Linked by Ciprian Popovici on Mon 7th Mar 2005 16:35 UTC
Window Managers People have said many times that Blackbox development, the minimalist window manager for X, was dead. With sometimes as much as two and a half years passing between stable releases, I can see why they'd get such ideas.
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black vs flux?
by Anonymous on Mon 7th Mar 2005 16:46 UTC

any reason to change from fluxbox to blackbox?
By judging the screenshots, blackbox dosent seem to have any edge over fluxbox.

by jofas on Mon 7th Mar 2005 16:57 UTC

It seems silly. Fluxbox was the natural progession from blackbox with added features and support. Why go back?

minimalist ?
by emacs on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:10 UTC


by anonymous on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:31 UTC

I see no jagged menu bullets which is nice and that menu hilight border looks nice =]

agreed once more
by daniel on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:31 UTC

I never really used blackbox much, but I do use fluxbox now, and I don't see why I would change when fluxbox has so much more atm. If they keep the development rate at this pace, I don't see how it would ever catch up.

by Devilotx on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:35 UTC

I was into BBox for a while, moved on to Fluxbox when it became apparent that it wasn't updating (whoops!)

now I run IceWM, but its nice to see BlackBox come up, now to wait for the Blackbox vs Fluxbox comparison.

by anonymous on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:38 UTC

well bb and fluxbox each have different goals

Welcome back Blackbox!
by Anonymous on Mon 7th Mar 2005 17:54 UTC

I used to be a Blackbox user, then I moved onto Fluxbox. I even gave OpenBox a try. At the moment, I'm still a Fluxbox user, although OpenBox has some really nice features (like not having to restart the wm for a preference change).

Unfortunately, it looks like the OpenBox development has stalled or totally stopped. Fluxbox keeps on developing though. That's pretty cool.

Anyway, it will be interesting how these window managers compare in the near future especially when Blackbox picks up the pace in regards to development.

by Cheapskate on Mon 7th Mar 2005 18:22 UTC

nice, i saved the Artwiz style and it works good in the new one...

by Tobi Lehman on Mon 7th Mar 2005 18:32 UTC

I use Gentoo and I personally like the Openbox way of doing things.
And I think that it is an important point that they make when they say that Fluxbox is a natural progression over Blackbox, because (with all respect to the developers) flux offers everything that blackbox offers and more. If it were up to me, I would join up with the FLux guys and really kick some WindowManager @$$!
Nevertheless, I didnt think it was dead, more leaning towards (IMHO) obsolete.

by Phil on Mon 7th Mar 2005 18:50 UTC

Last time I checked, there was a big size hit in moving to fluxbox. Admittedly, it was still only a few megs on disk, but that was compared to < 1MB for blackbox.

Possibly this wouldn't matter to many people at all, but still... (oh, and I couldn't get flux to work last time I tried either ;)

by paul on Mon 7th Mar 2005 18:58 UTC

yeah flux is getting rather big, I just tried this new bb 0.70 out and its noticably faster then the latest flux devel, although I do like certain features in flux that bb is lacking such as the ability to add your own window buttons and transparency

blackbox 4 windows
by luddite on Mon 7th Mar 2005 19:01 UTC

Possibly a bit tangential, but windows users can enjoy blackbox too!
Check out


Blackbox for windows:

Personally I prefer bblean. Just waiting for next stable release.
These alternative shells are light on resources & make a (nice) change from the predictbale Internet Explorer interface.

Why Blackbox?
by Ciprian Popovici on Mon 7th Mar 2005 19:27 UTC

First of all, a disclaimer: I'm the maintainer of the Blackbox website and long time Blackbox user and definite convert (going on 5 years now).

There's a fundamental difference of goals between Blackbox and Fluxbox. Blackbox was always meant to be light and fast, to do one thing and do it well (manage windows) and thus shuns cosmetic functionality and pure eye-candy. These were the rules imposed by Bradley Hughes and embraced by the core developers and faithful users. Each addition would be weighed against these rules. The many new things in the new release prove you can still get a lot even without compromising the main goal.

Of course, this has always seemed strange to the larger segment of users. People who didn't like what Blackbox had to offer, but were still attracted by the core ideas, have probably turned to Fluxbox naturally. Fluxbox took the basic concept of Blackbox (a small and fast window manager) and added everything the users wanted: a taskbar, eyecandy and so on.

So to each its own, this is not a matter of shoving either down anybody's throat. Window managers are all about personal choice.

