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removed 4.2 to 4.4 upgrade section. 4.2 has been gone from the tree for months. some parts of it may be relevant in the future in case of a major ABI/API break from some Xfce point release, if so then that's what CVS history is for, right?

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 1.14 2007/11/14 06:41:21 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>1.11</version>
22 <date>2007-12-30</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 </body>
51 </section>
52 </chapter>
53
54 <chapter>
55 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
56 <section>
57 <title>The basics</title>
58 <body>
59
60 <p>
61 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
62 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
63 </p>
64
65 <p>
66 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
67 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -qt3 -qt4 X dbus hal startup-notification xscreensaver"</c>.
68 </p>
69
70 <p>
71 Now, let's install Xfce.
72 </p>
73
74 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
75 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4</i>
76 </pre>
77
78 <p>
79 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
80 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
81 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
82 </p>
83
84 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
85 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
86 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
87 </pre>
88
89 <p>
90 Next, update your environment variables:
91 </p>
92
93 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
94 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
95 </pre>
96
97 <p>
98 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
99 </p>
100
101 <pre caption="Starting hald">
102 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
103 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
104 </pre>
105
106 </body>
107 </section>
108 </chapter>
109
110 <chapter>
111 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
112 <section>
113 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
114 <body>
115
116 <p>
117 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
118 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
119 log on as a regular user.
120 </p>
121
122 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
123 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
124 </pre>
125
126 <p>
127 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
128 </p>
129
130 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
131 $ <i>startx</i>
132 </pre>
133
134 <p>
135 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
136 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
137 suit your needs.
138 </p>
139
140 </body>
141 </section>
142 <section>
143 <title>Program access</title>
144 <body>
145
146 <p>
147 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
148 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
149 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
150 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
151 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
152 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
153 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
154 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
155 </p>
156
157 </body>
158 </section>
159 <section>
160 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
161 <body>
162
163 <p>
164 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
165 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
166 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
167 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
168 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
169 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
170 </p>
171
172 <p>
173 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
174 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
175 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
176 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
177 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
178 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
179 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
180 save your session before logging out.
181 </p>
182
183 <p>
184 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
185 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
186 </p>
187
188 </body>
189 </section>
190 </chapter>
191
192 <chapter>
193 <title>Additional Applications</title>
194 <section>
195 <title>Panel plugins</title>
196 <body>
197
198 <p>
199 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
200 use within Xfce.
201 </p>
202
203 <p>
204 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
205 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
206 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
207 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
208 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
209 </p>
210
211 <ul>
212 <li>
213 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
214 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
215 </li>
216 <li>
217 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
218 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
219 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
220 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
221 the battery is almost exhausted.
222 </li>
223 <li>
224 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
225 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
226 </li>
227 <li>
228 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
229 sound applications.
230 </li>
231 </ul>
232
233 <p>
234 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
235 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
236 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
237 for Gnome.
238 </p>
239
240 </body>
241 </section>
242 <section>
243 <title>Useful programs</title>
244 <body>
245
246 <p>
247 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
248 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
249 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
250 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
251 well worth installing.
252 </p>
253
254 <p>
255 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
256 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
257 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
258 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
259 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
260 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
261 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
262 </p>
263
264 <p>
265 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
266 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
267 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
268 </p>
269
270 <ul>
271 <li>
272 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
273 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
274 archiving <uri
275 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
276 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
277 </li>
278 <li>
279 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
280 at once, and lets you <uri
281 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
282 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
283 </li>
284 <li>
285 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
286 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
287 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
288 </li>
289 <li>
290 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
291 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
292 removable media and drives.
293 </li>
294 </ul>
295
296 <p>
297 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
298 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
299 </p>
300
301 <p>
302 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
303 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
304 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
305 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
306 </p>
307
308 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
309 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
310 </pre>
311
312 <p>
313 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
314 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
315 </p>
316
317 <p>
318 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
319 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
320 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
321 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
322 </p>
323
324 <p>
325 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
326 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
327 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
328 </p>
329
330 <p>
331 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
332 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
333 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
334 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
335 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
336 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
337 </p>
338
339 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
340 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
341 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
342 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
343 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
344 # <i>emerge opera</i>
345 </pre>
346
347 <p>
348 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
349 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
350 </p>
351
352 </body>
353 </section>
354 <section>
355 <title>Graphical login</title>
356 <body>
357
358 <p>
359 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
360 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
361 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
362 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
363 can login graphically).
364 </p>
365
366 <p>
367 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
368 </p>
369
370 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
371 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
372 </pre>
373
374 <p>
375 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
376 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
377 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
378 <c>gdm</c>.
379 </p>
380
381 <p>
382 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
383 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
384 </p>
385
386 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
387 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
388 </pre>
389
390 <p>
391 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
392 </p>
393
394 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
395 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
396 </pre>
397
398 <p>
399 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
400 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
401 </p>
402
403 <p>
404 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
405 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
406 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
407 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
408 </p>
409
410 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
411 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
412 </pre>
413
414 <p>
415 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
416 <c>xdm</c>:
417 </p>
418
419 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
420 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
421 </pre>
422
423 </body>
424 </section>
425 <section>
426 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
427 <body>
428
429 <p>
430 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
431 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
432 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
433 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
434 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
435 </p>
436
437 <p>
438 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
439 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
440 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
441 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
442 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
443 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
444 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
445 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
446 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
447 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
448 </p>
449
450 <p>
451 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
452 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
453 them, you can either unpack and move them to
454 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
455 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
456 There are some <uri
457 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
458 Gentoo <uri
459 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
460 available.
461 </p>
462
463 <p>
464 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
465 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
466 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
467 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
468 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
469 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
470 </p>
471
472 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
473 Section "Extensions"
474 Option "Composite" "Enable"
475 EndSection
476 </pre>
477
478 <p>
479 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
480 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
481 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
482 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
483 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
484 for your graphics card.
485 </p>
486
487 </body>
488 </section>
489 </chapter>
490
491 <chapter>
492 <title>Summary</title>
493 <section>
494 <body>
495
496 <p>
497 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
498 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
499 needs.
500 </p>
501
502 </body>
503 </section>
504 <section>
505 <title>Resources</title>
506 <body>
507
508 <p>
509 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
510 application suggestions? Try checking out:
511 </p>
512
513 <ul>
514 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
515 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
516 <li>
517 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
518 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
519 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
520 detailed in the help files.
521 </li>
522 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
523 </ul>
524
525 </body>
526 </section>
527 </chapter>
528 </guide>

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