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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 1.29 2010/06/13 23:34:12 nightmorph Exp $ -->
5 <guide>
6 <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
8 <author title="Author">
9 <mail link="nightmorph"/>
10 </author>
12 <abstract>
13 This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
14 full-featured desktop environment.
15 </abstract>
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/>
21 <version>1.25</version>
22 <date>2010-07-13</date>
24 <chapter>
25 <title>Introduction</title>
26 <section>
27 <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
28 <body>
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>
37 <p>
38 Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as <uri
39 link="http://www.gnome.org">Gnome</uri> and <uri
40 link="http://www.kde.org">KDE</uri>, Xfce uses far fewer system resources.
41 Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer dependencies; it takes up
42 less space on your hard disk and takes less time to install.
43 </p>
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>
51 </body>
52 </section>
53 </chapter>
55 <chapter>
56 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
57 <section>
58 <title>The basics</title>
59 <body>
61 <p>
62 First, make sure you've configured Xorg as shown in the <uri
63 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
64 </p>
66 <p>
67 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
68 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -minimal -qt4 branding dbus
69 hal jpeg lock session startup-notification thunar X"</c>.
70 </p>
72 <p>
73 Now, let's install Xfce.
74 </p>
76 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
77 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4-meta</i>
78 </pre>
80 <p>
81 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
82 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
83 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
84 </p>
86 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
87 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
88 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
89 </pre>
91 <p>
92 Next, update your environment variables:
93 </p>
95 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
96 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
97 </pre>
99 <p>
100 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
101 </p>
103 <pre caption="Starting hald">
104 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
105 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
106 </pre>
108 <p>
109 You'll also need a graphical terminal so that you can continue working with your
110 new desktop environment. <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is a good choice, as it's
111 made specifically for Xfce. Install Terminal as shown:
112 </p>
114 <pre caption="Installing Terminal">
115 # <i>emerge x11-terms/terminal</i>
116 </pre>
118 </body>
119 </section>
120 </chapter>
122 <chapter>
123 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
124 <section>
125 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
126 <body>
128 <p>
129 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
130 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
131 log on as a regular user.
132 </p>
134 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
135 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
136 </pre>
138 <note>
139 If you have ConsoleKit installed, your <path>~/.xinitrc</path> should instead
140 contain <c>exec ck-launch-session startxfce4</c>. Otherwise, some of your
141 applications may stop working. You'll also need to add consolekit to the
142 default runlevel by running the following command as root: <c>rc-update add
143 consolekit default</c>.
144 </note>
146 <p>
147 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
148 </p>
150 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
151 $ <i>startx</i>
152 </pre>
154 <p>
155 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
156 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
157 suit your needs.
158 </p>
160 </body>
161 </section>
162 <section>
163 <title>Program access</title>
164 <body>
166 <p>
167 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
168 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
169 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
170 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
171 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
172 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
173 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
174 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
175 </p>
177 </body>
178 </section>
179 <section>
180 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
181 <body>
183 <p>
184 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
185 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
186 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
187 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
188 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
189 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
190 </p>
192 <p>
193 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
194 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
195 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
196 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
197 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
198 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
199 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
200 save your session before logging out.
201 </p>
203 <p>
204 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
205 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
206 </p>
208 </body>
209 </section>
210 </chapter>
212 <chapter>
213 <title>Additional Applications</title>
214 <section>
215 <title>Panel plugins</title>
216 <body>
218 <p>
219 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
220 use within Xfce.
221 </p>
223 <p>
224 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
225 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
226 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
227 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
228 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
229 </p>
231 <ul>
232 <li>
233 <c>xfce4-battery-plugin</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
234 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
235 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
236 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
237 the battery is almost exhausted.
238 </li>
239 <li>
240 <c>xfce4-verve-plugin</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel.
241 It's quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a
242 command.
243 </li>
244 <li>
245 <c>xfce4-mount-plugin</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices
246 listed in <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
247 </li>
248 <li>
249 <c>xfce4-sensors-plugin</c> lets you monitor your hardware sensors, such as
250 CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more
251 </li>
252 </ul>
254 <p>
255 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
256 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
257 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet-plugin</c>, you can install and run any applet
258 made for Gnome.
259 </p>
261 </body>
262 </section>
263 <section>
264 <title>Useful programs</title>
265 <body>
267 <p>
268 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
269 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfprint</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>,
270 <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>, <c>mousepad</c>, <c>x11-terms/terminal</c>,
271 and <c>thunar</c>.
