Why should anyone use Openbox?

Openbox is a window manager for Unix-like operating systems. In contrast to other window managers like Metacity or Kwin it is not integrated into a desktop environment like Gnome or Kde. (A desktop environment is a compilation of various programs which are tweaked to play nicely together in order to provide the user with a pleasant experience.)

So why bother with a standalone window manager like Openbox where you have to collect and tweak every program by yourself?

Well the first reason is exactly because you can! It is up to you to set up your system completely to your liking. Control freaks here you go!

Actually I don't care much about that aspect and like to have a preconfigured system. That's where crunchbang comes into play. It delivers Openbox at its best. You get a panel (tint2), file manager, editor etc. Everything just works. Extend it to your liking!

What won me over was the simplicity!

Openbox is mostly condemned as geek stuff. This is due to the looming horror of editing some configuration files. Well it is of some help if you are not afraid to do so. BUT first of all there are some GUI tools with the help of which you can get along very well. Second with a distribution like crunchbang you get some nicely commented config files along with a properly outlaid menu that pushes you right into the right direction.

With all those examples and help it is ultimately just a matter of copy and paste.

Deskopshot whith menu
Screenshot with customized crunchbang-Openbox menu

GUI apps
Some Openbox GUI apps.

Openbox autostart file opened with editor gedit
Commented Openbox autostart file opened with editor gedit.

So where is the simplicity?

It's just that there is no unnecessary stuff -  but everything you could possibly need. You want to control everything with your mouse? No problem. Do it!
Or rather do anything with keyboard shortcuts? No problem either. The file rc.xml sits at your fingertips awaiting your input.

Unlike Kde where there are heaps of preconfigured keyboard shortcuts and it is thought that the user learns those by heart - Openbox lets the user decide. Though Crunchbang offers some already defined shortcuts (which are almost all exactly those I would have chosen myself) it is the simplest thing in the world to change those or add some.

The simplicity derives from personalization. I guess that is the secret of Openbox. The user decides how the menu looks like, which entries go into it. What shortcuts he or she wants or not. Which programs. That's the gist of the whole matter.

Give it a try and enjoy!