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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Rox-filer, openbox and tint

This is an explanation of why I have my desktop set up as I do. The main applications involved and the points I like about them.

I'm not at all a technical person. I just want to be able to be in control of my computing as it becomes an ever more important part of very day life.

I'm an environmentalist , socialist and anti-capitalist.  International Capitalism is as they say "the elephant in the room" We need to wake up and acknowledge it's there and put it back outside or shoot it dead. I'd prefer the latter.

I want to keep my hardware going as long as I can and want it to be as free as I can reasonably make it, as we depend more and more on computers in our every day lives.

The things I need are pretty basic and only video gives me any problems as my computers lag further and further behind. Debian helps me run a stable OS and software that means I can keep them out of landfill way longer than most. To that  end I need light software and it's provided by rox-filer, openbox and tint2.

My file manager is rox-filer with out recommends! no zero install here as I'm on PPC and many apps are old or fail to run.

Rox-filer or rox for short is a fantastic file manager. Small, fast, powerful, and very configurable for keyboard or mouse. Looks simple. A sorta plain Jane, but those in the know :P know Rox is a very special file manager.

OK, I like rox..... a lot... She just takes a little more time to understand and really get to know. But when you do you'll love her for life.

My window manager is the standard compliant Openbox.  It has the same sorta attributes as Jane... I mean Rox. One other thing I like about openbox is it has a friend, Tint2. Tint2 and openbox are a real duo.
Made for each other you could say. Both are easy going and understandable. (great docs means they're easy to get to know) Both work very well independently also. On some machines I use pure openbox. On others openbox-tint2. All with rox! The other thing I like about this trio is they are rock solid!

This is how I set up rox to work the way I like things.

My rox home directory window

Rox basic options

Rox display

Rox next click

 Rox select

 Rox options

 Basic rox set up Filer  options window

Because I like small icons by default "Always resize" works very well for me. My most used directories tend to not be to in my face and if I want to look at thumb nails the auto window resizing saves time. 70% is a nice Max. If I need windows maximised I use Alt+f short cut

As I list files by name ascending by default  I use Directories come first and  Capitalised names first

Rox set up Filer windows display

As rox auto wraps long names with large icons but not small icons I give small icons slightly more room. If a file has a really long name I can switch to column view.

Rox set up Filer windows tools mini-buffer

I use Alt+F4 or right click on the icon in tint2 panel to close windows so no need for that big X. Likewise, - and = to increase or reduce icon size. I never use invert selection so don't show it.

Rox set up Filer windows Thumb nails

My machines are to old so I don't show thumb nail images by default. Instead I right click in the "eye" icon if I want them.

Rox set up Filer windows pinboard

I don't have icons on the desktop! Apart from rox! as I have no Esetroot on this machine to set the background so use rox to do that. I've seem enough desktops with 10.000 icons on them. I like to run many applications maximised with no toolbar and use keyboard short cuts. 

Rox set up Filer windows pinboard iconified windows

I don't have icons on the desktop!

Rox set up Filer windows Desktop

I don't have icons on the desktop!

Rox set up Filer windows Action windows

I have delete mean GONE FOR EVER no copying to the trash. A confirm, bang gone! But do like to pause :) first :)

Rox set up Filer windows Drag and Drop

Rox uses drag and Drop a lot. Drag files over directories  to drill down. Drag on to the up Arrow to drag up the file system. If where you want to go is  far off. open another filer window and use the book marks or the instant temp  book marks feature described below if your going to be working in certain directories for any longer period.

Procedure 4.2. Example:
saving a directory and returning to it later:

1. You are looking at a directory, and wish to remember it. Press
Control+1. Control+2 etc..

2. Move to another directory, or close the window, etc.

3. Press 1 in any filer window to return to the first directory.

The groups are saved automatically for next time the filer is loaded.

My instant book marks are: 1 home, 2 docs, 3 notes, 4 images, 5 movies,
6 xvids, 7 music, 8 /media, 9 spare, 10 / (root)

I also use 1 as a spare as when rox opens it's there by default also there is the home icon and the home key. It's so fast to set. Say I want to read some docs. I use the book marks to get to /usr/share/docs or (the mini buffer) then say I want to read about sudo later. I enter the sudo directory and press Ctl+1  . Now after diner I come back  open rox (Win+r) and press 1 Bang I'm there.

