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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 1.36 2011/02/08 19:19:16 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>5</version>
22 <date>2011-02-14</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 <p>
52 The last part of this guide lists a few commands to run after upgrading to Xfce
53 4.8, so be sure to follow them if you are upgrading from an older version.
54 </p>
55
56 </body>
57 </section>
58 </chapter>
59
60 <chapter>
61 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
62 <section>
63 <title>The basics</title>
64 <body>
65
66 <p>
67 First, make sure you've configured Xorg as shown in the <uri
68 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
69 </p>
70
71 <p>
72 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
73 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -minimal -qt4 dbus jpeg lock session
74 startup-notification thunar udev X"</c>.
75 </p>
76
77 <p>
78 Now that you've set your <c>USE</c> variables in
79 <path>/etc/make.conf</path>, it's time to install Xfce.
80 </p>
81
82 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
83 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4-meta</i>
84 </pre>
85
86 <p>
87 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
88 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can mount and use devices such as cameras,
89 optical drives, and USB sticks.
90 </p>
91
92 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
93 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
94 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
95 </pre>
96
97 <p>
98 Next, update your environment variables:
99 </p>
100
101 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
102 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
103 </pre>
104
105 <p>
106 You'll also need a graphical terminal so that you can continue working with your
107 new desktop environment. <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is a good choice, as it's
108 made specifically for Xfce. Install Terminal as shown:
109 </p>
110
111 <pre caption="Installing Terminal">
112 # <i>emerge x11-terms/terminal</i>
113 </pre>
114
115 </body>
116 </section>
117 </chapter>
118
119 <chapter>
120 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
121 <section>
122 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
123 <body>
124
125 <p>
126 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
127 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
128 log on as a regular user.
129 </p>
130
131 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
132 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
133 </pre>
134
135 <note>
136 If you have ConsoleKit installed, your <path>~/.xinitrc</path> should instead
137 contain <c>exec ck-launch-session startxfce4</c>. Otherwise, some of your
138 applications may stop working. You'll also need to add consolekit to the
139 default runlevel by running the following command as root: <c>rc-update add
140 consolekit default</c>.
141 </note>
142
143 <p>
144 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
145 </p>
146
147 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
148 $ <i>startx</i>
149 </pre>
150
151 <p>
152 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
153 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
154 suit your needs.
155 </p>
156
157 </body>
158 </section>
159 <section>
160 <title>Program access</title>
161 <body>
162
163 <p>
164 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
165 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
166 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
167 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
168 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
169 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
170 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
171 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
172 </p>
173
174 </body>
175 </section>
176 <section>
177 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
178 <body>
179
180 <p>
181 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
182 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
183 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
184 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
185 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
186 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
187 </p>
188
189 <p>
190 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
191 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
192 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
193 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
194 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
195 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
196 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
197 save your session before logging out.
198 </p>
199
200 <p>
201 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
202 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
203 </p>
204
205 </body>
206 </section>
207 </chapter>
208
209 <chapter>
210 <title>Additional Applications</title>
211 <section>
212 <title>Panel plugins</title>
213 <body>
214
215 <p>
216 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
217 use within Xfce.
218 </p>
219
220 <p>
221 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
222 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are
223 self-explanatory, a few deserve extra attention, as they are quite helpful. To
224 use them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available
225 items in the "Add New Items" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
226 </p>
227
228 <ul>
229 <li>
230 <c>xfce4-battery-plugin</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
231 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
232 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
233 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
234 the battery is almost exhausted.
235 </li>
236 <li>
237 <c>xfce4-verve-plugin</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel.
238 It's quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a
239 command.
240 </li>
241 <li>
242 <c>xfce4-mount-plugin</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices
243 listed in <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
244 </li>
245 <li>
246 <c>xfce4-sensors-plugin</c> lets you monitor your hardware sensors, such as
247 CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more
248 </li>
249 </ul>
250
251 <p>
252 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
253 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
254 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet-plugin</c>, you can install and run any applet
255 made for Gnome.
256 </p>
257
258 </body>
259 </section>
260 <section>
261 <title>Useful programs</title>
262 <body>
263
264 <p>
265 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
266 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>, <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>,
267 <c>leafpad</c>, <c>xfce4-power-manager</c>, <c>x11-terms/terminal</c>, and
268 <c>thunar</c>.
269 </p>
270
271 <p>
272 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
273 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume.
274 <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of all running programs, and the CPU
275 and memory consumption each one takes up. By right-clicking an item, you can
276 kill a misbehaving application, pause and restart it, or even alter its runtime
277 priority, which lets you fine-tune how much of a demand it puts on your system's
278 resources.
279 </p>
280
281 <p>
282 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
283 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
284 your desktop.
285 </p>
286
287 <p>
288 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>leafpad</c> is a barebones text
289 editor that starts up extremely quickly.
290 </p>
291
292 <p>
293 <c>xfce4-power-manager</c> is an application to monitor and manage power usage.
