tonybaldwin | blog

non compos mentis

Window managers…again: 2 Thumbs UP for OpenBox

with 2 comments

So, after using wmii (window manager improved) as my default window manager for several months, I find myself using OpenBox, again.

openbox, xpostulate

Of course, I use openbox without any desktop icon managers, panels, or other trappings, solely as a window manager, and not as a desktop environment (as is done with, for instance LXDE, a “lightweight” desktop environment which uses openbox as it’s window manager). I do keep a small conky script running to display a clock and a few relevant system statistics (cpu/mem usage, running procs, network traffice, clock), but that’s it.

I was having issues with my CPU usage getting ramped up beyond belief, and, when taking a look at running processes, it looked as though, for every wmii tab, another instance of wmii was running. Of course, I don’t blame wmii entirely for running up my CPU, since I was also running some rather heavy applications, such as OmegaT (translating for very large documents, while using directories chock full of large translation memories, glossaries, and dictionary files, etc.), and, Google Chrome (which, despite being a very nifty, and blazing fast browser, is rather memory heavy).   But, I saw that there were numerous instance of wmii running, and killed them, and logged into openbox again.
Gosh…openbox is just so light and fast…seriously.
Now, I really, really dig the tiling feature of wmii and similar window managers, but, that can be achieved in openbox, using a nifty little program called (who’d have thunk it) “tile”.

openbox, roxterm, mocp

So, I find myself once more happily using openbox, which I’ve come back to time and again. I really like the ease of configuration, involving only editing a simple xml file.
editing openbox rc.xml in tcltext
It is quick and snappy, allows (via editing said rc.xml file) me to program in all of my own preferred keyboard shortcuts for my most used actions and programs, etc., and, I’ll even admit, it’s nice to have the program menu (rt-click on desktop) at my disposal. wmii offers no such menus. I right-clicked on my desktop once I logged into openbox, and found programs in the debian menu that I’d entirely forgotten I even had on my machine! That was a pleasant surprise.

So, while I still have many positive things to say about wmii, today I give two thumbs up to OpenBox.

posted with Xpostulate


Written by tonybaldwin

April 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

Posted in free software

2 Responses

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  1. Hi. Following you on Twitter. Very very cool. Can you run Tk apps in an environment like this? I didn't know that you could use OpenBox "solely as a window manager, and not as a desktop environment". Thanks for the info!



    April 26, 2010 at 6:10 am

    • Hello, Jake,
      Yes, you can run tk apps in openbox, for sure!
      Two of the screenshots in the above article include tcl/tk apps that I wrote, Xpostulate and TclText, as a matter of fact.
      Additionally, Openbox can be run as a replacement windowmanager for xfwm in xfce, for metacity in gnome, or whatever KDE has for it's wm, too. I.e., it can be dropped into any of the abovementioned desktop environments as a replacement for the default wm. Of course, as mentioned in my article, it can be run by itself, too, without the panels and icon managers, pagers, applets, and other desktop environment elements, which is what I'm doing now.


      April 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

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