Rox short cuts in the openbox menu.

These are to help other users, I know them!

Rox bookmarks in the openbox menu.

This saves launching rox just to get the bookmarks.

Rox set up Filer windows Menus

I have lxterminal as my default terminal on this machine with "aterm -tr +sb -sh 60 -e top" in fbpanel and guake also used as my drop down terminal.

keyboard short cuts are

, (comma)  to close rox and open a terminal at the same location

. (full stop)  to leave rox open and open a terminal at the same location

/ (forward slash) to open a mini-buffer

# (hash. I think Americans call it a pound sign) give a shell

The mini-buffer is a white bar that appears along the bottom of the window and allows you to enter some text. Press Escape to get rid of it again. It behaves in different ways depending on how you invoked it:

Rox shell

Use up and down arrows to browse history. Press Escape to get rid of it again.

Rox set up Filer windows Types

I use the excellent gartoon as my default theme with custom icons

Rox set up Filer windows Types Colours

 I tend to be a bit boring when it come to identifiying file types by colour :-)

Rox set up Filer windows Compatibility

I pass all backdrop mouse click to openbox. This means I get openbox menus off the desktop and rox menu of the rox window

Rox new

Rox window

Rox help

Other info

There is also one more app I fire up a lot. I'm lazy but it needs sorted. What is it? fbpanel.   Now in theory I shouldn't need it, but I do use it! Why? Because pipe menus are great for geeks and I'm not one.

Dynamic menus for openbox? I'm sure they exist. Making them work is something else. For a Dynamic menu I use fbpanel. Boy does it use to much ram! But it works great!  Unlike lxpanel  Which uses less but seems a bit to tied in to lxde to function correctlyinterdependently :( That said I don't start it  by default.

Actually the main feature I miss apart from dynamic menus is a CPU monitor. Sure, conky and gkremll exist but I just need to see if an application is launching or hung. On my old hardware some things take
time to launch. Inkscape is the slowest by a country mile, though once launched it works well.

The hardware on this machine is 867MHz CPU 512MB ram.  Running squeeze with kernel 2.6.32-5-powerpc  GNU/Linux. It's an old G4 733MHz over clocked to 867MHz. I also have a similar set up on a G3
imac 333MHz 256MB and 400MHz G4 256MB

From a fresh boot

inkscape takes 45 seconds to launch  with this error message Gtk-CRITICAL **: gtk_misc_set_alignment: assertion `GTK_IS_MISC (misc)' failed

openoffice takes 25 seconds to launch

gimp takes 15 seconds to launch

abiword takes 8 seconds to launch

leafpad takes less than 1 second to launch it's almost instant

Rox takes less than 1 second to launch it's almost instant


Tint2 is a taskbar/panel built for openbox it's very light very configurable and looks great. I tend to have 8-10 desktops, clock and date LMB (Left mouse button or button 1) launches xclock -d  RMB  (Right mouse button or button 3) launches xcal or orage depending which machine I'm on.

Tint2 with tinted transparent background taskbar and clock. The active desktop is Gold coloured. Gogglesmm in the taskbar. xterminal on desktop 8,   Composer on 5 and gogglesmm on 3. Selecting an icon with LMB with toggle iconifying it. Selecting an icon with RMB will close it. Scroll on the panel to change desktops (or on the desktop) You can drag icons between desktops. 

Openbox menu with my short cuts.

Right click on the desktop to get the main menu. Alt+z keyboard short cut. You can  drag any open windows between desktops by the toolbar or  Alt+LMB or use short cuts

MMB (Middle mouse button) click on the desktop to get the main desktop menu. Alt+x keyboard short cut

openbox Alt+Tab repeat to cycle to the Right Alt+Shif+Tab to cycle to the Left

On my set up it shows all open applications across all desktops and highlights them with a box as shown. Releasing the keys brings the selected window in to focus.