294 This is especially important for laptops! The power manager allows you to adjust
295 screen brightness, choose maximum performance or battery-saving modes, and setup
296 hibernate, suspend, and shutdown actions when the lid is shut or buttons are
297 pressed. You can set <uri
298 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-power-manager">xfce4-power-manager</uri>
299 to warn you when your battery reaches certain levels, or even turn off your
300 machine. The application comes with a couple of helpful panel plugins to display
301 battery/charging status, and a brightness control.
302 </p>
303
304 <p>
305 <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is an X11 terminal emulator, far more configurable and
306 useful than the barebones <c>xterm</c>. <c>terminal</c> supports Unicode text,
307 color schemes, pseudo-transparency and hardware-accelerated transparency via
308 Xfce's built-in compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default
309 action on the terminal launcher of your panel runs
310 <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of <path>xterm</path>. Right-click the
311 launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
312 </p>
313
314 <p>
315 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
316 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
317 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
318 </p>
319
320 <ul>
321 <li>
322 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
323 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
324 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
325 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c>,
326 <c>squeeze</c>, and <c>file-roller</c>.
327 </li>
328 <li>
329 <c>tumbler</c> lets you preview certain types of files from within Thunar,
330 such as images and fonts.
331 </li>
332 <li>
333 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
334 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
335 removable media and drives.
336 </li>
337 </ul>
338
339 <p>
340 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
341 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
342 </p>
343
344 <p>
345 Though <c>leafpad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
346 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
347 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
348 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
349 types.
350 </p>
351
352 <p>
353 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
354 <c>thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
355 </p>
356
357 <p>
358 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
359 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
360 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
361 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
362 </p>
363
364 <p>
365 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
366 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
367 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
368 </p>
369
370 <p>
371 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
372 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still, <c>firefox</c>
373 and <c>midori</c> are always good choices. Alternatively, you may find
374 <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c> is not available on as many
375 processor architectures as <c>firefox</c>, and it has more dependencies unless
376 you override them with a few USE flags.
377 </p>
378
379 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
380 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
381 # <i>emerge firefox</i>
382 <comment>(Installing Midori)</comment>
383 # <i>emerge midori</i>
384 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
385 # <i>echo "www-client/opera gtk -kde" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
386 # <i>emerge opera</i>
387 </pre>
388
389 <p>
390 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
391 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
392 </p>
393
394 </body>
395 </section>
396 <section>
397 <title>Graphical login</title>
398 <body>
399
400 <p>
401 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
402 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
403 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
404 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
405 can login graphically).
406 </p>
407
408 <p>
409 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
410 </p>
411
412 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
413 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
414 </pre>
415
416 <p>
417 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
418 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
419 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
420 Simple Login Manager.
421 </p>
422
423 <p>
424 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
425 Xfce!
426 </p>
427
428 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
429 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
430 </pre>
431
432 <note>
433 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
434 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
435 </note>
436
437 <p>
438 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
439 </p>
440
441 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
442 DISPLAYMANAGER="slim"
443 </pre>
444
445 <p>
446 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
447 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/env.d/90xsession</path>:
448 </p>
449
450 <pre caption="Setting XSESSION">
451 # <i>echo XSESSION=\"Xfce4\" > /etc/env.d/90xsession</i>
452 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
453 </pre>
454
455 </body>
456 </section>
457 <section>
458 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
459 <body>
460
461 <p>
462 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
463 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
464 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
465 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
466 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
467 </p>
468
469 <p>
470 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
471 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
472 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
473 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
474 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
475 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
476 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
477 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
478 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
479 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
480 </p>
481
482 <p>
483 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
484 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
485 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
486 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
487 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
488 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
489 </p>
490
491 <p>
492 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
493 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
494 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
495 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
496 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
497 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
498 </p>
499
500 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
501 Section "Extensions"
502 Option "Composite" "Enable"
503 EndSection
504 </pre>
505
506 <p>
507 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
508 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
509 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
510 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
511 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
512 for your graphics card.
513 </p>
514
515 <p>
516 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
517 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
518 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
519 </p>
520
521 </body>
522 </section>
523 </chapter>
524
525 <chapter>
526 <title>Summary</title>
527 <section>
528 <body>
529
530 <p>
531 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
532 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
533 needs.
534 </p>
535
536 </body>
537 </section>
538 <section>
539 <title>Upgrading Xfce</title>
540 <body>
541
542 <p>
543 If you're upgrading Xfce from an old version to 4.8 or newer, then you will need
544 to remove your old cached sessions. For each of your users, run the following
545 commands to remove your old incompatible cached sessions:
546 </p>
547
548 <pre caption="Deleting old sessions from the cache">
549 $ <i>rm -r ~/.cache/sessions</i>
550 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/xfce*</i>
551 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/Thunar</i>
552 </pre>
553
554 </body>
555 </section>
556 <section>
557 <title>Resources</title>
558 <body>
559
560 <p>
561 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
562 application suggestions? Try checking out:
563 </p>
564
565 <ul>
566 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
567 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
568 <li>
569 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
570 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
571 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
572 detailed in the help files.
573 </li>
574 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
575 </ul>
576
577 </body>
578 </section>
579 </chapter>
580 </guide>

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