Blackbox Tutorial - Part III: The Styles

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pitkon's avatar

What makes Blackbox so irresistible, besides the fact that it skins every part of your desktop, including focused/unfocused windows (something that only Blackbox can do) is that there are actually over 5,000 styles (themes) for it available on the net - and this number is growing on a daily basis.
You see, Blackbox has a longer history as a Linux window manager, which means that when Blackbox for Windows appeared, at the middle of 2002, the *nix version was out for at least a couple of years and since the styles were interchangeable between the two platforms, there was already a plethora of themes to be used by the Windows users.


Usually, styles come in zip or text files. When zipped, the files usually contain the style file (a text file), a wallpaper (bmp, jpg, png, u name it), and/or a readme file for the credits, the fonts used, or other goodies. The text files are just the style files, without wallpapers and stuff. Sometimes they don't use the txt extension, since Linux doesn't need an extension to read files correctly, and sometimes they use the .style extension which is sometimes used by Windows style authors.
What's vital for a style to work is the style file and the wallpaper, if availabe. The readme file is nice for credits and instructions, but doen't play any vital part in the implementation of the style. Sometimes there is an rc file for sidebars and other plugins, but u must use it only if you intend to use the sidebar or whatever.
Unzip the style file to blackboxstyles. Blackbox expects this file to be there, though it can be anywhere else. Unzip the wallpaper to blackboxbackground UNLESS the author has determined a different folder. I, for instance, use a folder on my C: drive named Wallpaper. You should unzip the walls from my zip files to a relative folder (C:Wallpaper). Other authors place their walls elsewhere, so just to make sure you won't get a "Wallpaper Not Found" message, this is what you must do: Open the style file using a text editor like Notepad, and look for the line

rootCommand:    bsetbg -f wallpaper"end of ages1024.jpg"

That means that the wall (in this case, "end of ages1024.jpg" must be unzipped to c:wallpaper. In order for the wall to appear, you will also need two applications - bsetroot.exe and bsebg.exe, which you can download from…. Place both exe files in your Blackbox directory - e.g. c:Blackbox.


There are 2 ways:
1) Right click on the desktop; the menu pops up. Click on styles and click on the style u want. Remember, styles on the menu may be in different places.
2) Open explorer.exe (the file browser) or any other browser, find the style u want and drag and drop it on the toolbar.

U can also change wallpapers by dragging and dropping ur favorite wallpaper on the desktop. Under Blackbox, the desktop is active and accepts almost all kinds of graphic files.


Like I said before, over 5,000 styles wait for you - some 650 of them written by yours truly. Most of them are right here on deviantart (over 1,000 styles) but you can also find numerous styles these sites:……
and many other skinning or personal sites.

U have to register first with for the two first links to work correctly. The first two sites have about 2,000 styles together and box.crackmonkey about 1,000 styles. Good news is, most styles are as small as 4 kb, or as big as 500 kb, so u can download as many as 300 within 45 mins with a 56 k connection.

And this concludes my Blackbox tutorial. I know there are a thousand more things I could have written, but then it would take me a year to write and you a year to read. In the meanwhile, all this could have become redundant. Now, if you really think I should write another part, please write and suggest. Perhaps you would like to see an Authoring Styles tutorial. Or a Working With Plugins tutorial - how each plugin can be used on the desktop. Or perhaps you have other ideas. Shoot away. After all, this is what a community is all about...
© 2004 - 2021 pitkon
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F45hi0nGravity's avatar
i went to the last site. how do you open and use an .XP file? it's supposed to be a christmas skin.
pitkon's avatar
What do you mean by XP file? A style file? If yes, then you unzip it to your Blackbox\Styles folder, and then you drag and drop it on the desktop, or right click on the desktop and go to styles\the name of the style file.
F45hi0nGravity's avatar
oh ok. actually i downloaded something from this company stardock, it completely changes ur computer too(: i downloaded diff trials; and changed my boot screen {to simpsons! YAY! :D }, logon screen, and computer appearance :)
pitkon's avatar
These programs are not free and they are heavy for your computer; Blackbox is free and light :)
F45hi0nGravity's avatar
yea i know theyre not free :/
i just dont know how to use blackbox yet && i wanted to theme my computer for christmas. :)
pitkon's avatar
OK, then! Hope you enjoy it! :D
pitkon's avatar
My pleasure :)
Kazron's avatar
Here's something I need help on (though probably not something to write a tutorial about). How could I remove the Volume icon from the systray (or whatever the bblean equivalent name for it is)? I don't need to use it since I'm running a different app. I read on the documentation that I could compile a bblean mod of my own, but I have no idea how to do that. I have gone back to Explorer to check the systray and whether or not I had the Volume icon set to always be on. It appears that it was indeed not set to always be on. Just to clear confusion, I just need to remove it from bbIconBox.
Thank you so much for your excellent tutorial! I was so very happy to discover them this afternoon and I can tell you, they have made all the difference in getting bbLean to work. I even used the shell switching program to start bblean.