Rox Bold high-lighting of recently used files

This is a very helpful feature when looking for files in directory’s with many files

Rox find

Ctl+f will give you a cross hair select a directory with it and type your search. The results will be returned in a list and offer you more options. Clicking the desired result opens the directory in a new rox window and it will flicker it. Very handy when a directory has many many files.
TIP: An easy way to use the search with wild cards, like  '*debian*' Very handy if your not up on your regular expressions ;-)
TIP: If searching directory’s with many  files I turn off auto-resize.

Rox Mouse button and key bindings from the manual

Quick start:

      Click the left [1] mouse button to open files and directories.

     Click the right button to get a menu. Click over a file to perform an action on that file.

      Drag files between windows with the left button to copy, move or link them (choose from a menu). Linking creates a shortcut to the original file.

By default, the mouse button bindings are designed to fit in with X conventions. However, the behaviour is highly configurable — have a play in the Options window if you don't like the normal settings. The normal settings behave as follows:

Key or mouse button    Action

Left button click    Open the file or directory clicked on. Hold down Control to select things instead of opening them. Hold down Shift to look inside applications, treat files as text, follow symlinks, or get
more control over mount points (see Removable devices).

Middle button click    Same as left click, but open a directory in a new window or close the viewer when opening a file.

Right button click    Open the main menu. Hold down Control while clicking to go directly to the Selection submenu. Hold down Shift to get the Send To menu (see the Send To menu section).

Drag an item (left mouse button)    Show a menu of possible actions. There is an option to disable this menu, in which case this gesture will copy the file(s) to the destination (an application or another
filer window). Hold down Shift to move the file, Control+Shift to create a symbolic link, or Alt to get the menu of possible actions.

Drag an item (middle mouse button)    When you let go, display a menu of possible actions. There is an option to make this move the files rather than open the menu.

Drag (not over an item)    Select a group of items by dragging a box around them. With the left mouse button, only the files in the box will be selected. If you hold down Control then the boxed items are added to the selection. If you use the middle button then the boxed items switch between being selected and unselected.

Double-click background    Resize the window to a sensible size (this can be turned off from the Options window).

Backspace    Change to viewing the parent directory.

Cursor keys    Move the cursor around.

Page Up, Page Down    Move the cursor up and down a page at a time.

Home, End    Move to the first/last entry in the directory.

Return    Acts like clicking on the file. You may hold down Shift for other effects, as with clicking. Holding down Alt works like clicking with the middle button; directories open in a new window and opening files closes the directory at the same time.

Spacebar    Toggles the item under the cursor between being selected and unselected, and moves to the next item.

Tab, Shift+Tab    Moves the cursor to the next/previous selected item.

Hold mouse over an item    Shows a tool tip containing a brief description of an application (if available), the target of a symbolic link, and the full name of a file, if it's too long to show in the main window.

If you have user-definable key-bindings enabled, then other keys can easily be set by opening the menu, moving the pointer over the item you want to use and pressing a key. The key will appear in the menu and can be used from then on. Key bindings are automatically saved when the filer quits. You can use an XSettings manager, such as ROX-Session, to turn this feature on for all Gtk+-2.0 applications.

[1] This documentation assumes that button–1 is the left button, button–2 is the middle button and button–3 is the right button. This is not always the case — for example, in a left-handed setup. or LMB, MMB, RMB

My Desktop

Links to rox stuff!
This version is based on a previous work of Marcin Juszkiewicz.

This version is based on my rox 2.1 package but I added a few patches
which make ROX-Filer more Debian compliant:
    - no APP_DIR variable,
    - user settings in ~/.rox_choices, ~/.rox/choices or ~/.choice/ROXFiler
      instead of ~/Choices.
    - files in good directories (FHS friendly):
      - all files in /usr/share/rox instead of /usr/apps/ROX-Filer
      - HTML help in /usr/share/doc/rox-filer/html/
      - Readmes, TODO in /usr/share/doc/rox-filer/
      - Changes in /usr/share/doc/rox-filer/changelog
      - binary from /usr/apps/ROX-Filer/PLATFORM-ARCH/ROX-Filer in /usr/bin/rox

A few changes has been done in order to have the whole package better integrated
with Debian. Please refer to for improvements
and proposals.

 -- Francesco Paolo Lovergine <>  Thu, 29 Jul 2004 10:51:31 +0200

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