Installing the Fluxbox Window Manager in Arch Linux

Posted on February 6th, 2013

A popular window manager with Arch Linux is Fluxbox. Not unlike Gentoo, Arch is known as a simple OS in which you have to build up everything from scratch. However, you don’t have to compile everything from source. Fluxbox follows this same principal. It is lightweight, barebone and fast. Nevertheless, people might be intimidated by the application. Thus, the number of Fluxbox desktops is low compared to the number of fully featured desktop environments, which are pre-configured and have a set list of applications installed by default.

One of the benefits of having Fluxbox on your machine is that it comes with no applications and has no preconfigured application menu. This makes it easy to run different desktop environments on the same machine without worrying about seeing all your KDE or Gnome applications cluttering the desktop.


Assuming you have a clean install (it makes no difference if you haven’t) first install the Fluxbox package along with the essential tweaks (pacman -S fluxbox xfce4-terminal thunar lxappearance tint2 xcompmgr conky leafpad slim). As the taskbar in Fluxbox is very minimal and doesn’t have many features, I recommend to replace it with tint2, which has many themes and can be customized to your liking. You may also want to grab the theme package from HERE.

The default terminal in Fluxbox is xterm, which works but has no copy and paste support. I suggest downloading the generic “terminal” package, which is a much better replacement. For transparency effects, the xcompmgr package provides great functionality, and doesn’t bog down your system. A lot of people use Conky with Fluxbox because it is lightweight and customizable.

What do all lightweight window managers need to top them off? A lightweight login system. Slim seems to be a great one, which has great themes to keep your machine looking fresh. I like to keep the Arch branding so I install archlinux-themes-slim to go along with it.

The next step is to edit your .xinitrc file. As root, copy /etc/skel/.xinitrc to the home directory of the user you will be using. (/home/**USERNAME**/) Proceed to edit that file. (nano /etc/**USERNAME**/.xinitrc)

Here is a snipet of my xinitrc file:

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ]; then
for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/*; do
[ -x “$f” ] && . “$f”
unset f

xcompmgr -c -C -t-5 -l-5 -r4.2 -o.55 &
exec conky &
exec tint2 &
exec nm-applet &
exec fluxbox

As you can see, I suggest loading xcompmgr first. The flags are just for drop shadows and little tidbits. Notice the “&” symbol after everything. That basically tells X to execute the command, keep it open and move onto the next one. Afterwards I suggest loading conky, tint2 and finally fluxbox. I have installed the nm-applet for a native internet management system. You can use this (pacman -S networkmanager nm-applet), or just execute wifi-menu as root in a terminal.

As everything is installed, you should make Slim start at boot and run it. Run it as root: ‘systemctl enable slim && systemctl start slim’.


Open a terminal by hitting ALT F2 and type in ‘xfce4-terminal’. We will need this soon.

Log in with your user account as you normally would. You will now see an empty desktop with the tint2 bar at the bottom, and a stock conky on the side. Right click on the desktop, select Fluxbox Menu > Configure > Toolbar and untick “Visible”. This will remove the stock toolbar from Fluxbox as we have replaced it with tint2. In case you have downloaded the tint2-themes package, you can run tint2conf as a normal user. This will allow you to choose the theme you want as well as to edit some of the settings pertaining to tint2. Ensure feh is installed with pacman -S feh. You can now set your background image with fbsetbg /path/to/image.

You need a file manager to handle your files. I use Thunar because it it lightweight and beautiful. I have downloaded and installed the Faenza icon pack as it is my favourite. Next, you can run ‘lxappearance’ to install your icons and change the look of the windows from boring grey to nice rounded boxes and such.


To edit conky, you can edit the configuration file with nano, or use leafpad: a lightweight text editor similar to gedit (pacman -S leafpad). Assuming you are using leafpad, execute ‘leafpad /etc/conky/conky.conf’. You can find some nice configurations on the Internet. A good place to start is HERE.

Once you save it, Conky will automatically update itself to your new configuration.


Next you can work on the Fluxbox menu. You can edit it by executing ‘leafpad .fluxbox/menu’ in a terminal. If you have programming experience this configuration should be straight forward. Regardless of you programming experience, you should be able to decipher the configuration.

Save that file, right click on your desktop to make sure it looks the way you want it to look, and start enjoying Fluxbox!


Some useful programs I use for it are:





This should give you a basis for you fluxbox installation. Play around with it, enjoy the speed, and leave a comment below if this helped you or if you need extra help!

This is Dominic, signing off.