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Some information on the Fluxbox window manager.


In Unix computing, Fluxbox is a fast and light WindowManager for the X Window System based on Blackbox 0.61.1. and compatible with it. It has support for KDE and Gnome applications.

Unlike the heavyweights, GNOME and KDE Plasma, which take (ideally) 15-30 seconds to get up and running, Fluxbox is up and running as soon as you hit the enter key. Its menu and configuration is done by simple files located in the user's directory under the name .fluxbox.

Fluxbox has a slick tabbing mechanism for windows. You can combine multiple windows into one window with tabs across the top by simply middle-clicking the tab of one window (and holding it down) and dragging and dropping on the tab of another window. This is very nice for cleaning up a desktop without exiling applications to other virtual desktops (it has those too).

Another nice feature is Fluxbox's support for docking applications. A docking app runs as sort of an icon with minature display or controls. But not like an icon, more like small controls on a walkman (for example) as opposed to a big dial face of a home stereo. It aims to be lightweight and highly customizable, with only minimal support for graphical icons, and only basic interface style capabilities. The basic interface has only a TaskBar and a menu accessible by right-clicking on the desktop. Fluxbox also supports user created keyboard shortcuts.

Fluxbox is an amazing piece of software that does not depend on any other WindowManager. It is small, fast and almost a sure thing for pleasing the eye. (Source < 500K). You can choose any one of many pre-defined styles to tailor it to your taste. It can be used with DebianLive on small USB keys.

In accordance with Fluxbox's goal of simplicity, the main menu, the keyboard shortcuts and the basic configuration are all changed by editing text files. Fluxbox's themes are 100% compatible with those of blackbox. Colors, gradients, borders, and several other basic appearance attributes can be specified; recent versions of Fluxbox support rounded corners and graphical elements. Fluxbox also has several features which blackbox lacks, including Tabbed Windows, a feature familiar from PWM, and configurable titlebar.


If you do not have X installed, you need to install X first, using Aptitude or apt-get:

# apt-get install xorg

After you can install Fluxbox.

# apt-get install fluxbox

You can use Fluxbox with xdm now.

The fluxbox package contains the following tools:

Fluxbox Session


To start a Fluxbox session from SDDM or GDM you can choose 'fluxbox' from the session or session-type menu.


To run Fluxbox from xdm you should setup a .xsession file in your home_directory.

Alternatively use the debian alternatives and setup x-session-manager to be Fluxbox.


By default SLIM uses Xsession which is provided with /usr/share/xsessions/fluxbox.desktop.

From Commandline

To run Fluxbox from the commandline login, setup the .xinitrc file in your Home directory and insert the following line:

Alternatively use the Debian alternatives and setup x-window-manager to be Fluxbox.


Install fbautostart and add it to your ~/.fluxbox/startup to provide automatic startup of XDG applications ( ls /etc/xdg/autostart ~/.config/autostart ).


Keyboard Shortcuts


It is possible to set up a wide range of keyboard shortcuts for Fluxbox using the ~/.fluxbox/keys configuration (although it is possible to use another name and specify it in ~/.fluxbox/init). The key file has a rather simple and clean layout, as shown in the following example:

So the general layout is:

NOTE: The following tables are not complete!


key on the keyboard




OS, a.k.a. Win-key


control key


shift key


key on the keyboard


letters and digits, case insensitive


the escape key


Arrow-keys beyond the Home/End keys


tabulator key


delete key



Workspace N

switch to workspace N


cycle to prev/next window on current workspace


execute the following arguments


toggle fullscreen for the current window


toggle window decorations


toggle maximize for current window


switch between tabs

MoveTo x y

move the current window to coordinates (x,y) (where (0,0) is the upper left corner)


automatically arrange windows on current desktop


popup the rootmenu on the cursor's position

Modifier, keys and operations are not case sensitive. It's a matter of readability in this case.



To load a personalized background on startup and prevent theme switches from changing it, you have to put (or remove the comment if it's there already).

in ~/.fluxbox/overlay

Then set the background once manually with fbsetbg. This last used wallpaper will be saved in the file ~/.fluxbox/lastwallpaper.



With the ~/.fluxbox/apps file you can for instance open a window always maximized, with specific dimensions, only on the left display or even on another workspace.

Simple settings might be changed by right-click on the menu-bar and select one of the checkboxes in the "Remember" submenu. By doing so an '[app]..' line will be created in the configuration if it doesn't exist already. For more granular matching you might want to look at the CLIENT PATTERNS section.

For permanent use of the window tabbing feature you need to edit the configuration file manually. This is an example how this could be achieved:

The default key combination for switching between tabs is Mod4(Logo-Key)+Tab.

The following shell function can be used to quickly create the shown '[app]..' lines.


fluxbox(1) THE_SLIT

The slit is a special window frame that can contain dockable applications, e.g. 'bbtools' or 'wmapps'.

When applications are run in the slit they have no window borders of their own; instead they are framed in the slit, and they are always visible in the current workspace.

You can click button 3 on the edge of the slit window to get a menu to configure its position, whether the applications it contains should be grouped horizontally or vertically and whether the slit should hide itself when the mouse moves away.

Most dockable applications use the -w option to run in the slit. For example, you could put in your ~/.xinitrc:

NOTE: You can also put all of these in the startfluxbox(8) script. This way you would only need to specify: exec startfluxbox in your ~/.xinitrc.

Slitlist File

fluxbox(1) Slitlist File

Fluxbox's slitlist file is available for those that use dockapps in the slit. This file helps Fluxbox keep track of the order of the dockapps that you want started. The file is usually located in ~/.fluxbox/slitlist.

A simple procedure for getting the slit sequence the way you like it is:

  1. Run Fluxbox with no pre-loaded dockapps
  2. Run dockapps individually in the order you want them
  3. Add dockapps to your auto-run script, or better yet your startfluxbox(8) script.

This sequence will be saved by default to ~/.fluxbox/slitlist and will be kept in future versions of Fluxbox.

Users are free to manually edit the slitlist file. It is a simple list of window names, one per dockapp. Similar to the init file it should not be edited while Fluxbox is running. Otherwise changes may be overwritten.

The user also has the option of choosing a different path for the slit list file. The following is the init file component that needs to be changed:

Remote Commands


By setting session.screen0.allowRemoteActions: true in ~/.fluxbox/init you can use all commands mentioned in fluxbox-keys from the shell or even a script. For instance if you change settings in a configuration-file which require a reload use fluxbox-remote reconfigure. You might even restart fluxbox completely with fluxbox-remote restart. This will not end your running applications! As another example lets open the Application-Menu with fluxbox-remote rootmenu or select another window with fluxbox-remote 'Activate (name=xterm)'.

Look and Feel inside Applications

Because Fluxbox is just a Window-Manager and not a fully fledged Desktop-Environment it might be a bit of work to get your Applications look like you want them to be.

Changing GTK themes

For GTK 2 use either gtk-theme-switch or gtk-chtheme. For GTK 2 and 3 you can use lxappearance. There are many themes available in Debian, some are listed with the following command apt list '?depends(~ngtk2-engines)|~ngtk2-engine'.

This shows you how to edit GTK settings without any extra application installed.
Create or edit the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file. In that file input parameters such as the following:

Changing QT themes

For QT you can use qt5ct and qt6ct to choose your theme.

Further Information

See also Xinitrc, FluxboxIcon.

External links

Fluxbox themes

Debian-based Fluxbox Distros

CategoryDesktopEnvironment CategorySoftware CategoryXWindowSystem