One question though; The link to the two programs you mentioned in the section on wall papers is no longer functional. Is there someplace else to get them? It appears that is the only place on the web those programs were available. I will try to add some styles anyway, so it my be a moot thing.
milenko17's avatar
I think I can do this all now. I had got my tower for x-mas but have never remebered to come back. I was checkign my activity and my last journal comment was the last one i posted on here. Brings back memories
milenko17's avatar
I cant seem to get a style working right. Im so lost as to how black box works when it comes to styles...i got everything i want running but i cant get a style loaded.
pitkon's avatar
You unzip the style file under Blackbox\styles and the wallpaper under a folder named c:\wallpaper. Then you right click on the desktop to bring up the menu and you click on styles\the name of the style you want. Does it work now? Of course, you have to be running Blackbox :)
milenko17's avatar
i did that but it didnt work...i wanted to make my comp unique in my own way...sooooo. i uninstalled blackbox after i made it load automatically on load....and i removed my shellon prgram to switch back to explorer i got no start menu at bottom or icons...yet...thats the doing that my pc has the image of not working right when all you have to do is ctrl+alt+dlt to birng up task manager. clikc new task and everything works i made my comp special and no one i know can use it even if they got my login in and now because of it my pc is moving alot faster with no shell in use
pitkon's avatar
Lol... How did you remove shellon? There is a way to do this, you know - otherwise, you get problems like the ones you experience...
milenko17's avatar
oh this isnt a problem...i purposly removed shellon before i removed black box....that way shell on would still be auto load of black when it didnt exist...making my comp appear to not work when u just have to open task having no shell my pages load im ok with how this works...i simply uninstalled shellon then BB
pitkon's avatar
OK, if you are happy with it :) But if you wanna try Blackbox again, I suggest you let me guide you step by step. Please e-mail me, so I can give you instructions. I guarantee the shell will work this time :nod:
milenko17's avatar
deal...but i dont think that will happen until i get my new tower...which will be my xmas gift hopefully....*crosses fingers*plz mom plz?
pitkon's avatar
Lol, milenko... I hope you get your tower :nod:
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It would be really cool if you could make a tutorial on how to write a style. I get most of it, but there are some hings i don't understand, thanks!

pitkon's avatar
U r quite right, I SHOULD make a tutorial on authoring styles... Maybe I will, in the near future. In the meanwhile, if u have any questions, feel free to ask...
TearsOfMySins's avatar
ok, so i downloaded bsetroot.exe and bsebg.exe, what do i do know?
pitkon's avatar
Sorry for my late reply, I was away... Now u place styles under blackbox/styles and wallpaper either under Blackbox/styles or /wallpaper, depending on the rootCommand line. Right click on the desktop to bring up the menu, click on styles, pick the one u want... There u are!
TearsOfMySins's avatar
i downloaded some of ur htings, and put theme under blackbox/style but when i press right click then go to styles and pick it,it says Error: Unable to open file "C:\blackbox\albino.txt". Please check location and try again
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