As far as being "obsolete", I don't think Blackbox is that. If anything, I think the choices that Bradley made are more visionary and will have more success in the long term. Look at Blackbox 0.70 today: it has perfect compatibility with every modern desktop environment; it has managed to keep being fast and small; it can be expanded almost any way you want through third-party tools such as bbkeys, devilspie, docker, fbpanel, dockapps and so on.

You could say that Bradley saw EWMH coming (I don't know if he did, it may have been blind luck ;) ) and now Blackbox is in the perfect position to make use of the FDO standards, allowing you to combine all these EWMH-respecting tools like play-cubes into the near perfect desktop, whatever that means to you.

If you want my personal opinion (and it's not gonna be a politically correct one, told you I'm a Blackbox convert): I think Blackbox has a much more probable shot at surviving in the future. It is flexible and has adapted to the things that matter, while not trying to grab too big a piece to chew. If you ever get bored of the taskbar in Fluxbox, tough. If you get bored of the one you're using in Blackbox, you can change it or replace it with a panel or a dockapp or whatever other tools are out there.

RE: Why Blackbox?
by dave_a on Mon 7th Mar 2005 19:40 UTC

Thanks for your comments, you said everything I was about to write elegantly ;)

by broken windows on Mon 7th Mar 2005 20:19 UTC

i agree wit Ciprian Popovici. and as a loyal BBer this is simply fantastic.

RE: blackbox 4 windows
by txGreg on Mon 7th Mar 2005 20:29 UTC

Just a slight correction, as the link given above for bblean will re-direct you to the main bb4win page:


NOTE: I've been using bblean on Windows for quite a while now. I liked it immediately, and am still learning new things w/it.

by broken windows on Mon 7th Mar 2005 20:30 UTC

he said iots added to testing? is this true? i dont see it in there?

by Your name on Mon 7th Mar 2005 21:40 UTC

I really do like trying these "small" Windowmangers. At the moment I'm running BB. But what really annoys me is the fact that you have to download + compile "tons" of other programs to handle keys and want tot configure your keybindings without reading bloody manpages.

Now that I've done that, I'll asap switch back to to my beloved windowmaker. Sorry people, but what is the point if one can't download + install new software only to find out that you need a shitload of other tools to make the former even slightly usable ?

xoblite shell
by eab on Mon 7th Mar 2005 23:28 UTC

xoblite is an advanced Blackbox for Windows branch with integrated SystemBar and Slit + a whole lot more...

Been using this shell on windows for years. Its beautifull and operates with elegence and efficiency.

Do developers use their product?
by Luis Lima on Tue 8th Mar 2005 00:59 UTC


IceWM is my everyday wm, BB is my backup. I like BB, it's minimal, fast, and almost perfect for those days i feel like using it.

Now, the reason it is not my #1 wm, is because it has no Alt+Tab function, and frankly, Hughes and Popovici, bbkeys sucks big time; icewm, fluxbox, and openbox all have an alt+tab function, it's de rigour, everybody knows that, you don't need to be a brain surgeon to know this. Hughes and the developers haven't done this because they do not feel like it, and to hell with the user. If you are in a hurry, clicking with the middle button on the side or clicking down at the miniature right arrow, don't cut it, ALT+TAB!!!!!!!!!

It's not like we are asking for much, BB is a great product, why not make it better where it matters, in the productivity region. Sorry Hughes, either you are a megalomaniac or plain just not visionary enough.

Why do developers behave this way? This is not only BB's exclusive province, it's everywhere:

Fluxbox, the new version does not allow you to get to the main menu if you have an open window; you can't click on the side a la BB, you have to minimize it, or create a keybinding that only Linus can understand. Stupid move.

Openbox, the fonts are so minimal, you need a magnifying glass, if you read the instructions in the main site, the instructions don't work in Sarge, if you e-mail the maintainer at Debian, you're ignored. (i'm using Sarge).

Firefox, won't implement a key to eliminate images while navigating a la Opera, why? not invented here. Opera won't implement a non-white background that matches the regular background of the main page, to write a report like this. Why? because Firefox does it.

Are developers lazy, or plain stupid?

Thus, i use IceWM, it has many features, but the ones that matter for my work are present in a matter that do not get in the way of working.

1. Alt + Tab
2. Move a window to a different workspace with Shift + Click, remember what i said, in an easy manner.
3. The keybindings are for dummies, i don't have to be a geek to launch my main apps with the Fn keys, i need no icons, just go to work.
4. I can switch workspaces with the Windows key and right/left arrows.

Now, that's common sense.

window state memory?
by Michael Salivar on Tue 8th Mar 2005 01:09 UTC

Does BB remember window location, geometry, and/or state?

RE: window state memory?
by didjital hi-life on Tue 8th Mar 2005 03:16 UTC

Does BB remember window location, geometry, and/or state?

