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Blackbox is a window manager for the Open Group's X Window System, Version 11 Release 6 and above. Its design is meant to be visually minimalist and fast.

It is similar to the NeXT interface and Window Maker. Applications are launched using a menu which is accessed by right clicking on the root window. Workspaces, a system of virtual desktops are controlled via a menu which is accessed by middle clicking on the root window and by using the toolbar. Individual windows can be controlled by buttons on the title bar and more options are available by right clicking on the title bar.

Blackbox is able to generate beautiful window decorations on the fly at high speed. Themes, called styles in Blackbox terminology, are very flexible but the use of pixmaps (data structures that contain pictures) has been deliberately avoided to eliminate dependencies and excess memory usage.

Blackbox itself does not directly handle key bindings like most other window managers. This task is handled by a separate utility called bbkeys.

Users might be keen on this software if they are interested in this package if they are weary of bloated window managers, but still want an attractive and modern-looking interface.

Blackbox is not eye-catchy as Enlightenment, but it is a whole lot faster and elegant in its simplicity. The best part of all is that this program is coded in C++, so it is even more attractive "under the hood" than it is in service.

 Blackbox 0.70.1

Free to download



Bradley T. Hughes, Sean Perry, and contributors


System Requirements
iconv (Unicode support)
Xft (Optional)
l18N (Optional)

Documentation, FAQ, Mailing Lists, Tony Whitmore

Selected Reviews:

Features include:

  • Small code base and small installation
  • Simple and clean interface
  • Very minimalist in its approach as a window manager. It manages windows, period. It doesn't do desktop icons and shortcuts, keyboard handling, flashy menus, tools and gadgets
  • Implements common standards, enabling 3rd-party tools to be used to expand its default functionality
  • No taskbar (available with external utilities)
  • Window shading
  • Multiple virtual desktops
  • Built-in graphics class
  • Simple menus that implement a simple and efficient desktop environment.
  • Shaded windows are provided as an additional alternative to minimization.
  • Iconified windows are completely hidden and handled by a small menu instead of huge space-wasting, color-sucking gadgets
  • A slit is provided to hold WindowMaker-compatible dockapps, and a simple toolbar to convey essential information
  • Wallpapers can be loaded on the root window
  • Xinerama (multiple monitor view) limited support
  • Customized looks through a huge collection of styles
  • Window-to-screen-edge snapping and resistance
  • Window-to-window snapping and resistance
  • All the common window handling tricks (raise, lower, move, resize, stick, maximize, iconify, send to, kill, always on top/bottom, fullscreen)
  • 4-direction, window quadrant sensitive, opaque resizing, as well as opaque move. Transparent move and resize are also available by toggling options
  • Internationalized menus and messages, already available in a number of languages
  • Anti-aliased fonts and dual font addressing.
  • Menu navigation via keyboard

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Last Updated Sunday, May 24 2015 @ 02:32 AM EDT

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