Difference between revisions of "Openbox"

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(Cursors, icons, wallpapers)
(Openbox as a WM for desktop environments: fix headings)
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Openbox can be used as a replacement window manager for full-fledged desktop environments. The method for deploying Openbox depends on the desktop environment.
Openbox can be used as a replacement window manager for full-fledged desktop environments. The method for deploying Openbox depends on the desktop environment.
=== GNOME 2.24 and 2.26 ===
=== GNOME ===
{{Out of date|Both methods should be checked and updated.}}
==== GNOME 2.24 and 2.26 ====
Create {{ic|/usr/share/applications/openbox.desktop}} with the following lines:
Create {{ic|/usr/share/applications/openbox.desktop}} with the following lines:
  [Desktop Entry]
  [Desktop Entry]
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Finally, choose the {{ic|GNOME}} session from the GDM sessions menu.
Finally, choose the {{ic|GNOME}} session from the GDM sessions menu.
=== GNOME 2.26 redux ===
==== GNOME 2.26 redux ====
'''''If the previous guide for GNOME 2.24 fails:'''''
'''''If the previous guide for GNOME 2.24 fails:'''''
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  $ xinit /usr/bin/openbox-kde-session
  $ xinit /usr/bin/openbox-kde-session
=== XFCE4 ===
=== Xfce ===
Log into a normal XFCE4 session. From your terminal, type:
Log into a normal XFCE4 session. From your terminal, type:

Revision as of 13:31, 21 November 2013

Summary help replacing me
A comprehensive guide on the installation and use of the Openbox window manager.
Template:Graphical user interface overview

Openbox is a lightweight and highly configurable window manager with extensive standards support. Its features are documented at the official website. This article pertains to installing Openbox under Arch Linux.


Install openbox, available in the official repositories. After installation, you should copy the default configuration files rc.xml, menu.xml, autostart, and environment to ~/.config/openbox:

Note: Do this as a regular user, not as root.
$ mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox
$ cp /etc/xdg/openbox/{rc.xml,menu.xml,autostart,environment} ~/.config/openbox

These four files form the basis of your openbox configuration. Each file addresses a unique aspect of your configuration and the role of each file is as follows:

This is the main configuration file. It defines keyboard shortcuts, themes, virtual desktops, and more.
This file defines the content of the right-click menu. It defines launchers for applications and other shortcuts. See the #Menus section.
This file is read by openbox-session at startup. It contains the programs that are run at startup. It is typically used to set environment variables, launch panels/docks, set background image or execute other startup scripts. See the Openbox Wiki.
This file is sourced by openbox-session at startup. It contains environment variables to be set in Openbox's context. Any variables you set here will be visible to Openbox itself and anything you start from its menus.

Upgrading to Openbox 3.5

If you are upgrading to Openbox 3.5 or later from an earlier release, be aware of these changes:

  • There is a new config file called environment that you should copy from /etc/xdg/openbox to ~/.config/openbox.
  • The config file previously called autostart.sh is now just called autostart. You should rename yours to remove the .sh from the end of the name.
  • Some of the configuration grammar in rc.xml has changed. While Openbox appears to understand the old options, it would be wise to compare your configuration to the one in /etc/xdg/openbox and look for changes that affect you.

Openbox as a stand-alone WM

Openbox can be used as a stand-alone window manager (WM). This is usually simpler to install and configure than using Openbox with desktop environments. Running openbox alone may reduce your system's CPU and memory load.

To run Openbox as a stand-alone window manager, append the following to ~/.xinitrc:

exec openbox-session

See xinitrc for details, such as preserving the logind session.

If you used another window manager previously (such as Xfwm) and now Openbox will not start after logging out of X, try moving the autostart folder:

$ mv ~/.config/autostart ~/.config/autostart.bak
Note: python2-xdg is required for Openbox's xdg-autostart

Openbox as a WM for desktop environments

Openbox can be used as a replacement window manager for full-fledged desktop environments. The method for deploying Openbox depends on the desktop environment.


Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: Both methods should be checked and updated. (Discuss in Talk:Openbox#)

GNOME 2.24 and 2.26

Create /usr/share/applications/openbox.desktop with the following lines:

[Desktop Entry]
# name of loadable control center module
# name we put on the WM spec check window

In gconf, set /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager to openbox:

$ gconftool-2 -s -t string /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager openbox

Finally, choose the GNOME session from the GDM sessions menu.

GNOME 2.26 redux

If the previous guide for GNOME 2.24 fails:

If, when attempting to log into a "Gnome/Openbox" session -- and it consistently fails to start, try the following. This is one way of achieving your goal of using Openbox as the WM anytime you open a Gnome session:

  1. Log into your Gnome-only session (it should still be using Metacity as its window manager).
  2. Navigate your menus to System > Preferences > Startup Applications (possibly named 'Session' in older Gnome versions)
  3. Open Startup Application, select '+ Add' and enter the text shown below. Omit the text after #.
  4. Click the 'Add' button for the data entry window. Make sure the checkbox beside your new entry is selected.
  5. Log out from your Gnome session and log back in
  6. You should now be running openbox as your window manager.
Name:    Openbox Windox Manager          # Can be changed
Command: openbox --replace               # Text should not be removed from this line, but possibly added to it
Comment: Replaces metacity with openbox  # Can be changed

This creates a startup list entry which is executed by Gnome each time the user's session is started.


  1. If you use KDM, select the "KDE/Openbox" login option.
  2. Open System Settings > Default Applications (in the Workspace Appearance and Behaviour section), and change the default window manager to Openbox (this will also avoid having to log out and log back in again).
  3. If you use startx, add exec openbox-kde-session to ~/.xinitrc
  4. From the shell:
$ xinit /usr/bin/openbox-kde-session


Log into a normal XFCE4 session. From your terminal, type:

$ killall xfwm4 ; openbox & exit

This kills XFWM4, runs Openbox, and closes the terminal. Log out, being sure to check the "Save session for future logins" box. On your next login, XFCE4 should use Openbox as its window manager.

Alternatively, you can chooose Settings > Session and Startup from menu, go to the Application Autostart tab and add openbox --replace to the list of automatically started applications.

To enable exiting from a session using xfce4-session, edit ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml.  If the file is not there, copy it from  /etc/xdg/openbox/. Look for the following entry:

 <item label="Exit Openbox">
   <action name="Exit">

Change it to:

 <item label="Exit Openbox">
   <action name="Execute">

Otherwise, choosing "Exit" from the root-menu causes Openbox to terminate its execution, leaving you with no window manager.

If you have a problem changing virtual desktops with the mouse wheel skipping over desktops, edit ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml. Move the mouse binds with... actions "DesktopPrevious" and "DesktopNext" from context Desktop to the context Root. Note that you may need to create a definition for the Root context as well.

When using the Openbox root-menu instead of XFCE's menu, you may exit the Xfdesktop with this terminal command:

$ xfdesktop --quit

Xfdesktop manages the wallpaper and desktop icons, requiring you to use other utilities such as ROX for these functions.

(When terminating Xfdesktop, the above issue with the virtual desktops is no longer a problem.)

If you want have rc.xml separated than your default openbox session rc.xml

Edit the ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml or (to make the change for all XFCE users) /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml: Replace the xfwm startup command,

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
  <value type="string" value="xfwm4"/>

with the following:

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
  <value type="string" value="openbox"/>
  <value type="string" value="--config-file"/>
  <value type="string" value="~/.config/xfce4/openbox/rc.xml"/>

and also the menu, you can set the separated menu ex: xfce4-menu.xml , change it to your custom xfce4 rc.xml , but notice that the menu must be place at ~/.config/openbox/.

Openbox for multihead users

While Openbox provides better than average multihead support on its own, the openbox-multihead-gitAUR package from the AUR provides a development branch called Openbox Multihead that gives multihead users per-monitor desktops. This model is not commonly found in floating window managers, but exists mainly in tiling window managers. It is explained well on the Xmonad web site. Also, please see README.MULTIHEAD for a more comprehensive description of the new features and configuration options found in Openbox Multihead.

