Narada's Fluxbox Guide

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Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Postby narada » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:36 pm

Narada's Fluxbox Guide

What is the point of this guide? To provide you with a quick walkthrough and introduction to a functional Fluxbox setup.

What is Fluxbox, you ask? Fluxbox is a speedy, lightweight, highly configurable window manager for X. Like it's Blackbox parent, Fluxbox uses plaintext configuration files to control and tweak just about any part of the window manager itself. Fluxbox is popular for its simplicity, low memory footprint, and of course, general sex-appeal. You can find out more at

My Setup


The above screenshot is of my current Fluxbox desktop. We will be looking at each aspect of this; The toolbar, the menu, the windows, applications, and decorations. Configuration files will also be demonstrated in order to provide better explanations.

The Menu
Because Fluxbox lacks a 'Start' menu commonplace in many window managers, having a functional menu is critical. Instead of a button on the toolbar, the menu in Fluxbox is opened by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop. Most of the time people use an automatically generated menu, but on occasion someone may need to do some fine tuning. All options on said menu can be edited using the configuration file found at ~/.fluxbox/menu:
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[begin] (Fluxbox) {} [exec] (aterm) {aterm} [exec] (thunar) {thunar} [exec] (firefox) {LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/ firefox} [exec] (Run) {fbrun } [submenu] (Net) {} [exec] (deluge) {deluge} [exec] (firefox) {firefox} [exec] (opera) {opera} [exec] (pidgin) {pidgin} [submenu] (Tools) {} [exec] (nmap) {aterm -e nmap} [exec] (putty) {putty} [exec] (wireshark) {sudo wireshark} [end] [end] [submenu] (Editors) {} [exec] (apophysis) {wine ~/.wine/drive_c/apo/Apophysis208beta2.exe} [exec] (emacs) {emacs} [exec] (evince) {evince} [exec] (mousepad) {mousepad} [exec] (openoffice) {soffice} [exec] (xaos) {xaos} [end] [submenu] (Multimedia) {} [exec] (consonance) {consonance} [exec] (exaile) {exaile} [exec] (gimp) {gimp} [exec] (idjc) {idjc} [exec] (mplayer) {mplayer} [exec] (vlc) {vlc} [end] [submenu] (X-utils) {} [exec] (nvidia-settings) {nvidia-settings} [exec] (gtkpod) {gtkpod} [exec] (k3b) {k3b} [exec] (VirtualBox) {VirtualBox} [exec] (xcalc) {xcalc} [exec] (Reload .Xdefaults) {xrdb -load /home/narada/.Xdefaults} [end] [submenu] (fluxbox menu) {} [config] (Configure) {} [submenu] (System Styles) {Choose a style...} [stylesdir] (/usr/share/fluxbox/styles) {} [end] [submenu] (User Styles) {Choose a style...} [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles) {} [end] [submenu] (Wallpapers) {} [wallpapers] (~/.fluxbox/backgrounds) {} [end] [workspaces] (Workspace List) {} [submenu] (Tools) {} [exec] (fluxconf) {fluxconf} [exec] (fluxkeys) {fluxkeys} [exec] (fluxmenu) {fluxmenu} [exec] (Window name) {xprop WM_CLASS|cut -d \" -f 2|xmessage -file - -center} [exec] (Run) {fbrun } [exec] (Regen Menu) {/usr/bin/fluxbox-generate_menu } [end] [commanddialog] (Fluxbox Command) {} [reconfig] (Reload config) {} [restart] (Restart) {} [exec] (About) {(fluxbox -v; fluxbox -info | sed 1d) 2> /dev/null | xmessage -file - -center} [separator] () {} [exec] (Suspend) {sudo pm-suspend} [exec] (Hibernate) {sudo pm-hibernate} [exit] (Exit) {} [end] [end]
The above is my ~/.fluxbox/menu. The syntax is actually quite simple. First, you must use [begin] to tell the file the menu configuration is starting. Once you have begun the menu you're free to use other options, like [exec].

