Managing Themes in Openbox

There are a lot of reasons why I love a pure Archlinux installation with Openbox as my window manager.
However, when it comes to configuring themes and appearance without having an underlying desktop environment, things can get a little messy, especially if you like to tweak them every now and then.
So you definitely want to have a look at a tool that will let you handle this stuff with ease.

Openbox Configuration Manager (Arch package: obconf)

If you are using Openbox, you probably have this installed anyway, since it is the alternative to manually edit the rc.conf for configuring the core Openbox preferences such a window and mouse behaviour, virtual desktops and margins.
Beside the above mentioned features, it includes a Theme tab, whose feature set is limited to just choosing a theme.

LXAppearance 2 (Arch package: lxappearance2-git, AUR)

LXAppearance is a more advanced theme switcher which also manages icons, fonts and toolbars.
Despite its name which suggests otherwise, LXAppearance is not dependent on a specific window manager or desktop environment. That is, it writes the changes directly into .gtkrc. Thus, it is perfectly suited to complement a *BOX window manager.

However, although GNOME and XFCE are also GTK environments, lxappeareance won’t work here. Since both use their own Xsettings daemon, gtkrc is ignored.

If you are using any GTK+ environment besides GNOME or XFCE, then you should have a closer look.


In its latest incarnation, LXAppearance 2 features Openbox integration (Arch package: lxappearance-obconf-git, AUR).
It might be a bit bold to say it makes obconf obsolete, since it only replicate the first two tabs, Theme and Appearance.

Where to get themes: You can use the GTK, Openbox and Icon themes from, or


  1. No Thank You

    It’s lxappearance and lxappearance-obconf now. I was scared of by the lxde tie in. Great write-up. Thank you.

  2. Len

    Hi, interesting article
    How can I make that lxappearance installs themes in ~/.themes instead of /usr/share/themes?
    Thanks in advance

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