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Document last modified: Tue, 15 Jun 2010, 20:36 UTC

Blackbox Addons

This page holds links and reports of various software tools which can be used to extend the Blackbox desktop. They are important, because the Blackbox vision is to offer a minimalistic barebones desktop platform, and to let the user extend it with 3rd-party addons as they see fit.

1 Configuration
1.1 bbconf
1.2 Debian menu system
2 Desktop environment
2.1 DFM
2.2 iDesk
2.3 ROX
3 Dockapps and applets
3.1 bbtools
3.2 Dockapps
3.3 Docker
4 Keyboard and mouse
4.1 bbkeys
4.2 fbxkb
4.3 xmacro
4.4 Xnee
5 Launchers
5.1 BBButton
5.2 BBDock
5.3 gmrun
6 Monitoring
6.1 Conky
6.2 GKrellM
6.3 Torsmo
7 Pagers
7.1 bbpager
8 Panels and toolbars
8.1 fbpanel
8.2 fspanel
8.3 gnome-panel
8.4 xfce4-panel
9 Window tools
9.1 AllTray
9.2 Devil's Pie
9.3 KDocker
9.4 wmctrl
9.5 stalonetray
10 Misc
10.1 xclip
10.2 xosd

1) Configuration

This section lists tools that help people configure Blackbox and/or bbkeys.

1.1) bbconf

bbconf* is the all-in-one Blackbox and bbkeys graphical configuration tool. It is written in C++ and Qt and allows you to edit styles, the Blackbox configuration, the bbkeys configuration and the Blackbox menu. Everything is done via plugins and even the above goals are accomplished through 4 default plugins. Other plugins can be added for configuring any other Blackbox-related tools.

Note: Currently, bbconf works only with Blackbox 0.65.0 and has not been updated for the 0.70.x series, due to lack of time from the maintainer.

1.2) Debian menu system

The Debian menu system provides a generic and centralized way for all kinds of desktop-environment-related menus to be updated automatically to reflect changes in the applications installed on the system.

2) Desktop environment

This section holds software that provides combinations of desktop icons, file managers, centralized menus, panels, toolbars, and so on, in order to provide a 3rd-party desktop environment which can be used with any window manager.

2.1) DFM

DFM* is a file manager for Linux and other UNIX like Operating Systems and it stands for "Desktop File Manager". Among other things, it is capable of placing and managing icons on the root window, so you can use it to add desktop icons to your Blackbox environment.

2.2) iDesk

iDesk* was designed with the specific goal of providing users of minimal window managers (such as Blackbox) with desktop icons. The icon graphics can be PNG or SVG and they support some eye-candy effects such as transparency. Each icon can be configured to run one or more shell commands and the actions which run those commands are completely configurable.

In a nutshell, if you want icons on your desktop and you don't have or don't want KDE or Gnome to get them, you can use iDesk.

2.3) ROX

ROX* is a user-friendly desktop environment featuring a window manager, a file manager, desktop icons, a shortcut toolbar and several built-in applications, all of them nicely integrated.

You can use any or all of the features it offers at any time, in flexible combinations.

3) Dockapps and applets

This section is dedicated to the kind of small graphical tools that are usually loaded in panels at the side of the screen. Their goals can be very diverse, from controlling another application to monitoring your Internet connection.

There are several standards in place for such tools. Blackbox implements the dockapp de-facto standard by allowing its slit to be used as a WindowMaker dock. If you want to use applets from popular desktop environments (Gnome, KDE, Xfce) you can use the appropriate 3rd-party panel.

3.1) bbtools

The bbtools collection* offers all kinds of desktop appliances designed specifically for Blackbox.

Note: Unfortunately, the website and the tools themselves seem to be outdated and haven't kept up with the developments in Blackbox version 0.70 and up. They may or may not work with it.

3.2) Dockapps

There are hundreds of dockapps available, here are some places to start:

Note: Empty/broken/offline at 2008-01-03
Note: Fixed. Works. at 02-18-2008

3.3) Docker

Docker* is a tool (technically, you could call it a dockapp) which will load into the Blackbox slit and act as a system tray a.k.a. notification area. It's very useful if you don't want to have to use other panels to get system tray functionality. Applications such as Gaim will detect Docker and use it without problems.