[exec] is used to execute a program. Directly following [exec] is the (program name) you want to show up in the menu. Next comes the actual {command} used to execute said program. Say we wanted to run a program labeled "foo" that is traditionally started by using "bar" from a terminal:
Code: Select all
[exec] (foo) {bar}
Simple, right?

As you may have noticed in the screenshot, it is possible to have submenus. This is done by designating a [submenu]:
Code: Select all
[submenu] (Menu name) {}
The {} is blank in this case because we have no use for it - We just want to expand another menu. Following this [submenu] entry you may simply list things like normal. It is also important to note that once you are done listing the contents of your submenu you need to let Fluxbox know you're done by using a [end]. Let's look at our example again:
Code: Select all
[submenu] (Submenu 1) {} [exec] (foo) {bar} [end]
The menu also has some special cases when it comes to options. One can designate a wallpaper directory, Fluxbox styles/theme directory, make an entry to control various elements of the window manager itself, among other things. I will provide a few examples;

To create a wallpaper selecting menu entry:
Code: Select all
[submenu] (Wallpapers) {} [wallpapers] (~/.fluxbox/backgrounds) {} [end]
To create a styles/themes menu entry:
Code: Select all
[submenu] (User Styles) {} [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles) {} [end]
To create a "Run" dialog:
Code: Select all
[exec] (Run) {fbrun }
To create a separator in your menu:
Code: Select all
[separator] () {}
To reload your Fluxbox configuration files (instead of restarting X):
Code: Select all
[reconfig] (Reload config)
There are many other special instances, all of which can be found here: ... g_the_menu

