[HOWTO] - Run the Fluxbox Window manager on Apple's X11

Apple's X11 comes with a very good default window manager but I decided to try some other options. My chief reason for this was the lack of multiple desktop support, which is default in all other X11 window managers that I have used.

I decided to install Fluxbox, which is a lightweight window manager that I thought would work nicely with the Aqua desktop in OSX. The following is a blow-for-blow account of how to build and configure fluxbox to work over Apple's X11. This information was gathered from the documentation on the Fluxbox website. More detailed information can be found there.

Personally I think that this Window manager is fantastic.

For this to work you need the following

1) Apple's X11 (obviously)
2) The root account enabled (a search of these forums will show you how to do that)
3) The Apple Developer Tools
4) The Fluxbox tarball

You need to download the Source tarball from the fluxbox website, which can be found at


As of writing the current version is 0.1.14.

Move the tarball to a convenient directory. In the Terminal navigate to that directory and unstuff it as follows. In the Terminal type ([RETURN] means press the Return key):

tar xzvf fluxbox-0.1.14.tar.gz [RETURN]

Then move into the fluxbox directory as follows:

cd fluxbox-0.1.14 [RETURN]

The next step is to configure and make Fluxbox. In the Terminal type:

./configure [RETURN]

Once this has finished type:

make [RETURN]

Once this has finished you need to gain root privileges and type:

make install [RETURN]

Ok thats the worst out of the way. The next step is to perform some post configuration tasks:

1) Create (or modify) the .xinitrc file within you're home directory. You can do this using the "pico" text editor in the Terminal:

cd ~ [RETURN]

pico .tcshrc [RETURN]

This is a copy of my simple .xinitrc file-

#This line sets your path environment
export PATH

# Opens up an xterm
xterm -geometry -250+200 &

# opens up the oclock clock
oclock -geometry -100+50 &

# Runs the fluxbox window manager
exec /usr/local/bin/fluxbox

Save the changes and exit Pico.

2) Now you need to run the following command in the Terminal:

$ chmod 700 .xinitrc [RETURN]

3) Finally you need to create a directory for fluxbox to save you're personal settings in. In the Terminal type:

mkdir .fluxbox [RETURN]

You should now have a fully functioning fluxbox window manager.

Check out the file below to see what it looks like. You can change the look with theme files but I rather like the default look.

Enjoy, will:)