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the minimal flag is back in, and it is assumed users have it disabled for the guide. the flag only controls whether xfce4-icon-theme and dejavu fonts are pulled in, as otherwise things can break unless you're installing your own font packages and icon theme from the get-go. i.e. power users who've done a hundred xfce installs. thanks to ssuominen for the heads-up on IRC

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 1.21 2009/08/28 07:48:01 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>1.18</version>
22 <date>2009-09-13</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 configured 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 -minimal -qt3 -qt4 X branding dbus
68 hal lock session startup-notification thunar"</c>.
69 </p>
70
71 <p>
72 Now, let's install Xfce.
73 </p>
74
75 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
76 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4-meta</i>
77 </pre>
78
79 <p>
80 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
81 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
82 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
83 </p>
84
85 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
86 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
87 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
88 </pre>
89
90 <p>
91 Next, update your environment variables:
92 </p>
93
94 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
95 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
96 </pre>
97
98 <p>
99 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
100 </p>
101
102 <pre caption="Starting hald">
103 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
104 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
105 </pre>
106
107 </body>
108 </section>
109 </chapter>
110
111 <chapter>
112 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
113 <section>
114 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
115 <body>
116
117 <p>
118 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
119 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
120 log on as a regular user.
121 </p>
122
123 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
124 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
125 </pre>
126
127 <p>
128 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
129 </p>
130
131 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
132 $ <i>startx</i>
133 </pre>
134
135 <p>
136 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
137 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
138 suit your needs.
139 </p>
140
141 </body>
142 </section>
143 <section>
144 <title>Program access</title>
145 <body>
146
147 <p>
148 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
149 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
150 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
151 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
152 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
153 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
154 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
155 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
156 </p>
157
158 </body>
159 </section>
160 <section>
161 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
162 <body>
163
164 <p>
165 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
166 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
167 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
168 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
169 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
170 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
171 </p>
172
173 <p>
174 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
175 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
176 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
177 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
178 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
179 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
180 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
181 save your session before logging out.
182 </p>
183
184 <p>
185 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
186 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
187 </p>
188
189 </body>
190 </section>
191 </chapter>
192
193 <chapter>
194 <title>Additional Applications</title>
195 <section>
196 <title>Panel plugins</title>
197 <body>
198
199 <p>
200 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
201 use within Xfce.
202 </p>
203
204 <p>
205 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
206 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
207 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
208 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
209 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
210 </p>
211
212 <ul>
213 <li>
214 <c>xfce4-battery-plugin</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
215 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
216 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
217 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
218 the battery is almost exhausted.
219 </li>
220 <li>
221 <c>xfce4-verve-plugin</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel.
222 It's quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a
223 command.
224 </li>
225 <li>
226 <c>xfce4-mount-plugin</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices
227 listed in <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
228 </li>
229 <li>
230 <c>xfce4-sensors-plugin</c> lets you monitor your hardware sensors, such as
231 CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more
232 </li>
233 </ul>
234
235 <p>
236 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
237 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
238 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet-plugin</c>, you can install and run any applet
239 made for Gnome.
240 </p>
241
242 </body>
243 </section>
244 <section>
245 <title>Useful programs</title>
246 <body>
247
248 <p>
249 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
250 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfprint</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>,
251 <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>, <c>mousepad</c>, <c>x11-terms/terminal</c>,
252 and <c>thunar</c>.
253 </p>
254
255 <p>
256 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
257 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume. <c>xfprint</c>
258 provides easy printer management and job control; it's a must if you intend to
259 do any printing from your desktop. <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of
260 all running programs, and the CPU and memory consumption each one takes up. By
261 right-clicking an item, you can kill a misbehaving application, pause and
262 restart it, or even alter its runtime priority, which lets you fine-tune how
263 much of a demand it puts on your system's resources.
264 </p>
265
266 <p>
267 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
268 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
269 your desktop.
270 </p>
271
272 <p>
273 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
274 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is an X11
275 terminal emulator, far more configurable and useful than the barebones
276 <c>xterm</c> supplied with <c>xorg-server</c>. <c>terminal</c> supports Unicode
277 text, pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
278 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
279 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
280 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
281 </p>
282
283 <p>
284 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
285 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
286 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
287 </p>
288
289 <ul>
290 <li>
291 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
292 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
293 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
294 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c>,
295 <c>squeeze</c>, and <c>file-roller</c>.
296 </li>
297 <li>
298 <c>thunar-media-tags-plugin</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media
299 files at once, and lets you <uri
300 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
301 their information tags, such as id3 and ogg tags.
302 </li>
303 <li>
304 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
305 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
306 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
307 </li>
308 <li>
309 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
310 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
311 removable media and drives.
312 </li>
313 </ul>
314
315 <p>
316 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
317 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
318 </p>
319
320 <p>
321 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
322 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
323 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
324 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
325 types. It can also be further extended with <c>abiword-plugins</c>.
326 </p>
327
328 <p>
329 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
330 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
331 </p>
332
333 <p>
334 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
335 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
336 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
337 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
338 </p>
339
340 <p>
341 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
342 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
343 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
344 </p>
345
346 <p>
347 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
348 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
349 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
350 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
351 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
352 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
353 </p>
354
355 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
356 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
357 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
358 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
359 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
360 # <i>emerge opera</i>
361 </pre>
362
363 <p>
364 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
365 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
366 </p>
367
368 </body>
369 </section>
370 <section>
371 <title>Graphical login</title>
372 <body>
373
374 <p>
375 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
376 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
377 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
378 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
379 can login graphically).
380 </p>
381
382 <p>
383 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
384 </p>
385
386 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
387 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
388 </pre>
389
390 <p>
391 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
392 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
393 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
394 Simple Login Manager.
395 </p>
396
397 <p>
398 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
399 Xfce!
400 </p>
401
402 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
403 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
404 </pre>
405
406 <note>
407 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
408 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
409 </note>
410
411 <p>
412 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
413 </p>
414
415 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
416 DISPLAYMANAGER="slim"
417 </pre>
418
419 <p>
420 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
421 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
422 </p>
423
424 </body>
425 </section>
426 <section>
427 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
428 <body>
429
430 <p>
431 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
432 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
433 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
434 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
435 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
436 </p>
437
438 <p>
439 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
440 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
441 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
442 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
443 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
444 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
445 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
446 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
447 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
448 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
449 </p>
450
451 <p>
452 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
453 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
454 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
455 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
456 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
457 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
458 </p>
459
460 <p>
461 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
462 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
463 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
464 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
465 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
466 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
467 </p>
468
469 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
470 Section "Extensions"
471 Option "Composite" "Enable"
472 EndSection
473 </pre>
474
475 <p>
476 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
477 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
478 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
479 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
480 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
481 for your graphics card.
482 </p>
483
484 <p>
485 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
486 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
487 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
488 </p>
489
490 </body>
491 </section>
492 </chapter>
493
494 <chapter>
495 <title>Summary</title>
496 <section>
497 <body>
498
499 <p>
500 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
501 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
502 needs.
503 </p>
504
505 </body>
506 </section>
507 <section>
508 <title>Resources</title>
509 <body>
510
511 <p>
512 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
513 application suggestions? Try checking out:
514 </p>
515
516 <ul>
517 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
518 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
519 <li>
520 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
521 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
522 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
523 detailed in the help files.
524 </li>
525 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
526 </ul>
527
528 </body>
529 </section>
530 </chapter>
531 </guide>

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