Xfce

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From Xfce - About:

Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.

Contents

What is Xfce?

Xfce is a Desktop Environment, like GNOME or KDE. It contains a suite of apps like a root window app, window manager, file manager, panel, etc. Xfce is written using the GTK2 toolkit, and contains its own development environment (libraries, daemons, etc), similar to other big DEs.

Features

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: please use the first argument of the template to provide a brief explanation. (Discuss in Talk:Xfce#)
  • Lighter on resources than the other major DEs (KDE, GNOME).
  • Most settings are exposed via a GUI, Xfce does not try to hide stuff from the user.
  • Xfwm has an optional built-in compositor which allows for true transparency and all the benefits of GPU acceleration (minimizes tearing, etc.).
  • It works great with multiple monitors.
  • Xfce4 is stable, mature software.

Installation

Xfce is somewhat modular. That means there is no need for you to run every part, you can pick and choose some of them. Because of this, Xfce has some separate Arch packages.

The base Xfce system can be installed with the group xfce4, available in the Official Repositories. Pacman will ask you to select the packages to install, you probably want to get them all by simply pressing enter. Extra packages, like panel plugins, are available in the xfce4-goodies group (try pacman -Sg xfce4-goodies for a complete list). If you wish to admire 'Tips and Tricks' on login, install the fortune-mod package.

Dependencies

Start the dbus daemon and add dbus to your DAEMONS array so it starts automatically on boot.

Installing Gamin (the successor of FAM) is highly recommended. It will run automatically in the background when needed.

# pacman -S gamin

In order to get the xfce4-mixer to work with ALSA, you need to install gstreamer0.10-base-plugins. See below for help with OSS.

Running Xfce

Automatically at boot time

There are two methods to start Xfce (and in fact, any desktop or window manager) at boot time:

See Display Manager for details about installing and configuring a Display Manager (be sure to configure it properly for PolicyKit). See Start X at Boot for configuration instructions on using bash_profile or inittab.

Manually

You can execute:

$ startxfce4

from the console, or configure xinitrc and use xinit or startx.

If you have not created a ~/.xinitrc yet, do so with:

$ cp /etc/skel/.xinitrc ~/.xinitrc

and add the following line:

exec ck-launch-session startxfce4

Example:

~/.xinitrc
#!/bin/sh

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ]; then
  for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/*; do
    [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
  done
  unset f
fi

exec ck-launch-session startxfce4
Note:
  • ck-launch-session starts a clean consolekit session needed by Xfce for power management, automounting, shutting down/rebooting etc. ConsoleKit/PolicyKit capable display managers such as gdm do this for you automatically.
  • xorg-xdm is also ConsoleKit/PolicyKit capable since version 1.1.11. Unless you happen to run an old version, you must no longer include ck-launch-session from your .xinitrc or .xsession for xdm.
  • In case you are wondering, dbus-launch will be launched by the xinitrc.d code at the beginning of the file. dbus-launch starts a dbus-daemon instance to provide communication with PolicyKit.
  • The proper command for launching Xfce is startxfce4: do not start xfce4-session directly, since it is already run by startxfce4 itself.
Note: dbus-launch should actually be called after ck-launch-session, otherwise there will be authorization problems when mounting disks as a regular user, see FS#25031. For a temporary workaround you can comment out the xinitrc.d script at the beginning of the file and keep an eye on the evolution of the bug report (and possibly voting it).
~/.xinitrc [temporary workaround]
#!/bin/sh

#if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ]; then
#  for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/*; do
#    [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
#  done
#  unset f
#fi

exec ck-launch-session startxfce4
There is still no need to start dbus-launch explicitly since startxfce4 takes care of doing that anyway.

Shutting down, rebooting, and automounting from within Xfce

  • Make sure that dbus is enabled in the DAEMONS array in /etc/rc.conf.
  • Make sure you are a member of the power group for shutting down and rebooting.
  • Make sure you are a member of the storage group for automounting.
  • Make sure that you are using exec ck-launch-session startxfce4 in ~/.xinitrc (along with sourcing xinitrc.d scripts, which is done for you in the skel file) or a ConsoleKit/PolicyKit capable display manager.

