lets you simulate keyboard input and mouse activity, move and resize windows, etc. It does this using X11's XTEST extension and other Xlib functions".
# focus and raise xterm window
xdotool \
   search \
      --maxdepth 2 \
      --onlyvisible \
      --all \
      --name xterm \
   windowfocus \

# open Openbox menu, when mouse in top-left corner
# (Alt+F1 must be bind to open root-menu)
xdotool \
   behave_screen_edge \
      --delay 300 \
      --quiesce 3000 \
      top-left \
   key "Alt_L+F1"
  • xkb-switch "is a C++ program that allows to query and change the XKB layout state". Example of using "Win+space" to switch keyboard layout:

<keybind key="W-space">
   <action name="Execute">
      <command>xkb-switch --next</command>

Other links

You can find lots of dockapps at Some nice ones are «wmCalClock», «wmnd», «wmix» and «wmpinboard».

There are other programs of interest in the community portal.

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