You can think of this function as a module, which you can add to BB if you need it.

RE: window state memory
by Michael Salivar on Tue 8th Mar 2005 04:00 UTC

Thanks, I think I'll have to try it out again. I used to use Fluxbox, but then I got coaxed into trying devel and absolutelly hated it's future. I've been using Enlightenment ever since. It's good to know that BB will most likely keep me happy should E17 cause me problems (window memory is my one must have feature).

re: minimalist ?
by Michelle of the Resistance on Tue 8th Mar 2005 04:07 UTC

Doesn't get more minimalist than evilwm [ ]

by Smartpatrol on Tue 8th Mar 2005 06:19 UTC

Blackbox is my all time favorite window manager clean, fast and simple.

blackbox and Fvwm2
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Mar 2005 11:07 UTC

I like blackbox style: it's the most elegant window manager around (it beats also KDE and Gnome), but I also love Fvwm2 high configurability, so I made a blackbox theme for Fvwm2

Personal Impression/Experience
by neonik on Tue 8th Mar 2005 13:06 UTC

I was a Blackbox user for quite some time - that after a long period of time when I used GNOME (I just wanted some simple lightweight window manager). WIth time I was kind of lacking some features, so I moved to Fluxbox that by then already offered several additional things a user would like and at the same time wasn't a much bigger problem to compile/build, can't remember, but I guess the difference was about 20KB compressed. Whatsoever, I don't really like the path Fluxbox has taken lately, and so I've become a user of Enlightenment. Now I'm eager to see what's changed in Blackbox - I haven't read the official announcement yet. ;)

RE: Do developers use their product?
by ucedac on Tue 8th Mar 2005 13:29 UTC

My friend, "right on the nail"

One of the reasons iceWM is not perfect for me is the lack of icons on the desktop... guess what? the author doesn't like them... I would love to have a wm or light desktop with the same functionality as windows, coming from the Amiga/Mac/Windows camp, when I'm into linux what I fancy to do is to click on a bloody icon, a "normal" computer work like that, but on Linux, icons on your desktop are a luxury only afordable to those who have monsters that can run KDE or Gnome (alias useless bloated desktop environment tm)

one can dream...

by pinko on Tue 8th Mar 2005 14:12 UTC

...can't believe my eyes. I use mostly WMI to manage workspace and I don't see what difference would it make if I was having menus, icons, themes, windows I could drag around, dockers and stuff like that. It may be good for beginners, what the fuck do I know...

@ ucedac
by Mucknert on Tue 8th Mar 2005 14:28 UTC

Rox-Filer is most likely for you then...

Re: Do developers use their product?
by benn on Tue 8th Mar 2005 14:51 UTC

It's not like we are asking for much, BB is a great product, why not make it better where it matters, in the productivity region. Sorry Hughes, either you are a megalomaniac or plain just not visionary enough.

Bbkeys was rewritten completely for the new version of blackbox. Did you know that?

Other guy complains about lack of icons on the desktop.

Blackbox (and others) are called minimalist for a reason. You can add icons to your desktop any number of ways (Rox, idesk, nautilus), but don't complain that you have to do it yourself in a minimalist wm, DIY is precisely the point and purpose.

@ pinko
by ucedac on Tue 8th Mar 2005 14:59 UTC

My dear friend, if I'm using a windowed environment to use my computer, the least I expect is not having to resort to the command line and type cd.. ls -alF |grep... all the time just to see if a file is on a directory or not.

The point is X-Window = "I want to use the mouse", I want to use the keyboard = I do not bother starting the GUI!

Get it? actually 90% of humanity prefer to work like that on a GUI environment, click, point, drag...

@ Mucknert
by ucedac on Tue 8th Mar 2005 16:20 UTC

Thanks mate, I'll have a look at it!

by Chris on Tue 8th Mar 2005 16:29 UTC

I used to talk that way, until I realized just how rediculously easier and more effective cd,ls,grep are than clicking through a file manager.
I still use a filemanager, although I quite like norton commander knockoffs. I've found that the cp command in fbsd is quite lacking, in fact it's horrible because with the -i switch it will sometimes involuntarily remove whole directories..

by turtlehat on Tue 8th Mar 2005 18:36 UTC

I use blackbox because it doesn't have all the features of fluxbox.

by pinko on Tue 8th Mar 2005 18:50 UTC

...well, I bought my first computer as I wanted to play Galaga, then to create music, organize life later etc. and through all this years I was not able to get it how WIMP could help me. Ok, it was kinda interesting back in early 90s, but it's a tar pit now. However I'm married and I don't have to impress chicks with transparent consoles any longer so again: what the fuck do I know...

firefox theme
by Salsa on Tue 8th Mar 2005 22:27 UTC

whats the firefox theme in the first screenshot?

