Fluxbox Alternative GUI Desktop Environment for PS3 Guide
So you have heard the word Fluxbox mentioned from time to time and you ask yourself, "Just what is this Fluxbox thing". Well simply put, Fluxbox is an alternative GUI desktop environment like Enlightenment, Gnome and XFCE.
Usually when you hear reference to Fluxbox, people will refer to Fluxbox as a Window Manager, which essentially it is. Fluxbox gives you the bare essentials needed to run and manage your application windows. This no frills approach allows Fluxbox to run at amazing speed by minimizing system resources used. That being CPU cycles and RAM.
And then you ask yourself, "Well, what does Fluxbox look like". See for yourself by clicking on the links below. The screeshots I have posted are actualy screen captures I took of Fluxbox running on my YDL 6 installation on my PS3.
Screen capture of the Fluxbox Menu:
Screen capture of the file manager Thunar and music player Audacious.
As you can see from my screen captures that Fluxbox takes a very minimal approach. No desktop icons and a very minimal toolbar. So lets talk a little on the basic usage of Fluxbox...
To bring up the menu, you simply right click on the desktop. You can navigate the menu with either your mouse or keyboard. At the bottom of the screen you can see the toolbar which indicates that I am using the first workspace and have my media player Audacious minimized to the toolbar. I also have my toolbar configured to display the date and time in an easy to read format. Managing windows is very similar to that in Gnome and other environments. Right clicking on the window decorator will bring up a menu with additional options such as sending the selected window to another workspace.
Before we get to the installation and configuration of Fluxbox, I'll list some links to documentation and themes for Fluxbox. Documentation on the configuration of Fluxbox can be found at the two links below.
Fluxbox Documentation at Sourceforge: [Register or Login to view links]
Now we will get Fluxbox installed and get you going with some basics on the configuration of Fluxbox. I'm not going to get to deep into the configuration of Fluxbox here since everything you will need to now is already documented in the links I posted above. Here we will concentrate on installing Fluxbox along with a few other addition applications and work through some example configuration files taken from my own YDL 6 installation. So lets install it already.
Just use whatever method you are comfortable installing applications with. Here I will be using yum from the command line. In your terminal as your root user, lets install Fluxbox along with the file manager used in XFCE called Thunar, eterm for setting our desktop wallpaper and the music player Audacious.
Before we get carried away editing our configuration files, lets first back them up. All of the configuration files for Fluxbox are stored in a hidden directory located in your users Home directory called .fluxbox. In your terminal as your normal user run....
Now that we have our original Fluxbox configuration files backed up, we can start playing around with setting up our Fluxbox menu and shortcut keys file. We are going to start off by using some configuration files taken from my system. Before we log out of our current desktop environment and log into Fluxbox, lets set up a few things first so we will have a good base to start with. Lets start off with grabbing a few Fluxbox Styles and get them installed to the proper location so that we have them available to use after we log into Fluxbox. After downloaded a few Styles just extract the files you downloaded using your file manager and place the new Styles in your .fluxbox/styles directory.
Next lets get on with setting up our Fluxbox menu. The configuration file for the Fluxbox menu is located in .fluxbox/menu. The configuration file for the menu is very easy to read and you will probably be able to figure out how to edit the menu just by reading the code in the file. You can find information on editing the menu ([Register or Login to view links]).
To make things a little easier to begin with, lets copy the contents of my .fluxbox/menu file onto your system. You can always edit this file later or create your own menu file. Open up your .fluxbox/menu file with Gedit and delete all of the original text. Now copy and past the contents of my menu file listed below into Gedit.
We can see that the path on my system is /home/kris/Wallpaper. Just edit this line to point to the location of your desktop wallpapers. Now save and close the file.
Now we will move onto a file that defines how certain aspects such as the width and size of the toolbar are set. Open .fluxbox/init and delete all of the original text and place the contents of my init file into your init file:
The init file can be edited by hand or from the Fluxbox menu by right clicking on the desktop to bring up the menu and selecting Fluxbox > Configuration. Now save and close the init file.
Lets move onto the configuration file that defines the keyboard shortcuts in Fluxbox called .fluxbox/keys. This is were Fluxbox really shines. You can edit this file to define a specific key binding to bring up the Fluxbox menu or launch an application. You can find information on editing this file ([Register or Login to view links]). Lets take a look at my .fluxbox/keys file:
Mod1 refers to the Alt key on the keyboard. As you can see, we can switch desktops by pressing Alt + Right arrow key or Alt + Left arrow key. You can bring up the Fluxbox menu by pressing Alt + Up arrow on the keyboard. We can also quickly launch Firefox by pressing Alt + F1. You can edit this file to suite your own taste.
After you have finished with any changes you would like to make to your keys file, save the file and we will move onto the configuration file that sets fonts and font sized used by Fluxbox. This file is called .fluxbox/overlay.
Here we can set the font used for the menu, window title and toolbar. The font size listed here (12) is what I use on my 720p television, so if you are using a higher screen resolution, you may want to increase the font size.
We only have one more file left to configure and then we are done. This last file is called .gtkrc-2.0 and is found in your /home/username directory. This file sets the GTK theme used for GTK applications such as Firefox and Thunar, the icon theme used and the font type and size:
We can see that my GTK applications will be set with a Bitstream Vera Sans font with a font size of 12. The GTK theme used will be "SlicknesS" and the icon theme used will be "black-white_2-Style". For practice lets set up or system with these themes.
You can download the GTK theme SlicknesS ([Register or Login to view links]). Extract the file you download using your file manager. You will need to extract it two times on this one. Now copy the directory SlicknesS to your .themes directory.
You can download and copy any GTK+2 theme that you would like to use to your .themes directory. Now lets download and install the icon theme black-white_2-Style. You can grab it ([Register or Login to view links]).
Again, you will need to extract this one 2 times since the actual directory we need that contains the font theme is located in a sub directory. Now copy the directory black-white_2-Style to your .icons directory.
Thats it. What we have done so far should give us a good starting point for using Fluxbox. We can finally log out of our current working environment and select Fluxbox from the Sessions menu located in the login manager (GDM). Now login and enjoy some lightning fast speed.
Did you notice how much faster Fluxbox started after you logged in compared to that of Gnome or XFCE? Now right click on the desktop to bring up the menu and open the file manager. The file manager started up pretty fast didn't it?
I hope that this guide helped explain as easily as possible, how to get Fluxbox installed and get a basic configuration going. Again, I strongly recommend that new users to Fluxbox read through the documentation that I linked to at the begining of this guide. Have fun, and I hope that you come to love Fluxbox as much as I do!