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raymac46

Fluxbox on MX Linux

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raymac46

Fluxbox is a default alternative desktop with MX Linux, and I just tried it out. Looks nice but it reminds me why I am not really a Window Manager person. Everything seems more complicated, and I would have to invest a lot of time to get the thing working right for me. I was glad to get back to Xfce. Maybe your experience will be different. It's worth a try.

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Hedon James
Posted (edited)

I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but Fluxbox is my favorite WM, hands-down.  PekWM is very similar; nearly identical in functionality, and underlying setup, but very different syntax.  Fluxbox syntax is very "plain english", while PekWM syntax is somewhat code-like with brackets, etc...  Both are pretty easy to customize though!

 

When I first discovered Fluxbox, I wasn't impressed either.  Only half of the menu worked as expected.  While it ships with default configs, they're more for demonstration of a basic configuration.  It's NOT intended to be used "as is", but as an example of a base template to start from.  Then I learned you could customize EVERYTHING....in fact, that's kind of the point with Fluxbox.  Although I think the overwhelming majority of users could be happy with Flux simply by customizing the menu to their liking, including changing of font size or even choosing custom fonts to improve viewability.  You want menus with 20pt font?  You can do that!  Hard core tinkerers like myself can change the taskbar behavior, position, or even make it disappear; can customize window bar controls, location (left or right, or mix & match?!), and behaviors such as shade on click, etc...  IMO, one of the "killer features" is tabbed window grouping.  Once I discovered that, it greatly enhanced my workflow.  Now, I can't live without it!  AFAIK, Flux & Pek are 2 of only a very few WMs that still retain this feature.

 

Once you get Flux (or Pek) configured the way you like, it requires very little or even no future interaction whatsoever.  And you can simply copy your entire .fluxbox directory into your next machine, or next distro, and everything comes forward EXACTLY as you crafted it, including all custom themes you've accumulated or created.  I'd say that 95% or more of your Flux efforts will occur in the initial setup & tweaking to your tastes.  The remaining 5% of your efforts may include some more tweaking to accommodate newly discovered features/options you didn't know existed but now can't live without, but will mostly just be adding new themes you like.  If you wanna try your hand at tweaking Flux to your personal preferences, Flux has good documentation for nearly every feature and it's potential options.  And of course, I can probably help and be available to answer questions and/or make suggestions!

Edited by Hedon James
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raymac46

@HJ could you post a screenshot of how your install looks?

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Hedon James

Sure thing Ray!  Here's a shot of my flux menu using the default theme (Debian squared) of my DebianQT remix.  It's one of the defaults available in Fluxbox, but it fits my desktop pretty well right now:

 

image.thumb.png.c875bc12e1e22b5c9a12d4745c1c610b.png

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Hedon James

My menu is setup for either a right click on desktop (for mouse use), or a ctrl+m (for keyboard use).  That's another cool feature in fluxbox...custom keybindings.  Set your entries in the fluxbox configs and you can completely skip mouse clicks, if that's your thing.  I do both, depending on task; and I like duplicate ways to do things so I always have a backup way to get something done.

 

The 1st six entries are my "favorites" or "most frequently used".  I also have keybindings to completely skip the menu for these items, I use them so frequently....saves clicks and motion.

 

The Applications Menu relies on a cool program called xdgmenumaker, which is a script that compiles a listing of ALL installed programs on your machine.  The menu is a static one (by my choice) and everytime I install a new program I just choose "update menu" and xdgmenumaker generates a syntactically correct menu of all installed software, which I nest inside of my custom shell menu.

 

The Desktop Preferences are manual entries to desktop settings, such as "wallpaper", "general appearance", LXQT settings, and a custom script to switch Window Managers between Fluxbox, Openbox, and PekWM.  These settings are scattered throughout LXDE, Gnome, KDE, and/or LXQT desktops, so I group them all together in a single location, in a way that makes sense to me.

 

Fluxbox Settings are the stock menu items for many common Fluxbox preferences & settings.

 

Reboot/Shutdown/Switch User is meant to be used in a "naked" window manager session and configured as such in a default configuration.  But since I use Fluxbox as the preferred WM in a LXQT desktop environment, this section has been modified by me to redirect to the lxsession manager in LXQT.

 

Attached is my entire Fluxbox Menu config.  This should get you started on an understanding of Fluxbox configs.  There are other files and configurations to tinker with, if you wanted, but the menu is 90% of Fluxbox customization, IMO.  Enjoy!

my-custom-menu

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Hedon James

Another cool feature of Flux, by default, is that the cascading menus are "tear away" menus.  You can "pull" any of the submenus from the main menu and it will "stick" to your screen until you click it away.  This comes in handy when trying out all the different available Fluxbox themes (which Flux calls "styles").  FWIW...

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raymac46

I get the idea. I did some of this text based customization in the past when I was futzing around with antiX on netbooks.   I have gotten away from  text based menus myself but it is interesting how it works.

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Hedon James
2 hours ago, raymac46 said:

I get the idea. I did some of this text based customization in the past when I was futzing around with antiX on netbooks.   I have gotten away from  text based menus myself but it is interesting how it works.

