Archive for the ‘OpenBox’ Category

Crazy Ubuntu and getting Openbox running


OK, I mentioned before that Dann convinced me to try Openbox. Well I have been digging it so far, but I have found a couple other issues with using it under Ubuntu.

I had been switching to it all along after having my laptops already running, so I didn’t notice until this weekend that when you switch to Openbox as your default windowmanager you lose your network connection. You see, normally Ubuntu has Gnome or KDE start network manager, which starts your network up. Well, being too smart for my own good, I decided that I would just slap the info I needed into the /etc/network/interfaces, where I know Debian and Ubuntu hides that stuff. I told it to start my wireless interface and get an address via dhcp, and I was off and working on the rest of my problems (but this is not the last time I would visit this one).

The next issue I ran into was without gnome or KDE beforehand, how do those Openbox guys get their background going. Well, after trying several programs like feh, etc., I decided I could just get gnome’s settings daemon to do it and then at least be able to keep my background between windowmanager switches more easily.

Then, I found that mysteriously my network connection would just drop. It was a random thing, but quite irritating. After mucking about with it for almost a day I decided that I didn’t remember having my connection go down under Gnome, but it was now under Openbox. I decided to reverse my prior network change and just have Gnome handle it for me.

I dig a bunch of digging into this to see what other people were doing, and they were doing the same as I. How do they get all this going? Well, they put it into the ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh file. This is, by the way, he file you would use to get anything to autostart in Openbox. So let’s take a look in mine:


gnome-settings-daemon &
gnome-power-manager &
nm-applet --sm-disable &
gnome-volume-manager --sm-disable &
$(sleep 20 ; conky 2>/dev/null 1>/dev/null) &

I put the Gnome settings daemon in there to control my background and screensaver, etc. The gnome power manager in there on recommendation of several websites. It manages suspending, hibernation and screen blanking, etc. The nm applet is the one that controls my networking. Putting this in here started my network right up and keeps it working too. The volume manager should control auto mounting, etc., but I have yet to get it to do anything when I insert a cd. Further research required there. And last but certainly not least, I start up Conky, which displays my date/time (and now battery status). You’ll notice the 20 second sleep command before starting Conky, and that is to allow the gnome-settings-daemon enough time to set the background before Conky starts. If it happens any other way, Conky and gnome have a battle royal over desktop background control and the background/Conky will blink on and off several times before one becomes the victor.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Clean new look

At the behest of Dann, the other night I installed the Openbox windowmanager. I have to say I am pretty impressed with it so far. With no icons, task bar, etc., to clutter up your screen it leaves more realestate there for you to fill up with your favorite and more productive things. Not to mention it’s dang fast!

Now there are a couple things I had a problem with (aren’t there always). The first being that although I really could care less about the lack of taskbar, I was at a loss for a clock/calendar. After some trials and surfing around I found the perfect solution for that was Conky. now Conky does a lot more things than show the time, but in my case it fit the bill perfectly. I configured the .conkyrc file to do some transparency and put only the system name and the time/date on the lower left hand corner of the screen. The code for that looks like so:

own_window_hints undecorated,below,skip_taskbar
background yes
double_buffer yes
use_spacer yes
use_xft no
update_interval 30
own_window_transparent yes
alignment bottom_right
gap_x 10
gap_y 10
draw_outline yes
TEXT
$nodename
${time %D %H:%M}

The other part of that was the calendar, but I had forgotten how easy it was for me to just run “cal” in an xterm, so that solved that problem too 😉 The last frustration was a wierd error I was getting using Openbox. After a few minutes of use the ctrl-alt arrow key switching of the desktops would stop working. After some trial and error I found that this behavior only happens when I am running vmware server. I assume it’s due to the way that program handles screen controls. As soon as I turn the vmware server console display off and restart Openbox, the problem goes away. I can probably live with that too, but if anyone knows a better solution, please let me know.

Oh yeah, and if you haven’t yet tried Openbox, you should. It’s rockin’!

Friday, June 20th, 2008