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Old 15th November 2014
shep shep is offline
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Default Simple Desktop Environment for OpenBSD 5.6

An updated thread for OpenBSD 5.7 is here

This is a relatively simple project that I have been tweaking for about a year. The resultant desktop was based on a post in the freebsd forums which I would encourage you to peruse. This differs from the FreeBSD howto by using the OpenBSD base and binary packages.

The project has several Goals:

The first was to have a desktop that would function in a basic BSD environment; no wrappers or other cludges for pulseaudio, udev, hal, systemd, compositing etc.

Secondly, it was to try out a new paradigm for a desktop. In contrast to projects that build from Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, Arch... and then are packaged up as installation images, this project stays within the OpenBSD sphere. The desktop is built using OpenBSD tools and packages. When you are done installing, you still have an OpenBSD desktop. Interestingly, this paradigm can be easily applied to any system where the package manager can be feed a list of packages. One can envision a web site where the user selects a base OS, DE, Browser, email client, etc which then generates an install list and an application menu. I have utilized this basic method to make a similiar desktop in Fedora20, Debian Squeeze and FreeBSD.

Third, a resource efficient interface. The most frequent tasks that are effected by a desktop are web browsing and email. In Unix, a terminal is also frequently implemented and each of these tasks can be started by a single click on a large, animated icon. Hotkeys; <Ctl+Alt+b> browser, <Ctl+Alt+e> email, <Ctl+Alt+t> terminal, and <Ctl+Alt+m> system menu, are configured in ~.config/openbox/rc.xml. The animated icons also include a file manager, a launcher for libreoffice and a music player. All applications can be accessed either the <Ctl+Alt+m> hotkey or by a right-click anywhere except the toolbar and the launcher.

Finally, I hoped that it would also serve as a newbie introduction to OpenBSD and walk the user through the installation.

Name:  SimpleDE_screenshot.png
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New to this version is sysutils/tray-app which provides a simple volume control applet in the x11/tint system tray. A battery applet for laptops and a mount icon are additionally available but not configured. x11/tint also provides a laptop battery indicator which can be enabled by un-#ing the appropriate section in ~/.config/tint2/tint2rc. In general, one application is provided for each task. The applications were chosen on the basis of their stability and newbie friendliness The exception is the file manager. Both x11/xfe and misc/mc were provided. Midnight commander is the only file manager in OpenBSD that supports 2 panel ftp. x11/pcmanfm crashed attempting to establish an ftp connection. x11/xfe supports "drop and drag". Lastly, the implementation of a simple OpenBSD wallpaper, seen in the screen shot with compositing is an option that is described in a 3rd post below.

What this is not::

It is not a substitute for the OpenBSD FAQ and the man pages. Although I tried to structure the README file to describe the commands that were used; time and space contraints prevented going into detail. The flash plugin is not available although *.flv/*.swf content is accessible.

To get this desktop installed you will need:

1) A base OpenBSD install with a working internet connection.
2) Knowledge of basic editing commands and familarity with file paths/permissions.

What you should end up with:

1) A light, responsive desktop that at idle occupies less than 90mb of RAM.
2) The base security of OpenBSD and the option to use M:tier package updates
3) A user interface that will quickly launch frequently used applications.
4) Unix neophytes will be guided through the basic commands to install and configure.

Although it would be possible to extract the configuration file to the appropriate directories, I elected to extract to a working directory where the user can review and tweak the file.

Copy/Paste commands for setup are in the README file.

To start, download the following attachment


to the users home directory of your new OpenBSD 5.6 install and extract with

$ tar xvzf OpenBSD54_SimpleDE.tar.gz. Then change into the OpenBSD56_SimpleDE directory and open the README with your preferred pager. The README should take you the rest of the way.

$ cd ~/OpenBSD56_SimpleDE

$ less README

I have trialed this several times and believe I have most of the typos/spelling/grammer fixed. I will put two place holder posts following this post and will gladly accept suggestions/pointers/corrections to the original post. If you find this to be of use and a time saver, please consider supporting the OpenBSD project.

Last edited by shep; 12th May 2015 at 08:43 PM. Reason: TNC: to numerous to count
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Old 15th November 2014
shep shep is offline
Fsck Surgeon
Join Date: May 2008
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Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts

Content moved to 5.7 Release thread

Last edited by shep; 12th May 2015 at 09:59 PM. Reason: content moved to current release
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Old 15th November 2014
shep shep is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
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Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts

Content moved to thread

Last edited by shep; 12th May 2015 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Content moved to Current 5.7 Release thread
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