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#1 2009-08-10 10:27:48

Registered: 2009-07-12
Posts: 34

Narada's Fluxbox Guide

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

(Example Fluxbox desktop)

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:

[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} 
    [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} 
    [submenu] (Multimedia) {} 
        [exec] (consonance) {consonance}
        [exec] (exaile) {exaile} 
        [exec] (gimp) {gimp} 
        [exec] (idjc) {idjc}
        [exec] (mplayer) {mplayer} 
        [exec] (vlc) {vlc} 
    [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} 
    [submenu] (fluxbox menu) {} 
        [config] (Configure) {} 
        [submenu] (System Styles) {Choose a style...} 
            [stylesdir] (/usr/share/fluxbox/styles) {} 
        [submenu] (User Styles) {Choose a style...} 
            [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles) {} 
        [submenu] (Wallpapers) {} 
            [wallpapers] (~/.fluxbox/backgrounds) {} 
        [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 } 
        [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) {}

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:

[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]:

[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:

[submenu] (Submenu 1) {}
    [exec] (foo) {bar}

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:

[submenu] (Wallpapers) {}
    [wallpapers] (~/.fluxbox/backgrounds) {}

To create a styles/themes menu entry:

[submenu] (User Styles) {}
    [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles) {}

To create a "Run" dialog:

[exec] (Run) {fbrun }

To create a separator in your menu:

[separator] () {}

To reload your Fluxbox configuration files (instead of restarting X):

[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:

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.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.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:

# Applications you want to run with fluxbox.
exec /usr/bin/fluxbox
# or if you want to keep a log:
# exec /usr/bin/fluxbox -log "/home/narada/.fluxbox/log"

My .xinitrc:

setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp

# merge in defaults and keymaps
if [ -f $sysresources ]; then
    xrdb -merge $sysresources
if [ -f $sysmodmap ]; then
    xmodmap $sysmodmap

# D-bus
if which dbus-launch >/dev/null && test -z "$DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS"; then
       eval `dbus-launch --sh-syntax --exit-with-session`

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:

[app] (name=aterm1) (class=XTerm)
  [Dimensions]    {567 514}
  [Deco]    {NONE}
  [IconHidden]    {yes}
  [Layer]    {10}
[app] (name=aterm2) (class=XTerm)
  [Dimensions]    {567 514}
  [Position]    (UPPERLEFT)    {0 508}
  [Deco]    {NONE}
  [IconHidden]    {yes}
  [Layer]    {12}
[app] (name=explorer.exe) (class=Wine)
[app] (name=Navigator) (class=Shiretoko) (role=browser)
  [Position]    (UPPERLEFT)    {567 0}
[app] (name=emacs) (class=Emacs)
  [Dimensions]    {1000 900}
  [Alpha]    {150 200}

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:

!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.

Last edited by narada (2011-12-25 00:59:13)


#2 2009-08-10 10:46:52

Trusted User (TU)
From: /dev/null
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 711

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

this might be nice for the fluxbox wiki ?!


#3 2009-08-10 10:50:41

From: Poland
Registered: 2009-04-29
Posts: 955

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

jelly wrote:

this might be nice for the fluxbox wiki ?!

I think's the same I can add it only if author let me , we will give some credit on wiki page to narada wink

Shell Scripter | C/C++/Python/Java Coder | ZSH


#4 2009-08-10 11:20:33

Registered: 2009-07-12
Posts: 34

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

SpeedVin wrote:
jelly wrote:

this might be nice for the fluxbox wiki ?!

I think's the same I can add it only if author let me , we will give some credit on wiki page to narada wink

Kind of took me by surprise, but go right ahead. smile


#5 2009-08-10 11:55:30

From: Poland
Registered: 2009-04-29
Posts: 955

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Ok good I do that on wiki you have link that are going ot this topic wink

Shell Scripter | C/C++/Python/Java Coder | ZSH


#6 2010-04-03 03:39:56

Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 1

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

Just a little idea, if you start fluxbox, then gnome-session, the gnome session wraps around fluxbox and uses it as it's window manager... COOL!, looks awesome as well. logging out of the gnome session leaves just the basic fluxbox again, with all windows and programs persisting through the process!!!


#7 2010-09-21 05:16:31

Registered: 2010-08-09
Posts: 19

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

I have tried to configure a few keys but they do not work. I guess I have done it wrongly. Here's what's in the ~/.fluxbox/keys file.

XF86Sleep :'s2ram -f'
XF86AudioLowerVolume :'aumix -v-10'
XF86AudioRaiseVolume :'aumix -v+10'

Any help would be much appreciated.


#8 2010-09-22 01:36:19

rockin turtle
From: Montana, USA
Registered: 2009-10-22
Posts: 216

Re: Narada's Fluxbox Guide

@perfector You need to specify what keys you wish to use to do this.  For example to use 'Control + up arrow' to raise volume and 'Control + down arrow' to lower, try:

Control Up :Exec aumix -v+10
Control Down :Exec aumix -v-10

If you would prefer to use 'alt + arrow' instead, try:

Mod1 Up :Exec aumix -v+10
Mod1 Down :Exec aumix -v-10

Or to use the windows key, use Mod4 instead of Mod1.

If you want to use some other key combination like 'Alt +' to turn the volume up it gets a little trickier.  You have to figure out the keycode for the '+' key. You can use xev to do this.  Open an xterm and run xev.  You should see a small window open on your desktop, plus a bunch of text scroll by on your xterm.  You can ignore this text.  Now without pressing the 'shift' key, press and release the '+' key.  (Don't move your mouse as this may cause a bunch more text to scroll on the xterm screen)  On your xterm you should see some text about a 'KeyPress event' including the keycode of the key you have just pressed.  On my machine, the +/= key registers as keycode 21.

To end xev, simply close the small window opened when you started xev by using your mouse.

Now with the information determined above, you can use this key combination:

Mod1 Shift 21 :Exec aumix -v+10
Mod1 20 :Exec aumix -v-10

Another approach (if you have a scroll wheel on your mouse) would be the following:

OnDesktop Shift Mouse4 :Exec aumix -v+10
OnDesktop Shift Mouse5 :Exec aumix -v-10

This would allow you to adjust your volume by moving your mouse off any windows you have open, holding the shift key, and scrolling your mouse wheel.

Last edited by rockin turtle (2010-09-22 01:41:07)


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