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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 1.48 2013/06/05 02:49:20 nightmorph 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>17</version>
22 <date>2013-07-27</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 a
53 new Xfce release, 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="https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Xorg/Configuration">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
69 </p>
71 <p>
72 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/portage/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/portage/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/xfce4-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/xfce4-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 startxfce4 --with-ck-launch</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>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
161 <body>
163 <p>
164 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
165 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
166 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
167 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
168 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
169 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
170 </p>
172 <p>
173 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
174 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
175 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
176 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
177 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
178 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
179 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
180 save your session before logging out.
181 </p>
183 <p>
184 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
185 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
186 </p>
188 </body>
189 </section>
190 </chapter>
192 <chapter>
193 <title>Additional Applications</title>
194 <section>
195 <title>Panel plugins</title>
196 <body>
198 <p>
199 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
200 use within Xfce.
201 </p>
203 <p>
204 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
205 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are
206 self-explanatory, a few deserve extra attention, as they are quite helpful. To
207 use them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available
208 items in the "Add New Items" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
209 </p>
211 <ul>
212 <li>
213 <c>xfce4-battery-plugin</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
214 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
215 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
216 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
217 the battery is almost exhausted.
218 </li>
219 <li>
220 <c>xfce4-verve-plugin</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel.
221 It's quicker than opening up another terminal when you want to run a
222 command.
223 </li>
224 <li>
225 <c>xfce4-mount-plugin</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices
226 listed in <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
227 </li>
228 <li>
229 <c>xfce4-sensors-plugin</c> lets you monitor your hardware sensors, such as
230 CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more
231 </li>
232 </ul>
234 </body>
235 </section>
236 <section>
237 <title>Useful programs</title>
238 <body>
240 <p>
241 We should now <c>emerge</c> some useful applications and utilities:
242 <c>xfce4-mixer</c>, <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c>, <c>xfwm4-themes</c>, <c>orage</c>,
243 <c>mousepad</c>, <c>xfce4-power-manager</c>, <c>x11-terms/xfce4-terminal</c>, and
244 <c>thunar</c>.
245 </p>
247 <p>
248 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control for your sound card. It can also be run
249 as a panel applet, giving you fast access to playback volume.
250 <c>xfce4-taskmanager</c> displays a list of all running programs, and the CPU
251 and memory consumption each one takes up. By right-clicking an item, you can
252 kill a misbehaving application, pause and restart it, or even alter its runtime
253 priority, which lets you fine-tune how much of a demand it puts on your system's
254 resources.
255 </p>
257 <p>
258 <c>xfwm4-themes</c> adds several window manager themes. You may want to add a
259 more full-coverage icon theme such as <c>tango-icon-theme</c> just to round out
260 your desktop.
261 </p>
263 <p>
264 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
265 editor that starts up extremely quickly.
266 </p>
268 <p>
269 <c>xfce4-power-manager</c> is an application to monitor and manage power usage.
270 This is especially important for laptops! The power manager allows you to adjust
271 screen brightness, choose maximum performance or battery-saving modes, and setup
272 hibernate, suspend, and shutdown actions when the lid is shut or buttons are
273 pressed. You can set <uri
274 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-power-manager">xfce4-power-manager</uri>
275 to warn you when your battery reaches certain levels, or even turn off your
276 machine. The application comes with a couple of helpful panel plugins to display
277 battery/charging status, and a brightness control.
278 </p>
280 <p>
281 <c>x11-terms/xfce4-terminal</c> is an X11 terminal emulator, far more configurable and
282 useful than the barebones <c>xterm</c>. <c>xfce4-terminal</c> supports Unicode text,
283 color schemes, pseudo-transparency and hardware-accelerated transparency via
284 Xfce's built-in compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default
285 action on the terminal launcher of your panel runs
286 <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of <path>xterm</path>. Right-click the
287 launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
288 </p>
290 <p>
291 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's default graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
292 powerful, can support several plugins for even more functionality; just install
293 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
294 </p>
296 <ul>
297 <li>
298 <c>thunar-archive-plugin</c> lets you create and extract archive files using
299 the right-click menu. It provides a handy <uri
300 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-archive-plugin">front-end</uri>
301 for graphical archiving applications such as <c>xarchiver</c> and
302 <c>file-roller</c>.
303 </li>
304 <li>
305 <c>tumbler</c> lets you preview certain types of files from within Thunar,
306 such as images and fonts.
307 </li>
308 <li>
309 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
310 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-volman">manages</uri>
311 removable media and drives.
312 </li>
313 </ul>
315 <p>
316 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
317 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
318 </p>
320 <p>
321 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough as a basic text editor, if you need a
322 full-featured word processor but don't want the bloat of LibreOffice, try
323 emerging <c>abiword</c>. <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is
324 lighter, faster, and is completely interoperable with industry-standard document
325 types.
