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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 1.40 2011/11/15 18:47:16 swift 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>9</version>
22 <date>2011-12-25</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 <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>
56 </body>
57 </section>
58 </chapter>
60 <chapter>
61 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
62 <section>
63 <title>The basics</title>
64 <body>
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>
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>
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>
82 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
83 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4-meta</i>
84 </pre>
86 <p>
87 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <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>
92 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
93 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
94 # <i>for x in cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
95 </pre>
97 <p>
98 Next, update your environment variables:
99 </p>
101 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
102 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
103 </pre>
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>
111 <pre caption="Installing Terminal">
112 # <i>emerge x11-terms/terminal</i>
113 </pre>
115 </body>
116 </section>
117 </chapter>
119 <chapter>
120 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
121 <section>
122 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
123 <body>
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>
131 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
132 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
133 </pre>
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>
143 <p>
144 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
145 </p>
147 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
148 $ <i>startx</i>
149 </pre>
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>
157 </body>
158 </section>
159 <section>
160 <title>Program access</title>
161 <body>
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>
174 </body>
175 </section>
176 <section>
177 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
178 <body>
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>
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>
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>
205 </body>
206 </section>
207 </chapter>
209 <chapter>
210 <title>Additional Applications</title>
211 <section>
212 <title>Panel plugins</title>
213 <body>
215 <p>
216 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
217 use within Xfce.
218 </p>
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>
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>
251 </body>
252 </section>
253 <section>
254 <title>Useful programs</title>
255 <body>
257 <p>
258 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
259 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>, <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>,
260 <c>leafpad</c>, <c>xfce4-power-manager</c>, <c>x11-terms/terminal</c>, and
261 <c>thunar</c>.
262 </p>
264 <p>
265 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
266 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume.
267 <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of all running programs, and the CPU
268 and memory consumption each one takes up. By right-clicking an item, you can
269 kill a misbehaving application, pause and restart it, or even alter its runtime
270 priority, which lets you fine-tune how much of a demand it puts on your system's
271 resources.
272 </p>
274 <p>
275 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
276 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
277 your desktop.
278 </p>
280 <p>
281 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>leafpad</c> is a barebones text
282 editor that starts up extremely quickly.
283 </p>
285 <p>
286 <c>xfce4-power-manager</c> is an application to monitor and manage power usage.
287 This is especially important for laptops! The power manager allows you to adjust
288 screen brightness, choose maximum performance or battery-saving modes, and setup
289 hibernate, suspend, and shutdown actions when the lid is shut or buttons are
290 pressed. You can set <uri
291 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-power-manager">xfce4-power-manager</uri>
292 to warn you when your battery reaches certain levels, or even turn off your
293 machine. The application comes with a couple of helpful panel plugins to display
294 battery/charging status, and a brightness control.
295 </p>
297 <p>
298 <c>x11-terms/terminal</c> is an X11 terminal emulator, far more configurable and
299 useful than the barebones <c>xterm</c>. <c>terminal</c> supports Unicode text,
300 color schemes, pseudo-transparency and hardware-accelerated transparency via
301 Xfce's built-in compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default
302 action on the terminal launcher of your panel runs
303 <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of <path>xterm</path>. Right-click the
304 launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
305 </p>
307 <p>
308 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
309 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
310 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
311 </p>
313 <ul>
314 <li>
315 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
316 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
317 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
318 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c> and
319 <c>file-roller</c>.
320 </li>
321 <li>
322 <c>tumbler</c> lets you preview certain types of files from within Thunar,
323 such as images and fonts.
324 </li>
325 <li>
326 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
327 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-volman">manages</uri>
328 removable media and drives.
329 </li>
330 </ul>
332 <p>
333 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
334 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
335 </p>
337 <p>
338 Though <c>leafpad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
339 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try
340 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
341 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
342 types.
343 </p>
345 <p>
346 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
347 <c>thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
348 </p>
350 <p>
351 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
352 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
353 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
354 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
355 </p>
357 <p>
358 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
359 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
360 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
361 </p>
363 <p>
364 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
365 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still, <c>firefox</c>
366 and <c>midori</c> are always good choices. Alternatively, you may find
367 <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c> is not available on as many
368 processor architectures as <c>firefox</c>, and it has more dependencies unless
369 you override them with a few USE flags.
370 </p>
372 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
373 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
374 # <i>emerge firefox</i>
375 <comment>(Installing Midori)</comment>
376 # <i>emerge midori</i>
377 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
378 # <i>echo "www-client/opera gtk -kde" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
379 # <i>emerge opera</i>
380 </pre>
382 <p>
383 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
384 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
385 </p>
387 </body>
388 </section>
389 <section>
390 <title>Graphical login</title>
391 <body>
393 <p>
394 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
395 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
396 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
397 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
398 can login graphically).
399 </p>
401 <p>
402 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
403 </p>
405 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
406 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
407 </pre>
409 <p>
410 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
411 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
412 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
413 Simple Login Manager.
414 </p>
416 <p>
417 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
418 Xfce!
419 </p>
421 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
422 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
423 </pre>
425 <note>
426 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
427 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
428 </note>
430 <p>
431 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
432 </p>
434 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
436 </pre>
438 <p>
439 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
440 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/env.d/90xsession</path>:
441 </p>
443 <pre caption="Setting XSESSION">
444 # <i>echo XSESSION=\"Xfce4\" > /etc/env.d/90xsession</i>
445 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
446 </pre>
448 </body>
449 </section>
450 <section>
451 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
452 <body>
454 <p>
455 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
456 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
457 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
458 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
459 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
460 </p>
462 <p>
463 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
464 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
465 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
466 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
467 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
468 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
469 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
470 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
471 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
472 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
473 </p>
475 <p>
476 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
477 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
478 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
479 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
480 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
481 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
482 </p>
484 <p>
485 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
486 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
487 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
488 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
489 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
490 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
491 </p>
493 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
494 Section "Extensions"
495 Option "Composite" "Enable"
496 EndSection
497 </pre>
499 <p>
500 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
501 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
502 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
503 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
504 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
505 for your graphics card.
506 </p>
508 <p>
509 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
510 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
511 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
512 </p>
514 </body>
515 </section>
516 </chapter>
518 <chapter>
519 <title>Summary</title>
520 <section>
521 <body>
523 <p>
524 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
525 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
526 needs.
527 </p>
529 </body>
530 </section>
531 <section>
532 <title>Upgrading Xfce</title>
533 <body>
535 <p>
536 If you're upgrading Xfce from a pre-4.8 version to 4.8 or newer, then you will
537 need to remove your old cached sessions and profiles as they are incompatible
538 with the 4.8 release (and later releases). For each of your users, run the
539 following commands to remove your old incompatible cached sessions and profile:
540 </p>
542 <pre caption="Deleting old sessions from the cache">
543 $ <i>rm -r ~/.cache/sessions</i>
544 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/xfce*</i>
545 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/Thunar</i>
546 </pre>
548 <p>
549 Users will be greeted with a new and shiny interface, but will lose many of
550 their individual settings. Sadly, no migration of configuration(s) exist that we
551 know of.
552 </p>
554 </body>
555 </section>
556 <section>
557 <title>Resources</title>
558 <body>
560 <p>
561 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
562 application suggestions? Try checking out:
563 </p>
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>
577 </body>
578 </section>
579 </chapter>
580 </guide>

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