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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 1.11 2007/10/03 19:58:17 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>1.9</version>
23 <date>2007-10-03</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 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
73 probably at least want <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification
74 xscreensaver"</c>.
75 </p>
76
77 <p>
78 Now, let's install Xfce.
79 </p>
80
81 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
82 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4</i>
83 </pre>
84
85 <p>
86 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
87 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
88 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
89 </p>
90
91 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
92 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
93 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
94 </pre>
95
96 <p>
97 Next, update your environment variables:
98 </p>
99
100 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
101 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
102 </pre>
103
104 <p>
105 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
106 </p>
107
108 <pre caption="Starting hald">
109 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
110 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
111 </pre>
112
113 </body>
114 </section>
115 </chapter>
116
117 <chapter>
118 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
119 <section>
120 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
121 <body>
122
123 <p>
124 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
125 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
126 log on as a regular user.
127 </p>
128
129 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
130 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
131 </pre>
132
133 <p>
134 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
135 </p>
136
137 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
138 $ <i>startx</i>
139 </pre>
140
141 <p>
142 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
143 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
144 suit your needs.
145 </p>
146
147 </body>
148 </section>
149 <section>
150 <title>Program access</title>
151 <body>
152
153 <p>
154 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
155 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
156 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
157 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
158 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
159 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
160 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
161 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
162 </p>
163
164 </body>
165 </section>
166 <section>
167 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
168 <body>
169
170 <p>
171 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
172 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
173 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
174 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
175 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
176 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
177 </p>
178
179 <p>
180 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
181 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
182 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
183 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
184 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
185 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
186 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
187 save your session before logging out.
188 </p>
189
190 <p>
191 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
192 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
193 </p>
194
195 </body>
196 </section>
197 </chapter>
198
199 <chapter>
200 <title>Additional Applications</title>
201 <section>
202 <title>Panel plugins</title>
203 <body>
204
205 <p>
206 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
207 use within Xfce.
208 </p>
209
210 <p>
211 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
212 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
213 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
214 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
215 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
216 </p>
217
218 <ul>
219 <li>
220 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
221 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
222 </li>
223 <li>
224 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
225 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
226 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
227 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
228 the battery is almost exhausted.
229 </li>
230 <li>
231 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
232 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
233 </li>
234 <li>
235 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
236 sound applications.
237 </li>
238 </ul>
239
240 <p>
241 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
242 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
243 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
244 for Gnome.
245 </p>
246
247 </body>
248 </section>
249 <section>
250 <title>Useful programs</title>
251 <body>
252
253 <p>
254 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
255 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
256 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
257 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
258 well worth installing.
259 </p>
260
261 <p>
262 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
263 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
264 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
265 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
266 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
267 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
268 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
269 </p>
270
271 <p>
272 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
273 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
274 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
275 </p>
276
277 <ul>
278 <li>
279 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
280 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
281 archiving <uri
282 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
283 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
284 </li>
285 <li>
286 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
287 at once, and lets you <uri
288 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
289 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
290 </li>
291 <li>
292 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
293 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
294 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
295 </li>
296 <li>
297 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
298 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
299 removable media and drives.
300 </li>
301 </ul>
302
303 <p>
304 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
305 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
306 </p>
307
308 <p>
309 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
310 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
311 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
312 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
313 </p>
314
315 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
316 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
317 </pre>
318
319 <p>
320 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
321 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
322 </p>
323
324 <p>
325 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
326 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
327 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
328 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
329 </p>
330
331 <p>
332 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
333 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
334 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
335 </p>
336
337 <p>
338 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
339 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
340 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
341 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
342 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
343 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
344 </p>
345
346 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
347 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
348 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
349 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
350 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
351 # <i>emerge opera</i>
352 </pre>
353
354 <p>
355 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
356 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
357 </p>
358
359 </body>
360 </section>
361 <section>
362 <title>Graphical login</title>
363 <body>
364
365 <p>
366 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
367 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
368 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
369 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
370 can login graphically).
371 </p>
372
373 <p>
374 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
375 </p>
376
377 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
378 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
379 </pre>
380
381 <p>
382 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
383 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
384 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
385 <c>gdm</c>.
386 </p>
387
388 <p>
389 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
390 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
391 </p>
392
393 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
394 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
395 </pre>
396
397 <p>
398 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
399 </p>
400
401 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
402 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
403 </pre>
404
405 <p>
406 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
407 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
408 </p>
409
410 <p>
411 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
412 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
413 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
414 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
415 </p>
416
417 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
418 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
419 </pre>
420
421 <p>
422 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
423 <c>xdm</c>:
424 </p>
425
426 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
427 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
428 </pre>
429
430 </body>
431 </section>
432 <section>
433 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
434 <body>
435
436 <p>
437 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
438 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
439 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
440 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
441 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
442 </p>
443
444 <p>
445 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
446 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
447 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
448 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
449 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
450 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
451 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
452 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
453 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
454 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
455 </p>
456
457 <p>
458 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
459 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
460 them, you can either unpack and move them to
461 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
462 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
463 There are some <uri
464 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
465 Gentoo <uri
466 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
467 available.
468 </p>
469
470 <p>
471 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
472 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
473 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
474 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
475 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
476 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
477 </p>
478
479 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
480 Section "Extensions"
481 Option "Composite" "Enable"
482 EndSection
483 </pre>
484
485 <p>
486 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
487 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
488 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
489 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
490 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
491 for your graphics card.
492 </p>
493
494 </body>
495 </section>
496 </chapter>
497
498 <chapter id="upgrade">
499 <title>Upgrading</title>
500 <section>
501 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
502 <body>
503
504 <p>
505 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
506 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
507 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
508 </p>
509
510 <p>
511 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
512 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
513 </p>
514
515 <p>
516 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
517 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
518 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
519 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
520 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
521 </p>
522
523 <p>
524 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
525 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
526 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
527 </p>
528
529 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
530 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
531 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
532 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
533 </pre>
534
535 <note>
536 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
537 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
538 </note>
539
540 <p>
541 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
542 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
543 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
544 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
545 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
546 </p>
547
548 <p>
549 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
550 </p>
551
552 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
553 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
554 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
555 </pre>
556
557 <p>
558 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
559 </p>
560
561 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
562 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
563 </pre>
564
565 </body>
566 </section>
567 <section>
568 <title>Settings</title>
569 <body>
570
571 <p>
572 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
573 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
574 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
575 </p>
576
577 <p>
578 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
579 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled). Xfce 4.4 has
580 slightly changed the default behavior of workspaces and active window focus. If
581 you find that clicking a hyperlink in one workspace switches your browser to
582 that workspace from another one (or similar annoying window focus behavior), try
583 Settings --> Window Manager Tweaks --> Focus --> Activate Focus Stealing
584 Prevention.
585 </p>
586
587 <p>
588 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
589 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
590 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
591 </p>
592
593 </body>
594 </section>
595 </chapter>
596
597 <chapter>
598 <title>Summary</title>
599 <section>
600 <body>
601
602 <p>
603 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
604 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
605 needs.
606 </p>
607
608 </body>
609 </section>
610 <section>
611 <title>Resources</title>
612 <body>
613
614 <p>
615 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
616 application suggestions? Try checking out:
617 </p>
618
619 <ul>
620 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
621 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
622 <li>
623 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
624 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
625 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
626 detailed in the help files.
627 </li>
628 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
629 </ul>
630
631 </body>
632 </section>
633 </chapter>
634 </guide>

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