Introduction: Simple Fast GUI for RaspberryPi

About: Jack passed away May 20, 2018 after a long battle with cancer. His Instructables site will be kept active and questions will be answered by our son-in-law, Terry Pilling. Most of Jack's instructables are tuto…

There are many times when I want more then a text based system but I don't need a full graphic user interface.

This can be achieved by running a bare bones openbox. You can start openbox by running the command:

xinit /usr/bin/openbox-session

when no X session is running.

No more long wait for a GUI to load, it's much faster, and it will work with any model of RaspberryPi. All you have is the ability to run graphic programs, no fancy eye candy, not even wallpaper.

Step 1: Automate the Process

To automate the process download the one line script file,, and name it ob.

Make it executable with the command: chmod +x ob

And move it into your /usr/bin directory with the command: sudo mv ob /usr/bin/

startx is undisturbed, it will work the same as always.


Step 2: Using Your New GUI Desktop

Exit your GUI, enter the ob command and you will have a simple, fast, basic GUI.

Right click the mouse to bring up the system menu.

When you exit openbox you will see a lot of error messages, don't worry, no harm done.

Step 3: Conky

conky is a utility used to display the system status.

The official site for conky is located here:

conky is named after a ventriloquist dummy, that story is here:

Install conky with the command: sudo apt-get install conky

The hidden file, .conkyrc is the configuration file for conky. Download it into your home directory and name it .conkyrc. The period at the beginning makes it a hidden file. The .conkyrc file is named conkyrc.txt here because the instructables download program would not accept the name .conkyrc.

This .conkyrc file is written for the new quad core RaspberryPi model 2. If you have an older single core model you will need to comment out or delete the lines that start with CPU2, CPU3, and CPU4 or conky will error out.

Open a terminal and start conky with the command: conky &

Once it is started you can hit return one more time to get back to the terminal, or if you close the terminal conky will keep running.

To close conky find it in the top processes, note the PID, and enter the command: kill [PID].


conky is highly configurable. shows a lot of different screenshots and the .conkyrc scripts used to create them.

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