Tips

Panel

How to customize xfce panel background

Edit ~/.gtkrc-2.0. Note that you must place the image in the same directory as the configuration, which is ~/. You can not specify the path to the image, or it will not work.

 style "panel-background" {
   bg_pixmap[NORMAL]        = "foo.bar"
   bg_pixmap[PRELIGHT]      = "foo.bar"
   bg_pixmap[ACTIVE]        = "foo.bar"
   bg_pixmap[SELECTED]      = "foo.bar"
   bg_pixmap[INSENSITIVE]   = "foo.bar"
 }
 widget_class "*Panel*" style "panel-background"

Replacements for the default 'menu' panel applet

The "Ubuntu System Panel" (Gnome) panel applet has similar features to those found in its KDE v4.2 equivalent. It can be added to an Xfce panel via the 'XfApplet' panel applet, which allows Gnome applets to be used in Xfce.

It is available in the AUR

How to remove menu entries from the System menu

Method 1

With the built-in menu editor, you cannot remove menu entries from the System menu. Here’s how to hide them:

  1. Open Terminal (Xfce menu > System > Terminal) and go to the /usr/share/applications folder:
    $ cd /usr/share/applications
  2. This folder should be full of .desktop files. To see a list type:
    $ ls
  3. Add NoDisplay=true to the .desktop file. For example, if you want to hide Firefox, type in the terminal:
    $ sudo echo "NoDisplay=true" >> firefox.desktop
    This command appends the text NoDisplay=true to the end of the .desktop file.
Method 2

Another method is to copy the entire contents of the global applications directory over to your local applications directory, and then proceed to modify and/or disable unwanted .desktop entries. This will survive application updates that overwrite changes under /usr/share/applications/.

  1. In a terminal, copy everything from /usr/share/applications to ~/.local/share/applications/:
    $ cp /usr/share/applications/* ~/.local/share/applications/
  2. For any entry you wish to hide from the menu, add the NoDisplay=true option:
    $ echo "NoDisplay=true" >> ~/.local/share/applications/foo.desktop

You can also edit the application's category by editing the .desktop file with a text editor and modifying the Categories= line.

Method 3

The third method is the cleanest and recommended in the Xfce wiki.

Create the file ~/.config/menus/xfce-applications.menu and copy the folowing in it:

<!DOCTYPE Menu PUBLIC "-//freedesktop//DTD Menu 1.0//EN"
  "http://www.freedesktop.org/standards/menu-spec/1.0/menu.dtd">

<Menu>
    <Name>Xfce</Name>
    <MergeFile type="parent">/etc/xdg/menus/xfce-applications.menu</MergeFile>


    <Exclude>
        <Filename>xfrun4.desktop</Filename>

        <Filename>exo-terminal-emulator.desktop</Filename>
        <Filename>exo-file-manager.desktop</Filename>
        <Filename>exo-mail-reader.desktop</Filename>
        <Filename>exo-web-browser.desktop</Filename>

        <Filename>xfce4-about.desktop</Filename>
        <Filename>xfhelp4.desktop</Filename>
    </Exclude>

    <Layout>
        <Merge type="all"/>
        <Separator/>

        <Menuname>Settings</Menuname>
        <Separator/>

        <Filename>xfce4-session-logout.desktop</Filename>
    </Layout>

</Menu>

The <MergeFile> tag includes the default Xfce menu in our file. This is important.

The <Exclude> tag excludes applications which we do not want to appear in the menu. Here we excluded some Xfce default shortcuts, but you can exclude firefox.desktop or any other application.

The <Layout> tag defines the layout of the menu. The applications can be organized in folders or however we wish. For more details see the aforementioned Xfce wiki page.

But what do you do with menu entries which do not show up in /usr/share/applications (e.g., apps installed via Wine)?

I have found some shortcuts that show in the category “Other” in this directory: ~/.local/share/applications/wine/.

Panel autohide delay

Add this to ~/.gtkrc-2.0.

 style "xfce-panel-window-style"
 {
   # Time in miliseconds before the panel will unhide on an enter event
   XfcePanelWindow::popup-delay = 225
 
   # Time in miliseconds before the panel will hide on a leave event
   XfcePanelWindow::popdown-delay = 350
 }
 class "XfcePanelWindow" style "xfce-panel-window-style"

Desktop

Why does my desktop not refresh?

