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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 1.32 2010/08/24 07:24:38 nightmorph Exp $ -->
4
5 <guide>
6 <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
7
8 <author title="Author">
9 <mail link="nightmorph"/>
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>1.28</version>
22 <date>2010-08-31</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 <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>
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 </body>
52 </section>
53 </chapter>
54
55 <chapter>
56 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
57 <section>
58 <title>The basics</title>
59 <body>
60
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>
65
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>
71
72 <p>
73 There's also another variable you can set in <path>/etc/make.conf</path> called
74 XFCE_PLUGINS. This variable controls additional Xfce plugins for the panel. You
75 can enable all of the plugins by adding <c>XFCE_PLUGINS="brightness menu
76 trash</c> to <path>/etc/make.conf</path>. Here's a brief summary of the
77 plugins:
78 </p>
79
80 <dl>
81 <dt>brightness</dt>
82 <dd>
83 Lets you add a screen brightness applet to your panel, once you have
84 installed <c>xfce4-power-manager</c>
85 </dd>
86 <dt>menu</dt>
87 <dd>Lets you add a program menu to your panel</dd>
88 <dt>trash</dt>
89 <dd>
90 Lets you add a Trash can to the panel. The Trash allows you to quickly
91 delete files or recover them.
92 </dd>
93 </dl>
94
95 <p>
96 Now that you've set your <c>USE</c> and <c>XFCE_PLUGINS</c> variables in
97 <path>/etc/make.conf</path>, it's time to install Xfce.
98 </p>
99
100 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
101 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4-meta</i>
102 </pre>
103
104 <p>
105 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
106 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
107 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
108 </p>
109
110 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
111 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
112 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
113 </pre>
114
115 <p>
116 Next, update your environment variables:
117 </p>
118
119 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
120 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
121 </pre>
122
123 <p>
124 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
125 </p>
126
127 <pre caption="Starting hald">
128 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
129 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
130 </pre>
131
132 <p>
133 You'll also need a graphical terminal so that you can continue working with your
134 new desktop environment. <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is a good choice, as it's
135 made specifically for Xfce. Install Terminal as shown:
136 </p>
137
138 <pre caption="Installing Terminal">
139 # <i>emerge x11-terms/terminal</i>
140 </pre>
141
142 </body>
143 </section>
144 </chapter>
145
146 <chapter>
147 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
148 <section>
149 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
150 <body>
151
152 <p>
153 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
154 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
155 log on as a regular user.
156 </p>
157
158 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
159 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
160 </pre>
161
162 <note>
163 If you have ConsoleKit installed, your <path>~/.xinitrc</path> should instead
164 contain <c>exec ck-launch-session startxfce4</c>. Otherwise, some of your
165 applications may stop working. You'll also need to add consolekit to the
166 default runlevel by running the following command as root: <c>rc-update add
167 consolekit default</c>.
168 </note>
169
170 <p>
171 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
172 </p>
173
174 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
175 $ <i>startx</i>
176 </pre>
177
178 <p>
179 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
180 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
181 suit your needs.
182 </p>
183
184 </body>
185 </section>
186 <section>
187 <title>Program access</title>
188 <body>
189
190 <p>
191 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
192 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
193 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
194 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
195 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
196 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
197 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
198 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
199 </p>
200
201 </body>
202 </section>
203 <section>
204 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
205 <body>
206
207 <p>
208 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
209 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
210 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
211 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
212 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
213 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
214 </p>
215
216 <p>
217 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
218 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
219 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
220 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
221 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
222 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
223 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
224 save your session before logging out.
225 </p>
226
227 <p>
228 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
229 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
230 </p>
231
232 </body>
233 </section>
234 </chapter>
235
236 <chapter>
237 <title>Additional Applications</title>
238 <section>
239 <title>Panel plugins</title>
240 <body>
241
242 <p>
243 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
244 use within Xfce.
245 </p>
246
247 <p>
248 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
249 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are
250 self-explanatory, a few deserve extra attention, as they are quite helpful. To
251 use them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available
252 items in the "Add New Items" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
253 </p>
254
255 <ul>
256 <li>
257 <c>xfce4-battery-plugin</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
258 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
259 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
260 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
261 the battery is almost exhausted.
262 </li>
263 <li>
264 <c>xfce4-verve-plugin</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel.
265 It's quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a
266 command.
267 </li>
268 <li>
269 <c>xfce4-mount-plugin</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices
270 listed in <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
271 </li>
272 <li>
273 <c>xfce4-sensors-plugin</c> lets you monitor your hardware sensors, such as
274 CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more
275 </li>
276 </ul>
277
278 <p>
279 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
280 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
281 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet-plugin</c>, you can install and run any applet
282 made for Gnome.
283 </p>
284
285 </body>
286 </section>
287 <section>
288 <title>Useful programs</title>
289 <body>
290
291 <p>
292 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
293 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfprint</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>,
294 <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>, <c>mousepad</c>, <c>xfce4-power-manager</c>,
295 <c>x11-terms/terminal</c>, and <c>thunar</c>.
