How to install Fluxbox Window Manager in Ubuntu ?

Fluxbox is a super fast window manager written in C++ that is being used as the GUI "creator" by many desktop environments. And just like with OpenBox (another WM) which is used in LXDE, Fluxbox is also extremely resource friendly thus it's especially being used in those "small GNU/Linux distributions" (you know small in size and resources, etc) nowadays more than ever as well.

Although the last time I tried it (bit of a long time ago actually), well it was really stable and fast but it did feel somewhat "sluggish" when it comes to minimizing or maximizing windows (with few delays just as with Openbox).

But if you want to give a try at this resource friendly window manager in Ubuntu, then the installation is pretty simple actually since it's in the official repositories. You can install Fluxbox in Ubuntu 11.04, 11.10, 10.10 and 10.04 by using the below command.
sudo apt-get install fluxbox
But as a Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal user, if you want to use the latest builds of Fluxbox window manager, then you can certainly make some use out of the dedicated PPA channel (thanks to Paul).

But remember, it includes the "Nightly Builds", so the packages may not be the most stable ones out there thus should only be used for testing purposes or if you want to get the latest updates of Fluxbox (and other related packages) but okay with the fact that it might drift you towards a bit of an unstable system (yikes).

To add it to Natty and install the latest builds you can use the below commands. As usual, open your terminal and enter the below commands.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fluxbox-maintainers/nightly
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fluxbox
Then log-out and on the GDM log-in screen, just choose "fluxbox" under session. That should do the trick. But remember, this fluxbox WM only supports Gnome and KDE desktops + it will not support Unity or Gnome Shell interfaces since they're build using entirely different, a bit advanced compositing WM such as Compiz and Mutter.

But don't hope to get the same level of features with fluxbox as with Gnome or KDE for instance because at the end you'll be disappointed!. 

And while using the "Fluxbox" desktop session, if you launch apps such as Nautilus file manager, then you'd run into trouble because Nautilus will try to replace the desktop management instead of fluxbox!.

But as a quick solution, we can disable Nautilus for dealing with your desktop. To do that, open the terminal window and enter the below command.

Then from the window that you get, go to: "apps" -> "nautilus" -> "preferences".

Now to your right-side scroll down until you see a setting called "show desktop" (as with below screenshot). Remove the check mark and it should solve your problem.
This will also disable desktop icons, etc in Gnome classic and Unity too. So, unless you're gonna be using Fluxbox as your primary somewhat desktop... then this could be a headache :)...
But as said... although it's quite fast, still, fluxbox window manager is certainly not for everyone. There I warned you! :P. 


Anonymous said...

Fluxbox rocks!

Gayan said...


If you say so :)...

Michael said...

Ubuntu 11.10 with alternat install. Then install X and Fluxbox! W00t!

Gayan said...


You did what!, no Unity :O, lol!

Michael Arida said...

You can also try out KDE or Gnome Shell instead of Unity.

Gayan said...


Yep you can!... ahh the beauty of GNU/Linux :).

Alexey Gumelyov said...


GDM selection doesn't work for me.
It does not matter what I select on login page I always have the same unity 3D.

Any Ideas?

System info:
Ubuntu 11.10 x64 (ATI Mobility Radeon HD)

Gayan said...



Well I don't think it'll work in Ubuntu 11.10 since it uses LightDM instead of GDM (unless of course if you perform an alternative Ubuntu installation with minimal packages ...).

If interested here are the links to the latest builds (12.04 LTS) of Ubuntu 'alternative disc images'. Not sure if it helps though.

Alexey Gumelyov said...

Hi Gayan,

> I don't think it'll work in Ubuntu 11.10 since it uses LightDM instead of GDM

Do you mean that WM selection does not work in 11.10 from login page?

In that case do you know any workaround?


Gayan said...


Hey man, hold that thought. Maybe what I said was wrong :/.

After all LightDM is a display manager and it should support Fluxbox (it is quite famous) but the reason I said it was because I thought perhaps flux and LightDM were having some compatibility issues.

Step 1: Anyhow, there is something that you can try. After logging into the Unity desktop, open your Terminal and enter the below command.

gedit ~/.xinitrc

Step 2: Then copy and paste the below code into this file (if there are any other existing commands in this file, then make sure to paste the below one at a new and the last line).

If it already exists ... well then there's no point trying this at all :).

exec startfluxbox

Now save the file and close the editor. Reboot your computer and try logging into Fluxbox.

Did it help?


Alexey Gumelyov said...

Yes, that did help.

Thank you!

Gayan said...


You are welcome :).

Post a Comment