Glad yall are back!
by Rho on Wed 9th Mar 2005 00:43 UTC

I'm glad blackbox is back. I look forward to trying it out - I found blackbox several years ago, migrated to fluxbox eventually. Now I'll have to try it out and see if I need to move back. Keep up the good work guys!

by Michael Salivar on Wed 9th Mar 2005 00:45 UTC

If you insist on having desktop icons with zero configuration then use a Mac, Windows, or any of the countless distributions that support desktop icons off the CD. Don't tell people that because you want icons automatically they have to go against a project's philosophy's and add code.

I'm sure you didn't intend it, but you're acting like you think the world revolves around you, don't expect a good reaction.

I don't like desktop icons, the space is there for containers to occupy. As such, I don't want the extra complexity in the configs and code. Please, not every piece of software has to cater to your demands.

by Morgan on Wed 9th Mar 2005 04:56 UTC

One of the main reasons I use GNU/Linux instead of Windows (besides loathing the Windows GUI) is because I can't afford the fastest hardware around. I run a fast KT400 mainboard, but I am stuck with a 1GHz Duron CPU until I can scrape up the money for something more modern. Back when I ran Slackware all the time, I tried GNOME for a while but it was just too sluggish as a DE. I didn't want to give up my great GNOME apps, so I left it installed and tried all of the other window managers (besides KDE) included in Slack. I didn't care for Enlightenment at all; it felt too incomplete for my tastes. Windowmaker was okay, and very fast, but it also left something to be desired. I had messed around with IceWM on another distro in the past, but it was too Windows-like for me and I didn't want to go through the process of building and installing something that I probably wouldn't use. I had used Blackbox back when hacking Netpliance I-Openers was all the rage. It was nice too, and ultra-fast even on those painfully slow systems. However, what it lacked was ironically the few things I *did* like about Windows: Alt-Tab, etc. So, I finally tried Fluxbox. Once I had the hang of it, it blew me away! Nearly as fast as Blackbox, near-identical look-and-feel, and all the things I felt Blackbox was missing. It even had anti-aliased fonts!

Now, I run Ubuntu, since Slack will soon drop support for GNOME. I am stuck in GNOME right now, but I was planning on installing Fluxbox and rigging Ubuntu to use it as the WM. Now that I've heard of the exciting changes in the new version of Blackbox, I'm going to attempt to build and install it instead. If I'm successful, I'll try to do a writeup of my experience with it. Maybe someone will find it helpful.

Too much
by jeroen on Wed 9th Mar 2005 09:23 UTC

We have KDE and GNOME. Two desktops is already too much, three, four, the user will not understand anymore which one to choose and it is not of any use!

Work more together and keep with KDE or GNOME!!

RE: Too much
by Morgan on Wed 9th Mar 2005 15:09 UTC

We have KDE and GNOME. Two desktops is already too much, three, four, the user will not understand anymore which one to choose and it is not of any use!

Not everyone can afford a brand-new computer that will run KDE or GNOME with acceptable speed. Both are great desktops in their own special ways, but there is always a place for the lesser-knowns. I say let the big distros (Red Hat, Xandros, Linspire, SuSE, Ubuntu) push the big desktops to their users. Chances are, if you are new to GNU/Linux then you will use one of the above distros and you will never even know the small window managers exist. For the long-time Linux freaks (like me), who don't have last month's brand-new computer, something lightweight and powerful like Blackbox/Fluxbox is just fine. I personally love having the freedom to choose my desktop.

Besides, you don't give the "user" any credit. My wife sees the computer as merely a tool to get a job done; she is not a technology enthusiast by any means. By your reckoning, she is too dumb to make a choice between window managers. Well guess what? She tried all of them, and chose KDE because it did what she wanted more completely than any of the others. She doesn't care that it's slow on our computer; it just works. So much for the user "not understanding" which one to use!

by ano on Wed 9th Mar 2005 16:05 UTC

fluxbox ROXXX!!

design decisions
by jörgen on Mon 14th Mar 2005 16:55 UTC

How come some have a hard time with design decisions?

I like the Blackbox design decisions. I like the look of Blackbox and I like the performance of Blackbox. I even like the development cycle of Blackbox because I have got better things to do than to reinstall and reconfigure my window manager all the time. The development cycle also shows the code maturity. There is no need for constant bug fixes because it is good code with few bugs.

Other window managers has other design decisions and that is fine with me.