Over recent weeks I've been fiddling to install Debian running Openbox on a few computers. The reason is that I have three notebooks including a 32-bit machine that is probably 10+ years old, a 64-bit machine that would be around the same and even my everyday machine is closing in on 7 years.
I had been running Manjaro on these machines but Manjaro dropped official support for 32 bit machines a number of months ago. I wanted to opt for a new distro for all machines that offers 32 bit support, a solid pedigree and some stability. I opted for Debian.
In terms of Desktop Environments (DE)/Windows Managers (WM), I have used a range of them over the years - Gnome 2, Gnome 3, Mate, Cinnamon, LXDE, i3 and Xfce. I liked the simplicity of i3 but wasn't a fan of the tiling so was after a resource-lean stacking WM.
I checked out a few alternatives and decided on Openbox. It is mature, reasonably easy to configure, low on resources and has plenty of support available.
For posterity the steps I followed to install and configure Debian with Openbox were:
- Download the Debian net install.
- Copy it to a bootable USB drive.
- Run the installer and choose the basic options.
- In terms of partitioning my main machine runs 8GB RAM, a 32GB SSD and 500GB HDD. I partitioned the 32GB SSD as root (/). The 500GB contains 4 partitions being a 4GB swap, 4GB /tmp, 8GB /tmp and the balance for /home.
- When the Debian installer asks what DE to install, choose none. I think Debian defaults to Gnome for 64 bit machines and Xfce for 32 bit.
- Once the system has installed, restart and log on to the command prompt as the standard user.
Once logged on undertake the following:
- apt install openbox obmenu obconf tint2 feh lxterminal lightdm conky pcmanfm firefox-esr leafpad gnome-backgrounds wicd
- apt install xinput (to facilitate natural scrolling for both mouse and touchpad)
- apt install x11-xserver-utils (for the xset command to turn that really annoying system beep off!)
- apt install menu (for the Debian apps menu)
- apt install suckless-tools (for dmenu, which I found useful in i3)
- apt install pnmixer alsa-utils (for volume mixer controls)
- add items to autostart such as the tint2 panel, xinput commands, feh for wallpapers and conky (incl xset b off to turn beep off)
- run obmenu to create the menu.xml file
- run obconfig to create/edit rc.xml for adding various keyboard shortcuts (web, file manager, text editor and terminal)
- add edit autostart and edit obmenu to menu in obmenu
- edit rc.xml for keybindings for brightness and volume adjustments
That provides a fast and fairly functional system. I'm yet to fiddle around with pipe (dynamic) menus, but in essence the system does what it is supposed to at a good speed!