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Revision 1.15 - (hide annotations) (download) (as text)
Sun Dec 30 11:23:41 2007 UTC (6 years, 8 months ago) by nightmorph
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Changes since 1.14: +3 -107 lines
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removed 4.2 to 4.4 upgrade section. 4.2 has been gone from the tree for months. some parts of it may be relevant in the future in case of a major ABI/API break from some Xfce point release, if so then that's what CVS history is for, right?

1 nightmorph 1.1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2     <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
3 nightmorph 1.15 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.14 2007/11/14 06:41:21 nightmorph Exp $ -->
4 nightmorph 1.1
5     <guide link="/doc/en/xfce-config.xml">
6     <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
7    
8     <author title="Author">
9     <mail link="nightmorph@gentoo.org">Joshua Saddler</mail>
10     </author>
11    
12     <abstract>
13     This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
14     full-featured desktop environment.
15     </abstract>
16    
17     <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
18     <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
19     <license/>
20    
21 nightmorph 1.15 <version>1.11</version>
22     <date>2007-12-30</date>
23 nightmorph 1.1
24     <chapter>
25     <title>Introduction</title>
26     <section>
27     <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
28     <body>
29    
30     <p>
31     <uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce</uri> is a fast, lightweight desktop
32     environment for Unix-like operating systems. It is designed for productivity,
33     and is quite configurable while still adhering to the <uri
34     link="http://www.freedesktop.org">Freedesktop</uri> specifications.
35     </p>
36    
37     <p>
38     Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as Gnome and KDE, Xfce uses far fewer
39     system resources. Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer
40     dependencies; it takes up less space on your hard disk and takes less time to
41     install.
42     </p>
43    
44     <p>
45     This guide will not only show you how to install and configure a minimal Xfce
46     environment, but will also explore options to create a full-featured desktop in
47     keeping with the Xfce philosophy: light, fast, and modular.
48     </p>
49    
50     </body>
51     </section>
52     </chapter>
53    
54     <chapter>
55     <title>Installing Xfce</title>
56     <section>
57     <title>The basics</title>
58     <body>
59    
60     <p>
61 nightmorph 1.8 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
62     link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
63     </p>
64    
65     <p>
66 nightmorph 1.12 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
67 nightmorph 1.14 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -qt3 -qt4 X dbus hal startup-notification xscreensaver"</c>.
68 nightmorph 1.4 </p>
69    
70     <p>
71     Now, let's install Xfce.
72 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
73    
74     <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
75 nightmorph 1.12 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4</i>
76 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
77    
78     <p>
79 nightmorph 1.3 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
80     and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
81     able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
82 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
83    
84     <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
85 nightmorph 1.3 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
86     # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
87 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
88    
89     <p>
90     Next, update your environment variables:
91     </p>
92    
93     <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
94     # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
95     </pre>
96    
97     <p>
98     Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
99     </p>
100    
101     <pre caption="Starting hald">
102     # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
103     # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
104     </pre>
105    
106     </body>
107     </section>
108     </chapter>
109    
110     <chapter>
111     <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
112     <section>
113     <title>Starting Xfce</title>
114     <body>
115    
116     <p>
117     Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
118     environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
119     log on as a regular user.
120     </p>
121    
122     <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
123     $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
124     </pre>
125    
126     <p>
127     Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
128     </p>
129    
130     <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
131     $ <i>startx</i>
132     </pre>
133    
134     <p>
135     Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
136     explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
137     suit your needs.
138     </p>
139    
140     </body>
141     </section>
142     <section>
143     <title>Program access</title>
144     <body>
145    
146     <p>
147     You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
148     applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
149     open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
150     things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
151     panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
152     list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
153     displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
154     menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
155     </p>
156    
157     </body>
158     </section>
159     <section>
160     <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
161     <body>
162    
163     <p>
164     If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
165     as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
166     should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
167     startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
168     "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
169     Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
170     </p>
171    
172     <p>
173     Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
174     "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
175     saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
176     particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
177     panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
178     time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
179     your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
180     save your session before logging out.
181     </p>
182    
183     <p>
184     You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
185     you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
186     </p>
187    
188     </body>
189     </section>
190     </chapter>
191    
192     <chapter>
193     <title>Additional Applications</title>
194     <section>
195     <title>Panel plugins</title>
196     <body>
197    
198     <p>
199     In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
200     use within Xfce.
201     </p>
202    
203     <p>
204     There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
205     <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
206     explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
207     them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
208 nightmorph 1.4 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
209 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
210    
211     <ul>
212     <li>
213     <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
214     <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
215     </li>
216     <li>
217     <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
218     percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
219     warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
220     levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
221     the battery is almost exhausted.
222     </li>
223     <li>
224 nightmorph 1.4 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
225     than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
226     </li>
227     <li>
228     <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
229     sound applications.
