Openbox Themes and Apps

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zh-CN:Openbox Themes and Apps

Note: This article is a supplement to the main Openbox article.

This wiki article deals with customizing the appearance of Openbox in Arch Linux. Helper programs such as panels and trays are also explained.

Themes and appearance

With the exception of the Openbox Themes topic, the following section is intended for users who have configured Openbox to run as a standalone desktop, without the assistance of GNOME, KDE or Xfce.

Openbox themes

Openbox themes control the appearance of window borders, including the titlebar and titlebar buttons. They also determine the appearance of the application menu and on-screen display (OSD).

Some themes are available for installation with the openbox-themes package in the official repositories.

This package is by no means definitive. You can download more themes at websites such as:

Downloaded themes should be extracted to ~/.themes or ~/.local/share/themes and selected from obconf or lxappearance-obconf. Theme selection can also be done manually by opening rc.xml and changing the <name> key in the <theme> section.

Creating new themes is fairly easy and well-documented. For those who prefer a GUI, obthemeAUR is a very capable editor.

X11 appearance

Main article: Xdefaults

If you are running Openbox as a standalone, you will need to configure the .Xdefaults file. Save a copy to ~/.Xdefaults and /root/.Xdefaults (for windows opened as root).

Xdefaults is a user-level configuration dotfile, typically located at ~/.Xdefaults. When present, it is parsed by the xrdb (Xorg resource database) program automatically when Xorg is started, and can be used to set or override preferences for X and X applications. It can do many operations, including:

  • defining terminal colours,
  • configuring terminal preferences,
  • setting DPI, antialiasing, hinting and other X font settings,
  • changing the Xcursor theme,
  • theming Xscreensaver and
  • altering preferences on low-level X applications (xclock, xpdf, etc.)

X11 mouse cursors

Extract the desired Xcursor theme to either /usr/share/icons (system-wide access) or ~/.icons (local user access). There are also a limited amount of themes available in the [community] repository that can be installed using Pacman.

Add this to ~/.Xresources:

Xcursor.theme:   [name-of-cursor-theme]

where [name-of-cursor-theme] is the name of the cursor theme directory. For example:

Xcursor.theme:	Vanilla-DMZ-AA

To change the size:

Xcursor.size: [size]

Sometimes it is required to symlink the icon directory into each user directory to make the window manager use them:

$ mkdir ~/.icons
$ ln -s /usr/share/icons/[name-of-cursor-theme] ~/.icons/default

For more information read the Arch Wiki: X11_Cursors

GTK themes


First, extract the desired theme to /usr/share/themes (system-wide access) or ~/.themes (local user access), then:

GTK themes can be managed easily with the lxappearance (part of the LXDE Desktop), gtk-chtheme, or gtk-theme-switch2 utilities.

If you have the gnome-settings-daemon running, it can keep you from changing the GTK theme by reverting back to original theme. By default, the autostart file provided by Openbox runs it, so make sure that you do not have it running if you wish to properly use GTK themes.


For legacy GTK1 themes, install the gtk-theme-switchAUR package and run switch to select a desired theme.

GTK fonts

To manually change the type and size of your fonts, add the following to ~/.gtkrc.mine:

style "user-font"
font_name = "[font-name] [size]"
widget_class "*" style "user-font"
gtk-font-name = "[font-name] [size]"

where [font-name] [size] is the desired font and point size. For example:

style "user-font"
font_name = "DejaVu Sans 8"
widget_class "*" style "user-font"
gtk-font-name = "DejaVu Sans 8"

Both font_name and gtk-font-name fields are required for backwards compatibility.

You can also use gtk-chtheme or lxappearance to set GTK font settings.

GTK icons

First, extract the desired icon theme to /usr/share/icons (system-wide access) or ~/.icons (local user access), then:

Add the following to ~/.gtkrc.mine:

gtk-icon-theme-name = "[name-of-icon-theme]"

where [name-of-icon-theme] is the name of the icon theme directory. For example:

gtk-icon-theme-name = "Tango"

Ensure ~/.gtkrc-2.0 is configured to parse ~/.gtkrc.mine:

# ~/.gtkrc-2.0
include "/usr/share/themes/Rezlooks-Gilouche/gtk-2.0/gtkrc"
include "/home/username/.gtkrc.mine"

You can use lxappearance to choose GTK icon themes. Alternatively, use the development versions lxappearance-gitAUR ot lxappearance2-gitAUR and lxappearance-obconf-gitAUR for the latest features.

