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1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2
3 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.7 2007/05/22 06:09:44 nightmorph Exp $ -->
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>1.6</version>
25 <date>2007-07-21</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 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
70 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
71 </p>
72
73 <p>
74 Before we install our fully-functional yet minimal desktop, let's take a moment
75 to review the basic packages we'll be emerging.
76 </p>
77
78 <table>
79 <tr>
80 <th>Name</th>
81 <th>Description</th>
82 </tr>
83 <tr>
84 <ti>xfce4</ti>
85 <ti>The base Xfce desktop environment</ti>
86 </tr>
87 <tr>
88 <ti>xscreensaver</ti>
89 <ti>
90 A screensaver with powersaving features and the ability to lock the screen
91 for security
92 </ti>
93 </tr>
94 </table>
95
96 <p>
97 You're free to install any other packages you wish, but for now, we'll stick
98 with these suggestions for a fast, minimal working environment. Double check
99 your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll probably at least want
100 <c>USE="dbus -gnome hal startup-notification"</c>.
101 </p>
102
103 <p>
104 Now, let's install Xfce.
105 </p>
106
107 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
108 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4 xscreensaver</i>
109 </pre>
110
111 <p>
112 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
113 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
114 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
115 </p>
116
117 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
118 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
119 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
120 </pre>
121
122 <p>
123 Next, update your environment variables:
124 </p>
125
126 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
127 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
128 </pre>
129
130 <p>
131 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
132 </p>
133
134 <pre caption="Starting hald">
135 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
136 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
137 </pre>
138
139 </body>
140 </section>
141 </chapter>
142
143 <chapter>
144 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
145 <section>
146 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
147 <body>
148
149 <p>
150 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
151 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
152 log on as a regular user.
153 </p>
154
155 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
156 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
157 </pre>
158
159 <p>
160 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
161 </p>
162
163 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
164 $ <i>startx</i>
165 </pre>
166
167 <p>
168 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
169 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
170 suit your needs.
171 </p>
172
173 </body>
174 </section>
175 <section>
176 <title>Program access</title>
177 <body>
178
179 <p>
180 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
181 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
182 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
183 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
184 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
185 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
186 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
187 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
188 </p>
189
190 </body>
191 </section>
192 <section>
193 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
194 <body>
195
196 <p>
197 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
198 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
199 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
200 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
201 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
202 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
203 </p>
204
205 <p>
206 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
207 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
208 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
209 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
210 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
211 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
212 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
213 save your session before logging out.
214 </p>
215
216 <p>
217 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
218 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
219 </p>
220
221 </body>
222 </section>
223 </chapter>
224
225 <chapter>
226 <title>Additional Applications</title>
227 <section>
228 <title>Panel plugins</title>
229 <body>
230
231 <p>
232 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
233 use within Xfce.
234 </p>
235
236 <p>
237 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
238 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
239 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
240 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
241 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
242 </p>
243
244 <ul>
245 <li>
246 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
247 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
248 </li>
249 <li>
250 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
251 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
252 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
253 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
254 the battery is almost exhausted.
255 </li>
256 <li>
257 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
258 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
259 </li>
260 <li>
261 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
262 sound applications.
263 </li>
264 </ul>
265
266 <p>
267 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
268 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
269 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
270 for Gnome.
271 </p>
272
273 </body>
274 </section>
275 <section>
276 <title>Useful programs</title>
277 <body>
278
279 <p>
280 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
281 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
282 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
283 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
284 well worth installing.
285 </p>
286
287 <p>
288 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
289 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
290 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
291 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
292 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
293 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
294 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
295 </p>
296
297 <p>
298 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
299 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
300 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
301 </p>
302
303 <ul>
304 <li>
305 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
306 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
307 archiving <uri
308 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
309 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
310 </li>
311 <li>
312 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
313 at once, and lets you <uri
314 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
315 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
316 </li>
317 <li>
318 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
319 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
320 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
321 </li>
322 <li>
323 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
324 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
325 removable media and drives.
326 </li>
327 </ul>
328
329 <p>
330 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
331 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
332 </p>
333
334 <p>
335 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
336 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
337 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
338 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
339 </p>
340
341 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
342 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
343 </pre>
344
345 <p>
346 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
347 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging
348 <c>sylpheed-claws</c> or <c>claws-mail</c>.
