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Home » , » Openbox is a highly configurable, next generation window manager with extensive standards support.

Openbox is a highly configurable, next generation window manager with extensive standards support.

Openbox is a free window manager for the X Window System, licensed under the GNU General Public License. Openbox was originally derived from Blackbox 0.65.0, but has been totally rewritten in the C programming language and since version 3.0 is not based upon any code from Blackbox.

Openbox is designed to be small, fast, and fully compliant with the Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual (ICCCM) and Extended Window Manager Hints (EWMH). It supports many features such as menus by which the user can control applications or which display various dynamic information. Openbox is the standard window manager in LXDE, and is used in Linux distributions such as CrunchBang Linux, Lubuntu and TinyMe.

The primary author of Openbox is Dana Jansens of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Openbox is a highly configurable, next generation window manager with extensive standards support.

The *box visual style is well known for its minimalistic appearance. Openbox uses the *box visual style, while providing a greater number of options for theme developers than previous *box implementations. The theme documentation describes the full range of options found in Openbox themes.

Openbox lets you bring the latest applications outside of a full desktop environment. Most modern applications have been written with GNOME and KDE in mind. With support for the latest freedesktop.org standards, as well as careful adherence to previous standards, Openbox provides an environment where applications work the way they were designed to.

Openbox is a highly configurable window manager. It allows you to change almost every aspect of how you interact with your desktop and invent completely new ways to use and control it. It can be like a video game for controlling windows. But Openbox can also be kept extremely simple, as it is in the default setup, meaning that it can suit just about anybody. Openbox gives you control without making you do everything.

Openbox makes desktop environments better. By running Openbox inside the GNOME or K desktop environments, you can combine their ease and functionality with the power of Openbox. Your desktop becomes cleaner and faster, and is in your control, when you use Openbox.

Starting Openbox from a graphical log in.

Log in options for Openbox

Openbox provides three menu options that will be in the Session Type menu when you are logging in, if they are available. The "GNOME/Openbox" option will only be present if you have GNOME installed, and the "KDE/Openbox" option will appear only if KDE is installed.

Openbox running in the K Desktop Environment

Using Openbox in a desktop environment (GNOME and KDE).

Openbox can run inside the GNOME, KDE, or LXDE desktop environments, giving you all the power and features of Openbox alongside everything these desktop environments have to offer. Options to run Openbox inside of these desktop environments are provided by default in the Session Type menu when logging in graphically, as seen in Figure 1. Choosing the "GNOME/Openbox" or "KDE/Openbox" option will log into the respective desktop environment with Openbox replacing the default window manager.

Openbox running in the GNOME desktop environment

If you want to have a choice between starting in LXDE or other options (including Openbox) then it's important not to use lxdm, the LXDE session manager, as this is in early stages of development and has a bug (still exists at December 2010) which interferes with sessions other than LXDE.

See Using Openbox in GNOME for further tips and assistance.

Using Openbox without a desktop environment (The lightweight approach).

Openbox running without a desktop environment

By default, a third "Openbox" option is provided in the Session Type menu when logging in graphically, as can be seen in Figure 1. This option will run a more lightweight Openbox session without any desktop environment or session manager.

When choosing this option, the autostart file is executed before launching Openbox, so that you can run any applications you want to start alongside Openbox and set up the environment as neccessary. Openbox comes with a default autostart which sets up an environment for both GNOME and KDE applications to run properly in (if you have them installed), as well as providing support for SCIM language input. See the autostart documentation for more details on setting it up.

To have a taskbar on screen, install and use a panel program like gnome-panel, pypanel, perlpanel or fbpanel. Our list of programs to use with Openbox lists a number of such programs.

Starting Openbox without the graphical log in.

If you don't use a graphical log in, there are three programs included with Openbox for launching Openbox sessions similar to the three menu options discussed above.

Most likely if you are not using a graphical log in, then you are using startx to begin an X session. In that case you need to run Openbox from your ~/.xinitrc file. Rather than just running openbox however, you should choose from one of the three programs listed below:

  • openbox-session

This runs an Openbox session without any desktop environment or session manager, which is like selecting "Openbox" from the graphical log in. See the autostart documentation for how to easily start applications along with Openbox.

