Blackbox Tutorial - Part III: The Styles

4 min read

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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...
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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.