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Author Topic: Set Up The Fluxbox Window Manager  (Read 2009 times)

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Offline Slim.Fatz

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Set Up The Fluxbox Window Manager
« on: November 29, 2015, 11:26:53 am »
Hi everyone,

With this posting I would like to present you with some sample annotated configuration files (found at the bottom of this tutorial as a ZIP file that you can download) for the window manager (WM) Fluxbox and a short tutorial about the installation and use of Fluxbox and these sample files.

Level of Difficulty: EASY



NOTE 1: Using this tutorial will block the use and visibility of Desktop Icons! If you already have them they will no longer be visible (they are still there, so don't worry about that -- near the end of the tutorial I explain how to see them from within Fluxbox). If you do not care to have them but prefer or need to have your mouse function as it usually is set up to function for use with faster, light-weight window managers (like Fluxbox, Openbox or JWM) then this tutorial will cause no problems. However: you will not be able to copy launchers to the desktop.

NOTE 2: The following tutorial I would rate as easy and can be done even by users with little experience using Linux and/or the terminal (aka the scary command line)    :o . Just remember that when entering any commands or names in a terminal that Linux is case-sensitive !! So, having said this, let's get started ...



INTRODUCTION

In Peppermint Six, Fluxbox is very simple to install and use, but the configuration files can be somewhat confusing. Therefore, I have annotated my configuration files and present them to you. PCNetSpec has kindly added the sample files to the end of this posting so that you can download my annotated configuration files. Thank you, PCNetSpec !!  8)

Of course, my files represent my preferences. Your preferences will, naturally, be different. But you can hopefully use my annotated files to ease your introduction to Fluxbox and to customizing it to fit your preferences.

In case you do not already know, Fluxbox is a very light-weight WM that was developed in 2001. Its user interface contains only a toolbar and a pop-up menu (that you access by right-clicking on an empty area of your desktop/workspace, although I explain below how to set up a keyboard shortcut to access that menu).

The configuration files are all simple text files that you can modify using a text editor (such as the default pluma in Peppermint 7 or gedit in Peppermint Six). These config files permit you to (among other things) set up your main programs menu (the so-called "root" menu) as you would prefer it to be; to automatically start (autostart) programs each time you login to a Fluxbox session; and to set up keyboard shortcuts to perform a wide range of actions.

"Eye candy" is not exactly a focus of Fluxbox, but some things can nevertheless be added to it for those of you who like such things. One optional add-on program, for desktop icons, called iDesk I cannot recommend: for me the current version seems to have a bug that results in gradually increasing RAM usage (I guess this is normally referred to as a "memory leak") that should not be taking place -- but since I do not use desktop icons, that problem is irrelevant.



PROCEDURE

So, how do you install Fluxbox? This is very simple (although, as is typical with Linux, there are at least three or four different ways to do this): I used the Synaptic package manager (check your Peppermint menu to find this) and selected Fluxbox for installation (duh!  :-X ).

After installing Fluxbox, you will probably want to enable additional functionality for your mouse before you start Fluxbox. Enabling this additional functionality will, however, block the use and visibility of Desktop Icons (as noted above) and you will not be able to copy launchers to the desktop. There is an alternative to this (described later), but it has several consequences of its own:

1) About 20 MB of additional RAM will be used (by Nemo; probably not a big deal for most of you, but if you really are short on RAM or just wish to have a really lean system then this is something to take into consideration);

2) The "classic" full mouse functionality of Fluxbox (right-click on the desktop brings up the system's main menu; use of the mouse wheel to scroll from one workspace to another when the mouse pointer is on an empty area of the desktop) will NOT be possible. These mouse "issues" (getting the system's main menu to pop-up or moving to another workspace) can, however, still be accomplished via keyboard shortcuts (see below).

So, having said all of the above, I am going to continue with the tutorial assuming that you wish to have "classic" full mouse functionality. Near the end of this tutorial, I will explain how to retain desktop icons and the other functions of the standard Peppermint Six installation (at the cost of extra RAM usage and loss of "classic" full mouse functionality that can, however, be replaced by keyboard shortcuts).

