I'd like to replace Fedora with Debian testing on a laptop... However, I would like to not install any desktop environment along with Debian, and simply install Openbox once the base is there. I've had problems with DE dependencies and others, so I would simply like to avoid them all together and go with a "pure", WM-only system.

However, I have some concerns...

When I apt-get install Openbox - will it install X11 along with it? Will I even be able to log in without editing various X config files, installing DMs, etc? That is, will it all be configured just as if I had Xfce/Gnome installed? If not, how could I make it so?

Also, how would one go about starting Openbox straight from the text-based login console? Is that a viable alternative to various login/desktop managers out there?

Another thing I'm afraid of is not having various background daemons and utilities running by default.

Specifically, I am looking for keyrings, desktop notifications daemons, background power managers that might be useful for laptops and so on.

Which software should I install after Openbox?

  • 3
    From what you write, you should simply install Debian with everything it comes, install openbox, make it your default session. An work on your mysterious "problems with DE dependencies and others". – Bananguin Jul 8 '13 at 13:31

First, Openbox depends on Xorg so it needs to and will be installed as a dependency.

Second, you can set up your machine to boot only into a shell which is the standard for a minimal Debian install. Then you can run startx (if Xorg isinstalled) in that console and this command will start your X11. To start an Openbox session with startx you have to edit your ~/.xinitrc and add

exec openbox-session

You can also use a display manager like gdm, slim or xdm. It depends on which you choose how you have to configure the DM. I use slim since it is fast and is easy configurable (at lest in my opinion).

Third, the little thing which make life easy. This is sadly always a little hard to get running especially things from gnome have a lot of dependencies.

To use desktop notification is very easy you just need to install xfce4-notifyd ,notifyOSD or notification-daemon. All of these need the DBUS daemon, so you have to install and start that too.

For a keyring I use the gnome-keyring whit the only reason that I didn't find any better solution. It also needs DBUS. As a GUI for it I use seahorse.

I don't use any power manager, because I don't need them the only thing I use is the battery status of the tint2 panel, which shows me how much time I have left. There are some power manager on the openbox wiki

So now to start daemons and utilities you need to setup your ~/.config/openbox/autostart and your ~/.config/openbox/environment.

In environment you can set your environment variables you need to run your desktop. Here mine as an example

# DBUS start and settings
eval $(dbus-launch)
# gnome-kering start and settings
eval $(/usr/local/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=gpg,pkcs11,secrets,ssh)

#set the GTK2 theme
GTK2_RC_FILES="$HOME/.gtkrc-2.0";export GTK2_RC_FILES
EDITOR=vim;export EDITOR
PAGER=less;export PAGER

In autostart you can start everything you need to run at start up. Here mine

        /usr/local/bin/tint2&             # start tint2
        /usr/local/libexec/xfce4-notifyd& # start notification daemon
        /usr/local/bin/pidgin&            # start jabber and icq client
        /usr/local/bin/liferea&           # start rss reader
  );                                      # after all this is done 
/usr/local/bin/urxvt                      # start my terminal
)&                                        #run this in the background!!

It is important that everything that is started in autostart is run in the background. If this is not the case your session will hang.

And at last some helpful links. Openbox wiki Openbox in Debian

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