Xfce uses FAM (File Alteration Monitor) or gamin (FAM's successor) to get notification when a file or directory changes. If you decide to use FAM, do not forget to add 'fam' to the list of DAEMONS in /etc/rc.conf. This step is not necessary for gamin.

NOTE: After recent updates, FAM may have issues opening some mounts, such as sshfs. Use gamin if this is the case.

Use a transparent background for desktop icon titles

To change the default white background of desktop icon titles to something more suitable, edit the .gtkrc-2.0 file in your home directory (or create the file if needed) and add the following:

style "xfdesktop-icon-view" {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 10
base[NORMAL] = "#000000"
base[SELECTED] = "#71B9FF"
base[ACTIVE] = "#71FFAD"
fg[NORMAL] = "#ffffff"
fg[SELECTED] = "#71B9FF"
fg[ACTIVE] = "#71FFAD" }
widget_class "*XfdesktopIconView*" style "xfdesktop-icon-view"

Hide selected partitions on the desktop

If you wish to prevent certain partitions or drives appearing on the desktop, you can create a udev rule, for example /etc/udev/rules.d/10-local.rules:

KERNEL=="sda1", ENV{UDISKS_PRESENTATION_HIDE}="1"
KERNEL=="sda2", ENV{UDISKS_PRESENTATION_HIDE}="1"

Would show all partitions with the exception of sda1 and sda2 on your desktop.

Switch to old desktop right click menu without Thunar things

xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -v --create -p /desktop-icons/style -t int -s 0

XFWM4

How to enable the compositor in Xfce

Xfce comes with a builtin compositor adding the option for fancy window effects, shadows and transparency and so on. It can be enabled in the Window Manager Tweaks and works on the fly. No additional settings are needed in your /etc/xorg.conf. To enable and adjust settings, go to:

Menu  -->  Settings  -->  Window Manager Tweaks

Disable window roll-up

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/mousewheel_rollup -s false

Commands for the settings manager

There is no official documentation for the commands executed. One must look at .desktop files /usr/share/applications/ folder. For the people who like to know exactly what is happening, here is a handy list to save the effort:

xfce-setting-show backdrop
xfce-setting-show display
xfce-setting-show keyboard
xfce4-menueditor
xfce-setting-show sound
xfce-setting-show mouse
xfce-setting-show session
xfce-setting-show
xfce-setting-show splash
xfce-setting-show ui
xfce-setting-show xfwm4
xfce-setting-show wmtweaks
xfce-setting-show workspaces
xfce-setting-show printing_system
xfce4-appfinder
xfce4-autostart-editor
xfce4-panel -c

To review all the available setting manager commands run the following in a terminal:

$ grep xfce-setting-show /usr/share/applications/xfce*settings*

Session

Customizing Startup Applications

This includes getting necessary environment variables into the GUI runtime.

  • Copy the file /etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc to ~/.config/xfce4/
  • Edit this file. For example, you can add something like this somehwere in the middle:
   source $HOME/.bashrc
   # start rxvt-unicode server
   urxvtd -q -o -f

Switch between users

It is possible to switch between X sessions thanks to xfswitch-plugin . It adds an icon to the Xfce panel, and requires gdm to work at the moment.

xfswitch-plugin is available through AUR

Modify XML settings files directly

It may be useful, especially when upgrading, to manually edit .xml files in the ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/ folder. For application keyboard shortcuts for example, the file is ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts.xml. It is faster to copy and paste the XML keys that you want rather than using the GUI.

Removable Devices

If you want an icon appearing on your desktop and in thunar when you plug in external devices, make sure gvfs is installed:

# pacman -S --needed gvfs

You could also need to install gvfs-afc (read this discussion):

# pacman -S gvfs-afc

It is also a good idea to install thunar-volman (included in the xfce4-goodies group):

# pacman -S thunar-volman

Udisk and a udisk wrapper are recommended if you want to automount optical and external drives easily

  • devmon - devmon (AUR) is a configuration-less bash wrapper script for udisks which automounts optical discs and removable drives. It can also selectively autostart apps or execute commands after mounting, ignore specified devices and volume labels, and unmount removable drives.

