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Replacing Gnome with OpenBox in Ubuntu

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-06-11 06:10 PM
Original message
Replacing Gnome with OpenBox in Ubuntu
I'll use this thread to report some experiences running OpenBox as the windows manager plus desktop environment in Ubuntu on an acer AOD257, which has an intel N570 1.66ghz dual core cpu and 1gb ram, at an affordable $250

The AOD257 is not as easy to upgrade as some earlier acer netbooks (like the AOD250): it can nominally accept 2gb ram in its single slot, but the operation may not be for the fainthearted. I think you may have to do something like (1) pry off the keyboard carefully; (2) unscrew some screws; (3) push off the back panel; (4) flip the machine over and replace the ram; (5) snap the back panel on again; (6) flip the machine over and rescrew the screws holding the back panel in place; and (7) snap the keyboard back on. I'm not quite sure since the acer user guide isn't very helpful, so I'm not in a really big hurry to try the upgrade. Anyway, it's a bigger pain than with the AOD250, which came with 2 memory slots (one empty by default but easily accessible from a little back door)

I put Ubuntu 10.04 on the machine using a liveusb stick; this was a stick I had that already worked. In the gnome desktop, with an active wired eth0 connection, running only the gnome system monitor on the desktop shows 4 threads (2/core) averaging 50% cpu load overall and about 22% of the ram in use; running top solo shows about 185 processes, 4 active. This, of course, means there's lots going on in the background -- and it's less than ideal because it means limited resources are being sucked bigtime. So we want to reduce the load if possible, and one way to do that is to get rid of gnome and try to put some control of services into the user's hands

From the gnome desktop I installed OpenBox and obmenu following the instructions here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Openbox#What%20is%20O... ?

At the login screen, I now choose openbox from the session menu in panel at the bottom of the login screen. I do some configuration of openbox menus, then launch the gnome system monitor. There's much less overhead: running (as before) only the gnome system monitor on the desktop shows 4 threads (2/core) averaging about 5% cpu load overall and about 12% of the ram in use; running top solo shows about 155 processes, 1 active

Configuring the openbox menus to get what you want might be a bit of a pain -- but you can still log into a gnome session from the login window if you decide it would be convenient to do that for some purposes

I still have some stuff to figure out

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-11 10:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. An easy way to start wireless
Add an openbox menu item with command /usr/bin/nm-applet

You can configure the network in gnome and launch in openbox
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-11 10:24 PM
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2. Killing all conky windows
Conky is a configurable system monitor. Several instances with different ~/.conkyrc files can run simultaneously but then the windows might overlap unless you've been careful with configuration

You can use conky to display portions of log files, to track cpu or ram or hdd resources, to watch wired or wireless uploads and downloads, to grab segments of rss feeds, and so on

So I set up some ~/.conkyrc files to do different things but I need to be able to kill conky windows too

You can do this through the terminal with kill `pidof conky` but I'd rather have an openbox menu command: sh -c "/bin/kill $(/bin/pidof /usr/bin/conky)" works
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-12-11 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. adding conky to ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh caused problems (in gnome sessions)
Edited on Tue Jul-12-11 06:20 PM by struggle4progress
it seems to have respawned endlessly so multiple copies were running

:grr:
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-11 08:08 PM
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3. Adding a shutdown command to the openbox menu
Openbox exit simply takes you back to the login screen, from which you can exit. I looked all over the web trying to figure out how to shutdown from the openbox menu. Lots of stuff just doesn't work

Of course sudo shutdown -h now works in terminal but requires a password. Similarly you can spawn a terminal from the openbox menu with command xterm -e sudo shutdown -h now -- it works but then a terminal still pops up wanting password

Here's what I finally did: edit the sudoers file with visudo and add <useraccount> ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /sbin/shutdown to the end.

Then set up an openbox menu item with command sudo shutdown -h now

No terminal spawned, no password required: just click the openbox menu item and shutdown

Helpful sudoers link: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Sudoers
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-11 11:11 PM
Response to Original message
4. The irritating behavior of windows "iconify" ("minimize") in openbox
Edited on Sat Jul-09-11 11:20 PM by struggle4progress
Newbies will hunt around to discover who to restore "iconified" windows in open box: clicking the minimize button simply causes the window to disappear, although alt-tab (which nominally cycles through windows) causes iconified windows to reappear

The LXDE panel lxpanel is in the ubuntu repositories. Iconified windows appear as icons in the panel

lxpanel can be added to the openbox menu

I tried putting it in the ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh -- then my openbox right-click menus didn't work -- but only because I forgot "&" at the end of (sleep 2 && lxpanel) & :rofl:
http://openbox.org/wiki/Help:Autostart
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-11-11 06:46 AM
Response to Original message
5. Wallpaper
feh is in the ubuntu repository

it can be used to draw wallpapers by feh --bg-scale <path-to-image>]

adding the command to my personalized openbox startup file worked fine -- but when I launched a gnome session (with a different wallpaper) an epic battle broke out between the wallpapers

I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but I think it's probabvly related to the fact that I replaced the default windows manager for ubuntu with openbox, so the gnome session has two competing programs trying to draw wallpapers

so at present I've reverted to launching wallpaper from the openbox menu
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