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Revision 1.4 - (show annotations) (download) (as text)
Sun Mar 11 09:14:51 2007 UTC (7 years, 4 months ago) by nightmorph
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Updated my xfce guide for 4.4. lots of new fixes, changes, additions, etc. 4.4 rox your sox.

1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2
3 <!-- $Header $ -->
4
5 <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
6
7 <guide link="/doc/en/xfce-config.xml">
8
9 <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
10
11 <author title="Author">
12 <mail link="nightmorph@gentoo.org">Joshua Saddler</mail>
13 </author>
14
15 <abstract>
16 This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
17 full-featured desktop environment.
18 </abstract>
19
20 <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
21 <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
22 <license/>
23
24 <version>1.3</version>
25 <date>2007-03-11</date>
26
27 <chapter>
28 <title>Introduction</title>
29 <section>
30 <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
31 <body>
32
33 <p>
34 <uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce</uri> is a fast, lightweight desktop
35 environment for Unix-like operating systems. It is designed for productivity,
36 and is quite configurable while still adhering to the <uri
37 link="http://www.freedesktop.org">Freedesktop</uri> specifications.
38 </p>
39
40 <p>
41 Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as Gnome and KDE, Xfce uses far fewer
42 system resources. Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer
43 dependencies; it takes up less space on your hard disk and takes less time to
44 install.
45 </p>
46
47 <p>
48 This guide will not only show you how to install and configure a minimal Xfce
49 environment, but will also explore options to create a full-featured desktop in
50 keeping with the Xfce philosophy: light, fast, and modular.
51 </p>
52
53 <p>
54 Additionally, this guide will show you how to <uri link="#upgrade">upgrade</uri>
55 from version 4.2 to 4.4.
56 </p>
57
58 </body>
59 </section>
60 </chapter>
61
62 <chapter>
63 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
64 <section>
65 <title>The basics</title>
66 <body>
67
68 <p>
69 Before we install our fully-functional yet minimal desktop, let's take a moment
70 to review the basic packages we'll be emerging.
71 </p>
72
73 <table>
74 <tr>
75 <th>Name</th>
76 <th>Description</th>
77 </tr>
78 <tr>
79 <ti>xfce4</ti>
80 <ti>The base Xfce desktop environment</ti>
81 </tr>
82 <tr>
83 <ti>xscreensaver</ti>
84 <ti>
85 A screensaver with powersaving features and the ability to lock the screen
86 for security
87 </ti>
88 </tr>
89 </table>
90
91 <p>
92 You're free to install any other packages you wish, but for now, we'll stick
93 with these suggestions for a fast, minimal working environment. Double check
94 your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll probably at least want
95 <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification"</c>.
96 </p>
97
98 <p>
99 Now, let's install Xfce.
100 </p>
101
102 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
103 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4 xscreensaver</i>
104 </pre>
105
106 <p>
107 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
108 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
109 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
110 </p>
111
112 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
113 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
114 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
115 </pre>
116
117 <p>
118 Next, update your environment variables:
119 </p>
120
121 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
122 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
123 </pre>
124
125 <p>
126 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
127 </p>
128
129 <pre caption="Starting hald">
130 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
131 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
132 </pre>
133
134 </body>
135 </section>
136 </chapter>
137
138 <chapter>
139 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
140 <section>
141 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
142 <body>
143
144 <p>
145 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
146 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
147 log on as a regular user.
148 </p>
149
150 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
151 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
152 </pre>
153
154 <p>
155 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
156 </p>
157
158 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
159 $ <i>startx</i>
160 </pre>
161
162 <p>
163 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
164 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
165 suit your needs.
166 </p>
167
168 </body>
169 </section>
170 <section>
171 <title>Program access</title>
172 <body>
173
174 <p>
175 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
176 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
177 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
178 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
179 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
180 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
181 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
182 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
183 </p>
184
185 </body>
186 </section>
187 <section>
188 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
189 <body>
190
191 <p>
192 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
193 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
194 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
195 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
196 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
197 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
198 </p>
199
200 <p>
201 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
202 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
203 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
204 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
205 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
206 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
207 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
208 save your session before logging out.
209 </p>
210
211 <p>
212 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
213 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
214 </p>
215
216 </body>
217 </section>
218 </chapter>
219
220 <chapter>
221 <title>Additional Applications</title>
222 <section>
223 <title>Panel plugins</title>
224 <body>
225
226 <p>
227 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
228 use within Xfce.
229 </p>
230
231 <p>
232 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
233 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
234 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
235 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
236 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
237 </p>
238
239 <ul>
240 <li>
241 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
242 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
243 </li>
244 <li>
245 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
246 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
247 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
248 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
249 the battery is almost exhausted.
250 </li>
251 <li>
252 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
253 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
254 </li>
255 <li>
256 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
257 sound applications.
258 </li>
259 </ul>
260
261 <p>
262 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
263 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
264 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
265 for Gnome.
