Mabox for elder persons

I support elder persons with updating their old windows laptops with linux systems. With this it is possible to keep old hardware in use and they do not need to invest in new hardware. In the past my favorite system for updates like this was Linux Mint.

Now I switched to Mabox Linux. The wide range of customization makes it easy to give elder persons a easy to use user experience. What I underestimated was openbox. One issue was, that the windows buttons are too small for elder persons to click. With the ui of Mabox it is not possible to increase the size of the windows buttons.

So I have done it by myself. Here is the difference between the out-of-the-box gruvbox theme and the modified theme by myself.



I added a mouseover effect to all of the windows buttons. Now it is easier for elder persons to see if a button is pressed.

From my point of view it would be nice to increase the customization of openbox themes. Different button sizes and a gui version of adding hover and pressed effects to windows buttons would be nice.


I admire you for choosing arch based distro for the elderly people. Cool :slight_smile:
Do you mean something like “Mabox-control-centre”.

There are options to increase panel hight, font settings, etc . . .


I used the great tool “Mabox-Control-Center” to configure openbox. Title padding and font manipulation f. e. was very helpful. But in this customization tool it is not possible to increase the size of the windows buttons. The only possibility is to choose a different button style. I might be wrong, but I did not find the possibility to define mouseover effects for every single window button.
It might be a minor issue or a very special requirement, but I want to let the community to know about it.

Did you try another gtk theme. The downside of another theme is missing mb theme coloring.
But that’s maybe less important.

What happens when you change font size. For me also the buttons are changing.

And i use a hdpi theme. Beam hdpi

Yes, I tired several GTK-themes. But I saw no effect on window buttons. I also tried some external openbox themes. But these themes has also too small window buttons and the contrast of the mouse over effects were not high enough.

The only way to customize these buttons were in the themerc-file.

  • gtk - beam hdpi theme
  • openbox - beam hdpi theme
    Font to the max.
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Thank you :+1: this hint solves my button size topic.

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Did you made bigger button images (xbm files)? Can you share them somewhere?

Bigger buttons and hover effect seem to be a good idea.

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Of course you can search on xfce look for a better theme. But there is something now. Great . . .

Yes, I made them in Powerpoint - saved them as png-file and converted these files online in xbm-files. I can share these files. Where should I store these files?

You can mail them to napcok at gmail dot com :slight_smile: Thanks

Thank you for this discussion. Really helpful for me with my vision problems. Bem hdmi theme works already great for me, using it for obconf. Doesn’ t work in Firefox though.

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Firefox seems to be independent form any theming. Until now, I found no distro where firefox has a seamless integration in theming.

In Firefox there is an extension named Invert Colors
It uses Alt+R which is also used in Mabox for resize
One way of avoiding collision to edit ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml
So having re-logged Alt+R will reverse the colors in Firefox

and CTRL/+ inreases CTRL/- decreases the font size
CTRL+T opens a new tab and you can select by pressing big icons from the history or
CTRL+L jumps to the URL and write the beginning of your internet site
If you want to delete/remove the current tab press CTRL+W


I tried Invert Colors but problem is that the color combination
on a site I often visit is the that the color scheme becomes grey letters on black background while I need white/black contrast. Dark reader is a extension that works better for me. Thanks for your effort though.
The black color scheme of Firefox works on most sites btw.

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How about Eye-Able extension? It has a collection of tools at hand. Screenreader works out of the box in Win but it’s another issue.


To be honest, I have serious doubts if Mabox is the right choice for most older people.
Everyone is different… but I imagine older non-technical folks switching to Linux from Windows would feel comfortable with a more traditional desktop.

Maybe choosing a fully integrated desktop environment with desktop icons would be better? Quite light is Mate or LXQt?

Anyway bigger buttons and more powerful tool to configure Openbox Window Decoration are good ideas. I’m working on them :wink:


Overall you are totally right. The problem is. A lot of elder people have very old hardware and no money to buy new one. For that a very light weight distribution is necessary for a almost good user experience. AnitX is very lightweight but the user experience is very bad. bubsenlabs ist fine, but since shortly I prefer Maxbox :wink:

What I do is, to customize the whole desktop is that way, that non-technical user are not distracted by things they do not understand. Only a few buttons in the panel and everything else is removed or deactivated.

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Hi @bernd,

I understand your considerations.

It sounds maybe crazy, but i installed Makululinux on a 2 core 2 gig 13 year old laptop.
First i ran it on a installed usb stick (not live). smooth…

It uses Gnome. WHAAAT!!! indeed. i hate gnome. But this is a special made version of gnome.
Its a crazy distro. It runs very smooth i must say.
And the fun part is integrated opensource (electra)gpt options. Ask anything.

Minus - The update manager pops up quit a lot. Even when updates are done.

It is anyway a fun distro to investigate.

But nothing goes above Mabox :wink:


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