How to add themes to XFCE

1. Go to xfce-look.org and click "Themes" in the left navbar. Look around for a theme you want and click "Download".

2. Go to the directory where you downloaded the tarball/file and extract it using Squeeze/Xarchiver/CLI.

3. Move the extracted folder to /usr/share/themes (for all users) or ~/.themes (for just you). Inside /usr/share/themes/abc, there is a folder that you create called xfwm4 that will contain whatever files that is included with that theme.

4. GTK theme is available here:

Menu --> Settings --> Appearance

You select your xfwm theme in:

Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager

Cursors

Main article: X11 Cursors

If you have alternative X cursor themes installed, Xfce can find them with:

Menu --> Settings --> Mouse --> Theme

Fonts

If you find the standard fonts rather thick and or slightly out of focus open Settings>Appearence click on the Fonts tab and under Hinting: change to Full

You could also try using a custom DPI setting.

Sound

User-space utilities

Install the alsa-utils package which contains the alsamixer user-space tool, which allows for configuration of the sound device from the console or terminal. alsa-utils is available in the official repositories.

It may be necessary to create a .asoundrc file in the home directory to set the default audio card.

 pcm.!default {
 type hw
 card 2
 }
 
 ctl.!default {
 type hw
 card 2
 }

More on this under Advanced Linux Sound Architecture

Pulseaudio

Sync-update the complete gstreamer group since xfce4 uses gstreamer as sound backend. The xfce mixer applet will be able to control volume (after setting device and master control).

 pacman -Syu gstreamer0.10-plugins

How do I get xfce4-mixer and OSS4 to work together?

Xfce 4.6 uses gstreamer as the backend to control volume, so first you have to make gstreamer cooperate with xfce4-mixer.

 pacman -S xfce4-mixer gstreamer0.10-base-plugins

(Optional) Second, try to install gstreamer0.10-good-plugins, gstreamer0.10-bad-plugins

 pacman -S gstreamer0.10-good-plugins gstreamer0.10-bad-plugins

login and logout, or just remove the mixer plugin and add it again. If it does not work at all, then you have to compile gstreamer0.10-good-plugins yourself. and can

Download the PKGBUILD and other files needed from ABS or here, edit the PKGBUILD, add --enable-oss.

 ./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc --localstatedir=/var \
   --enable-oss \
   --disable-static --enable-experimental \
   --disable-schemas-install \
   --disable-hal \
   --with-package-name="GStreamer Good Plugins (Archlinux)" \
   --with-package-origin="http://www.archlinux.org/"

and then run makepkg -i.

 makepkg -i

Still not working? Try tis package in AUR gstreamer0.10-good-plugins-ossv4, modify the pkgver to the newest in the PKGBUILD, and it should work.

Other LINKS: OSS forum

Change volume with keyboard volume buttons

Go to

Settings --> Keyboard

Click the "Application Shortcuts" tab and add click the "Add" button. Add the following by entering the command, then pressing the corresponding button at the next window:

ALSA

For the raise volume button:

amixer set Master 5%+

For the lower volume button:

amixer set Master 5%-

For the mute button:

amixer set Master toggle

You can also run these commands to set the above commands to the standard XF86Audio keys:

xfconf-query -c xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts -p /commands/custom/XF86AudioRaiseVolume -n -t string -s "amixer set Master 5%+"
xfconf-query -c xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts -p /commands/custom/XF86AudioLowerVolume -n -t string -s "amixer set Master 5%-"
xfconf-query -c xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts -p /commands/custom/XF86AudioMute -n -t string -s "amixer set Master toggle"

If amixer set Master toggle does not work, try the PCM channel (amixer set PCM toggle) instead.

The channel must have a "mute" option for the toggle command to work. To check whether or not your Master channel supports toggling mute, run alsamixer in a terminal and look for the double M's (MM) under the Master channel. If they are not present, then it does not support the mute option. If, for example, you had to change the toggle button to use the PCM channel, make sure to also set the PCM channel as the Mixer Track under Xfce Mixer properties.

