Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 13:46

We have just written about XFCE tweaking yesterday. Now we need to explain briefly how to tweak LXDE. LXDE is different because it makes use of Openbox as window manager. Customizing LXDE is customizing Openbox too. Fortunately, LXDE can make use of GTK and Openbox themes available everywhere. We use Lubuntu 14.04 to demonstrate this guide. We hope this basic guide may help anyone uses LXDE. Enjoy.


  1. LXDE desktop consists of four components: window manager (Openbox), toolkit (GTK+), icon set, and panel.
  2. LXDE customization (in Lubuntu) is centralized in LXAppearance program.
  3. Openbox theme folder is ~/.theme. The structure should be ~/.theme/<theme_name>/openbox-3.
  4. GTK theme folder is ~/.theme. The structure should be ~/.theme/<theme_name>/gtk-2.0.
  5. Icon theme folder is ~/.icons

Window Anatomy

  1. Red Box: window decoration (or window border). Controlled by window manager named Openbox.
  2. Green Boxes: toolkit components (such as button, scrollbar, tab, etc.). Controlled by GTK theme. 
  3. Yellow Boxes: icon components. 

Change Wallpaper

To change LXDE wallpaper, right-click on desktop > Desktop Preferences > click on Wallpaper (1) > select a wallpaper image > Open. LXDE has no wallpaper thumbnails view like GNOME or KDE yet.

Install Window Theme

LXDE uses Openbox as the window manager. So if we want to change window border, we just need to install Openbox theme. To install Openbox theme (.obt file), open menu > Preferences > Customize Look and Feel > Window Border > Install a new theme ... > choose an OBT file > press Apply. The borders will change immediately.

Install GTK Theme

As information, GTK 2.0 theme (like in the XFCE yesterday) can be installed in LXDE. To install GTK theme in LXDE, copy theme folder (i.e. Adwaita Mint like picture above) into ~/.themes folder. Finally, enable GTK theme (Adwaita Mint) in the menu > Preferences > Customize Look and Feel > Widget by click and Apply.

Install Icon Theme

Icon theme for GNOME is installable in LXDE. For example, we can install icon set Yosemite XFCE from our previous tutorial in LXDE. To install icon, open menu  > Preferences > Customize Look and Feel > Icon Theme > press Install button > select an icon archive file. Finally select installed icon to enable it. See picture above. Note: we can copy icon set folder (i.e. Yosemite OSX XFCE) into ~/.icon folder.

Add Panel

To add a panel in LXDE, right-click on a panel > Create New Panel > a panel created. This is a plain panel. We need to add it some applets.

Add Applet

To add applet into panel, right-click panel > Panel Settings > Panel Preferences window >  Panel Applets tab > press Add button > select applet.