 

Antix is a wonderful playground for these types of menus.  I've appropriated a LOT of ideas from Antix!

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saturnian
9 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Fluxbox is a default alternative desktop with MX Linux, and I just tried it out.

 

Is it just a stock Fluxbox, or is it already set up and configured by the MX team?

 

I've got a Fluxbox setup in Debian Buster and another one in Arch. My favorite WM has been Openbox for quite some time, but I'm wondering what's gonna happen with it down the road. But if I can't use Openbox in a few years, I'll be fine with Fluxbox, which I love about as much. I actually started using Fluxbox first, before I'd ever tried Openbox.

 

The most important thing with Fluxbox, in my opinion, is to read that manual page. There's lots of other info out there online, some good and some not so good, but you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by referring to man fluxbox first. The 2nd most important thing is to save the config files because they can save you tons of time on subsequent installations. I just pop the old ones in and edit a little bit to fit the situation. (Same with Openbox as far as reusing config files.)

 

I agree with Hedon James, the best part is that you can customize everything. For example, I'm using a left-side vertical tint2 panel in Fluxbox instead of using the Fluxbox toolbar (they call it a toolbar,  but think "panel"). Another thing I like with Fluxbox (again, same with Openbox) is to add it when I've already got a DE installed, like Xfce. Then I can use all of those Xfce apps from within Fluxbox. This can make things easier than trying to set up a Fluxbox-only installation. I used to do that with Openbox, add it to a system that already had a DE present, but now I've gotten better at doing an Openbox-only installation. I'll eventually get around to doing a Fluxbox-only installation, maybe.

 

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saturnian
9 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Fluxbox is a default alternative desktop with MX Linux, and I just tried it out.

 

Oh, and do they ship it on the same iso as the regular MX?

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abarbarian
13 hours ago, Hedon James said:

Another cool feature of Flux, by default, is that the cascading menus are "tear away" menus.  You can "pull" any of the submenus from the main menu and it will "stick" to your screen until you click it away.  This comes in handy when trying out all the different available Fluxbox themes (which Flux calls "styles").  FWIW...

 

Big deal Window Maker can do that too. 😜

 

Thanks for this thread though as it has prompted me to take a look at my WM menu, been meaning to do it for the last few years. 😎

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raymac46

As far as I can see Fluxbox ships with MX-19 and you can select it from the Display Manager. It is MX Linux's own version of the Fluxbox desktop.

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Hedon James
2 hours ago, abarbarian said:

 

Big deal Window Maker can do that too. 😜

 

Thanks for this thread though as it has prompted me to take a look at my WM menu, been meaning to do it for the last few years. 😎

 

Then you know what I'm talking about!

 

FWIW, a lot of the "older" and what I refer to as "the 'boxen-style" WMs (based on their similarities to Openbox, Fluxbox, & Blackbox family of WMs) have those custom root menus that I like so much.  IceWM, JWM, TWM, FVWM, PekWM, and yes...Window Maker all have those menus that can be customized extensively.  That's one of the features I look for in a WM.  Although the development of jgmenu allows pretty much any WM to have this feature, even if it's a separate software addon.

 

The killer feature to me is tabbed windows, and they are MUCH harder to find.  Here's a comparison of many popular WMs and some of their more popular features:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_X_window_managers

 

Although I think this list is a little outdated, as Kwin USED TO have tabbed windows, but was removed quite awhile ago.  I've heard talk of re-implementation, but no confirmation that it has happened.  And yes, Window Maker has this killer feature too!  😎

 

If I wasn't so enamored with Flux & Pek, I could absolutely see myself using Window Maker!  Not really a fan of the icon-style launchers, stacked around the perimeter, but maybe it has advantages I'm not aware of.  In the meantime, it would be a simple matter to install a modular panel-style launcher such as lxpanel, or lxqt-panel, or perhaps xfwm-panel, and I'd be perfectly fine with that.  And WM seems a little "weak" on the theme side, but all it takes is ONE cool theme, to tweak to taste, and we'd be off to the races with WM too!

 

Yes, I could see myself using WM!

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sunrat
2 hours ago, Hedon James said:

Although I think this list is a little outdated, as Kwin USED TO have tabbed windows, but was removed quite awhile ago.  I've heard talk of re-implementation, but no confirmation that it has happened.

 

KDE Plasma has tabbed windows in applications like Konsole, Kate, Dolphin etc.

I can't be bothered trying out different WMs, DEs, or distros much any more. KDE Plasma 5 just works and I have better things to do than play with operating systems these days. Life is too short.

Although I did try out Bionic Puppy today and install it for my friend on a USB flash drive. He's doing PI work and needs to spy in other people's computers sometimes. I think Puppy will do that well for him as he's nowhere near being a computer wiz.

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abarbarian
4 hours ago, Hedon James said:

Although I think this list is a little outdated, as Kwin USED TO have tabbed windows, but was removed quite awhile ago.  I've heard talk of re-implementation, but no confirmation that it has happened.  And yes, Window Maker has this killer feature too!