230 nightmorph 1.1 </li>
231     </ul>
232    
233 nightmorph 1.4 <p>
234     If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
235     Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
236     first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
237     for Gnome.
238     </p>
239    
240 nightmorph 1.1 </body>
241     </section>
242     <section>
243     <title>Useful programs</title>
244     <body>
245    
246     <p>
247 nightmorph 1.4 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
248     <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
249     will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
250     flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
251     well worth installing.
252 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
253    
254     <p>
255 nightmorph 1.4 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
256     editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
257     configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
258     pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
259     compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
260     terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
261     xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
262 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
263    
264     <p>
265 nightmorph 1.4 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
266     powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
267     them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
268 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
269    
270 nightmorph 1.4 <ul>
271     <li>
272     <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
273     right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
274     archiving <uri
275     link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
276     developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
277     </li>
278     <li>
279     <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
280     at once, and lets you <uri
281     link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
282     their information tags, such as id3 tags.
283     </li>
284     <li>
285     <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
286     link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
287     certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
288     </li>
289     <li>
290     <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
291     link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
292     removable media and drives.
293     </li>
294     </ul>
295 nightmorph 1.1
296     <p>
297 nightmorph 1.4 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
298     in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
299 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
300    
301     <p>
302 nightmorph 1.4 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
303     processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
304     <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
305 nightmorph 1.1 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
306     </p>
307    
308     <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
309     # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
310     </pre>
311    
312     <p>
313     Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
314 nightmorph 1.9 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
315 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
316    
317     <p>
318     For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
319     configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
320     all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
321 nightmorph 1.10 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
322 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
323    
324     <p>
325     If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
326     <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
327     and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
328     </p>
329    
330     <p>
331     Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
332     resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
333     <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
334     Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
335     is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
336     and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
337     </p>
338    
339     <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
340     <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
341     # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
342     <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
343     # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
344     # <i>emerge opera</i>
345     </pre>
346    
347     <p>
348     Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
349     applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
350     </p>
351    
352     </body>
353     </section>
354     <section>
355     <title>Graphical login</title>
356     <body>
357    
358     <p>
359     Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
360     have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
361     is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
362     display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
363     can login graphically).
364     </p>
365    
366     <p>
367     First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
368     </p>
369    
370     <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
371     # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
372     </pre>
373    
374     <p>
375     We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
376     appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
377     this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
378     <c>gdm</c>.
379     </p>
380    
381     <p>
382     <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
383     customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
384     </p>
385    
386     <pre caption="Installing XDM">
387     # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
388     </pre>
389    
390     <p>
391     Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
392     </p>
393    
394     <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
395     DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
396     </pre>
397    
398     <p>
399 nightmorph 1.4 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
400     to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
401     </p>
402    
403     <p>
404 nightmorph 1.1 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
405     <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
406     let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
407     small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
408     </p>
409    
410     <pre caption="Installing GDM">
411     # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
412     </pre>
413    
414     <p>
415     Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
416     <c>xdm</c>:
417     </p>
418    
419     <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
420     DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
421     </pre>
422    
423     </body>
424     </section>
425     <section>
426     <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
427     <body>
428    
429     <p>
430     A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
431     all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
432     antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
433     more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
434     sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
435     </p>
436    
437     <p>
438     A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
439 nightmorph 1.2 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
440     for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
441 nightmorph 1.1 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
442     important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
443     it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
444     directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
445 nightmorph 1.2 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
446     to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
447     and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
448 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
449    
450     <p>
451     If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
452     available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
453     them, you can either unpack and move them to
454     <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
455     <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
456     There are some <uri
457     link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
458     Gentoo <uri
459     link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
460     available.
461     </p>
462    
463     <p>
464     Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
465     This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
466     performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
467 nightmorph 1.4 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
468     the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
469     <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
470 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
471    
472     <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
473     Section "Extensions"
474     Option "Composite" "Enable"
475     EndSection
476     </pre>
477    
478     <p>
479     This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
480     setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
481     card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
482     <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
483     Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
484     for your graphics card.
485     </p>
486    
487     </body>
488     </section>
489     </chapter>
490    
491     <chapter>
492     <title>Summary</title>
493     <section>
494     <body>
495    
496     <p>
497     Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
498     desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
499     needs.
500     </p>
501    
502     </body>
503     </section>
504     <section>
505     <title>Resources</title>
506     <body>
507    
508     <p>
509     Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
510 nightmorph 1.4 application suggestions? Try checking out:
511 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
512    
513     <ul>
514     <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
515     <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
516 nightmorph 1.7 <li>
517     The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
518     <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
519     it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
520     detailed in the help files.
521     </li>
522 nightmorph 1.4 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
523 nightmorph 1.1 </ul>
524    
525     </body>
526     </section>
527     </chapter>
528     </guide>

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