Openbox Multihead will function like normal Openbox when only a single head is available.

A downside to using Openbox Multihead is that it breaks the EWMH assumption that one and only one desktop is visible at any time. Thus, existing pagers will not work well with it. To remedy this, pager-multihead-gitAUR can be found in the AUR and is compatible with Openbox Multihead. Screenshots.

Finally, a new version of PyTyle that will work with Openbox Multihead can also be found in the AUR: pytyle3-gitAUR.

Both pytyle3 and pager-multihead-git will work without Openbox Multihead if only one monitor is active.


There are several options for configuring Openbox settings:

Manual configuration

To configure Openbox manually, edit the ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml file with a text editor. The file has explanatory comments throughout, for more details about editing it see the Openbox wiki.


ObConf is an Openbox configuration tool. It is used to set most common preferences such as themes, virtual desktops, window properties, and desktop margins. It can be installed with the obconf package, available in the official repositories.

ObConf cannot configure keyboard shortcuts and certain other features. For these features edit rc.xml manually. Alternatively, you can try obkeyAUR, available in the official repositories.

Application customization

Openbox allows per-application customizations. This lets you define rules for a given program. For example:

  • Start your web browser on a specific virtual desktop.
  • Open your terminal program with no window decorations (window chrome).
  • Make your bit-torrent client open at a given screen position.

Per-application settings are defined in ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml. Instructions are in the file's comments. More details are found in the Openbox wiki.


The default Openbox menu includes a variety of menu items to get you started. Many of these items launch applications you do not want, have not installed yet, or never intend to install. You will surely want to customize menu.xml at some point. There are a number of ways to do so.

Note: To reload the menu, either in a terminal, type: "openbox --reconfigure" or right-click-desktop->System->Reconfigure Openbox

Manual configuration of menus

You can edit ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml with a text editor. Many of the settings are self-explanatory. The article Help:Menus in the Openbox wiki has extensive details.

Icons in the menu

To add icons next to your menu entries, add <showIcons>yes</showIcons> to the <menu> section of the rc.xml file. Then edit menu.xml and add icons="<path>" to the menu entries you want to add icons to:

<menu id="apps-menu" label="SomeApp" icon="/home/user/.icons/application.png">

Finally, $ openbox --reconfigure to update the menu.


MenuMaker creates XML menus for several window managers including Openbox. MenuMaker searches your computer for executable programs and creates a menu file from the result. It can be configured to exclude certain application types (GNOME, KDE, etc) if you desire. It can be installed with the menumaker package available in the official repositories.

Once installed, generate a menu file (named menu.xml) by running the program.

$ mmaker -v OpenBox3     #  Will not overwrite an existing menu file.
$ mmaker -vf OpenBox3    #  Force option permits overwriting the menu file.
$ mmaker --help          #  See the full set of options for MenuMaker.

MenuMaker creates a comprehensive menu.xml. You may edit this file by hand or regenerate it after installing software.


Obmenu is a GUI menu editor for Openbox. This is a good choice for those who dislike editing XML code. Obmenu can be installed with the package obmenu, available in the official repositories.

Once installed, run obmenu and add and remove applications as desired.


obm-xdg is a command-line tool that comes with Obmenu. It generates a categorized sub-menu of installed GTK/GNOME applications.

To use obm-xdg with other menus, add the following line to ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml:

<menu execute="obm-xdg" id="xdg-menu" label="xdg"/>

Then add the following line under your root-menu entry where you want to have the menu appear:

<menu id="xdg-menu"/>

Then run $ openbox --reconfigure to refresh the Openbox menu. You should now see a sub-menu labeled xdg in your menu.

To use obm-xdg by itself, create ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml and add these lines:

 <menu execute="obm-xdg" id="root-menu" label="apps"/>
Note: If you do not have GNOME installed, you need to install the package gnome-menus for obm-xdg.


