Openbox – a lightweight uber-flexible desktop for Linux

Yes, I did describe Openbox as uber-flexible, and that’s because it really is uberly flexible.

Out-of-the-box Openbox is very minimalistic, but that also means it is very fast! Uber-fast you might say.

You get the window manager and a right-click menu and that’s about it.

Aside from these, the desktop is yours to embellish as you wish.

Obconf is the application included with Openbox to configure the window manager.

The menu has to be edited in a text file, but you can add any application you want to it, even crazy command lines or  shell scripts which launch a complex series of commands if you really want to.

Install Obmenu and you have a funky little menu editor that returns you to the world of point-and-click.

If you have even a just skerrick of artisitic creativity, then the Openbox environment provides a blank canvas for you to prettify your desktop with the likes of Conky and Covergloobus.

Observe below the works of Openbox-based desktop art created by some very creative computerators – all linked from Deviantart.

Browse under Customizations – Desktop Screenshots – Unix & Linux and filter your results with the keyword ‘Openbox‘ to see many more examples.

While you’re browsing, you’ll undoubtedly be flabbergasted, as I was, at the fact that the presumably nerdy guys who are making this desktop art all seem to have hot-looking girlfriends on their desktops in various states of undress.

I really don’t know how they get away with that – my hot looking wife wouldn’t be so keen to let me put a piccy of her in only a bra ‘n’ panties on my desktop, and then post a screenshot online for gazillions of teenage nerds to drool over, but maybe that’s just me eh?

Wait a minute, maybe those girls aren’t really their girlfriends!

Maybe those nerds look as scruffy as I do and have as much chance of finding a hot girlfriend for their desktops as I did before I became rich, famous and uber-suave.

Ah, the fickleness of youth…

But back to Openbox for a moment longer.

Browse the Openbox website for cool things to add to your desktop.

Experiment a bit to find the panels, pagers, desktop icons, launch bars, docks, widgets and wallpaper switchers which sit best with your visual style.

I’m fond of Tint2 as a panel, Stalonetray as a system tray which integrates with the panel, BBPager as a desktop pager/switcher, Nitrogen as a wallpaper switcher and Conky for my desktop clock.

But I’m constantly experimenting with my setup to try to make it look ultra uber-nice.

That last desktop above might look the plainest, but, to my mind, it has the nicest layout and aesthetic of the four.

Most popular distros of Linux will have Openbox and an assortment of panels, pagers and so on in their  repositories, but if you want a dedicated Openbox-based distro, check out the Debian derived CrunchBang Linux.

The strength of Openbox is its ability to be customized. This comes at the price of swift changes, though, with most configuration details still confined to the manual editing of text files.

But the investment required to build the the desktop of your dreams, is well worth it. Just switch wallpapers, icons and fonts every now and then if you crave variety.

The result is a beautiful, fast, light-weight and extremely personalized environment for you to work in.

Rather than being dictated as to how you should use your desktop, you can decide on a workflow that best suits your own needs and pimp it out to reflect  your personality.

In my opinion, Openbox drives users to develop a closer affinity with their machine.

Forget about Apple Zealots, bring on the Openbox uber-zealots!


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