How to Setup Fast and Lightweight Linux Desktop using Fluxbox and Debian Etch

Introduction to the Fluxbox

Fluxbox is a fast and lightweight window manager for X, fluxbox was derived from blackbox and it is capable of launching applications, configuring keyboard shortcuts and background images, as well as displaying information with the slit. It is often used on older systems where hardware resources are limited or even just as a matter of personal taste.

Prepairing to install

Edit /etc/apt/source.list file

nano /etc/apt/source.list

and add these following lines:

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian etch main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian etch main contrib non-free
deb http://www.backports.org/debian etch-backports main contrib non-free

update your apt repo using this command:

apt-get update && apt-get install debian-backports-keyring && apt-get update

Install ssh, irssi, xserver, gdm and fluxbox. This would be enough for a minimal and lightweight system.

apt-get -t etch-backports install build-essential vim ssh xserver-xorg xorg gdm fluxbox gnome-terminal gedit unzip unrar bzip2 irssi

If you want to further customize your system such as adding background image and system monitor, install conky and feh.

apt-get install conky feh

Customize Fluxbox

Configure Conky

Conky is a free, light-weight system monitor for X, that displays any information on your desktop.
You can use the sample conkyrc in /usr/share/doc/conky/examples directory and run conky.

zcat -c /usr/share/doc/conky/examples/conky.conf.gz > ~.conkyrc
conky &

Add conky to startup

vi ~.fluxbox/startup

add this command

conky &

before the line that says

exec fluxbox

Adding Styles

Tons of fluxbox styles are available on the web, you can download and add many styles as you want. A good source to download free fluxbox styles is from freshmeat. After you download the style, untar it and place it on your ~.fluxbox/style directory and select the style you want using fluxbox menu.

Adding Wallpaper

To add wallpaper on your fluxbox machine type this command:

fbsetbg -f path/to/background/image

To run the wallpaper on startup edit ~.fluxbox/init and find the line:

session.screen0.rootCommand:

and add this command next to it

fbsetbd -l

thus:

session.screen0.rootCommand:    fbsetbd -l

If you want to customize fluxbox menu, backup the file name menu in your ~.fluxbox directory and copy the generated menu from /etc/X11/fluxbox/fluxbox-menu directory and place it to your ~.fluxbox directory and customize.

Thats it, you have now a lightweight Debian system using fluxbox.