Note: It only works with Blackbox 0.70+.
Note: Don't be alarmed if starting docker doesn't seem to do anything; it only makes an appearance when there's at least one application using the tray.
Note: bug 2781 - Docker keeps all the icons flashing on Blackbox* has been poorly met. Try fbpanel instead.

4) Keyboard and mouse

This section is dedicated to tools that implement keyboard or mouse handling, or related functionality (macro recording and playback, controlling the mouse via keyboard, etc).

Note: You WILL need a 3rd-party keyboard handler! Blackbox doesn't provide keyboard handling by itself.

4.1) bbkeys

bbkeys* is the traditional keyboard handler of choice for Blackbox (hence the name).

Although it was originally part of Blackbox and is meant to work alongside it, it can be used in any desktop environment. It allows you to assign various shortcuts to all kinds of window and workspace operations, as well as launch applications via shortcuts.

Note: Blackbox 0.70+ needs bbkeys at least version 0.9.x*. Blackbox 0.65.0 needs bbkeys version 0.8.6*.
Note: As of June 15, 2007, bbkeys is maintained by Art Haas and kept in a git repository*.
Note: bbkeys' showRootMenu does not work*. Use this workaround instead.

4.2) fbxkb

fbxkb* is a keyboard indicator and switcher. It shows a flag of the currently selected keyboard layout in the systray area and allows you to cycle through them by simply clicking on the flag. It is NetWM compliant.

fbxkb will pick the keyboard variants from /etc/X11/xorg.conf (or /etc/X11/XF86Config-4), from the Section "InputDevice", from the Option "XkbLayout". If you have set it to "us,fr,de", it will pick these three up automatically.

4.3) xmacro

xmacro* allows you to record and play back key strokes and mouse pointer activity. It can be very useful in connection with, for instance, LIRC*, to allow you to control the desktop via IR remote control.

4.4) Xnee

GNU Xnee* is a suite of programs that can record, replay and distribute user actions under the X11 environment. Think of it as a robot that can imitate the job you just did.

Xnee can automate tests, demonstrate programs, replicate actions on several desktops, record and play macros, even retype keyboard input.

5) Launchers

This section is dedicated to various utils that are especially designed for launching applications.

5.1) BBButton

BBButton* loads XPM icons associated to applications into the slit and allows the user to start an aplication by clicking its icon. The applications and the icons are defined in a central configuration file.

5.2) BBDock

Each BBDock* instance loads a PNG icon into the slit and will launch the associated application when clicked. A slit full of BBDock's can be used to emulate a toolbar, such as the one they have on the Mac.

Note: there is a transparency problem when using this program with Blackbox 0.70. A workaround is to patch Blackbox.

5.3) gmrun

gmrun* is a simple program which provides a "run program" window, featuring bash-like TAB completion, GTK+ interface, CTRL-R/CTRL-S/! for searching through history, running commands in a terminal with CTRL-Enter, URL handlers and more.

6) Monitoring

Monitoring tools are specially crafted tools dedicated to system monitoring.

6.1) Conky

is based on the Torsmo code. Its additional features include the rendering of graphs.

6.2) GKrellM

GKrellM* bundles together all kinds of system monitors in a single process. It supports themes and can load into the Blackbox slit or act as a standalone window.

6.3) Torsmo

TyopoytaORvelo System MOnitor* renders various statistics in a transparent window which lays at the lowest level on your root window. It's very simple, customizable, it renders only text and percentage bars, and its only dependency is X itself.

7) Pagers

Desktop pagers are tools that render a scaled-down version of the windows from all workspaces and allow you to orient yourself, switch workspace, quickly select and move windows, and so on.

7.1) bbpager

bbpager* is part of the bbtools collection*. It displays a scaled down version of all the available workspaces so you know what windows you have on each. It allows you to drag windows around, even across workspaces, and to quickly jump to another workspace.

Note: For Blackbox 0.70+ you must get bbpager 0.4.x+.

8) Panels and toolbars

These are long and thin bars placed near the edges of the screen, which are used to hold useful tools, information and various gadgets.

