I've seen solutions for non-PI situations to start the x-11 server without loading the desktop. I want to boot straight into my Python script that uses tkinter for the gui. I've found out that you need the x-11 running to draw the graphics. Is there a solution to this for the Raspberry Pi?? My app is full screen and when you switch windows you can see the desktop. Also, the only thing I want the end user to ever see is the app. No desktop, no internet, nothing. Is there a distro for the pi that does this?

I've started porting the app to use Kivy instead of tkinter and it's been horrible. I don't grasp the Kivy way of doing things. The only thing the app does is use the gpio ports to return temp values and switches between 4 screens. Should be very simple....sigh.

Any advice would be appreciated.


1 Answer 1


You can certainly do this. You just need an X window manager running in place of a full desktop environment. I use openbox on my Raspberry Pi for exactly this purpose. I have the RPi configured to automatically log in as the Pi user on boot. On login, the pi user's bash shell reads the ~/.bashrc script and launches X via startx. X is configured to use openbox as the window manager. When launched, openbox reads commands from ~pi/.config/openbox/autostart. From there, I call my python script.

The (plain) X desktop will still be visible when you switch between apps (e.g. using Alt-Tab) but there won't be any spurious icons or docks. You can probably work around this if you really want to. I launch the FocusWriter app full screen, then shut down when it exits.

  • Thanks Bob! This sounds very much like what I'd like to do. For clarification, what distro are you using? IE. raspbian? I'm sorry if this sounds newbie-ish, but I am new to linux in general. I would like to use a very very minimal OS for the PI due to boot times and memory usage. I'm assuming I use a raspian-like image, disable the starting of the desktop and tell it to start openbox instead. If you know of a good tutorial or write-up on this, I would be very appreciative!! I'd vote up your answer already but I don't have the rep yet. Also, will this impact the GPIO ports at all? Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 23:36
  • Yes, Raspbian. I should have mentioned that. I am considering migrating to diet-pi, a minimal distribution, then rebuilding my project on that.
    – bobstro
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 3:48
  • Thanks for the response! I have downloaded a minimal Raspbian image since last post and installed xorg and openbox. I'm having a weird issue that when I type startx now, I get a black GUI (mouse moves with a crosshair pointer) but the top left corner of the screen is a bash prompt! It behaves just as normal bash. Can't right click and get any menus or middle click. I haven't messed with the xinit file yet, just wanted to run openbox. Ever seen THAT before? Google hasn't haha. Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 3:57
  • I wouldn't expect it to impact GPIO in any way. There are many variations in how to configure X, but I simply created ~/.xinitrc (/home/pi/.xinitrc for the pi user) and put openbox & in it to launch openbox. The black GUI you are seeing is, I suspect, the result of not having launched a window manager. If you are seeing an xterm window when you launch startx, just type in openbox & (ampersand to background it) to test. Note that you can use a mix of .xinitrc and ~/.config/autostart, depending on whether you want things to start only under openbox or any X session.
    – bobstro
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 3:57
  • Thanks again Bob! Turns out that openbox never really installed correctly. I reinstalled it and now it's working fine. Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 14:39

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