  • openbox-gnome-session

This runs a GNOME session with Openbox as the window manager, which is like selecting "GNOME/Openbox" from the graphical log in.

  • openbox-kde-session

This runs a KDE session with Openbox as the window manager, which is like selecting "KDE/Openbox" from the graphical log in.

The default configuration.

Take a look at the details of the default configuration to learn what the default keyboard bindings are.

Further readin.

There's a lot of help documentation on the site, in the help section. Or see the FAQ for solutions to common problems.


Gentoo + OpenBox, pypanel, conky, gvim, gnome-terminal, gtk: stardust, icons: simplygrey, wp: stormtrooper. +info in image description.

Openbox Elementary Desktop

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Linguas OS 1.3 with Openbox: lxpanel, tickle text (editing rc.xml), tclscreen

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Crunchbang (Ubuntu with openbox) screenshot with the programs thunar and gnome-terminal (rtorrent, snownews, moc-player). Conky and tint was also visible. GTK-theme: MurrinaDuoClean; ob-theme: dyne; gtk-icon-theme: ShiningBlack

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Openbox on Gnome, with a personal theme. By postlogic

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Openbox with Gnome and dropshadows. By smoon

Openbox with a custom theme. By borosai

Openbox with bear2 theme. By nightm4re

Openbox with Totem, Dates, Tasks, Drivel, PyPanel and UbuntuStudio theme. By OgMaciel

KDE/Openbox with the new Onyx themes in 3.4.1. By Dana

Openbox with sodio theme. By crimeboy

Openbox with absE theme. By crimeboy

Openbox with zenyellow theme. By crimeboy

Openbox on OpenBSD. fbpanel, wmcpuload, wmmemload, wmdiskmon, urxvt, irssi, mplayer. By sysrq.

Openbox on Arch Linux using the Onyx Citrus theme, showing off the RSS pipe menu. By Borromini.

Openbox 3.4 on Zenwalk Linux using m0nst4-sky theme, with conky in bottom corner. By Bonzodog

Openbox on Gnome, Archlinux, using rezza Gillouche theme. By z3ppelin.

Openbox with gnome-panel, obpanel, thunderbird, firefox, gvim, urxvt. Running on ubuntu. By sysrq.

Minimalistic plain Openbox with conky and docker, with the Simple theme. By Roberth

Openbox 3.4.2, urxvt, irssi. conky, minipager. By changs

OB 3.4.2/Ubuntu FF conky, docker, tilda, ephiphany with transparency and drop shadows in Cukoo Spit. By Donnie

OB 3.4.4/Ubuntu, pypanel, gnome-terminal, irssi and the openbruise theme and wallpaper. by mrnorms

Openbox on FreeBSD using ipager, pypanel, conky, beep-media-player, bmp-rootvis with a simple theme and wallpaper. by Olivier

OB 3.4.2 with urxvt, conky, vlc and psi. True transparency (xcompmgr) enabled. Theme is ldc.

debian lenny/sid: openbox 3.4.2 (theme: flx3) + perlpanel + rxvt

Arch linux with OpenBox 3.4.4 with conky, running the beep-media-player.

Gentoo Linux with OpenBox: rxvt (terminal), xcompmgr (windowshadow), audacious (mediaplayer), tint2 (panel)

Slackware 12.1 with Openbox: pypanel, conky, netwmpager

Linguas OS with Openbox: tickle text, sakura terminal

Openbox on Debian. Urxvt, conky, patched pypanel, gvolwheel, background with nitrogen ... More about to come !

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Openbox on Debian with tint2 and Surreal theme.

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Debian gnu/linux, stable, lenny. roxterm, tcltext, openbox, conky, Xpostulate. no panels, no fluff.

Debian gnu/linux, stable, lenny. roxterm, tcltext, openbox, conky. no panels, no fluff.

Openbox / Archlinux on my eee pc 901. feh, tint2 panel, conky, roxterm, pcmanfm, mplayer, wicd.

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