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1 nightmorph 1.1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2    
3 neysx 1.5 <!-- $Header$ -->
4 nightmorph 1.1
5     <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
6    
7     <guide link="/doc/en/xfce-config.xml">
8    
9     <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
10    
11     <author title="Author">
12     <mail link="nightmorph@gentoo.org">Joshua Saddler</mail>
13     </author>
14    
15     <abstract>
16     This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
17     full-featured desktop environment.
18     </abstract>
19    
20     <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
21     <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
22     <license/>
23    
24 nightmorph 1.4 <version>1.3</version>
25     <date>2007-03-11</date>
26 nightmorph 1.1
27     <chapter>
28     <title>Introduction</title>
29     <section>
30     <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
31     <body>
32    
33     <p>
34     <uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce</uri> is a fast, lightweight desktop
35     environment for Unix-like operating systems. It is designed for productivity,
36     and is quite configurable while still adhering to the <uri
37     link="http://www.freedesktop.org">Freedesktop</uri> specifications.
38     </p>
39    
40     <p>
41     Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as Gnome and KDE, Xfce uses far fewer
42     system resources. Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer
43     dependencies; it takes up less space on your hard disk and takes less time to
44     install.
45     </p>
46    
47     <p>
48     This guide will not only show you how to install and configure a minimal Xfce
49     environment, but will also explore options to create a full-featured desktop in
50     keeping with the Xfce philosophy: light, fast, and modular.
51     </p>
52    
53 nightmorph 1.4 <p>
54     Additionally, this guide will show you how to <uri link="#upgrade">upgrade</uri>
55     from version 4.2 to 4.4.
56     </p>
57    
58 nightmorph 1.1 </body>
59     </section>
60     </chapter>
61    
62     <chapter>
63     <title>Installing Xfce</title>
64     <section>
65     <title>The basics</title>
66     <body>
67    
68     <p>
69     Before we install our fully-functional yet minimal desktop, let's take a moment
70     to review the basic packages we'll be emerging.
71     </p>
72    
73     <table>
74     <tr>
75     <th>Name</th>
76     <th>Description</th>
77     </tr>
78     <tr>
79     <ti>xfce4</ti>
80     <ti>The base Xfce desktop environment</ti>
81     </tr>
82     <tr>
83     <ti>xscreensaver</ti>
84     <ti>
85     A screensaver with powersaving features and the ability to lock the screen
86     for security
87     </ti>
88     </tr>
89     </table>
90    
91     <p>
92     You're free to install any other packages you wish, but for now, we'll stick
93     with these suggestions for a fast, minimal working environment. Double check
94     your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll probably at least want
95 nightmorph 1.4 <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification"</c>.
96     </p>
97    
98     <p>
99     Now, let's install Xfce.
100 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
101    
102     <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
103 nightmorph 1.4 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4 xscreensaver</i>
104 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
105    
106     <p>
107 nightmorph 1.3 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
108     and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
109     able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
110 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
111    
112     <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
113 nightmorph 1.3 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
114     # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
115 nightmorph 1.1 </pre>
116    
117     <p>
118     Next, update your environment variables:
119     </p>
120    
121     <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
122     # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
123     </pre>
124    
125     <p>
126     Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
127     </p>
128    
129     <pre caption="Starting hald">
130     # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
131     # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
132     </pre>
133    
134     </body>
135     </section>
136     </chapter>
137    
138     <chapter>
139     <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
140     <section>
141     <title>Starting Xfce</title>
142     <body>
143    
144     <p>
145     Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
146     environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
147     log on as a regular user.
148     </p>
149    
150     <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
151     $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
152     </pre>
153    
154     <p>
155     Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
156     </p>
157    
158     <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
159     $ <i>startx</i>
160     </pre>
161    
162     <p>
163     Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
164     explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
165     suit your needs.
166     </p>
167    
168     </body>
169     </section>
170     <section>
171     <title>Program access</title>
172     <body>
173    
174     <p>
175     You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
176     applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
177     open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
178     things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
179     panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
180     list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
181     displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
182     menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
183     </p>
184    
185     </body>
186     </section>
187     <section>
188     <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
189     <body>
190    
191     <p>
192     If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
193     as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
194     should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
195     startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
196     "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
197     Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
198     </p>
199    
200     <p>
201     Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
202     "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
203     saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
204     particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
205     panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
206     time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
207     your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
208     save your session before logging out.
209     </p>
210    
211     <p>
212     You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
213     you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
214     </p>
215    
216     </body>
217     </section>
218     </chapter>
219    
220     <chapter>
221     <title>Additional Applications</title>
222     <section>
223     <title>Panel plugins</title>
224     <body>
225    
226     <p>
227     In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
228     use within Xfce.
229     </p>
230    
231     <p>
232     There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
233     <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
234     explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
235     them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
236 nightmorph 1.4 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
237 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
238    
239     <ul>
240     <li>
241     <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
242     <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
243     </li>
244     <li>
245     <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
246     percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
247     warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
248     levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
249     the battery is almost exhausted.
250     </li>
251     <li>
252 nightmorph 1.4 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
253     than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
254     </li>
255     <li>
256     <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
257     sound applications.
258 nightmorph 1.1 </li>
259     </ul>
260    
261 nightmorph 1.4 <p>
262     If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
263     Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
264     first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
265     for Gnome.
266     </p>
267    
268 nightmorph 1.1 </body>
269     </section>
270     <section>
271     <title>Useful programs</title>
272     <body>
273    
274     <p>
275 nightmorph 1.4 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
276     <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
277     will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
278     flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
279     well worth installing.
