I've in my laptop Ubuntu 12.04.03 which comes by default with Unity.

I like Unity, and Gnome. It has a nice look, some nice apps, things frequently works nice.

However I would prefer to use Openbox. It is very lightweight, the 'context menu' is fantastic, and so on. But some times Openbox sucks, for instance, the wallpaper does not appear no matter what I do, the backlight also isn't working, etc..

I read somewhere that it is possible to run openbox and gnome together. My question is: what are the pros and cons of doing this? In my laptop in GDM when I log using Gnome/Openbox seems that there is no difference between the conventional Gnome environment. If I use openbox+gnome would I be able to use the right-button mouse click context menu?

  • 1
    Is it Gnome or Unity? The two are not the same and as far as I know, Ubuntu comes with Unity, not Gnome.
    – terdon
    Oct 21, 2013 at 17:29
  • Well. It's the default in Ubuntu 12.04.03. Oct 21, 2013 at 17:55
  • The default for Ubuntu 12.04 to recent versions is Unity. Oct 21, 2013 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Regarding the pros and cons: I'd say use openbox without Gnome. That way you don't get saddled with all the Gnome stuff and it is easier to be picky about what things you want/need. Gnome is less 'modular'....

What right-clicking does is set in the rc.xml file; for me that brings up the root-menu (is that what you mean by 'context menu'?). Easy to change, though.

As for the wallpaper issue, where are you trying to set it? Gnome settings won't work here. The easiest way is to use some simple lightweight image viewer like feh, and provide a corresponding line in your autostart.sh, which is normally located in the openbox config folder:

~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh  # rc.xml should also be located here

This file is run at the start of your openbox session so this is where you'd load your wallpaper, system tray applications, etc., etc. It could be as simples as:

feh --bg-scale /path/to/wallpaper/you/like/wallpaper.jpg
# ... other things as needed ...

As mentioned in the comments, Unity is not Gnome. I haven't personally had much luck trying to use non-unity window managers with vanilla Ubuntu; if I were just setting up a new system, I'd install Lubuntu and then follow the Openbox details here.

  • I like the utility programs Unity/Gnome have. These programs also come with Lubuntu? Oct 22, 2013 at 15:31
  • The very short answer is 'yes.' Almost any program or utility you would find in Unity/Gnome can be run under Openbox, though installation of many of those utilities require a number of other libraries that are Gnome specific, and may be very large downloads initially (500+ megabytes.)
    – Stephan
    Oct 22, 2013 at 18:43
  • I'm not concerned with download. The problem is compatibility. Almost always that I mix these things they crash. Oct 22, 2013 at 21:34

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