How to install Ubuntu server with openbox and mate panels

As per title.

It is my intention, at some point, to do a full write-up type of tutorial on this. But, work commitments at the moment are making that difficult. So, for the moment, I have simply done a start to finish video of how to install everything. It’s slightly messy in places where I have had to go on the internet to figure something out. But, perhaps that is all to the good since it shows you how to get round problems as they arise. The whole video is about an hour long. So, there’s a fair bit to get through. But, as I said, it is a complete start to finish video diary of how to do this. So, there should be everything you need.

I should say, here, there is no point whatsoever in doing this if you have a reasonably powerful machine and I would always, under such circumstances, recommend installing Ubuntu Mate. However, if you have an old or very weak machine, it is a very good solution.

My reason for doing this is due to the “updating” OF LXDE to LXQT. At some point, perhaps, LXQT will not be as flaky as it currently is. Also, its devs may eventually be able to bring its RAM consumption down to that of LXDE. But, for now, that is most certainly not the case. Or, at least, certainly not in Lubuntu 17.10.

In any event, although LXDE is a very nice, lightweight OS, it has always had a truly awful main menu in terms of the facility to edit or customize it. So, in that respect, I have always been slightly motivated to find a better alternative and the advent of LXQT has just forced my hand, that’s all.

The system in the video comprises of:

Ubuntu server
Slim login manager
Caja file manager
Mate Panels
Compton compositor
Nitrogen wallpaper manager.
Wicd network manager

There are a few other things, but they will be apparent in the video

I have also made a short second video showing how to apply Ambiant theming across the system

When fully finished and freshly logged in, it stands at about 185M on the RAM. Which is pretty good in comparison to LXDE.

It does not have desktop management (for desktop icons etc). But, that can be easily achieved by installing PCManFM instead of Caja and using PCManFM as the desktop manager. In which case it comes in around 200M on the RAM. Which is around the same, or only very slightly higher than LXDE.

Setting up and partial theming

Completion of theming


Caja 1.18 has a new --force-desktop option to force managing the desktop in other desktop environments. Maybe it would help?


Thanks Monstsa. That sounds like a great development. However, when I tried to install caja 1.18, it said it was missing a dependency of caja common 1.18. But, when I tried to install caja common 1.18, that in turn required another dependency. About three dependencies in, it simply refused to install it without giving a reason that was easy to understand.

So, for the moment, for inexperienced users, I would still recommend using pcmanfm to manage the desktop even if it is only used for that purpose alone and caja is installed alongside and used for all file manager activities.

Ah, that could happen in 16.04. I saw you mentioned 17.10 above, so I thought you were using it. :slight_smile:

Here are the steps to install Ubuntu server with Openbox and MATE panels:

Install Ubuntu server: Download the Ubuntu server ISO file from the Ubuntu website and create a bootable USB drive. Boot from the USB drive to begin the installation process.

Install Openbox: After the installation of the Ubuntu server is complete, open the terminal and install Openbox with the following command: sudo apt-get install openbox. This will install the Openbox window manager.

Install MATE panels: Install the MATE panels with the following command: sudo apt-get install mate-panel. This will install the MATE desktop environment panels.

Configure Openbox: Openbox is a minimalistic window manager that requires configuration to work properly. You can use the following steps to configure Openbox:

Create the Openbox configuration directory with the following command: mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox
Copy the default Openbox configuration file to the configuration directory with the following command: cp /etc/xdg/openbox/* ~/.config/openbox
Edit the ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml file with a text editor to customize the Openbox configuration. You can add keyboard shortcuts, change the mouse settings, and configure other settings according to your preferences.

Start Openbox: Log out of the Ubuntu server and log back in. From the login screen, select "Openbox" as the desktop environment. The MATE panels should appear at the top and bottom of the screen, and you can start using Openbox as the window manager.