I suggest that you do not even start Fluxbox the first time until AFTER reading/studying my sample configuration files! When you finally feel up to starting Fluxbox, you can start it at your login screen: in the upper right corner is a button with a "wrench" symbol that you click to see and select the Fluxbox option. Then complete your login and Fluxbox will start. Doing this will present you with only a very basic desktop and menu. This is the reason that I suggest that you do not even start Fluxbox the first time until AFTER reading/studying my sample configuration files!  ;)

So after installing Fluxbox (or before if you wish) download my sample configuration files. Unpack the files into a directory where you can refer to them and keep them as a back-up.

The files are hopefully self-explanatory, with many comments explaining how to use them, how to modify them to fit your preferences (with explanations for many of the important options) and (very important) where to put them for actual use as Fluxbox configuration files.

Without using my sample config files, Fluxbox uses "default" config files located at:

Code: [Select]
/etc/X11/fluxbox

You can open, read and modify my sample config files with the standard text editor (pluma for Peppermint 7 or gedit for Peppermint Six). You should probably begin by studying the opening comments in the "menu" file. I advise that you always make only one or two modifications at a time and then try them out to see if the result is what you want (or if it even works!).  :P

When you start Fluxbox, you can pull up the main programs menu (referred to as the "root" menu) by right-clicking on an empty area of the desktop. This is the menu that you customize with the configuration file named "menu". You can move from one workspace (desktop) to another by scrolling the mouse wheel when the mouse pointer is on an empty area of the desktop.

However, as soon as you start Nemo this "full" functionality with your mouse will be lost as Nemo (in a standard Peppermint Six installation) is configured to take control of the desktop. To prevent this from happening, follow the instructions in the following tutorial:

Tutorial for "full" mouse functionality

and then come back to finish reading this tutorial. If you wish to go back to the standard Nemo behavior (controlling the desktop and showing desktop icons), follow the step given in the previous link, but replace false (at the end of the line) with true. Then as soon as you start Nemo it will take control of the desktop and any desktop icons you previously had will again become visible.

This brings me to the final part of this tutorial. If you prefer to not have "full" functionality of your mouse and wish to have desktop icons then make sure that the step given in the previous link has been cancelled. You do this by opening a terminal and entering:

Code: [Select]
gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

and then pressing the ENTER-key. So how can you now get the "root" menu to appear? See the sample config file named "keys" where you can set up a keyboard shortcut to get to the "root" menu. Open that menu file and search for:

  :RootMenu

In my sample keys config file this appears twice: once for a mouse button action (which will only work if Nemo does NOT control the desktop) and once for the keyboard key named "Menu". You can assign a different keyboard shortcut to get to the "root" menu, such as <Alt><Space> by replacing my keyboard shortcut:

   Menu :RootMenu

with:

   Mod1 Space :RootMenu

and then reloading the configuration files (as explained in the keys file comments, Mod1 is the name that is used in the keys file to refer to the keyboard key labelled Alt while Space referes to the space-key of your keybooard).

So that is about all I have for this tutorial. Do not forget: these are just sample files: basically just suggestions; they reflect my preferences -- if yours are different (and I am sure they will be) then go ahead and start modifying the config files to match your desires.

Questions, comments, suggestions for improvement, etc. are all welcome here in this thread. I hope you enjoy using Fluxbox!!  8)

Regards,

-- Slim
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 05:33:47 am by Slim.Fatz »
"Life first -- Peppermint a close 2nd!" -- Zeb

Tread lightly: Fluxbox, JWM, i3, Openbox, awesome

Offline Slim.Fatz

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Re: Set Up The Fluxbox Window Manager
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2016, 01:50:00 pm »
Hi everyone,

For those who wish to use a video along with my Fluxbox WM sample configuration files to get started with Fluxbox (or together with my sample configuration files -- also well-commented for beginners and found in this posting -- to get started with the Openbox WM) Peppermint forum contributor rajeev2631007 has kindly posted two videos (one for Fluxbox and one for Openbox) here in the forum in this posting.

Thank you, rajeev2631007 !!  8)

Regards,

-- Slim
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 01:53:51 pm by Slim.Fatz »
"Life first -- Peppermint a close 2nd!" -- Zeb

Tread lightly: Fluxbox, JWM, i3, Openbox, awesome