266 </p>
267
268 </body>
269 </section>
270 <section>
271 <title>Useful programs</title>
272 <body>
273
274 <p>
275 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
276 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
277 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
278 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
279 well worth installing.
280 </p>
281
282 <p>
283 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
284 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
285 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
286 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
287 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
288 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
289 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
290 </p>
291
292 <p>
293 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
294 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
295 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
296 </p>
297
298 <ul>
299 <li>
300 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
301 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
302 archiving <uri
303 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
304 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
305 </li>
306 <li>
307 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
308 at once, and lets you <uri
309 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
310 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
311 </li>
312 <li>
313 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
314 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
315 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
316 </li>
317 <li>
318 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
319 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
320 removable media and drives.
321 </li>
322 </ul>
323
324 <p>
325 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
326 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
327 </p>
328
329 <p>
330 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
331 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
332 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
333 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
334 </p>
335
336 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
337 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
338 </pre>
339
340 <p>
341 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
342 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging
343 <c>sylpheed-claws</c> or <c>claws-mail</c>.
344 </p>
345
346 <p>
347 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
348 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
349 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
350 <c>emerge gaim</c>.
351 </p>
352
353 <p>
354 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
355 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
356 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
357 </p>
358
359 <p>
360 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
361 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
362 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
363 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
364 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
365 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
366 </p>
367
368 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
369 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
370 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
371 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
372 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
373 # <i>emerge opera</i>
374 </pre>
375
376 <p>
377 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
378 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
379 </p>
380
381 </body>
382 </section>
383 <section>
384 <title>Graphical login</title>
385 <body>
386
387 <p>
388 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
389 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
390 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
391 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
392 can login graphically).
393 </p>
394
395 <p>
396 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
397 </p>
398
399 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
400 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
401 </pre>
402
403 <p>
404 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
405 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
406 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
407 <c>gdm</c>.
408 </p>
409
410 <p>
411 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
412 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
413 </p>
414
415 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
416 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
417 </pre>
418
419 <p>
420 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
421 </p>
422
423 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
424 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
425 </pre>
426
427 <p>
428 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
429 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
430 </p>
431
432 <p>
433 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
434 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
435 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
436 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
437 </p>
438
439 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
440 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
441 </pre>
442
443 <p>
444 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
445 <c>xdm</c>:
446 </p>
447
448 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
449 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
450 </pre>
451
452 </body>
453 </section>
454 <section>
455 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
456 <body>
457
458 <p>
459 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
460 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
461 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
462 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
463 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
464 </p>
465
466 <p>
467 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
468 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
469 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
470 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
471 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
472 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
473 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
474 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
475 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
476 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
477 </p>
478
479 <p>
480 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
481 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
482 them, you can either unpack and move them to
483 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
484 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
485 There are some <uri
486 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
487 Gentoo <uri
488 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
489 available.
490 </p>
491
492 <p>
493 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
494 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
495 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
496 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
497 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
498 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
499 </p>
500
501 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
502 Section "Extensions"
503 Option "Composite" "Enable"
504 EndSection
505 </pre>
506
507 <p>
508 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
509 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
510 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
511 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
512 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
513 for your graphics card.
514 </p>
515
516 </body>
517 </section>
518 </chapter>
519
520 <chapter id="upgrade">
521 <title>Upgrading</title>
522 <section>
523 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
524 <body>
525
526 <p>
527 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
528 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
529 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
530 </p>
531
532 <p>
533 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
534 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
535 </p>
536
537 <p>
538 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
539 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
540 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
541 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
542 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
543 </p>
544
545 <p>
546 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
547 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
548 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
549 </p>
550
551 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
552 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
553 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
554 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
555 </pre>
556
557 <note>
558 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
559 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
560 </note>
561
562 <p>
563 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
564 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
565 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
566 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
567 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
568 </p>
569
570 <p>
571 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
572 </p>
573
574 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
575 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
576 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
577 </pre>
578
579 <p>
580 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
581 </p>
582
583 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
584 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
585 </pre>
586
587 </body>
588 </section>
589 <section>
590 <title>Settings</title>
591 <body>
592
593 <p>
594 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
595 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
596 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
597 </p>
598
599 <p>
600 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
601 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled).
602 </p>
603
604 <p>
605 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
606 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
607 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
608 </p>
609
610 </body>
611 </section>
612 </chapter>
613
614 <chapter>
615 <title>Summary</title>
616 <section>
617 <body>
618
619 <p>
620 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
621 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
622 needs.
623 </p>
624
625 </body>
626 </section>
627 <section>
628 <title>Resources</title>
629 <body>
630
631 <p>
632 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
633 application suggestions? Try checking out:
634 </p>
635
636 <ul>
637 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
638 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
639 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
640 </ul>
641
642 </body>
643 </section>
644 </chapter>
645 </guide>

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