Fluxbox: How I make it feel like home

Configuration: The All-Important Fluxbox Menu

When you first log into Fluxbox, the first thing you’ll notice is how bare it is. That’s okay, this is normal. It struck me at first too… there isn’t a lot to it. There’s a toolbar at the bottom of the screen, and that’s about it. No buttons to speak of.

So where’s all the stuff? It’s in the Fluxbox menu. If you right-click anywhere on the desktop, you’ll see the default menu with the default options on it. Now, you may be one of those people who just accepts the defaults for everything and uses whatever’s in front of you.

But I’m guessing if you’re reading this — an article on how to configure the Fluxbox window manager on a Linux computer — you probably aren’t one of those people, right? So let’s talk about tweaking that menu to make it do more than the basic out-of-the-box stuff.

In Fluxbox 1.0.0, there is by default an “Editors” option on the Fluxbox menu. If you go to that and select whichever editor you want it’ll fire it up. From there you’ll want to edit the Fluxbox menu file. It is called /home/yourusername/.fluxbox/menu and you’ll see that it’s just a basic, heirarchical text file.

If you’re technical enough to be messing around with this stuff, you’re probably technical enough to understand what’s going on in this menu file. It’s pretty basic, even though it looks like a lot of stuff. To add an item, you simply preface it by [exec] and then how you want the name of the item to appear in parenthesis, and then the actual command in between brackets (these: “{}”).

Whenever you make a submenu, you use the cleverly-labelled [submenu] tag, and whenever you’re done with that submenu, you end it with the cleverly-labelled [end] tag. This is important, however, because if you don’t close a submenu off with the end tag, it’ll break, and not show you any of the stuff you added to it. So make sure you close your submenu tags.

From here, you can tweak to your heart’s content. Here (to the right) is what my Fluxbox menu looks like. I like to put my most commonly used apps right there at the top, and I make a bunch of submenus that contain other stuff I don’t use as much, but still want to be able to access easily.

For reference, here is the code for my Fluxbox menu file. Note that I haven’t changed much of the lower submenus (because a lot of the default stuff I actually find useful in the more recent versions of Fluxbox. Also note that I created a submenu called “Fluxbox configs” that simply pull up the three basic files that get edited in configuring Fluxbox, “menu”, “startup”, and “init”.

I apologize for how hard this is to read. It seems that no matter what I do, WordPress won’t let me indent things where they should be indented, even within the “code” tag.

EDIT: After bitching to my very patient and brilliant wife about my indenting problems, she suggested that I provide a downloadable version of my Fluxbox menu, which I have done. If you want to see it with indentations intact, you can look at it here. :)

Next Page: Configuration: Tweaking the init and startup Files

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11 thoughts on “Fluxbox: How I make it feel like home

  1. Good article Trent, now you’ve got me back to using Fluxbox even with my dying hardware-generated glitches.

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  3. why so difficult install procedure? or was it meant generally for any distro? because in slackware you can just do: slackpkg install fluxbox.
    nice fluxbox howto. thank you.

    • Because in my experience, that doesn’t always work for everybody, so I figured I’d go into the nuts and bolts of installing it from scratch — which, if you’re a slackware user, shouldn’t be too difficult. :)

      • it’s not about difficulty. I preffer using slackware packages, that are prepared for me. if slackware offers it, why to use something else? and in case, that there will be some update, slackpkg will automatically update package (fluxbox) for me. I believe, this is safer, and keep my box more “consistent”. if you will install it manually, you are on your own.
        sure, that’s only my way, and my opinion. if you like it in that way, it’s completely OK, I didn’t mean it’s wrong.

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    • My pleasure!

      In all honesty, I still actually refer back to this old post once in a while when I forget how to do something or miss a step or two. :)

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