Fluxbox: How I make it feel like home

Configuration: Tweaking the init and startup Files

Aside from rewriting a lot of the Fluxbox menu, I don’t tweak much. I set the transparency values for the menu and the toolbar to about 190 or so by going to right-click => fluxbox menu => Configure => Transparency.

The next place I go is to edit the init file, located in the ~/.fluxbox directory where we found the menu before.

There, I find the line called session.screen0.edgeSnapThreshold: and since I like windows to snap to positions when they get near the edge of the screen or other windows, I set the value to “10”.

Typically I also add this line as well, to randomly set a wallpaper out of the directory of my choosing when I start it up every day:

session.screen0.rootCommand: fbsetbg -r /home/tli/sata/files/wallpaper/random

In that directory I have a huge pile of wallpaper files, and I like a different background every day, so I find that having Fluxbox randomly choose one for me when I log in is a great way to do it.

In the ~/.fluxbox/startup file, you can add applications you want Fluxbox to start automatically when you log in. Make sure whatever you add, you do it in the right place (and the startup file has comments in it that make it pretty clear where those things go), and make sure if you want the app to stay running, you put a “&” after the command.

Myself, I only have four things in there:

xscreensaver &
gkrellm &
kmix &
sh /usr/local/sbin/GCALDaemon/bin/standalone-start.sh &

Gkrellm is a nifty system monitoring tool you always see in the right-hand side of any of my screenshots.

Kmix is just the little volume control dohickey that shows up as a tray device in KDE. Since I have KDE installed as well, I have Kmix fire up so I have some form of easily accessible volume control while I’m in Fluxbox.

Xscreensaver is the screensaver I prefer to use in Linux, so that command starts up the daemon for it when I log in.

And finally, the GCALDaemon shell script I have running there is just to start the daemon I use to synchronize my local KOrganizer calendar with my GMail calendar. I’m not going to get into the messy details regarding what’s going on with that here… I actually plan an article for that on its own down the road, so you can read about that once I get around to writing it up. It’s slick, but it involves a lot of steps and a few hacks I figured out along the way.

Conclusion

So, that’s pretty much it for how I tweak my Fluxbox installation. I have downloaded a bunch of custom styles that I switch between depending on my mood, and there are more of those than you can shake a stick at if you just go and do a Google search for them.

Play around with it and experiment! There are lots of resources available, and one of the best out there is the Fluxbox Wiki.

You can also ask questions here. Coming soon I’ll be publishing another, more in-depth look at Fluxbox hacks written by my friend Pat, for the more technical among you who want to see what Fluxbox can really do. So stick around and watch for that one.

Addendum: Some common stuff I forgot to bring up

07/02/2009
By the way, Dave (from fullmetalgerbil.com) posed a couple of good questions via email to me that I didn’t even consider when I wrote this. They’re common questions too, so I thought I’d address them

First, “how do you change the clock to read normal 12 hour time instead of military time?“.

To do this, right-click on the toolbar and note that the 2nd option from the bottom says “Clock 24h”. Simply click on this and it’ll change to “12h” and display time in standard 12 hour format.

Secondly, “how do you get the date to show in your Fluxbox clock?“.

That is something that I normally do, but I hadn’t gotten around to it quite yet when I wrote this article (I only just set up Fluxbox on my main machine a day or two before, so there are still little things like that here and there that I’m finding as I go along).

Right click on the toolbar again and select the bottom menu option, “Edit clock format”. In the little textbox that pops up from that, this is the string that I have entered:

%k:%M   %A, %B %d

This shows the time, the day of the week, and the month and day of the month.  So right now for me my Fluxbox toolbar clock reads:

9:18  Thursday, July 02

The variables that Fluxbox uses for these expressions are actually the default system variables for it… if you open a terminal window and type man date you’ll find an entire list of variables you can play around with in the Fluxbox clock to make it read pretty much whatever ridiculous thing you prefer. Have fun!

– Trent

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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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