Xdg-menu can automatically generate a menu for Openbox from XDG files. It can be installed with the archlinux-xdg-menu package available in the official repositories.

For a guide on using XDG-menu, see the Xdg-menu#OpenBox article.

Python-based XDG-Menu script

This script is found in Fedora's Openbox package. The latest version of the script can be found here. Download it and place it anywhere you want.

Open menu.xml with your text editor and add the following entry. Of course, you can modify the label as you see fit.

<menu id="apps-menu" label="xdg-menu" execute="python2 /path/to/xdg-menu"/>

Save the file and run $ openbox --reconfigure.


Openbox-menu uses menu-cache from the LXDE Project to create dynamic menus for Openbox. It can be installed with the package openbox-menuAUR, available in the AUR.

If you get an error while trying to open this menu try adding icons to the Openbox menu.

Openbox menu generators


Obmenugen creates the menu file from .desktop files. Obmenugen provides a text file which filters (hides) menu items using basic regular expressions. It can be installed with the package obmenugenAUR, available in the AUR.

Basic usage:

$ obmenugen               # Create a menu file
$ openbox --reconfigure   # To see the menu you generated


Obmenu-generator is a pipe/static menu generator for Openbox with icon support. can be installed with the package obmenu-generatorAUR, available in the AUR.

The following command generates a pipe menu with icons:

$ obmenu-generator -p -i

To see a list of options type this:

$ obmenu-generator -h

Pipe menus

Like other window managers, Openbox allows for scripts to dynamically build menus (menus on-the-fly). Examples are system monitors, media player controls, or weather monitors. Pipe menu script examples are found in the Openbox:Pipemenus page at Openbox's site.

Some interesting pipe menus provided by Openbox users:

  • obfilebrowser — Pipe menu file browser.
http://xyne.archlinux.ca/projects/obfilebrowser/ || obfilebrowserAUR
  • wifi-pipe — Pipe menu for scanning and connecting to wireless hot spots using netcfg.
https://github.com/pbrisbin/wifi-pipe || not packaged? search in AUR
  • obdevicemenu — Pipe menu for managing removable devices using Udisks.
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=114702 || obdevicemenuAUR

Startup programs

Openbox supports running programs at startup. This is provided by command openbox-session.

Enabling autostart

There are two ways to enable autostart:

  1. When using startx or xinit to begin a session, edit ~/.xinitrc. Change the line that executes openbox to openbox-session.
  2. When using GDM or KDM, selecting an Openbox session automatically runs the autostart script.

Autostart script

Openbox provides a system-wide startup script which applies to all users and is located at /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart. A user may also create his own startup script to be executed after the system-wide script by creating the file ~/.config/openbox/autostart. This file is not provided by default and must be created by the user.

Further instructions are available in the Help:Autostart article at the official Openbox site.

  • The autostart files used to be named autostart.sh prior to OpenBox 3.5.0. While these scripts will presently still work, users who are upgrading are advised to drop the .sh extension.
  • All the programs in the autostart file should be run as daemons or run in the background,otherwise the items in /etc/xdg/autostart/ won't be started!

Autostart directory

Openbox also starts any *.desktop files in /etc/xdg/autostart - this happens regardless of whether a user startup script is present. nm-applet, for example, installs a file at this location, and may cause it to run twice for users with the usual (sleep 3 && /usr/bin/nm-applet --sm-disable) & in their startup script. There is a discussion on managing the effects of this at [1].

Themes and appearance


Openbox themes

Themes control the appearance of windows, titlebars, and buttons. They also control menu appearance and on-screen display (OSD). Some Openbox themes can be installed with the package openbox-themes, available in the official repositories.

Cursors, icons, wallpapers

Xcursor themes can be installed with the package xcursor-themes, available in the official repositories, or with other packages from such as xcursor-bluecurve, xcursor-vanilla-dmz or xcursor-pinux. Many other themes can be found in the official repositories or the AUR.

Icon themes are also available in the repositories, for example lxde-icon-theme, tangerine-icon-theme or gnome-icon-theme can be found in the official repositories with many more in the AUR.

