Matchbox window manager on PocketCHIP


I’ve successfully installed the Matchbox window manager on my PocketCHIP. It has improved window sizes and provides icon views of my user applications. I describe my experiences with it below.

Screenshot of the Desktop showing the first of all applications icons

Example screenshot of an application on my PocketCHIP with Matchbox window manager (the application is Xournal). One window is full-screen and the other shows the bottom panel and the upper-left drop-down menu button for choosing between currently open windows.

The apt description:

Matchbox is a base environment for the X Window System running on non-desktop embedded platforms such as phones, handhelds, set-top boxes, kiosks, and anything else for which screen space, input mechanisms or system resources are limited.

I got the idea to try Matchbox window manager because Maemo uses it. Maemo is a nice hand-held Debian based desktop environment designed for the Nokia900 smartphone. I now start-up my PocketCHIP at a login screen and can choose Matchbox, or some other desktop environment, including the default Awesome window manager that it came with.

Matchbox was not maintained for a while, but there have been some updates in 2016, and In the future Matchbox2 is a new rewritten version promised to roll out.


  • It was really easy to install like any app. The hardest part was disabling auto login, so I could choose which window-manager to use, and I don’t know that that was necessary.

  • The pocket-home screen that comes with the default PocketCHIP flash can be started with one of the application start icons.

  • The desktop is a view of icons for all user applications. View all of them or one category at a time.

  • Matchbox is included in the Debian repository, so it is easy to install.

  • All programs open full-screen, or with a minimal window border and hidable panel.

  • navigate between open applications with an upper-left drop-down menu.

  • Zooming the view does not cause the scroll bar to dissappear.

  • GUI buttons at the bottom of application windows are forced inside the screen view (even if it means overlapping something a bit awkwardly).


  • One problem is some windows still lose a content at the bottom, but are no longer draggable with “Alt” drag. It is enough better that it has worked ok so far for most apps.

Anybody else want to try this? Tell me how it goes? Now that Matchbox window manager is being maintained or rewritten, it would be nice if user reviews and bug-reporting helped Matchbox developers support it on CHIP.

How to install XFCE or any other DE
Make the Debian GUI smaller
Personalization of GUI
Painting on your pocket chip
Usability Status Update - now with images and video
How to disable auto login?
Personalization of GUI
Attn : early PocketCHIP adopters
10 things the new Pocket C.H.I.P. owner should know
A debian desktop for Pocket chip
Screen size thoughts and questions
Program display too big on startup - Suggestions needed (still need help - jumped the gun)
Apps in PocketCHIP

Although I’m pretty happy with the Marshmallow version of the Pocket Home interface, I might give this a try someday. I always wanted a Nokia N900 Mobile Internet Device, but like a lot of people was bewildered by the fact that it could surf the web but not make phone calls! The the iPhone came out and we all seemed to forget about the N900! Anyway, I’m glad part of it lives on, and even happier that I could put it on my Pocket C.H.I.P. if I wanted to!


Thanks @Kernel_Panic, Matchbox really is easy to install. The hardest part for me was learning how to start with a login screen so I could switch managers, and that might not be necessary. I’m not sure.


Oh it makes phone calls, maybe you are remembering that it didn’t come with phone service out of the box. It isn’t tied to any particular provider, so you register for whatever mobile phone service and slip in their SIM card. Without phone service it makes VOIP phone calls over WIFI though. It is slow, but that old smart phone is still worth what I paid for it years ago. Because of the open licensed community software, and good keyboard and case, there is a crowdfunded project to update it with open-source hardware


I was thinking of the N810!

I wanted one sooo bad, but got an iPod Touch instead, before breaking down and getting the 3G iPhone the following year.


Yeah, I got that one back in the day too. Still use it connected to the stereo sometimes, for podcasts and such. :slight_smile: The nice thing about these open licensed products is availability for updating. Don’t need to throw them away when the producer gets tired of supporting them.


this is awesome I have to try this when i get home!


Very cool, Let me know how it goes OK? And if you have any difficulty you can check out these folks talking about How to install XFCE or any other DE.


no problem I will. i already got the login screen setup and have openbox and XFCE installed and going.


Just installed matchbox, and I`m loving it! Fits nicely on the screen, except for text in the lower part of the dialog windows.


Hi @bilejoni Glad to hear it’s working for you too.

Are you speaking of places where buttons on the bottom of a window seem to get forced up into the screen view and obscure content? At least that’s what it looks like for me.


When you say that getting to the login screen is not required, do you mean matchbox can be run from the terminal like a regular app?


No sorry. I meant there might be some other way to select it as a user’s default window manager without requiring a user-login. Though I do think logins are a good idea. On the other hand, seems like anything you can do graphically is possible from the command line. Maybe someone knows how to initiate a new window manager from the terminal.


Could you show us how to install this please? I’ve had success installing it from apt but can’t figure out where to go from there, I remember a command that could let you reconfigure the x session manager, but no luck with that. (couldn’t find matchbox in it)


matchbox works pretty well! its alittle weird there is no logout applet. and I think I would like it if it had a desktop then a onscreen button brought up the list of apps. but its alot more useful then plain xfce on the pocketchip right now

Normal os -pocket chip drivers

Hi @joyesh, Do you know how to log out of your user and log back in again? That is when you choose which window manager to run, when your user starts. Check out this discussion: How to disable auto login?


@debianUser I disabled auto login, it sends me to a login screen (probably some sort of XFCE window manager) then it sends me to awesome, and then Marshmallow’s pocket-home. I don’t see any sort of window manager choosing. I logged in as chip though. I’ll try logging in as root at that screen and tell you what happens.

EDIT: logging in as root sends me to awesome without pocket-home


@joyesh at the login screen there is a circle type icon in the top right click it to get a list of window managers select machbox then login



@kainxkitsune thanks! matchbox is working now


Yeah I’m happy with it, since I keep changing back to it, It’s true the panel configuration tools could be better. On the desktop there is already a power manager app included. It is named “log out”, but I have not figured out how to get it onto the panel. For now my fastest way to the “log out” icon is to tap the top-corner desktop arrows till they show “System Tools” apps.

Maybe panel applets are out in the wild somewhere. It looks like there are some panel changes or panel preference tools being worked on by the developers, if someone wants to check them out.

I’m also wondering if others include the “pocket-home” app icon on the desktop? Mine has that icon and opens the default home page with wifi and etc. Just wondering if I added it somehow, independently of using Matchbox.