8.1) fbpanel

fbpanel* is a lightweight, NetWM compliant desktop panel. It features a taskbar, a menu, a system tray, a launchbar, a clock, a pager, a CPU monitor and so on. It can be extended via plugins. It is a light, compact and useful alternative for those who are used to having such a panel on their desktop.

8.2) fspanel

F***ing Small Panel* is a panel for Linux/Unix that lists all your open windows and lets you iconify and bring windows to front. It also offers a clock and a step-by-step workspace switcher.

FSPanel is tiny, less than 10k on i386-linux. It aims to keep small and minimalistic. It requires an EWMH-compliant window manager, so you will need Blackbox 0.70+.

8.3) gnome-panel

gnome-panel* is part of the Gnome desktop*. While the entire Gnome desktop can be a resource hog, having just gnome-panel run under Blackbox will work well even with low resources. Running gnome-panel will enable you to use Gnome specifics (such as Gnome applets, the Gnome menus, taskbar, system tray, a pager, a clock and so on).

For the best results please use Gnome 2+ and Blackbox 0.70+.

8.4) xfce4-panel

xfce* version 4 comes with xfce4-panel, which is a nice lightweight panel which works well with blackbox, and has a number of plugins for showing a menu, a clock, etc. It can be easily configured to be merged into one single panel across the bottom of the screen.

9) Window tools

This section is dedicated to utilities that can manipulate windows directly, in various ways.

9.1) AllTray

With AllTray* you can dock any application (such as Evolution, Thunderbird, terminals) into the system tray. A high-light feature is that a click on the "close" button of the application will minimize back to system tray, not terminate it. It works well with EWMH compliant window managers, which includes Blackbox (version 0.70 and up). This is very useful as a generic "preloading" feature for slow-starting applications.

Note: It hides applications every time you switch workspace, so be warned in case you don't like this.

9.2) Devil's Pie

Devil's Pie* is a window-matching utility. It can be configured to detect windows as they are created, and match the window to a set of rules. If a window matches a rule, Devil's Pie can perform a series of actions on that window.

There are some very interesting ways you can use this with Blackbox (or in any desktop environment). For example, you can make your TV app show on all workspaces, or make the secondary XMMS windows not appear in the pager or task list.

9.3) KDocker

KDocker* will help you dock any application into the system tray. This means you can dock OpenOffice, XMMS, Firefox, Thunderbird, anything. Just point and click. Works for all EWMH compliant window managers, which includes Blackbox. This is useful as a generic "preloading" feature for slow-starting applications.

Note: It kills applications when the close button is used, instead of hiding them, so be warned in case you don't like this.'

9.4) wmctrl

wmctrl* provides command line access to almost all features defined in the EWMH specification. It can be used to obtain information about the window manager, to get a detailed list of desktops and managed windows, to switch and resize desktops, to make windows full-screen, always-above or sticky, and to activate, close, move, resize, maximize and minimize them. See examples*.

Note: Despite the blurb, wmctrl can only perform a limited set of actions on the windows. Some of the command line switches don't seem to have any effect. This is not a Blackbox-specific problem!

9.5) stalonetray

stalonetray* provides a STAnd ALONE tray to house your applications. It works independently of the toolbar and is rather configurable.

10) Misc

This section holds applications for which no other section is appropriate.

10.1) xclip

xclip* is a command line utility that is designed to run on any system with an X11 implementation. It provides an interface to X selections ("the clipboard") from the command line. It can read data from standard in or a file and place it in an X selection for pasting into other X applications. xclip can also print an X selection to standard out, which can then be redirected to a file or another program.

It can be used together with a keyboard handler such as bbkeys to achieve interesting effects, such as inserting the current time in text fields in any application. The home page has more ideas.

10.2) xosd

XOSD* displays unmanaged and shaped text on the screen, making it resemble an On Screen Display, like you have on the TV or VCR. It comes with an XMMS plugin which can display all kinds of things as they change (volume, song title).

XOSD can be used together with a keyboard handler and various applications to display all kinds of reports. For instance, you could use a sound mixer and show the volume change via XOSD.

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Document last modified: Tue, 15 Jun 2010, 20:36 UTC
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