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1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2 <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
3 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.12 2007/10/03 20:12:24 nightmorph Exp $ -->
4
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 <version>1.9</version>
22 <date>2007-10-03</date>
23
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 <p>
51 Additionally, this guide will show you how to <uri link="#upgrade">upgrade</uri>
52 from version 4.2 to 4.4.
53 </p>
54
55 </body>
56 </section>
57 </chapter>
58
59 <chapter>
60 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
61 <section>
62 <title>The basics</title>
63 <body>
64
65 <p>
66 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
67 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
68 </p>
69
70 <p>
71 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
72 probably at least want <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification
73 xscreensaver"</c>.
74 </p>
75
76 <p>
77 Now, let's install Xfce.
78 </p>
79
80 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
81 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4</i>
82 </pre>
83
84 <p>
85 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
86 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
87 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
88 </p>
89
90 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
91 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
92 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
93 </pre>
94
95 <p>
96 Next, update your environment variables:
97 </p>
98
99 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
100 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
101 </pre>
102
103 <p>
104 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
105 </p>
106
107 <pre caption="Starting hald">
108 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
109 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
110 </pre>
111
112 </body>
113 </section>
114 </chapter>
115
116 <chapter>
117 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
118 <section>
119 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
120 <body>
121
122 <p>
123 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
124 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
125 log on as a regular user.
126 </p>
127
128 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
129 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
130 </pre>
131
132 <p>
133 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
134 </p>
135
136 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
137 $ <i>startx</i>
138 </pre>
139
140 <p>
141 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
142 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
143 suit your needs.
144 </p>
145
146 </body>
147 </section>
148 <section>
149 <title>Program access</title>
150 <body>
151
152 <p>
153 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
154 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
155 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
156 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
157 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
158 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
159 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
160 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
161 </p>
162
163 </body>
164 </section>
165 <section>
166 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
167 <body>
168
169 <p>
170 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
171 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
172 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
173 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
174 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
175 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
176 </p>
177
178 <p>
179 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
180 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
181 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
182 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
183 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
184 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
185 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
186 save your session before logging out.
187 </p>
188
189 <p>
190 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
191 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
192 </p>
193
194 </body>
195 </section>
196 </chapter>
197
198 <chapter>
199 <title>Additional Applications</title>
200 <section>
201 <title>Panel plugins</title>
202 <body>
203
204 <p>
205 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
206 use within Xfce.
207 </p>
208
209 <p>
210 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
211 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
212 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
213 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
214 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
215 </p>
216
217 <ul>
218 <li>
219 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
220 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
221 </li>
222 <li>
223 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
224 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
225 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
226 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
227 the battery is almost exhausted.
228 </li>
229 <li>
230 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
231 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
232 </li>
233 <li>
234 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
235 sound applications.
236 </li>
237 </ul>
238
239 <p>
240 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
241 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
242 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
243 for Gnome.
244 </p>
245
246 </body>
247 </section>
248 <section>
249 <title>Useful programs</title>
250 <body>
251
252 <p>
253 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
254 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
255 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
256 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
257 well worth installing.
258 </p>
259
260 <p>
261 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
262 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
263 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
264 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
265 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
266 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
267 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
268 </p>
269
270 <p>
271 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
272 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
273 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
274 </p>
275
276 <ul>
277 <li>
278 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
279 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
280 archiving <uri
281 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
282 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
283 </li>
284 <li>
285 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
286 at once, and lets you <uri
287 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
288 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
289 </li>
290 <li>
291 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
292 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
293 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
294 </li>
295 <li>
296 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
297 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
298 removable media and drives.