272 </p>
274 <p>
275 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
276 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume. <c>xfprint</c>
277 provides easy printer management and job control; it's a must if you intend to
278 do any printing from your desktop. <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of
279 all running programs, and the CPU and memory consumption each one takes up. By
280 right-clicking an item, you can kill a misbehaving application, pause and
281 restart it, or even alter its runtime priority, which lets you fine-tune how
282 much of a demand it puts on your system's resources.
283 </p>
285 <p>
286 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
287 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
288 your desktop.
289 </p>
291 <p>
292 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
293 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is an X11
294 terminal emulator, far more configurable and useful than the barebones
295 <c>xterm</c>. <c>terminal</c> supports Unicode text, color schemes,
296 pseudo-transparency and hardware-accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
297 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
298 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
299 <path>xterm</path>. Right-click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change
300 the command.
301 </p>
303 <p>
304 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
305 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
306 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
307 </p>
309 <ul>
310 <li>
311 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
312 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
313 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
314 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c>,
315 <c>squeeze</c>, and <c>file-roller</c>.
316 </li>
317 <li>
318 <c>thunar-media-tags-plugin</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media
319 files at once, and lets you <uri
320 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
321 their information tags, such as id3 and ogg tags.
322 </li>
323 <li>
324 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
325 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
326 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
327 </li>
328 <li>
329 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
330 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
331 removable media and drives.
332 </li>
333 </ul>
335 <p>
336 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
337 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
338 </p>
340 <p>
341 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
342 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
343 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
344 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
345 types. It can also be further extended with <c>abiword-plugins</c>.
346 </p>
348 <p>
349 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
350 <c>thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
351 </p>
353 <p>
354 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
355 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
356 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
357 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
358 </p>
360 <p>
361 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
362 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
363 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
364 </p>
366 <p>
367 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
368 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
369 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
370 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
371 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
372 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a few USE flags.
373 </p>
375 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
376 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
377 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
378 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
379 # <i>echo "www-client/opera gtk -kde" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
380 # <i>emerge opera</i>
381 </pre>
383 <p>
384 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
385 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
386 </p>
388 </body>
389 </section>
390 <section>
391 <title>Graphical login</title>
392 <body>
394 <p>
395 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
396 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
397 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
398 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
399 can login graphically).
400 </p>
402 <p>
403 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
404 </p>
406 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
407 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
408 </pre>
410 <p>
411 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
412 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
413 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
414 Simple Login Manager.
415 </p>
417 <p>
418 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
419 Xfce!
420 </p>
422 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
423 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
424 </pre>
426 <note>
427 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
428 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
429 </note>
431 <p>
432 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
433 </p>
435 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
437 </pre>
439 <p>
440 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
441 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/env.d/90xsession</path>:
442 </p>
444 <pre caption="Setting XSESSION">
445 # <i>echo XSESSION=\"Xfce4\" > /etc/env.d/90xsession</i>
446 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
447 </pre>
449 </body>
450 </section>
451 <section>
452 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
453 <body>
455 <p>
456 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
457 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
458 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
459 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
460 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
461 </p>
463 <p>
464 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
465 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
466 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
467 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
468 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
469 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
470 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
471 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
472 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
473 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
474 </p>
476 <p>
477 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
478 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
479 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
480 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
481 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
482 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
483 </p>
485 <p>
486 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
487 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
488 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
489 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
490 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
491 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
492 </p>
494 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
495 Section "Extensions"
496 Option "Composite" "Enable"
497 EndSection
498 </pre>
500 <p>
501 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
502 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
503 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
504 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
505 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
506 for your graphics card.
507 </p>
509 <p>
510 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
511 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
512 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
513 </p>
515 </body>
516 </section>
517 </chapter>
519 <chapter>
520 <title>Summary</title>
521 <section>
522 <body>
524 <p>
525 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
526 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
527 needs.
528 </p>
530 </body>
531 </section>
532 <section>
533 <title>Resources</title>
534 <body>
536 <p>
537 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
538 application suggestions? Try checking out:
539 </p>
541 <ul>
542 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
543 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
544 <li>
545 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
546 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
547 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
548 detailed in the help files.
549 </li>
550 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
551 </ul>
553 </body>
554 </section>
555 </chapter>
556 </guide>

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