326 </p>
328 <p>
329 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
330 <c>thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
331 </p>
333 <p>
334 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
335 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
336 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
337 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
338 </p>
340 <p>
341 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
342 <uri link="/proj/en/desktop/sound/decibel.xml">decibel-audio-player</uri>. They
343 can play most every media format available quite nicely.
344 </p>
346 <p>
347 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
348 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still, <c>firefox</c>
349 and <c>midori</c> are always good choices. Alternatively, you may find
350 <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c> is not available on as many
351 processor architectures as <c>firefox</c>, and it has more dependencies unless
352 you override them with a few USE flags.
353 </p>
355 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
356 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
357 # <i>emerge firefox</i>
358 <comment>(Installing Midori)</comment>
359 # <i>emerge midori</i>
360 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
361 # <i>echo "www-client/opera gtk -kde" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
362 # <i>emerge opera</i>
363 </pre>
365 <p>
366 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
367 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
368 </p>
370 </body>
371 </section>
372 <section>
373 <title>Graphical login</title>
374 <body>
376 <p>
377 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
378 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
379 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
380 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
381 can login graphically).
382 </p>
384 <p>
385 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
386 </p>
388 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
389 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
390 </pre>
392 <p>
393 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
394 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
395 this guide, we'll stick with <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de">SLiM</uri>, the
396 Simple Login Manager.
397 </p>
399 <p>
400 <c>slim</c> is speedy and lightweight, with minimal dependencies. Perfect for
401 Xfce!
402 </p>
404 <pre caption="Installing SLiM">
405 # <i>emerge -avt slim</i>
406 </pre>
408 <note>
409 The <c>branding</c> USE flag will pull in the <c>slim-themes</c> package, which
410 will give you an assortment of login themes, including a Gentoo Linux theme.
411 </note>
413 <p>
414 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
415 </p>
417 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
419 </pre>
421 <p>
422 SLiM can automatically start your Xfce session if you add
423 <c>XSESSION="Xfce4"</c> to <path>/etc/env.d/90xsession</path>:
424 </p>
426 <pre caption="Setting XSESSION">
427 # <i>echo XSESSION=\"Xfce4\" > /etc/env.d/90xsession</i>
428 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
429 </pre>
431 </body>
432 </section>
433 <section>
434 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
435 <body>
437 <p>
438 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
439 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
440 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
441 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
442 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
443 </p>
445 <p>
446 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
447 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
448 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
449 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
450 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
451 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
452 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
453 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
454 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
455 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
456 </p>
458 <p>
459 If you installed SLiM as your display manager, there are lots of themes in the
460 <c>slim-themes</c> package available in Portage. Also, be sure to check the SLiM
461 <uri link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php">themes page</uri> for more
462 themes. Creating your own SLiM theme is fairly easy; just read the <uri
463 link="http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php">Themes HowTo</uri>. Gentoo also
464 ships a <c>slim-themes</c> package that you can <c>emerge</c>.
465 </p>
467 <p>
468 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
469 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
470 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
471 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
472 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
473 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
474 </p>
476 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
477 Section "Extensions"
478 Option "Composite" "Enable"
479 EndSection
480 </pre>
482 <p>
483 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
484 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
485 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
486 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
487 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
488 for your graphics card.
489 </p>
491 <p>
492 Once you've finished setting up a beautiful Xfce desktop, the next thing to do
493 is take a picture of it to share with other folks! Just install
494 <c>xfce4-screenshooter</c> and post your pictures somewhere for all to admire.
495 </p>
497 </body>
498 </section>
499 </chapter>
501 <chapter>
502 <title>Summary</title>
503 <section>
504 <body>
506 <p>
507 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
508 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
509 needs.
510 </p>
512 </body>
513 </section>
514 <section>
515 <title>Upgrading Xfce</title>
516 <body>
518 <p>
519 If you're upgrading Xfce from earlier major versions (4.x), then you will
520 need to remove your old cached sessions and profiles as they are incompatible
521 with new releases. For each of your users, run the following commands to remove
522 your old incompatible cached sessions and profile:
523 </p>
525 <pre caption="Deleting old sessions from the cache">
526 $ <i>rm -r ~/.cache/sessions</i>
527 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/xfce*</i>
528 $ <i>rm -r ~/.config/Thunar</i>
529 </pre>
531 <p>
532 Users will be greeted with a new and shiny interface, but will lose many of
533 their individual settings. Sadly, no migration of configuration(s) exist that we
534 know of.
535 </p>
537 </body>
538 </section>
539 <section>
540 <title>Resources</title>
541 <body>
543 <p>
544 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
545 application suggestions? Try checking out:
546 </p>
548 <ul>
549 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
550 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
551 <li>
552 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
553 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
554 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
555 detailed in the help files.
556 </li>
557 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
558 </ul>
560 </body>
561 </section>
562 </chapter>
563 </guide>

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