The init File

The init file is located at ~/.fluxbox/init. It contains the configuration for the framework of the Fluxbox session itself. This one I'm not going to go into detail on as I could write a paper on it solely, so I'll just post mine and provide you with a link should you wish to learn more information:
Code: Select all
session.screen0.iconbar.mode: {static groups} (workspace) session.screen0.iconbar.iconTextPadding: 10l session.screen0.iconbar.alignment: Relative session.screen0.iconbar.wheelMode: Screen session.screen0.iconbar.usePixmap: true session.screen0.iconbar.iconWidth: 70 session.screen0.clientMenu.usePixmap: true session.screen0.slit.layer: Desktop session.screen0.slit.alpha: 255 session.screen0.slit.placement: RightBottom session.screen0.slit.onTop: false session.screen0.slit.direction: Vertical session.screen0.slit.acceptKdeDockapps: true session.screen0.slit.maxOver: false session.screen0.slit.autoHide: false session.screen0.slit.onhead: 0 255 session.screen0.tabs.maxOver: false session.screen0.tabs.intitlebar: true session.screen0.tabs.usePixmap: false session.screen0.overlay.lineWidth: 1 session.screen0.overlay.lineStyle: LineSolid session.screen0.overlay.joinStyle: JoinMiter session.screen0.overlay.capStyle: CapNotLast TopLeft 64 16 session.screen0.titlebar.left: Stick session.screen0.titlebar.right: Minimize Maximize Close session.screen0.window.focus.alpha: 255 session.screen0.window.unfocus.alpha: 200 session.screen0.toolbar.alpha: 255 session.screen0.toolbar.visible: true session.screen0.toolbar.height: 0 session.screen0.toolbar.layer: Normal session.screen0.toolbar.placement: BottomCenter session.screen0.toolbar.onTop: false session.screen0.toolbar.widthPercent: 70 workspacename, prevworkspace, nextworkspace, iconbar, systemtray, prevwindow, nextwindow, clock session.screen0.toolbar.onhead: 2 session.screen0.toolbar.maxOver: false session.screen0.toolbar.autoHide: false session.screen0.focusLastWindow: True session.screen0.focusNewWindows: true session.screen0.rowPlacementDirection: LeftToRight session.screen0.strftimeFormat: %l:%M session.screen0.imageDither: false session.screen0.followModel: Ignore session.screen0.fullMaximization: false session.screen0.decorateTransient: true session.screen0.rootCommand: fbsetbg -l session.screen0.resizeMode: Bottom session.screen0.tabFocusModel: ClickToTabFocus session.screen0.demandsAttentionTimeout: 500 session.screen0.desktopwheeling: true session.screen0.opaqueMove: true session.screen0.menuDelay: 0 session.screen0.defaultDeco: NORMAL session.screen0.maxIgnoreIncrement: true session.screen0.maxDisableResize: false session.screen0.userFollowModel: Follow session.screen0.workspacewarping: true session.screen0.windowMenu: session.screen0.focusModel: ClickFocus session.screen0.windowScrollReverse: false session.screen0.edgeSnapThreshold: 0 session.screen0.colPlacementDirection: TopToBottom session.screen0.noFocusWhileTypingDelay: 0l session.screen0.reversewheeling: false session.screen0.workspaceNames: one,two,three,four, session.screen0.windowPlacement: RowSmartPlacement session.screen0.showwindowposition: true session.screen0.autoRaise: true session.screen0.menuDelayClose: 0 session.screen0.windowScrollAction: session.screen0.maxDisableMove: false session.screen0.workspaces: 3 session.screen0.menuMode: Delay session.screen0.tooltipDelay: 500 session.screen0.clickRaises: true session.screen0.allowRemoteActions: false session.cacheLife: 5l session.doubleClickInterval: 250 session.slitlistFile: ~/.fluxbox/slitlist session.menuFile: ~/.fluxbox/menu session.imageDither: True session.tabPadding: 0 session.colorsPerChannel: 4 session.ignoreBorder: false session.groupFile: ~/.fluxbox/groups session.configVersion: 10 session.cacheMax: 200l session.styleFile: /home/narada/.fluxbox/styles/temp.cfg session.styleOverlay: ~/.fluxbox/overlay session.forcePseudoTransparency: false session.opaqueMove: False session.keyFile: ~/.fluxbox/keys session.modKey: Mod1 session.appsFile: ~/.fluxbox/apps session.tabsAttachArea: Window session.autoRaiseDelay: 250
More info: ... _init_file

The Startup File

The startup file is located at ~/.fluxbox/startup. It contains configuration details for what applications are to be started automatically when Fluxbox is launched. It is, in essence, a duplicate xinitrc file. Personally, I use 'startx' and .xinitrc to run my startup programs and ONLY have the line to execute Fluxbox in my startup file:
Code: Select all
# Applications you want to run with fluxbox. # MAKE SURE THAT APPS THAT KEEP RUNNING HAVE AN ''&'' AT THE END. exec /usr/bin/fluxbox # or if you want to keep a log: # exec /usr/bin/fluxbox -log "/home/narada/.fluxbox/log"
My .xinitrc:
Code: Select all
#!/bin/sh #~/.xinitrc # setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp sysresources=/etc/X11/xinit/.Xresources sysmodmap=/etc/X11/xinit/.Xmodmap # merge in defaults and keymaps if [ -f $sysresources ]; then xrdb -merge $sysresources fi if [ -f $sysmodmap ]; then xmodmap $sysmodmap fi # D-bus if which dbus-launch >/dev/null && test -z "$DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS"; then eval `dbus-launch --sh-syntax --exit-with-session` fi conky -dq & aterm1 & aterm2 & volwheel & exec startfluxbox