296 </p>
297
298 <p>
299 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
300 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume. <c>xfprint</c>
301 provides easy printer management and job control; it's a must if you intend to
302 do any printing from your desktop. <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of
303 all running programs, and the CPU and memory consumption each one takes up. By
304 right-clicking an item, you can kill a misbehaving application, pause and
305 restart it, or even alter its runtime priority, which lets you fine-tune how
306 much of a demand it puts on your system's resources.
307 </p>
308
309 <p>
310 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
311 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
312 your desktop.
313 </p>
314
315 <p>
316 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
317 editor that starts up extremely quickly.
318 </p>
319
320 <p>
321 <c>xfce4-power-manager</c> is an application to monitor and manage power usage.
322 This is especially important for laptops! The power manager allows you to adjust
323 screen brightness, choose maximum performance or battery-saving modes, and setup
324 hibernate, suspend, and shutdown actions when the lid is shut or buttons are
325 pressed. You can set <uri
326 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-power-manager">xfce4-power-manager</uri>
327 to warn you when your battery reaches certain levels, or even turn off your
328 machine. The application comes with a couple of helpful panel plugins to display
329 battery/charging status, and a brightness control.
330 </p>
331
332 <p>
333 <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is an X11 terminal emulator, far more configurable and
334 useful than the barebones <c>xterm</c>. <c>terminal</c> supports Unicode text,
335 color schemes, pseudo-transparency and hardware-accelerated transparency via
336 Xfce's built-in compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default
337 action on the terminal launcher of your panel runs
338 <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of <path>xterm</path>. Right-click the
339 launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
340 </p>
341
342 <p>
343 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
344 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
345 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
346 </p>
347
348 <ul>
349 <li>
350 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
351 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
352 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
353 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c>,
354 <c>squeeze</c>, and <c>file-roller</c>.
355 </li>
356 <li>
357 <c>thunar-media-tags-plugin</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media
358 files at once, and lets you <uri
359 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
360 their information tags, such as id3 and ogg tags.
361 </li>
362 <li>
363 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
364 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
365 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
366 </li>
367 <li>
368 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
369 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
370 removable media and drives.
371 </li>
372 </ul>
373
374 <p>
375 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
376 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
377 </p>
378
379 <p>
380 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
381 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
382 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
383 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
384 types. It can also be further extended with <c>abiword-plugins</c>.
385 </p>
386
387 <p>
388 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
389 <c>thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
390 </p>
391
392 <p>
393 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
394 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
395 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
396 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
397 </p>
398
399 <p>
400 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
401 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
402 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
403 </p>
404
405 <p>
406 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
407 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still, <c>firefox</c>
408 (or <c>firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice. Alternatively, you may find
409 <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c> is not available on as many
410 processor architectures as <c>firefox</c>, and it has more dependencies unless
411 you override them with a few USE flags.
412 </p>
413
414 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
415 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
416 # <i>emerge firefox</i>
417 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
418 # <i>echo "www-client/opera gtk -kde" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
419 # <i>emerge opera</i>
420 </pre>
421
422 <p>
423 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
424 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
425 </p>
426
427 </body>
428 </section>
429 <section>
430 <title>Graphical login</title>
431 <body>
432
433 <p>
434 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
435 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
436 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
437 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
438 can login graphically).
439 </p>
440
441 <p>
442 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
443 </p>
444
445 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
446 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
447 </pre>
448
449 <p>
450 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
451 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
452 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
453 Simple Login Manager.
454 </p>
455
456 <p>
457 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
458 Xfce!
459 </p>
460
461 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
462 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
463 </pre>
464
465 <note>
466 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
467 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
468 </note>
469
470 <p>
471 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
472 </p>
473
474 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
475 DISPLAYMANAGER="slim"
476 </pre>
477
478 <p>
479 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
480 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/env.d/90xsession</path>:
481 </p>
482
483 <pre caption="Setting XSESSION">
484 # <i>echo XSESSION=\"Xfce4\" > /etc/env.d/90xsession</i>
485 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
486 </pre>
487
488 </body>
489 </section>
490 <section>
491 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
492 <body>
493
494 <p>
495 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
496 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
497 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
498 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
499 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
500 </p>
501
502 <p>
503 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
504 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
505 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
506 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
507 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
508 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
509 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
510 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
511 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
512 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
513 </p>
514
515 <p>
516 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
517 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
518 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
519 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
520 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
521 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
522 </p>
523
524 <p>
525 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
526 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
527 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
528 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
529 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
530 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
531 </p>
532
533 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
534 Section "Extensions"
535 Option "Composite" "Enable"
536 EndSection
537 </pre>
538
539 <p>
540 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
541 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
542 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
543 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
544 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
545 for your graphics card.
546 </p>
547
548 <p>
549 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
550 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
551 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
552 </p>
553
554 </body>
555 </section>
556 </chapter>
557
558 <chapter>
559 <title>Summary</title>
560 <section>
561 <body>
562
563 <p>
564 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
565 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
566 needs.
567 </p>
568
569 </body>
570 </section>
571 <section>
572 <title>Resources</title>
573 <body>
574
575 <p>
576 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
577 application suggestions? Try checking out:
578 </p>
579
580 <ul>
581 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
582 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
583 <li>
584 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
585 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
586 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
587 detailed in the help files.
588 </li>
589 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
590 </ul>
591
592 </body>
593 </section>
594 </chapter>
595 </guide>

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