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1 nightmorph 1.1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2     <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
3 nightmorph 1.19 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.18 2009/04/24 16:42:16 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 1.19 <version>1.15</version>
22     <date>2009-06-10</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 1.19 First, make sure you've configured Xorg as shown in the <uri
62 nightmorph 1.8 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 1.19 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -qt3 -qt4 X alsa cups 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-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
214     percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
215     warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
216     levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
217     the battery is almost exhausted.
218     </li>
219     <li>
220 nightmorph 1.18 <c>xfce4-verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's
221     quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
222 nightmorph 1.4 </li>
223     <li>
224 nightmorph 1.19 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
225     <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
226 nightmorph 1.1 </li>
227     </ul>
228    
229 nightmorph 1.4 <p>
230     If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
231     Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
232     first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
233     for Gnome.
234     </p>
235    
236 nightmorph 1.1 </body>
237     </section>
238     <section>
239     <title>Useful programs</title>
240     <body>
241    
242     <p>
243 nightmorph 1.19 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>xfce4-appfinder</c>, the
244     Xfce icon theme, xfwm4 window manager themes, <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and
245     <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three will not be installed if you built
246     <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE flag. However, these are all very
247     small, yet terrific applications, so they're well worth installing.
248 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
249    
250     <p>
251 nightmorph 1.4 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
252     editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
253     configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
254     pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
255     compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
256     terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
257     xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
258 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
259    
260     <p>
261 nightmorph 1.4 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
262     powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
263     them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
264 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
265    
266 nightmorph 1.4 <ul>
267     <li>
268     <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
269 nightmorph 1.19 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the <uri
270     link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">graphical
271     archiving application</uri> developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>. Run
272     <c>emerge xarchiver</c> to install it.
273 nightmorph 1.4 </li>
274     <li>
275     <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
276     at once, and lets you <uri
277     link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
278     their information tags, such as id3 tags.
279     </li>
280     <li>
281     <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
282     link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
283     certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
284     </li>
285     <li>
286     <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
287     link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
288     removable media and drives.
289     </li>
290     </ul>
291 nightmorph 1.1
292     <p>
293 nightmorph 1.4 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
294     in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
295 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
296    
297     <p>
298 nightmorph 1.17 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough as a quick text editor, if you need a
299     full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
300 nightmorph 1.19 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
301 nightmorph 1.17 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
302     types. It can also be further extended with <c>abiword-plugins</c>.
303 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
304    
305     <p>
306     Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
307 nightmorph 1.9 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
308 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
309    
310     <p>
311     For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
312     configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
313     all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
314 nightmorph 1.10 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
315 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
316    
317     <p>
318     If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
319 nightmorph 1.19 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
320     can play most every media format available quite nicely.
321 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
322    
323     <p>
324     Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
325     resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
326     <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
327     Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
328     is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
329     and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
330     </p>
331    
332     <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
333     <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
334     # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
335     <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
336     # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
337     # <i>emerge opera</i>
338     </pre>
339    
340     <p>
341     Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
342     applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
343     </p>
344    
345     </body>
346     </section>
347     <section>
348     <title>Graphical login</title>
349     <body>
350    
351     <p>
352     Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
353     have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
354     is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
355     display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
356     can login graphically).
357     </p>
358    
359     <p>
360     First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
361     </p>
362    
363     <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
364     # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
365     </pre>
366    
367     <p>
368     We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
369     appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
370 nightmorph 1.16 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
371     Simple Login Manager.
372 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
373    
374     <p>
375 nightmorph 1.16 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
376     Xfce!
377 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
378    
379 nightmorph 1.16 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
380     # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
381 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
382    
383 nightmorph 1.19 <note>
384     The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
385     will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
386     </note>
387    
388 nightmorph 1.1 <p>
389     Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
390     </p>
391    
392     <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
393 nightmorph 1.16 DISPLAYMANAGER="slim"
394 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
395    
396     <p>
397 nightmorph 1.16 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
398     <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
399 nightmorph 1.4 </p>
400    
401 nightmorph 1.1 </body>
402     </section>
403     <section>
404     <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
405     <body>
406    
407     <p>
408     A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
409     all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
410     antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
411     more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
412     sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
413     </p>
414    
415     <p>
416     A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
417 nightmorph 1.2 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
418     for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
419 nightmorph 1.1 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
420     important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
421     it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
422     directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
423 nightmorph 1.2 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
424     to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
425     and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
426 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
427    
428     <p>
429 nightmorph 1.16 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
430     <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
431     <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
432     themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
433 nightmorph 1.19 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
434     ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
435 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
436    
437     <p>
438     Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
439     This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
440     performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
441 nightmorph 1.4 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
442     the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
443     <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
444 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
445    
446     <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
447     Section "Extensions"
448     Option "Composite" "Enable"
449     EndSection
450     </pre>
451    
452     <p>
453     This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
454     setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
455     card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
456     <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
457     Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
458     for your graphics card.
459     </p>
460    
461     </body>
462     </section>
463     </chapter>
464    
465     <chapter>
466     <title>Summary</title>
467     <section>
468     <body>
469    
470     <p>
471     Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
472     desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
473     needs.
474     </p>
475    
476     </body>
477     </section>
478     <section>
479     <title>Resources</title>
480     <body>
481    
482     <p>
483     Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
484 nightmorph 1.4 application suggestions? Try checking out:
485 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
486    
487     <ul>
488     <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
489     <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
490 nightmorph 1.7 <li>
491     The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
492     <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
493     it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
494     detailed in the help files.
495     </li>
496 nightmorph 1.4 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
497 nightmorph 1.1 </ul>
498    
499     </body>
500     </section>
501     </chapter>
502     </guide>

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