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1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.10 2007/09/23 03:28:08 nightmorph Exp $ -->
3
4 <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
5
6 <guide link="/doc/en/xfce-config.xml">
7 <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
8
9 <author title="Author">
10 <mail link="nightmorph@gentoo.org">Joshua Saddler</mail>
11 </author>
12
13 <abstract>
14 This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
15 full-featured desktop environment.
16 </abstract>
17
18 <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
19 <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
20 <license/>
21
22 <version>1.8</version>
23 <date>2007-09-22</date>
24
25 <chapter>
26 <title>Introduction</title>
27 <section>
28 <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
29 <body>
30
31 <p>
32 <uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce</uri> is a fast, lightweight desktop
33 environment for Unix-like operating systems. It is designed for productivity,
34 and is quite configurable while still adhering to the <uri
35 link="http://www.freedesktop.org">Freedesktop</uri> specifications.
36 </p>
37
38 <p>
39 Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as Gnome and KDE, Xfce uses far fewer
40 system resources. Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer
41 dependencies; it takes up less space on your hard disk and takes less time to
42 install.
43 </p>
44
45 <p>
46 This guide will not only show you how to install and configure a minimal Xfce
47 environment, but will also explore options to create a full-featured desktop in
48 keeping with the Xfce philosophy: light, fast, and modular.
49 </p>
50
51 <p>
52 Additionally, this guide will show you how to <uri link="#upgrade">upgrade</uri>
53 from version 4.2 to 4.4.
54 </p>
55
56 </body>
57 </section>
58 </chapter>
59
60 <chapter>
61 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
62 <section>
63 <title>The basics</title>
64 <body>
65
66 <p>
67 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
68 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
69 </p>
70
71 <p>
72 Before we install our fully-functional yet minimal desktop, let's take a moment
73 to review the basic packages we'll be emerging.
74 </p>
75
76 <table>
77 <tr>
78 <th>Name</th>
79 <th>Description</th>
80 </tr>
81 <tr>
82 <ti>xfce4</ti>
83 <ti>The base Xfce desktop environment</ti>
84 </tr>
85 <tr>
86 <ti>xscreensaver</ti>
87 <ti>
88 A screensaver with powersaving features and the ability to lock the screen
89 for security
90 </ti>
91 </tr>
92 </table>
93
94 <p>
95 You're free to install any other packages you wish, but for now, we'll stick
96 with these suggestions for a fast, minimal working environment. Double check
97 your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll probably at least want
98 <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification"</c>.
99 </p>
100
101 <p>
102 Now, let's install Xfce.
103 </p>
104
105 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
106 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4 xscreensaver</i>
107 </pre>
108
109 <p>
110 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
111 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
112 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
113 </p>
114
115 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
116 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
117 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
118 </pre>
119
120 <p>
121 Next, update your environment variables:
122 </p>
123
124 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
125 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
126 </pre>
127
128 <p>
129 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
130 </p>
131
132 <pre caption="Starting hald">
133 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
134 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
135 </pre>
136
137 </body>
138 </section>
139 </chapter>
140
141 <chapter>
142 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
143 <section>
144 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
145 <body>
146
147 <p>
148 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
149 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
150 log on as a regular user.
151 </p>
152
153 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
154 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
155 </pre>
156
157 <p>
158 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
159 </p>
160
161 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
162 $ <i>startx</i>
163 </pre>
164
165 <p>
166 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
167 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
168 suit your needs.
169 </p>
170
171 </body>
172 </section>
173 <section>
174 <title>Program access</title>
175 <body>
176
177 <p>
178 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
179 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
180 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
181 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
182 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
183 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
184 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
185 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
186 </p>
187
188 </body>
189 </section>
190 <section>
191 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
192 <body>
193
194 <p>
195 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
196 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
197 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
198 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
199 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
200 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
201 </p>
202
203 <p>
204 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
205 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
206 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
207 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
208 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
209 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
210 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
211 save your session before logging out.
212 </p>
213
214 <p>
215 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
216 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
217 </p>
218
219 </body>
220 </section>
221 </chapter>
222
223 <chapter>
224 <title>Additional Applications</title>
225 <section>
226 <title>Panel plugins</title>
227 <body>
228
229 <p>
230 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
231 use within Xfce.
232 </p>
233
234 <p>
235 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
236 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
237 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
238 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
239 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
240 </p>
241
242 <ul>
243 <li>
244 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
245 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
246 </li>
247 <li>
248 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
249 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
250 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
251 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
252 the battery is almost exhausted.
253 </li>
254 <li>
255 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
256 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
257 </li>
258 <li>
259 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
260 sound applications.
261 </li>
262 </ul>
263
264 <p>
265 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
266 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
267 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
268 for Gnome.
269 </p>
270
271 </body>
272 </section>
273 <section>
274 <title>Useful programs</title>
275 <body>
276
277 <p>
278 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
279 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
280 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
281 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
282 well worth installing.
