Installing Archlinux/Openbox

The case is favor of Archlinux/Openbox

Archlinux is the distro that keeps the momentum. ¿How is It? arguably It is the users craving for the latest package versions and avoiding reinstalling or upgrading the distro after some time frame.

Also, last versions of major desktop environments are not very kind to older hardware1

How to install Archlinux/Openbox?

The quick an easy answer is Archbang, Archbang is Archlinux/Openbox with the configurations being done by the Archbang developers. Archbang has no disadvantages than we can point out, perhaps we would like to remove the bottom panel, but actually that is not a big deal, also we can avoid having conky, without the bottom panel an conky we would have the same setup we usually prepare on our workstation. The setup we like is the one that gives us all the desktop space for our applications. Also we launch and kill the system tray as we need for avoiding having the tray all the time on the desktop.

The not so easy answer would be do your own setup with Archlinux/Openbox, helping with that goal we can find in ArchWiki the mini-guide, this guide help us to quickly installing Archlinux/Openbox. Here on kipuamutay we have followed the mini-guide on our third Archlinux installation at that time the resources for configuring Archlinux/Openbox were dispersed on the net.

We are going to describe the mini-guide. Noteworthy, we have done some modifications to the mini-guide. Read carefully.

  1. After booting the live media run /arch/setup
  2. Select the repositories core-remote o core-local 23.
  3. pick nano, unless you know vi.
  4. Clock : UTC (localtime if you have a windows partition)
  5. Auto Prepare HDD
  6. GRUB as boot manager.
  7. Pick the packages base, sudo (netcfg, wireless_tools)
  8. Configure the system
    • rc.conf
      • check timezone
      • change myhost to your machine name (ie: nazca)
    • /etc/hosts: check your machine name is there
    • /etc/locale.gen: uncomment from your locales (en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8,en_US ISO-8859-1,es_PE.UTF-8 UTF-8,es_PE ISO-8859-1)
    • /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist: uncomment the ones for your country, uncomment more than one just in case
    • Set the root password and press Done.
  9. Install bootloader (check menu.lst, select the disk where you just installed and reboot)
  10. Login as root and run ping -c1 google.com (checking the network4).
  11. pacman -Syu for updating the system, reboot just if there was a

    kernel upgrade5 6.

  12. Run useradd -m -G users,audio,video,wheel,storage,optical,power,network,log -s /bin/bash yourusername7.
  13. Run passwd yourusername for giving your user a password
  14. Run pacman -S pulseaudio libpulse pulseaudio-alsa pavucontrol alsa-utils8.
  15. Run nano /etc/rc.conf to add dbus : DAEMONS=(dbus ... )
  16. Run pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xorg-utils xorg-server-utils and also pacman -S xf86-video-your_video_card
    (note: to know your video chipset run: lspci grep VGA)
  17. Run nvidia-xconfig (if you have an nvidia card)

    Run Xorg -configure; and also # cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

    note: xorg.conf is optional if you do not use it, grab arandr to change resolution or you can use a proprietary utility such as nvidia-utils for nvidia cards

  18. pacman -S openbox obconf obmenu menumaker consolekit bashrun

    notification-daemon sakura note the previous line is differet from the mini-guide mini-guia, we have added bashrun notification-daemon sakura910.

  19. Once Openbox is installed, move menu.xml and also move rc.xml to

    the folder ~/.config/openbox/ in your home directory:

    # su - yourusername

    $ mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox/

    $ cp /etc/xdg/openbox/rc.xml ~/.config/openbox

    $ cp /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml ~/.config/openbox 11

  20. Edit ~/.xinitrc and add the following line:

    exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch openbox-session

    note edit ~/.config/openbox/autostar.sh and add the following line: /usr/lib/notification-daemon-1.0/notification-daemon & 12

    note edit ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml, look for the string </keyboard>, and add the following just before the string </keyboard>

    <keybind key="A-F2">
      <action name="Execute">
    <keybind key="A-F1">
      <action name="ShowMenu">
    <keybind key="A-F3">
      <action name="ShowMenu">
  1. It's DONE. reboot, login with yourusername and type startx to access your empty desktop and customize archbox to your tastes. 13 14

What Now?, how to google?

