• Gnome vs Openbox (or others)

    Hi everyone. After about 5 years mostly on OS X, with various forays into crunchbang, lubuntu, and a couple of other distros I’m moving back to linux, and I need advice on which desktop environment will suit my needs.

    I’m going to be running Antergos on a dell xps 15 with 16gb Ram, i7 core, 256gb SSD (for linux, another 256gb for Windows). I plan to dual boot with Windows, but will only be using Windows for games and the occasional piece of software that might not run on linux (for example the printer software my university uses).

    I’m trying to decide primarily between Gnome and Openbox. I’ve used both in the past (though not seriously for about 5 years) but I’m not sure which one would be better for what I want. I have a very specific work flow which means I will likely not use many of the natively installed apps. I plan to spend 90% of my time using:

    Chrome/Chromium (Including google docs, sheets, gmail, calendar etc.)
    Latex (TexLive)
    File Browser (Native or Replaced)
    PDF Reader (Native or Replaced)
    Search Functions (I really love spotlight on OS X, so something similar would be great)

    Apart from that I’ll basically only be using VLC to play movies etc.

    Some functionality from OS X that I really want/need:

    Full Screen Mode for as many apps as possible (reducing wasted screen space) Workspaces/Desktops rather than minimising/alt-tabbing
    Strong gesture control from the trackpad (2 finger right click, 3 finger drag, 4 finger swap workspace/full screen apps)
    Tabs within as many apps as possible

    I also use a semi-tiling window solution (Spectacle) that gives easy keyboard shortcuts to set a window to a half or quarter of the screen in a desired position. (I would be open to using a fully tiled window manager).

    Things I like about Openbox: Extremely simple, as mentioned I have a pretty set workflow, so I don’t really need bells and whistles that I won’t use. Openbox menu: I really liked the customisable right click menus last time I used openbox.

    Things I’m worried about:

    Stability: This will be a work machine primarily so it needs to be stable. I can’t afford to regularly loose half a day fixing problems. This is another reason I’ll be keeping Windows installed, for those emergency times when you just need to get something done.

    Out of the box-ness: While I really enjoy tinkering to get things working I don’t really have the time at the moment, so the more things that work out of the box without having to do anything the better (having to install a simple program/library with pacman is not a problem, but anything that requires complex config files etc. is a minus)

    Battery Life: As long as possible.

    Apologies for the longwinded post, any recommendations would be most appreciated.

    TL:DR: Is Gnome or Openbox better for a stable, semi-OS X like, base for a full time writer using Chrome (and google apps) and Latex

  • @LoganRah
    Hi friend!

    Well i guess if you want everything to work out of the box (and to be light) you should try
    xfce4, cinnamon or mate
    *xfce4 is light, complete and has the right click menu from openbox

    You can try gnome but is not very stable (but may work fine depending on your hardware)

    plasma may be too heavy for what you need, but is very complete on the other hand.

    If you had time to learn i’d recommend you to use i3 wich has a wonderfull full screen mode for running software, but requires effort and learning curve. Also very good if you want to use keybindings etc…

  • If you want something with lessest coinfiguration actions you will be happy with Gnome and a tiling WM extension like:
    is very easy to use and with almost no configuration…

    And Gnome is stable if you do not use to much exotic extensions.

  • @LoganRah said in Gnome vs Openbox (or others):

    … dell xps 15 with 16gb Ram, i7 core,

    With that hardware you will not have problems at all, both with the heavier desktop or the window manager that you choose :D

  • Install both, then log into whichever type of session you’re in the mood for on a given day. That’s the sort of thing I’d do. For example, I have Debian Stretch on my “primary” computer, with KDE Plasma, but I’ve added Openbox there as well.

  • @MALsPa to install kde + openbox (big DE + light-DE) will work well … but GNOME+KDE share by the same user and the same installation is never a good idea…

  • @joekamprad said in Gnome vs Openbox (or others):

    (big DE + light-DE)

    Let’s say it clearly: there is no reason to install a lightweight DE on a powerful machine other than curiosity or personal preferences. My main laptop has very similar hardware to @LoganRah 's one, and Gnome is butter fluent.

  • Well, Openbox is not a “light DE,” it’s a window manager. And while I didn’t suggest installing KDE along with GNOME, I’ve done so in the past (a long time ago, back before KDE4 and GNOME 3) and the only issue I recall was messy menus (perhaps I’ve forgotten if there were other issues). Also, there’s nothing wrong with using something like Openbox on a “powerful machine” if that’s what a user wants to do.

  • @MALsPa said in Gnome vs Openbox (or others):

    Also, there’s nothing wrong with using something like Openbox on a “powerful machine” if that’s what a user wants to do.