Desktop icons

Openbox does not provide a means to display icons on the desktop. To provide this function, one can use: || xfdesktop
  • PCManFM — An extremely fast and lightweight file manager used by the LXDE desktop. || pcmanfm
  • ROX — A small and fast file manager which can optionally manage the desktop background and panels, part of the ROX Desktop. || rox
  • IDesk — A simple tool that gives users of minimal wm's (Fluxbox, pekwm, Window Maker, Obenbox, etc) icons on their desktop. || idesk
  • Nautilus — The file manager of the GNOME desktop. || nautilus

Desktop wallpaper

Openbox itself does not include a way to change the wallpaper. This can be done easily with programs like Feh or Nitrogen. Other options include imagemagick, hsetroot, xsetbg and more advanced choices such as PCmanFM or Xfdesktop.

You can disable the wallpaper loading in gnome-settings-daemon like this:

$ gconftool-2 --set /apps/gnome_settings_daemon/plugins/background/active --type bool False

In Gnome 3 use:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background draw-background false

One approach, using hsetroot is possible by placing the following command in autostart:

hsetroot -fill /path/to/image.file

A similar command for feh is:

feh --bg-scale /path/to/image.file

Recommended programs

Note: The main Openbox article has information on installing Openbox, but this supplemental section details specific lightweight applications you may want to deploy after installing Openbox.

For a more complete choice of applications look at the list of common applications.

Display managers


  • SLiM (Simple Login Manager) — A lightweight and elegant graphical login solution || slim
  • Qingy — An ultralight and very configurable graphical login independent on X Windows (uses DirectFB). It supports login to either a text console or an X session. || qingy

Desktop compositing

  • Xcompmgr — A lightweight composite manager capable of rendering drop shadows, fading and simple window transparency within Openbox and other window managers. || xcompmgr
Note: Xcompmgr is no longer developed, so any issues are unlikely to be fixed. Various forks are available in the AUR that fix some of the more pressing problems: xcompmgr-danaAUR, xcompmrg_tint2-gitAUR (provides real transparency for Tint2) and compton-gitAUR (some shadows and transparency fixes). || cairo-compmgr-gitAUR

Panels, trays, pagers

A number of utilities provide panels / taskbars, system trays, or pagers to Openbox:


  Avant window navigator






If you wish to set desktop layout without using a pager, try obsetlayout, a packaged version of the setlayout tool.

File managers

Two popular lightweight file managers are:

  • Thunar  Thunar supports auto-mount features and other plugins.
  • ROX  ROX provides a set of file/desktop icons.
# pacman -S thunar
# pacman -S rox
# pacman -S pcmanfm   #  PcManFM package also provides desktop icons.
# pacman -S ntfs-3g   #  Allows PCManFM to access NTFS drives.

For even lighter options, consider Gentoo or emelFM2.. These programs implement a typical two-pane layout. Other file managers are  xfe  and  muCommander.

Alternatively, you may use Gnome's Nautilus as your file manager. It is heavier and slower than previous solutions, but Nautilus supports virtual file systems, allowing folder access via SSH, FTP, or Samba. This is an advantage.

Application launchers


Set up dmenu as described in the dmenu wiki article. Then add the following entry to the <keyboard> section ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml to enable a shortcut to launch dmenu:

   <keybind key="W-space">
     <action name="Execute">


gmrun provides an excellent Run dialog box, similar to the Template:Keypress features found in GNOME and KDE:

# pacman -S gmrun

For details regarding Gmrun, see the Gmrun wiki article. Add the following entry to the <keyboard> section ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml to enable Template:Keypress functionality:

<keybind key="A-F2">
<action name="execute"><execute>gmrun</execute></action>


bashrun2 provides a different, barebones approach to a run dialog, using a specialized Bash session within a small xterm window. It is available in the AUR as bashrun2AUR and can be launched through the Template:Keypress style approach mentioned previously. To make bashrun2 act more like a traditional run dialog, add the following entry to the <applications> section ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml:

   <application name="bashrun2-run-dialog">
     <decor>no</decor>  # switch to yes if you prefer a bordered window


kupferAUR is a launcher inspired by Quicksilver, written in Python.