283 </p>
284
285 <p>
286 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
287 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
288 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
289 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
290 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
291 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
292 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
293 </p>
294
295 <p>
296 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
297 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
298 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
299 </p>
300
301 <ul>
302 <li>
303 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
304 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
305 archiving <uri
306 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
307 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
308 </li>
309 <li>
310 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
311 at once, and lets you <uri
312 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
313 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
314 </li>
315 <li>
316 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
317 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
318 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
319 </li>
320 <li>
321 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
322 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
323 removable media and drives.
324 </li>
325 </ul>
326
327 <p>
328 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
329 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
330 </p>
331
332 <p>
333 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
334 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
335 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
336 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
337 </p>
338
339 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
340 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
341 </pre>
342
343 <p>
344 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
345 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
346 </p>
347
348 <p>
349 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
350 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
351 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
352 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
353 </p>
354
355 <p>
356 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
357 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
358 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
359 </p>
360
361 <p>
362 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
363 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
364 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
365 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
366 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
367 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
368 </p>
369
370 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
371 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
372 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
373 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
374 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
375 # <i>emerge opera</i>
376 </pre>
377
378 <p>
379 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
380 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
381 </p>
382
383 </body>
384 </section>
385 <section>
386 <title>Graphical login</title>
387 <body>
388
389 <p>
390 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
391 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
392 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
393 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
394 can login graphically).
395 </p>
396
397 <p>
398 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
399 </p>
400
401 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
402 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
403 </pre>
404
405 <p>
406 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
407 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
408 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
409 <c>gdm</c>.
410 </p>
411
412 <p>
413 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
414 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
415 </p>
416
417 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
418 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
419 </pre>
420
421 <p>
422 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
423 </p>
424
425 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
426 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
427 </pre>
428
429 <p>
430 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
431 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
432 </p>
433
434 <p>
435 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
436 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
437 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
438 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
439 </p>
440
441 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
442 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
443 </pre>
444
445 <p>
446 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
447 <c>xdm</c>:
448 </p>
449
450 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
451 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
452 </pre>
453
454 </body>
455 </section>
456 <section>
457 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
458 <body>
459
460 <p>
461 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
462 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
463 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
464 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
465 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
466 </p>
467
468 <p>
469 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
470 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
471 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
472 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
473 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
474 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
475 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
476 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
477 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
478 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
479 </p>
480
481 <p>
482 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
483 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
484 them, you can either unpack and move them to
485 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
486 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
487 There are some <uri
488 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
489 Gentoo <uri
490 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
491 available.
492 </p>
493
494 <p>
495 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
496 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
497 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
498 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
499 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
500 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
501 </p>
502
503 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
504 Section "Extensions"
505 Option "Composite" "Enable"
506 EndSection
507 </pre>
508
509 <p>
510 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
511 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
512 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
513 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
514 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
515 for your graphics card.
516 </p>
517
518 </body>
519 </section>
520 </chapter>
521
522 <chapter id="upgrade">
523 <title>Upgrading</title>
524 <section>
525 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
526 <body>
527
528 <p>
529 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
530 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
531 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
532 </p>
533
534 <p>
535 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
536 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
537 </p>
538
539 <p>
540 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
541 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
542 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
543 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
544 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
545 </p>
546
547 <p>
548 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
549 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
550 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
551 </p>
552
553 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
554 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
555 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
556 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
557 </pre>
558
559 <note>
560 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
561 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
562 </note>
563
564 <p>
565 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
566 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
567 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
568 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
569 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
570 </p>
571
572 <p>
573 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
574 </p>
575
576 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
577 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
578 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
579 </pre>
580
581 <p>
582 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
583 </p>
584
585 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
586 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
587 </pre>
588
589 </body>
590 </section>
591 <section>
592 <title>Settings</title>
593 <body>
594
595 <p>
596 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
597 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
598 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
599 </p>
600
601 <p>
602 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
603 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled). Xfce 4.4 has
604 slightly changed the default behavior of workspaces and active window focus. If
605 you find that clicking a hyperlink in one workspace switches your browser to
606 that workspace from another one (or similar annoying window focus behavior), try
607 Settings --> Window Manager Tweaks --> Focus --> Activate Focus Stealing
608 Prevention.
609 </p>
610
611 <p>
612 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
613 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
614 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
615 </p>
616
617 </body>
618 </section>
619 </chapter>
620
621 <chapter>
622 <title>Summary</title>
623 <section>
624 <body>
625
626 <p>
627 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
628 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
629 needs.
630 </p>
631
632 </body>
633 </section>
634 <section>
635 <title>Resources</title>
636 <body>
637
638 <p>
639 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
640 application suggestions? Try checking out:
641 </p>
642
643 <ul>
644 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
645 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
646 <li>
647 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
648 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
649 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
650 detailed in the help files.
651 </li>
652 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
653 </ul>
654
655 </body>
656 </section>
657 </chapter>
658 </guide>

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