 

I think that wiki entry saying WM has tabbed windows is not correct. I have never come across this feature and have never found any mention of it in articles old or new.

 

4 hours ago, Hedon James said:

Not really a fan of the icon-style launchers, stacked around the perimeter, but maybe it has advantages I'm not aware of. 

 

You do not have to have the icons stacked around the perimeter. You could place them almost anywhere. You don't have to have any at all. You could attach them to the clip and have them auto hide/raise. An more options exist too many to list.

4 hours ago, Hedon James said:

And WM seems a little "weak" on the theme side, but all it takes is ONE cool theme, to tweak to taste, and we'd be off to the races with WM too!

 

Yer having a laff ain't you. WM is probably the easiest to create personal themes with. An if you are Proficient in Gimp them the sky is the limit.

 

😎

 

Do not mean to hi jack the thread so I'll be posting some stuff in the WM dedicated thread soon. 😎

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Hedon James

Hey Abarbarian,

 

I hope you didn't take that the wrong way, as I'm not dissing WM at all.  Simply stating "not as ideal for me as Flux, but I could work with it".  Appreciate the correction on tabbed windows, although that could be a deal killer for me.  Wikis aren't always reliable, obviously.  And my comments regarding themes comes from a place where Fluxbox and Pek don't have many good themes, IMO; and WM has even less (at least on box-look.org, which is where my searches usually start).  But all it takes is one to suck you in, and start tweaking from there!

https://www.box-look.org/browse/cat/139/order/latest/

 

LispMachine looks like a good starting point!

https://www.box-look.org/p/1018309/

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saturnian

I'll download the latest MX and have a look at what they're doing with Fluxbox. I'll probably copy the config files, too.

 

For some reason, I don't actually use the tabbed windows much anymore. Great feature whenever I need it, though.

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Hedon James
35 minutes ago, saturnian said:

I'll download the latest MX and have a look at what they're doing with Fluxbox. I'll probably copy the config files, too.

 

For some reason, I don't actually use the tabbed windows much anymore. Great feature whenever I need it, though.

 

Yeah, when I'm doing personal stuff, I don't need them.  But for work production, they're a MUST have for me.  Like a microwave...couldn't figure out why I needed one; now I don't know what I'd without one!  LOL!

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abarbarian
14 hours ago, Hedon James said:

I hope you didn't take that the wrong way, as I'm not dissing WM at all. 

 

No fence taken. My mission in life is to try to mention Window Maker as often as possible anywhere on the net.

 

See here for a quick look at some customised WM desktops and a couple of themes including Lisp Machine,

 

https://forums.scotsnewsletter.com/index.php?/topic/56171-window-maker/&do=findComment&comment=464840

 

You may find yourself tempted to join the cause. 😍

 

As to Flubox themes you may find the offerings at Deviant Art of interest.

 

https://www.deviantart.com/tag/fluxbox

 

😎

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Hedon James

Yep, Deviant is another good spot to swipe some themes!

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saturnian
On 5/6/2020 at 5:46 PM, sunrat said:

 

They are beta testing MX FB 2.1 atm. It's a set of debs to install on MX. https://forum.mxlinux.org/viewtopic.php?f=143&t=57838&sid=7081f102db661488ba27ad5288c0e01b

 

Otherwise the install is by selecting it in MXPI on standard MX.

 

Thanks, I've been checking out that thread, and exploring a live Fluxbox session of MX-19.1. Looks like a new point release is imminent and it'll include those Fluxbox changes, so I'll download the iso again when that happens.

 

As for the release I'm looking at, in the Fluxbox live session, a problem I've seen before with Fluxbox -- some windows opening too large, so large that you can't even access the control buttons. Quick fix: Alt + right mouse click to resize the window; Alt + left mouse click to move the window.

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saturnian
On 5/6/2020 at 7:18 AM, raymac46 said:

Fluxbox is a default alternative desktop with MX Linux, and I just tried it out. Looks nice but it reminds me why I am not really a Window Manager person. Everything seems more complicated, and I would have to invest a lot of time to get the thing working right for me. I was glad to get back to Xfce. Maybe your experience will be different. It's worth a try.

 

Yeah, I finally got around to taking a look at the Fluxbox session in MX-19.2, in a live session from a flash drive. They've made changes to the Fluxbox setup since 19.1. I didn't quite feel comfortable with it at first. Maybe too much going on, or maybe I'm just used to my own Fluxbox setups.

 

After awhile, I killed the dock and toggled off conky and the desktop icons, and then things felt a little more like how I think Fluxbox should feel, lol.

 

Well, I'd like another login option besides Xfce and their version of Fluxbox, and that would be a "stock" Fluxbox. But I don't think that would fit in with what MX is all about.

 

Anyway... What an impressive distro. I may not agree with all the decisions they make, but MX sure is loaded with tools! I'm actually very pleased with the offerings out there right now as many distros have very good live sessions, but for a more "all-purpose" live session, MX kinda stands out.

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raymac46

I agree that it is very impressive. I have MX Linux running on my oldest desktop - dual core AMD from 2008. Also in VBox on my Windows daily driver.

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