The Apps File

The apps file is located in ~/.fluxbox/apps. It contains configuration data for any specific program that you wanted to save particular settings for. Mine is below:
Code: Select all
[app] (name=aterm1) (class=XTerm) [Dimensions] {567 514} [Deco] {NONE} [IconHidden] {yes} [Layer] {10} [end] [app] (name=aterm2) (class=XTerm) [Dimensions] {567 514} [Position] (UPPERLEFT) {0 508} [Deco] {NONE} [IconHidden] {yes} [Layer] {12} [end] [app] (name=explorer.exe) (class=Wine) [end] [app] (name=Navigator) (class=Shiretoko) (role=browser) [Position] (UPPERLEFT) {567 0} [end] [app] (name=emacs) (class=Emacs) [Dimensions] {1000 900} [Alpha] {150 200} [end]
Using the apps file you have an immense amount of flexibility regarding applications. You can literally configure every option that you normally have to configure when the application is already running (by right-clicking its respective title bar). As a note, the syntax with [Dimensions/Position] is {X-coordinate Y-coordinate} and the syntax for [Alpha] (transparency) is {when-window-is-focused when-window-is-unfocused}. More information on the apps file can be found here: ... _apps_file

The Keys File

The keys file is a particularly awesome and simple part of Fluxbox. It is located in ~/.fluxbox/keys and holds all information regarding hotkeys and button clicks in Fluxbox. Example:
Code: Select all
!mouse actions added by fluxbox-update_configs OnTitlebar Mouse2 :StartTabbing !mouse actions added by fluxbox-update_configs OnTitlebar Double Mouse1 :Shade OnTitlebar Mouse3 :WindowMenu !mouse actions added by fluxbox-update_configs OnWindow Mod1 Mouse1 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartMoving} OnWindow Mod1 Mouse3 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartResizing BottomRight} OnDesktop Mouse1 :HideMenus OnDesktop Mouse2 :WorkspaceMenu OnDesktop Mouse3 :RootMenu Mod1 Tab :NextWindow Mod1 Shift Tab :PrevWindow Mod4 F1 :Workspace 1 Mod4 F2 :Workspace 2 Mod4 F3 :Workspace 3 Mod4 F4 :Close Mod4 t :toggledecor
Just looking at it it seems rather self-explanatory. You may be wondering about the "Mod" keys, though. Mod1 is the ALT button on your keyboard. Mod4 is the 'logo' button - usually one belonging to Microsoft or Apple.

As a point of interest, notice the last line in my config. By using Mod4 t :toggledecor I am able to turn off window decorations by toggling the Windows key+t. (This removes all traces of the Fluxbox window manager from the window; title bar, handle, borders, etc.) There are countless other little tweaks you can make should you want to. Various information on keys can be found scattered about the Fluxbox wiki.

Styles and Themes

A common place to store one's styles is in ~/.fluxbox/styles, though you are by no means limited to that directory. (Just make sure you adjust your configurations accordingly.)

There are two types of styles/themes: those that use 'pixmaps' and those that do not. Normally Fluxbox styles are just a raw configuration file, as you may have seen me post in the past. Pixmap styles, however, push the boundaries on the limitations set by regular styles as they can use small images instead of raw configuration details. There are some absolutely wicked pixmap themes out there... the downside is that they require the presence of each image file in a directory where the theme file is located. Normal Fluxbox styles can just be a config file sitting in ~/.fluxbox/styles where as a pixmap style will need to be in ~/.fluxbox/styles/style_name. That directory contains the config file and pixmaps for the specified theme.


Anyway, that's all I have for now. If you have any questions about what I've written, or about actual theming (which I did not cover in this guide), please let me know.
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Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Postby infinite_ » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:56 pm

Sometimes official documentation just doesn't get to the point quick enough; unlike yours, which is a simple, straight forward guide. Good stuff.

I didn't see it mentioned, but the one thing everyone wants to do with their Fluxbox is embed a transparent terminal. This might be better discussed if you did a "Theming Guide", but worth discussing nonetheless.
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Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Postby narada » Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:29 pm

That is an excellent idea. I could perhaps merge info on the styles themselves into that as well.
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Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Postby Aiden » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:21 am

Very awesome guide, dude - keep up the good work! :D
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