Using dmenu with Openbox


I've already talked about using less RAM with Ubuntu and how openbox is an awesome lightweight window manager -- capable of replacing heavy desktop environments like KDE and GNOME. Here's another way to save some RAM while using openbox.

I previously used a program called Kupfer to quickly open other programs that I use often. A quick ctrl+space would open Kupfer's entry window and simply typing a program's name would get Kupfer to suggest matches and open one. After trying out a window manager called i3, I discovered dmenu -- a program much like Kupfer, but less RAM-hungry and just as fast.

dmenu doesn't run in the background like Kupfer, but is started when you want to use it. This means that, while Kupfer constantly uses 21.6 MB of RAM in Ubuntu 12.04.3 64-bit, while dmenu uses 565 KB of RAM and only when you're using it to find a program. dmenu can be installed with a quick sudo apt-get install dmenu and used by the command dmenu_run.

I made dmenu even easier to use with openbox by adding the following entry to my rc.xml (~/.config/openbox/rc.xml) file in the section:

<keybind key="A-d">
    <action name="Execute">

This will execute dmenu_run when I press alt+d, allowing me to start typing a program's name and opening it when I find the one I want. dmenu and Kupfer are like Spotlight, SlickRun and others for other OS's, if you're new to GNU/Linux and looking for alternatives.