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Simple Pipe Menu for OpenBox and Arch Linux

Right-click contextual menu

While customizing my new Arch and Openbox setup, I was generating menus with menumaker, but I wanted at least the Applications part of my menu to update as soon as new applications are installed. So, I needed an application specific pipe menu to fulfill this purpose.

  1. I went with openbox-xdgmenu, installing from the Arch User Repository using Yaourt. First, to make sure access to the AUR is setup correctly, follow the steps below:
    • I followed the tutorial How to install Yaourt on Arch Linux at OSTechNix. Specifically, I followed the section Install Yaourt using a custom repository
    • Also, development tools that build the software are not included in the standard Arch Linux installation, so you will need the base-devel package.
      sudo pacman -S base-devel
  2. Next, we need to install openbox-xdgmenu. Below are the commands to type along with the questions that yaourt asks while downloading, creating and installing an application (colored in blue).
    yaourt -S openbox-xdgmenu
    Continue building openbox-xdgmenu? y
    Edit info.install? n
    Continue building gnome-menus2? y
    Continue installing gnome-menus2? y
    Enter sudo password
    Proceed with installation? y
    Continue installing openbox-xdgmenu? y
    Proceed with installation? y
  3. Install xdg-menu to generate a .menu file in the /etc/xdg directory
    sudo pacman -S archlinux-xdg-menu
    Enter sudo password
  4. Generate a .menu file
    sudo xdg_menu --format openbox3 --root-menu /etc/xdg/menus/arch-applications.menu > xdg-menu.xml

    The above command creates a .menu script, generates a menu called xdg-menu.xml and places it in your home directory

  5. Open Openbox’s menu.xml (~/.config/openbox/menu.xml), and Edit it as shown below:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <openbox_menu xmlns="http://openbox.org/3.4/menu">
    	<menu id="root-menu" label="OpenBox 3">
    		<menu id="applications" label="Applications" execute="openbox-xdgmenu /etc/xdg/menus/arch-applications.menu" />
Right-click contextual menu

Applications pipe menu in Openbox

So far, my understanding of things when it comes to pipe menus is not so great because the command in step four generates a static menu. That menu also includes icons, but it looks like openbox-xdgmenu only displays menus without icons (maybe someone could correct me on that). Since this tutorial achieves its purpose, which is creating a basic Applications menu that automatically updates, it is still worthwhile to write. Perhaps, I will try a new method (like an xdg-menu only solution) and write a follow up.

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