280 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
281    
282     <p>
283 nightmorph 1.4 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
284     editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
285     configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
286     pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
287     compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
288     terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
289     xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
290 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
291    
292     <p>
293 nightmorph 1.4 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
294     powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
295     them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
296 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
297    
298 nightmorph 1.4 <ul>
299     <li>
300     <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
301     right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
302     archiving <uri
303     link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
304     developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
305     </li>
306     <li>
307     <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
308     at once, and lets you <uri
309     link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
310     their information tags, such as id3 tags.
311     </li>
312     <li>
313     <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
314     link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
315     certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
316     </li>
317     <li>
318     <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
319     link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
320     removable media and drives.
321     </li>
322     </ul>
323 nightmorph 1.1
324     <p>
325 nightmorph 1.4 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
326     in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
327 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
328    
329     <p>
330 nightmorph 1.4 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
331     processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
332     <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
333 nightmorph 1.1 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
334     </p>
335    
336     <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
337     # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
338     </pre>
339    
340     <p>
341     Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
342 nightmorph 1.4 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging
343     <c>sylpheed-claws</c> or <c>claws-mail</c>.
344 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
345    
346     <p>
347     For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
348     configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
349     all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
350     <c>emerge gaim</c>.
351     </p>
352    
353     <p>
354     If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
355     <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
356     and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
357     </p>
358    
359     <p>
360     Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
361     resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
362     <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
363     Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
364     is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
365     and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
366     </p>
367    
368     <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
369     <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
370     # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
371     <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
372     # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
373     # <i>emerge opera</i>
374     </pre>
375    
376     <p>
377     Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
378     applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
379     </p>
380    
381     </body>
382     </section>
383     <section>
384     <title>Graphical login</title>
385     <body>
386    
387     <p>
388     Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
389     have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
390     is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
391     display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
392     can login graphically).
393     </p>
394    
395     <p>
396     First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
397     </p>
398    
399     <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
400     # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
401     </pre>
402    
403     <p>
404     We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
405     appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
406     this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
407     <c>gdm</c>.
408     </p>
409    
410     <p>
411     <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
412     customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
413     </p>
414    
415     <pre caption="Installing XDM">
416     # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
417     </pre>
418    
419     <p>
420     Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
421     </p>
422    
423     <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
424     DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
425     </pre>
426    
427     <p>
428 nightmorph 1.4 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
429     to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
430     </p>
431    
432     <p>
433 nightmorph 1.1 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
434     <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
435     let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
436     small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
437     </p>
438    
439     <pre caption="Installing GDM">
440     # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
441     </pre>
442    
443     <p>
444     Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
445     <c>xdm</c>:
446     </p>
447    
448     <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
449     DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
450     </pre>
451    
452     </body>
453     </section>
454     <section>
455     <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
456     <body>
457    
458     <p>
459     A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
460     all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
461     antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
462     more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
463     sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
464     </p>
465    
466     <p>
467     A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
468 nightmorph 1.2 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
469     for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
470 nightmorph 1.1 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
471     important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
472     it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
473     directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
474 nightmorph 1.2 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
475     to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
476     and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
477 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
478    
479     <p>
480     If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
481     available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
482     them, you can either unpack and move them to
483     <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
484     <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
485     There are some <uri
486     link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
487     Gentoo <uri
488     link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
489     available.
490     </p>
491    
492     <p>
493     Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
494     This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
495     performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
496 nightmorph 1.4 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
497     the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
498     <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
499 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
500    
501     <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
502     Section "Extensions"
503     Option "Composite" "Enable"
504     EndSection
505     </pre>
506    
507     <p>
508     This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
509     setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
510     card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
511     <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
512     Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
513     for your graphics card.
514     </p>
515    
516     </body>
517     </section>
518     </chapter>
519    
520 nightmorph 1.4 <chapter id="upgrade">
521     <title>Upgrading</title>
522     <section>
523     <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
524     <body>
525    
526     <p>
527     Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
528     upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
529     their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
530     </p>
531    
532     <p>
533     First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
534     updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
535     </p>
536    
537     <p>
538     You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
539     most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
540     straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
541     link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
542     Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
543     </p>
544    
545     <p>
546     Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
547     against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
548     Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
549     </p>
550    
551     <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
552     # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
553     <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
554     # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
555     </pre>
556    
557     <note>
558     For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
559     link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
560     </note>
561    
562     <p>
563     Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
564     sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
565     repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
566     more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
567     <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
568     </p>
569    
570     <p>
571     Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
572     </p>
573    
574     <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
575     # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
576     # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
577     </pre>
578    
579     <p>
580     Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
581     </p>
582    
583     <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
584     # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
585     </pre>
586    
587     </body>
588     </section>
589     <section>
590     <title>Settings</title>
591     <body>
592    
593     <p>
594     Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
595     Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
596     now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
597     </p>
598    
599     <p>
600     There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
601     behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled).
602     </p>
603    
604     <p>
605     Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
606     Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
607     Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
608     </p>
609    
610     </body>
611     </section>
612     </chapter>
613    
614 nightmorph 1.1 <chapter>
615     <title>Summary</title>
616     <section>
617     <body>
618    
619     <p>
620     Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
621     desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
622     needs.
623     </p>
624    
625     </body>
626     </section>
627     <section>
628     <title>Resources</title>
629     <body>
630    
631     <p>
632     Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
633 nightmorph 1.4 application suggestions? Try checking out:
634 nightmorph 1.1 </p>
635    
636     <ul>
637     <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
638     <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
639 nightmorph 1.4 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
640 nightmorph 1.1 </ul>
641    
642     </body>
643     </section>
644     </chapter>
645     </guide>

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