Wallpapers are easily set with utilities such as Nitrogen, feh, hsetroot or xsetroot.

Please see Openbox Themes and Apps for information on these GUI customizations.

Recommended programs


Tips and tricks

Window snap behaviour

Windows 7 and other WMs supports a window behaviour to snap windows when they are moved to the edge of the screen. This effect can also be achieved through an Openbox keybinding, see here for more information. Openbox supports specifying percentages, and actions. To simulate Aero Snap:

<keybind key="W-Left">
    <action name="UnmaximizeFull"/>
    <action name="MaximizeVert"/>
    <action name="MoveResizeTo">
    <action name="MoveToEdge"><direction>west</direction></action>
<keybind key="W-Right">
    <action name="UnmaximizeFull"/>
    <action name="MaximizeVert"/>
    <action name="MoveResizeTo">
    <action name="MoveToEdge"><direction>east</direction></action>

The only issue with any methods around, is that once maximized to an edge - it stays full (vertically) until you maximize and restore. So you can add the next few lines to simulate the other windows behaviors (maximize, restore). That will speed up pulling a window from a screen edge as well.

<keybind key="W-Down">
    <action name="Unmaximize"/>
<keybind key="W-Up">
    <action name="Maximize"/>

Then reconfigure Openbox and try it.

$ openbox --reconfigure

As an alternative/extension you can use opensnap. It provides Aero Snap like functionality and resizes windows if you drag them to an edge of the screen. It does not provide keyboard shortcuts however.

File associations

Because Openbox and the applications you use with it are not well-integrated you might run into the issues with your browser. Your browser may not know which program it is supposed to use for certain types of files.

A package in the AUR called gnome-defaults-listAUR contains a list of file-types and programs specific to the Gnome desktop. The list is installed to /etc/gnome/defaults.list.

Open this file with your text editor. Here you can replace a given application with the name of the program of your choosing. For example, replace totem with vlc  or  eog with mirage. Save the file to ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list.

Another way of setting file associations is to install package perl-file-mimeinfo from the official repositories and invoke mimeopen like this:

$ mimeopen -d /path/to/file

You are asked which application to use when opening /path/to/file:

Please choose a default application for files of type text/plain
       1) notepad  (wine-extension-txt)
       2) Leafpad  (leafpad)
       3) OpenOffice.org Writer  (writer)
       4) gVim  (gvim)
       5) Other...

Your answer becomes the default handler for that type of file. Mimeopen is installed as /usr/bin/perlbin/vendor/mimetype.

Copy and paste

From a terminal Ctrl+Ins for copy and Shift+Ins for paste.

Also Ctrl+Shift+c for copy and mouse middle-click for paste (in terminals).

Other applications most likely use the conventional keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste.

Window transparency

The program transset-df is available in the official repositories. With transset-df you can enable window transparency on-the-fly.

For instance by placing the following in the <mouse> section you can have your mouse adjust window transparency by scrolling while hovering over the title bar:

<context name="Titlebar">
    . . .
    <mousebind button="Up" action="Click">
        <action name= "Execute" >
        <execute>transset-df -p .2 --inc  </execute>
    <mousebind button="Down" action="Click">
        <action name= "Execute" >
        <execute>transset-df -p .2 --dec </execute>
      . . .
Warning: It appears to work only when no additional actions are defined within the action group.

Xprop values for applications

Xprop can be installed with the package xorg-xprop, available in the official repositories.

If you use per-application settings frequently, you might find this bash alias handy:

alias xp='xprop | grep "WM_WINDOW_ROLE\|WM_CLASS" && echo "WM_CLASS(STRING) = \"NAME\", \"CLASS\""'

To use, run xp and click on the running program that you would like to define with per-app settings. The result displays only the info that Openbox requires, namely the WM_WINDOW_ROLE and WM_CLASS (name and class) values:

$ xp
 WM_CLASS(STRING) = "gajim.py", "Gajim.py"

Xprop for Firefox

For whatever reason, Firefox and like-minded equivalents ignore application rules (e.g. <desktop>) unless class="Firefox*" is used. This applies irrespective of whatever values xprop may report for the program's WM_CLASS.