"You use it to summon an application or document quickly by typing the first parts of its name. It can also do more than getting at something quickly: there are different plugins for accessing more objects and running custom commands."


Launchy is a less minimalistic approach; it is skinnable and offers more functionality such as a calculator, checking the weather, etc. Originally for Windows, similar to GNOME Do. Install the launchy package which is available in the official repositories.

It is launched with the Template:Keypress key combination.


The LXPanel run dialog can be executed with

lxpanelctl run


The gnome-panel run dialog can be executed with

gnome-panel-control --run-dialog

Clipboard managers

You may wish to install a clipboard manager for a richer copy/paste experience.

xfce4-clipman-plugin, parcellite, or glipper-old can be installed via pacman. Add the clipboard manager to your  autostart.

Volume managers

Gvolwheel, gvtray

Gvolwheel is an audio mixer which lets you control the volume through a tray icon. gvolwheel at AUR.

Gvtray is a master volume mixer for the system tray. gvtray at AUR.

Obmixer, PNMixer

Obmixer is an applet written in C. It intends to be a lighter alternative to Gnome's volume control. obmixer at AUR. Obmixer is no longer maintained.

PNMixer is a fork of Obmixer with a number of additions. PNMixer at AUR.


Volti is a GTK+ application for controlling audio volume from the system tray/ notification area. volti at AUR.

Volumeicon, volwheel

Volumeicon is a volume control for the system tray. volumeicon at AUR.

Volwheel is a tray icon which changes volume via mouse wheel. volwheel at AUR.

Battery & CPU


Trayfreq is a light battery monitor and a cpu frequency scaler.

Keyboard layout switchers

Fbxkb, xxkb, axkb

Keyboard indicator and switcher fbxkb at AUR.

Keyboard layout switcher/ layout indicator xxkb at AUR.

QT4 keyboard layout switcher axkb at AUR.


X neural switcher is a text analyzer. It detects the language of input and corrects it if needed. aneur at AUR.

Logout dialog

exitx and exitx-polkit are available in AUR as logout dialogs which use sudo and PolicyKit, respectively.

obshutdownAUR is great openbox shutdown manager.

Alternatively, you can also use openbox's menus to create a simple dialog. Which can also be binded to a key for easy access.

An example with exit-menu as the id and Exit as the label(using PolicyKit/Dbus):

<menu id="exit-menu" label="Exit">
	<item label="Log Out">
		<action name="Execute">
			<command>openbox --exit</command>
	<item label="Shutdown">
		<action name="Execute">
			<command>dbus-send --system --print-reply --dest="org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit" /org/freedesktop/ConsoleKit/Manager org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit.Manager.Stop</command>
	<item label="Restart">
		<action name="Execute">
			<command>dbus-send --system --print-reply --dest="org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit" /org/freedesktop/ConsoleKit/Manager org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit.Manager.Restart</command>
	<item label="Suspend">
		<action name="Execute">
		<command>dbus-send --system --print-reply --dest="org.freedesktop.UPower" /org/freedesktop/UPower org.freedesktop.UPower.Suspend</command>
	<item label="Hibernate">
		<action name="Execute">
		<command>dbus-send --system --print-reply --dest="org.freedesktop.UPower" /org/freedesktop/UPower org.freedesktop.UPower.Hibernate</command>

Add this to your menu.xml, then later in your menu or pipemenu of choice call:

<menu id="exit-menu"/>

If you would like to bind this to a key, simply add this example keybind to the keyboard section your rc.xml:

<keybind key="XF86PowerOff">
  <action name="ShowMenu">

This will bind it to your power button, if you prefer otherwise change XF86PowerOff to your preferred key.