    That’s why I mentioned personal preferences.

  • [offtopic] @MALsPa said in Gnome vs Openbox (or others):

    W**ell, Openbox is not a “light DE,” it’s a window manager

    installing openbox will provide a Desktop Environment, yes to be very correct the stuff that makes a DE are not provided by Openbox itself, but i do not want to start such discussion… [/offtopic]

    I do not want to say that you are wrong in any way, i just want to ad a warning that kde alongside with gnome is not good to get an impression of this two DE’s because they will be mixed up, not only the menu also default opening apps, styles, icons… autostart applications…

    is this o.k. now for you?

  • Okay – I wasn’t trying to be argumentative; I was just pointing out that “window manager” and “desktop environment” do not mean the same thing, as you’ll find if you do a web search for something like “desktop environment vs. window manager”. The topic has come up many times. Or, take a glance at the Arch wiki article about Openbox (Link):

    Openbox is a lightweight, powerful, and highly configurable stacking window manager with extensive standards support. It may be built upon and run independently as the basis of a unique desktop environment, or within other integrated desktop environments such as KDE and Xfce, as an alternative to the window managers they provide. The LXDE desktop environment is itself built around Openbox.

    And, of course, many of us prefer to use Openbox rather than a full DE, regardless of computer specs.

    TL:DR: Is Gnome or Openbox better for a stable, semi-OS X like, base for a full time writer using Chrome (and google apps) and Latex

    Any answer to this question would be a matter of opinion, except perhaps the “semi-OS X” part (I have no experience with OS X to speak of). And that’s one reason for my suggestion to simply install both; what’s “better” for me might not be what’s “better” for the OP. Sometimes the best thing is to test it out yourself.

    Off topic: Ugh, I’m still having trouble getting used to this forum. Posting replies feels awkward to me, with the way things are set up.

  • Thanks everyone.

    I’ve gotten so used to the non-linux `you only get one choice’ way of doing things that I didn’t even really think of installing both. Putting both Gnome and Openbox on makes a lot of sense to me, then I can tinker with Openbox when I’ve got time and get it set up like I want while using Gnome whenever I really just need to get things done. Some of the Gnome extensions also look like they can give me most of the functionality of OS X that I want (like hiding the panels, switching workspaces with trackpad etc.).

  • @LoganRah i have the combination of Gnome and i3 so i can use gnome alone, i3-gnome and i3 alone. This mix works very well together, not only as tinker and stable solution ;)


  • One follow up question:

    What would be the easiest way of installing both Gnome and Openbox in their default Antergos configurations?

    Install Gnome from live USB then Openbox with pacman?


    Install Openbox from live USB then Gnome with pacman?

    And either way, how do I install the second DE in its default configuration using pacman (or pamac)?

    From a quick google search it seems that for Openbox this requires installing a bunch of things and grabbing some config files from github, then installing antergos-openbox-setup ? Is there a more automated way to do it (possibly with Gnome)? It doesn’t look too complicated, but an easier way is always nice.

  • @LoganRah it was the plan to make all DE/WM options also installable after installing Antergos, but i do not know if this is already aviable… but good that you come to this point here so we can pass this question to @developers ?

    But as i can see it looks like this:

    if i take a look to the files and dependencies this to packages provides: antergos-openbox-meta antergos-openbox-setup

    But antergos-openbox-setup offering /etc/skel/. ** so it looks like only for new users created after installation… but it is possible to copy the configs by hand…
    0_1509976962607_Bildschirmfoto vom 2017-11-06 15-02-34.png

    To answear your question: i do not know, if it makes a difference, but i would install gnome within the systeminstall, as it is much more slim then doing a full install with gnome gnome-extra packages…

  • @LoganRah said in Gnome vs Openbox (or others):

    I plan to spend 90% of my time using

    Chrome/Chromium (Including google docs, sheets, gmail, calendar etc.)
    Latex (TexLive)
    File Browser (Native or Replaced)
    PDF Reader (Native or Replaced)
    Search Functions (I really love spotlight on OS X, so something similar would be great)

    That’s why i recommended a light DE (or only a WM) because you probably won’t need all gnome/kde stuff.


    • I know you have a good hardware, so as i and i’m happy with i3-wm.
    • I tend to avoid discussions like WM/DE concepts, also for GNULinux/Linux, seems unecessary in most of the cases we face here.

    @MALsPa said
    Install both

    Good idea, maybe gnome/openbox is more than enough for you, just switch them as you need

Posts 16Views 3518
Log in to reply
Bloom Email Optin Plugin

Looks like your connection to Antergos Community Forum was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.