Linking the menu to a button

Some people want to link the Openbox menu (or any menu) to an object. This is useful for creating a panel button to pop up a menu. Although Openbox does not provide this, a program called xdotool simulates a keypress. Openbox can be configured to bind that keypress to the ShowMenu action.

After installing xdotool, add the following to the <keyboard> section:

<keybind key="A-C-q">
    <action name="ShowMenu">

Then execute $ openbox --reconfigure or $ openbox --restart to use the new configuration. The following command summons a menu at your cursor position. The command may given as-is, linked to an object, or placed in a script.

$ xdotool key ctrl+alt+q

Of course, change the key shortcut to your liking. Here is a snippet from a Tint2 configuration file which pops up a menu when the clock area is clicked. Each key combination is set to open a menu within Openbox's rc.xml configuration file. The right‑click menu is different from the left‑click menu:

clock_rclick_command = xdotool key --clearmodifiers "ctrl+XF86PowerOff"
clock_lclick_command = xdotool key --clearmodifiers "alt+XF86PowerOff"

Running a terminal emulator as desktop background

With Openbox, running a terminal as desktop background is easy. You will not need devilspie here.

The following example shows how to run the terminal emulator Urxvt as desktop background:

First you must enable transparency, open your ~/.Xdefaults file (if it does not exist yet, create it).

URxvt*geometry:124x24    #I do not use the whole screen, if you want a full screen term do not bother with this and see below.
URxvt*foreground:Black   #Font color. My wallpaper is White, you may wish to change this to White.

Then add the following to the <applications> section:

<application name="urxvt">
    <maximized>true</maximized> #Only if you want a full size terminal.

The magic comes from the <layer>below</layer> line, which place the application under all others. Here urxvt is displayed on all desktops, change it to your convenience.

Tip: Instead of using <application name="urxvt">, you can use another name ("urxvt-bg" for example), and use the -name option when starting uxrvt. That way, only the urxvt terminals which you choose to name urxvt-bg would be captured and modified by the application rule in rc.xml. For example:
$ urxvt -name urxvt-bg

ToggleShowDesktop exception

If you use ToggleShowDesktop to minimize all your application and show the desktop it will also minimize the urxvt window. Several methods are available to bypass this, but none works properly:

  • one method is explained in this forum post. This involves editing Urxvt's source code.
Warning: This method seems to have been broken in a recent update, now leading to a memory leak when the patched Urxvt is run.
  • the best method is outlined here. It still has a big disadvantage: it makes ToggleShowDesktop a one-way action, not restoring the other desktop applications when ToggleShowDesktop is run for a second time. It does create the opportunity to use a different terminal emulator than Urxvt, however.

Another solution

Window settings:

<application name="RootTerm">

Keyboard binding:

<keybind key="W-d">
  <action name="Execute"> <command>~/.config/openbox/toggle_shell.sh</command> </action>

And the toggle script:

 wc -l)
	if [ $wind_num -ne 0 ]
		xdotool windowminimize $term_id
		xdotool windowfocus $(xdotool getwindowfocus)
		echo "hide"
	xdotool windowactivate $term_id
	echo "show"

Add the following lines to start urxvt on login.

This prevents closing urxvt by accident.

(while :; do urxvt -name RootTerm; done;) &

Switching between keyboard layouts

If you don't want to use a separate program for managing keyboard layouts, you can manually configure X to switch layouts on certain key combinations. See Keyboard Configuration in Xorg#Switching between keyboard layouts for instructions.

Keyboard volume control


If you use ALSA for sound, you can use the amixer program (part of the alsa-utils package) to adjust the sound volume. You can use Openbox's keybindings to map different shortcuts to actions. If you want to use the multimedia keys, but do not know their names, you could look at the Multimedia Keys page to find out.