299 </li>
300 </ul>
301
302 <p>
303 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
304 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
305 </p>
306
307 <p>
308 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
309 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
310 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
311 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
312 </p>
313
314 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
315 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
316 </pre>
317
318 <p>
319 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
320 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
321 </p>
322
323 <p>
324 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
325 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
326 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
327 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
328 </p>
329
330 <p>
331 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
332 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
333 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
334 </p>
335
336 <p>
337 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
338 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
339 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
340 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
341 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
342 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
343 </p>
344
345 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
346 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
347 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
348 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
349 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
350 # <i>emerge opera</i>
351 </pre>
352
353 <p>
354 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
355 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
356 </p>
357
358 </body>
359 </section>
360 <section>
361 <title>Graphical login</title>
362 <body>
363
364 <p>
365 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
366 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
367 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
368 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
369 can login graphically).
370 </p>
371
372 <p>
373 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
374 </p>
375
376 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
377 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
378 </pre>
379
380 <p>
381 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
382 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
383 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
384 <c>gdm</c>.
385 </p>
386
387 <p>
388 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
389 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
390 </p>
391
392 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
393 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
394 </pre>
395
396 <p>
397 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
398 </p>
399
400 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
401 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
402 </pre>
403
404 <p>
405 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
406 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
407 </p>
408
409 <p>
410 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
411 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
412 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
413 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
414 </p>
415
416 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
417 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
418 </pre>
419
420 <p>
421 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
422 <c>xdm</c>:
423 </p>
424
425 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
426 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
427 </pre>
428
429 </body>
430 </section>
431 <section>
432 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
433 <body>
434
435 <p>
436 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
437 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
438 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
439 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
440 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
441 </p>
442
443 <p>
444 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
445 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
446 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
447 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
448 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
449 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
450 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
451 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
452 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
453 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
454 </p>
455
456 <p>
457 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
458 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
459 them, you can either unpack and move them to
460 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
461 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
462 There are some <uri
463 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
464 Gentoo <uri
465 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
466 available.
467 </p>
468
469 <p>
470 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
471 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
472 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
473 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
474 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
475 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
476 </p>
477
478 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
479 Section "Extensions"
480 Option "Composite" "Enable"
481 EndSection
482 </pre>
483
484 <p>
485 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
486 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
487 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
488 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
489 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
490 for your graphics card.
491 </p>
492
493 </body>
494 </section>
495 </chapter>
496
497 <chapter id="upgrade">
498 <title>Upgrading</title>
499 <section>
500 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
501 <body>
502
503 <p>
504 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
505 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
506 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
507 </p>
508
509 <p>
510 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
511 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
512 </p>
513
514 <p>
515 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
516 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
517 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
518 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
519 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
520 </p>
521
522 <p>
523 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
524 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
525 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
526 </p>
527
528 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
529 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
530 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
531 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
532 </pre>
533
534 <note>
535 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
536 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
537 </note>
538
539 <p>
540 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
541 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
542 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
543 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
544 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
545 </p>
546
547 <p>
548 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
549 </p>
550
551 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
552 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
553 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
554 </pre>
555
556 <p>
557 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
558 </p>
559
560 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
561 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
562 </pre>
563
564 </body>
565 </section>
566 <section>
567 <title>Settings</title>
568 <body>
569
570 <p>
571 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
572 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
573 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
574 </p>
575
576 <p>
577 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
578 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled). Xfce 4.4 has
579 slightly changed the default behavior of workspaces and active window focus. If
580 you find that clicking a hyperlink in one workspace switches your browser to
581 that workspace from another one (or similar annoying window focus behavior), try
582 Settings --> Window Manager Tweaks --> Focus --> Activate Focus Stealing
583 Prevention.
584 </p>
585
586 <p>
587 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
588 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
589 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
590 </p>
591
592 </body>
593 </section>
594 </chapter>
595
596 <chapter>
597 <title>Summary</title>
598 <section>
599 <body>
600
601 <p>
602 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
603 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
604 needs.
605 </p>
606
607 </body>
608 </section>
609 <section>
610 <title>Resources</title>
611 <body>
612
613 <p>
614 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
615 application suggestions? Try checking out:
616 </p>
617
618 <ul>
619 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
620 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
621 <li>
622 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
623 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
624 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
625 detailed in the help files.
626 </li>
627 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
628 </ul>
629
630 </body>
631 </section>
632 </chapter>
633 </guide>

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