Once Openbox have been configured, as done above, that setup has just the minimal, We recommend you:

  1. network manager wicd (add it to the daemons)
  2. terminal sakura (done on step 18)
  3. file manager thunar
  4. media player vlc, and also mplayer
  5. A Launcher bashrun (done on step 18)
  6. A chat program pidgin
  7. Voice communication skype (we would like to have some alternatives to this one)
  8. Browser firefox 15
  9. Notifications notification-daemon (done on step 18)
  10. A system tray docker (We run it as we need, if we want all the space we kill it, sometimes we also use visibility, visibility does not show the notification messages)

Install your chosen packages sudo pacman -S wicd ...

A rolling release GNU/Linux distribution

As soon as the packages are updated on the repositories the user can install them on the system. That means your system is going to be up to date if you update it regularly. At kipuamutay we update it every monday but we do not update all the system we prefer to ignore some packages. Try to use packer with a shorcut to update your system the same way as archbang does.

Installing packer

  1. sudo pacman -S base-devel (if you have not installed it yet)
  2. download PKGBUILD (use wget)
  3. Run makepkg -si in the folder you downloaded the PKGBUILD


Those are our shorcuts. They have been configured on the rc.xml file. Also, take in account that those shorcuts refer to programs that probably are not on your system.

Shorcut Command Description
Alt+F1 root-menu main menu
Alt+F2 bashrun Run dialog
Alt+F3 client-list-combined-menu all the windows opened on the

different desktops

Ctrl+Alt+D ToggleShowDesktop show the desktop
Ctrl+Alt+Left DesktopLeft move to the left desktop
Ctrl+Alt+Right DesktopRight move to the rigth desktop
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+Left MoveResizeTo move window to monitor 1
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+Right MoveResizeTo move window to monitor 2
Super+B conkeror web browser
Alt+Super+B firefox web browser
Super+C pidgin chat
Alt+Super+C skype voice chat
Super+E emacs text editor
Alt+Super+E emacs-emacs24 text editor beta version
Super+M checkgmail gmail notifications
Super+V vlc media player
Alt+Super+S sakura -e sudo s2disk suspend the machine
Super+T sakura launch terminal
Alt+Super+T visibility transparent system tray
Super+U sakura -e packer -Syyuf update the system
Super+W VirtualBox virtualization software

Now where?

You can install and configure the following packages:

  • s2disk
  • pdnsd
  • aria, configure pacman for an speed increase when updating the system
  • using packer install archey3
  • if you have a laptop install laptop-mode-tools add it to the daemons also
  • also for a laptop install cpufrequtils

Finally we have the minimal that comes installed when you use a live media from any GNU/Linux distribution.

Check our article about downloading the lyrics from a song that is playing on a shoutcast network stream.

1. We have a machine that is more than 8 years old.

2. core-remote will install the last package versions. core-local just if you do not have an internet connection.

3. Our last installation was done completely on wireless using this wiki. But we forgot to select the wireless-tools package so after reboot it was necessary to download that package on another machine, mounting the pendrive and installing the package, after setting the network up we decide to install wicd.

4. The previous footnote explains what to do when you have just wireless network.

5. Después de ejecutar el comando deberá reiniciar solo si se ha instalado un nuevo kernel, si instalo usando el repositorio core-remote lo mas probable es que no tenga nada para instalar.

6. En October there was a change on the init scripts, that's the reason we need to delete the file /etc/profile.d/locale.sh before updating our system. If you have started the update system process, possibly you would need to delete this file /var/lib/pacman/db.lck also.

7. Add lp to the groups if you use a printer.

8. This step is slightly different from the mini-guide. Here at kipuamutay we use pulseaudio in place of alsa. Also, leave the alsamixer option for after we start openbox.

9. Below on the article we are going to explain what is the purpose of those packages.

10. At kipuamutay we did not use lxappearance, for configuring openbox we use obconf, obmenu y el menumaker.

11. Those configuration are the ones that came by default on the packages.

12. The file autostart.sh is called when we start openbox this file run whatever we put on it.

13. After starting our windows manager with startx, we should press Alt+F2, type sakura and run alsamixer to adjust the system volume with the Up and Down keys, unmute with the key m, ESC to quit from alsamixer.

14. To here with the text environment, now we are moving from a terminal to a pseudo terminal. That's subject for another article.

15. At kipuamutay we use conkeror :).

Last change: 22.11.2011 22:01

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