For example, add the following in the <keyboard> section:

<keybind key="W-Up">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master 5%+</command>

This binds Super+↑ to increase your master ALSA volume by 5%. Corresponding binding for volume down:

<keybind key="W-Down">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master 5%-</command>

As another example you can also use the XF86Audio* keybindings:

<keybind key="XF86AudioRaiseVolume">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master 5%+ unmute</command>
<keybind key="XF86AudioLowerVolume">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master 5%- unmute</command>
<keybind key="XF86AudioMute">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master toggle</command>

The above example should work for the majority of multimedia keyboards. It should enable to raise, lower and mute the Master control of your audio device by using the respective multimedia keyboard keys. Notice also that in this example:

  • The "Mute" key should unmute the Master control if it is already in mute mode.
  • The "Raise" and "Lower" keys should unmute the Master control if it is in mute mode.


If you are using PulseAudio with ALSA as a backend the above keybinding are slightly different as amixer must be told to use PulseAudio. As always, add the following to the <keyboard> section to get the proper behaviour:

<keybind key="XF86AudioRaiseVolume">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer -D pulse set Master 5%+ unmute</command>
<keybind key="XF86AudioLowerVolume">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer -D pulse set Master 5%- unmute</command>
<keybind key="XF86AudioMute">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>amixer set Master toggle</command>

This keybindings should work for most of the systems. Other examples can be found here.


With OSS, you can use keybindings to raise or lower specific mixers. This is useful in cases where you wish to change the volume of a specific application (such as an audio player) without changing the system's volume. Note that the application must be first set up to use its own mixer. In this example, MPD is configured to have its own mixer, named mpd:

<keybind key="KEY_BINDING">
    <action name="Execute">
        <command>ossmix -- mpd -1</command>

This example decreases the volume of the mpd mixer by one dB. To increase the volume, replace the mixer value (-1) with a positive one. The -- that appears after ossmix are added, as listed in ossmix's man page, to prevent any negative value from being treated as an argument.

Troubleshooting Openbox 3.5

X server crashes

Problems have been detected after upgrade to version 3.5, that the X server might crash in attempt to start Openbox, ending with this error message:

(metacity:25137): GLib-WARNING **: In call to g_spawn_sync(), exit status of a child process \
                   was requested but SIGCHLD action was set to SIG_IGN and ECHILD was received by waitpid(), so exit \
                   status can't be returned. This is a bug in the program calling g_spawn_sync(); either do not request \
                   the exit status, or do not set the SIGCHLD action.
xinit: connection to X server lost
waiting for X server to shut down

In this particular case, some problem with metacity package has been identified as the cause of the X server crash issue. To solve the problem reinstall the metacity and compiz-decorator-gtk packages. If that does not solve the problem, try removing them.

Also, plenty of similar cases have been found on the Internet, that not only metacity package might be causing the X server to crash. Thus, whatever else instead of metacity you get in the error output message, try to reinstall it (or remove if necessary) in an attempt to get rid of this X server crash.

Autostarting unwanted applications in 3.5

If unwanted applications start with your Openbox session even though they are not listed in your ~/.config/openbox/autostart, check the ~/.config/autostart/ directory, it might contain the residues from your previously used desktop environment (GNOME, KDE, etc.), and remove unwanted files.

SSH agent no longer starting

Whereas Openbox 3.4.x allowed launching an SSH agent from ~/.config/openbox/autostart, with 3.5 that no longer seems to work. You need to put the following code in ~/.config/openbox/environment:

if [ -z "$SSH_AUTH_SOCK" -a -x "$SSHAGENT" ]; then
        trap "kill $SSH_AGENT_PID" 0

Openbox not registering with D-Bus

Just like with SSH agent, lots of people used to have D-Bus code in ~/.config/openbox/autostart - which no longer works (e.g. Thunar does not see any removable devices anymore).

Windows load behind the active window

Some application windows (such as Firefox windows) may load behind the currently active window, causing you to need to switch to the window you just created to focus it. To fix this behavior add this to your ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml file, inbetween the <openbox_config> and </openbox_config> tags:

  <application class="*">

See also