OpenBox as a Desktop Environment?

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but what are the Pros and Cons of setting up OpenBox as a DE as opposed to a bare Window Manager?

Now I first gave Linux a try in late '98 after buying a set of install CDs and a RedHat Box Set. Unfortunately I was using AOL at the time as I was unaware of any local ISPs at the time so I really couldn't do much with it...

However I did noticed exactly how stable Linux was with my system in comparison to Windows 95 OSR2 with the AOL Client which kept Blue Screening on me after long sessions.

So long story short, I've using Xfce for a long time and I'm well used to it along with the fact that it just works, no ifs or buts about it. However there is always that urge to forever try something, anything, different from time to time. On top of this sometimes we have to use other folks systems sometimes and whatever what they are using.

Of course I do have an older laptop with much lower specs then my main rig and using a much lighter setup will be a Godsend.

Sorry about the long rambling, but how does using OpenBox setup as DE vs using Xfce? Less resource usage? faster respond times with slow HDD? Better usability with a Laptop with only 4GB RAM, 5400 RPM HDD, and i5 2c/4t CPU? With my everyday Box it would be rather silly to switch over to OpenBox DE as chances are, I strongly doubt that I would even notice.

Thoughts on this?

Openbox is not a Desktop but a window manager.

I am using Openbox as my preferred system. I have created Manjaro Openbox which goes as low as 100MB idle state after install.

The end result will always be depending on the actual setup

  • dhcpcd vs. network manager
  • firewall vs no firewall

Openbox edition uses xfce4-settings and exo for preferred applications so there is a certain familarity.

In the end I don't think you would notice the difference - other than a different root menu on the desktop.

I'm well aware that Openbox is a Window Manager and not a DE. As I did say Openbox set up as DE, which can be done by using OB addons.

What is the Resource usage and Respond Times of Manjaro OB Edition in heavy use and/or with much lower hardware specs? Worth the trouble of installing it on my laptop?

People who use window managers generally add the missing DE features they want in the way they want. If they don't want or need something then they do without. As a window manager user (bspwm & openbox) I do precisely that. From my perspective that is the answer to your question...

As an earlier poster mentioned OB is a [nice, friendly, light, functionally stabilized...] window manager....

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When I test - I usually use a VM with two VCPU and 2G RAM - no heavy load and it is snappy and responsive.

❯ inxi -SCGm
  Host: thinkstation Kernel: 5.5.2-1-MANJARO x86_64 bits: 64 
  Desktop: Openbox 3.6.1 Distro: Manjaro Linux 
  RAM: total: 30.31 GiB used: 780.5 MiB (2.5%) 
  RAM Report: permissions: Unable to run dmidecode. Root privileges required. 
  Topology: Quad Core model: Intel Core i5-4570 bits: 64 type: MCP 
  L2 cache: 6144 KiB 
  Speed: 798 MHz min/max: 800/3600 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 798 2: 798 
  3: 798 4: 798 
  Device-1: Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics 
  driver: i915 v: kernel 
  Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.7 driver: intel 
  resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz, 1920x1080~60Hz 
  OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel Haswell Desktop v: 4.5 Mesa 19.3.3 

I don't have any systems with spinning drives - all systems on SSD - which makes a huge difference - for any system capable or using a sata SSD.

I have a VM based on Arch (4 VCPU - 4FG RAM) - which is used to build PacBang ISO and while building ISO - my system is not getting unresponsive - despite my i5 is sharing all cores with the VM - there is no slowdown in other activities.

I have no systems which is slow or unresponsive using Openbox in the Manjaro Community configuration. Even my cheap china box using J3455CPU is snappy and responsive.

One recent change made a noticeable difference - moving to linux55 - that was a gear upshift I could see - nfs share is loading super fast - firefox is loading much faster.

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What are OB addons?
Edit: When we'll finally have defined what you mean then we might try to give you pros and cons of each option.

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Are we speaking of OB with an underlying DE such as Xfce? IIRC, that was how the 'old' CrunchBang was setup. (I loved CrunchBang.)


No, Openbox set up with other stuff like icons on desktop, file managers, wallpapers(maybe) to make it usable as a sort of DE. Bodhi Linux with its E17 setup(Enlightenment WM) is one of the best examples of this back when I used it before switching to Linux Mint.

So what you ask is:

  • What are the pros and con of a distro which comes with a precofigured Openbox session versus a distro with preconfigured Xfce4 DE session?

Easier to discuss maybe:

  • What are the pros and cons of Manjaro Openbox community editon versus Manjaro Xfce eidion?
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Do you want to have a look at your own topic from 1.5 years ago?


Yes that would be much more clearer wouldn't it?

Yeah since you mention that older thread, I now remember writing that one.

I have a hard time understanding what you searching for.

It seems you are mixing a DE with a window manager.

By using a window manager you can create an environment how you want it.

Add in the necessary packages - configurations and services - to suit your need.

Manjaro Openbox is a basic Openbox window manager with the convenience of not having to start completely from scratch.

If you want the openbox wm you replace xfwm - read more on

You can dissect the profile used to create the pacbang clone or you can dissect the pacbang sources. The Manjaro Openbox can also be reviewed.

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Anyway, most answer there are based on personal preference.
I will try to give a more genral answer.

In a DE most customizations are made by the developer (upstream). It should be faster to get it up and running. And if you want to migrate to a different distro you will be able to get a familiar GUI environment. Maybe you need to wite down or memorise what apps you were using most (LibreOffice, browser, email client, torrent client), maybe copy the relevant folders with profiles, settings, bookmarks.

In a customized WM the customizations and made by the distro maintainer. (If they discontinue their distro, you will have to find another customizer or do it yourself.) It is mostly set up that way that you also can get it up and running quickly. But if you want to migrate to different distro it will be more difficult, you will need to write down which packages and apps you were using, which themes, copy the important config files. You will also need to migrate the most important stuff as with a DE, see above.

To sum up:

  • DE:

    • pro:
      • faster/easier to start, set up, migrate.
      • comes with a selection of apps which are developed and tested to work together
    • con:
      • looks less special (even with custom themes), gives fewer bragging rights
      • uses potentially more RAM
  • customized WM:

    • pro:
      • can look very special
      • apps are put together according to maintainer's judgement, not DE project policy
      • can use less RAM if that was a priority of the maintainer
    • con:
      • customization often require editing config files (DE oftens comes with a GUI for that)
      • more difficult to undo some customization one by one than customize from scratch
      • gives fewer bragging rights compared with self-customized (or programmed) WM
      • unclear continuation if the maintainer stops the WM distro

Maybe I'll just use Architect and install Bodhi's Moksha WM/DE and its extra Modules on my Thinkpad T430 and start a new Community Edition. This possibly could over time, effort, and with proper support from other users become a Standard Manjaro Edition.

I wonder what the learning curve, amount of effort and mentorship I will need to do this . As well making myself to do this?

Any tips on creating my own Community Edition?

There once was an Enlightenment Community spin. Is the framework still available?

I will close this dicussion if you start asking new question which are not related to the actual topic.

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So sorry I'll stay on topic. I will start another thread on creating another Community Edition around Moksha.

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The only other thing that should be on todo list.

At this point. You should also consider upgrading your HDD to a SSD. They don't cost that much now n days. Most laptops are easy to open up. Your system will become much more snappy. In just about everything.

But still cost money.... I will to check on current prices on SSDs and extra memory.

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