[Linux] Openbox is a powerful, lightweight, and customizable windows manager

obconf1If there’s one thing that Linux users have the best, it’s customization. When you log into a Linux installation, no matter the distribution, you have tons of choices for window managers and desktop environments. Openbox is one of those choices. This window manager is extremely lightweight and fully customizable.


Main Functionality

Openbox is a highly customizable window manager for Linux.


  • Stylish and minimalistic
  • Comes with a ton of modern skins
  • 32-bit true transparent window support
  • Keybinds can be chrooted as well as configured
  • Very lightweight
  • Tons of community themes and styles to choose from
  • Advanced focus cycling to panels and desktop windows as well as focus cycling across all desktops
  • Focus cycling to panels and desktop windows
  • Straightforward application menu
  • Support for application auto starting
  • Can be combined with Gnome or KDE (using Openbox as the window manager)
  • Excellent language rendering
  • Support for mouse bindings as well as mouse interaction with the window manager
  • Excellent workspaces support
  • Emacs key bindings support
  • Xinerama support as well as support for multiple screens
  • Great documentation wiki
  • Openbox is highly customizable


  • Configuration file is XML based
  • Themes do not include any sort of panel theme (Fluxbox and other WM’s have WM taskbars)


obconf2On virtually any desktop environment, Openbox is my window manager of choice. Every time my Xubuntu machine starts up, the command openbox –replace is run. This ensures that my XFCE4 experience is without the dreaded XFWM. Now, I love XFCE, it’s one of my all time favorite desktop environments, but I cannot stand the window manager it comes with. Openbox makes everything pretty much perfect.

Openbox is truly a favorite of mine. A few times I’ve used a pure Openbox configuration, complete with a custom panel (using cairo dock) and some other options. I love that I can do anything with Openbox because it’s so minimal.

I absolutely love the themes that Openbox comes with. All of the themes have different looks, but I really like that most of them look very modern. Most minimalistic window managers have a tough time looking like something other than Windows 95. Openbox also has a great community and a very good documentation wiki. I really love almost everything about it.

One of the Cons I listed was that it doesn’t come with a window manager panel like Fluxbox does. This is only because I feel that if someone were to just use Openbox alone, there should be a taskbar that can be enabled or disabled. Just an option to have one, it doesn’t need to be the default. I’m both for and against that idea. I had to list it as a con, but I don’t think it’s the worst thing not to have one. I’m also not really too big on the fact that the configuration files are XML based. I really wish it was done a different way.

Openbox will forever remain my window manager of choice. Until I find a window manager that is as interesting and as good looking as Openbox, I’m not going to switch. It doesn’t matter the desktop environment. I’ll always have my Openbox running. I like it that much.


If you’re into minimalism on Linux, and you haven’t tried out Openbox — what are you waiting for? Download it, configure it and install it right now. Openbox is very powerful, yet very simple.


Version reviewed: 3.5.0

Supported OS: Any Linux distro

Available In software sources: Almost all mainstream Linux distros

Download size: 1.8 MB (along with other packages that get installed)

Is it portable? No

Openbox homepage

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