349 </p>
350
351 <p>
352 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
353 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
354 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
355 <c>emerge gaim</c>.
356 </p>
357
358 <p>
359 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
360 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
361 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
362 </p>
363
364 <p>
365 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
366 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
367 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
368 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
369 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
370 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
371 </p>
372
373 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
374 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
375 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
376 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
377 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
378 # <i>emerge opera</i>
379 </pre>
380
381 <p>
382 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
383 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
384 </p>
385
386 </body>
387 </section>
388 <section>
389 <title>Graphical login</title>
390 <body>
391
392 <p>
393 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
394 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
395 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
396 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
397 can login graphically).
398 </p>
399
400 <p>
401 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
402 </p>
403
404 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
405 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
406 </pre>
407
408 <p>
409 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
410 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
411 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
412 <c>gdm</c>.
413 </p>
414
415 <p>
416 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
417 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
418 </p>
419
420 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
421 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
422 </pre>
423
424 <p>
425 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
426 </p>
427
428 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
429 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
430 </pre>
431
432 <p>
433 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
434 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
435 </p>
436
437 <p>
438 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
439 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
440 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
441 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
442 </p>
443
444 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
445 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
446 </pre>
447
448 <p>
449 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
450 <c>xdm</c>:
451 </p>
452
453 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
454 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
455 </pre>
456
457 </body>
458 </section>
459 <section>
460 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
461 <body>
462
463 <p>
464 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
465 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
466 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
467 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
468 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
469 </p>
470
471 <p>
472 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
473 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
474 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
475 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
476 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
477 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
478 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
479 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
480 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
481 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
482 </p>
483
484 <p>
485 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
486 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
487 them, you can either unpack and move them to
488 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
489 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
490 There are some <uri
491 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
492 Gentoo <uri
493 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
494 available.
495 </p>
496
497 <p>
498 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
499 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
500 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
501 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
502 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
503 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
504 </p>
505
506 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
507 Section "Extensions"
508 Option "Composite" "Enable"
509 EndSection
510 </pre>
511
512 <p>
513 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
514 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
515 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
516 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
517 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
518 for your graphics card.
519 </p>
520
521 </body>
522 </section>
523 </chapter>
524
525 <chapter id="upgrade">
526 <title>Upgrading</title>
527 <section>
528 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
529 <body>
530
531 <p>
532 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
533 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
534 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
535 </p>
536
537 <p>
538 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
539 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
540 </p>
541
542 <p>
543 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
544 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
545 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
546 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
547 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
548 </p>
549
550 <p>
551 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
552 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
553 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
554 </p>
555
556 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
557 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
558 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
559 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
560 </pre>
561
562 <note>
563 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
564 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
565 </note>
566
567 <p>
568 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
569 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
570 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
571 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
572 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
573 </p>
574
575 <p>
576 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
577 </p>
578
579 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
580 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
581 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
582 </pre>
583
584 <p>
585 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
586 </p>
587
588 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
589 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
590 </pre>
591
592 </body>
593 </section>
594 <section>
595 <title>Settings</title>
596 <body>
597
598 <p>
599 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
600 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
601 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
602 </p>
603
604 <p>
605 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
606 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled). Xfce 4.4 has
607 slightly changed the default behavior of workspaces and active window focus. If
608 you find that clicking a hyperlink in one workspace switches your browser to
609 that workspace from another one (or similar annoying window focus behavior), try
610 Settings --> Window Manager Tweaks --> Focus --> Activate Focus Stealing
611 Prevention.
612 </p>
613
614 <p>
615 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
616 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
617 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
618 </p>
619
620 </body>
621 </section>
622 </chapter>
623
624 <chapter>
625 <title>Summary</title>
626 <section>
627 <body>
628
629 <p>
630 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
631 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
632 needs.
633 </p>
634
635 </body>
636 </section>
637 <section>
638 <title>Resources</title>
639 <body>
640
641 <p>
642 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
643 application suggestions? Try checking out:
644 </p>
645
646 <ul>
647 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
648 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
649 <li>
650 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
651 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
652 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
653 detailed in the help files.
654 </li>
655 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
656 </ul>
657
658 </body>
659 </section>
660 </chapter>
661 </guide>

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