OSS

Use one of these scripts: http://www.opensound.com/wiki/index.php/Tips_And_Tricks#Using_multimedia_keys_with_OSS

If using ossvol (recommended), add:

ossvol -i 1

for the volume up button

ossvol -d 1

for the volume down button

ossvol -t

for the mute/unmute button

Xfce4-volumed

Xfce4-volumed daemon from the AUR automatically maps volume keys of your keyboard to Xfce-mixer. Additionally you get OSD through Xfce4-notifyd when changing volume. Xfce4-volumed does not need any configuration and is started automatically with Xfce.

Screenshots

Using print-screen key

A simple way is to use a command-line screenshot utility:

# pacman -S scrot

Then

XFCE Menu  -->  Settings  -->  Keyboard  >>>  Application Shortcuts.

Add the "scrot" command to use the "PrintScreen" key.

All screenshots will be placed in your home folder with unique names like

"2009-02-19-063052_1280x1024_scrot.png".

Screenshooter

There is also an a screenshot plugin for the Xfce panel, which can be used instead of scrot, that is available in extra:

# pacman -S xfce4-screenshooter

You can add a keyboard binding for it using the command

xfce4-screenshooter -f

instead of "scrot". You will get a dialog window after pressing "Print" where you can copy the image to the clipboard or save it.

Change mount options

A common problem when automounting USB sticks formatted with fat filesystem is the inability to properly show characters as umlauts, ñ, ß, etc. This may be solved changing the default iocharset to utf8, which is easily done adding a line to /etc/xdg/xfce4/mount.rc:

[vfat]
uid=<auto>
shortname=winnt
utf8=true
# FreeBSD specific option
longnames=true

Note that when using utf-8, the system will distinct between upper- and lowercases, potentially corrupting your files. Be careful.

It is also recommendable to mount vfat devices with the flush option, so that when copying to USB sticks data flushes more often, thus making thunar's progress bar to stays up until things are on the disk.

[vfat]
flush=true

Terminal tango color theme

Open with your favorite editor

~/.config/Terminal/terminalrc

And add(replace) this lines:

ColorForeground=White
ColorBackground=#323232323232
ColorPalette1=#2e2e34343636
ColorPalette2=#cccc00000000
ColorPalette3=#4e4e9a9a0606
ColorPalette4=#c4c4a0a00000
ColorPalette5=#34346565a4a4
ColorPalette6=#757550507b7b
ColorPalette7=#060698989a9a
ColorPalette8=#d3d3d7d7cfcf
ColorPalette9=#555557575353
ColorPalette10=#efef29292929
ColorPalette11=#8a8ae2e23434
ColorPalette12=#fcfce9e94f4f
ColorPalette13=#72729f9fcfcf
ColorPalette14=#adad7f7fa8a8
ColorPalette15=#3434e2e2e2e2
ColorPalette16=#eeeeeeeeecec

Troubleshooting

Unable to open external windows partitions

If you have external partitions like a fat32 drive connected via eSata, and launching them from the desktop results in a dialog telling you 'Authentication is required', you need to ensure polkit-gnome is installed and PolicyKit Authentication Agent is started by xfce4.

pacman -S polkit-gnome

Restart xfce4 and go:

Applications Menu > Settings > Sessions and Startup

Check that PolicyKit Authentication Agent is enabled under the Application Autostart tab.

xfce4-power-manager is not working

Check you have added dbus to the DAEMONS array in /etc/rc.conf.

Keyboard shortcuts are not working

Under Xfce 4.6 there is a problem where the user's keyboard shortcuts will intermittently not work. This is usually the case when the settings helper is either not running or has been started improperly due to a conflict. This bug has been fixed in Xfce 4.8, which replaced 4.6 in the main repositories.

A workaround is to disable xfce4-settings-helper-autostart from autostarting in a user's session. The settings helper daemon will start upon loading an Xfce session, anyways. The following two steps seem to have resolved this issue.

Remove or rename the global autostart .desktop file:

mv /etc/xdg/autostart/xfce4-settings-helper-autostart.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart/xfce4-settings-helper-autostart.desktop.disabled

Remove or rename the local autostart .desktop file:

mv ~/.config/autostart/xfce4-settings-helper-autostart.desktop ~/.config/autostart/xfce4-settings-helper-autostart.desktop.disabled

After logging out and logging back in, your shortcut keys should be working fine now.

Xfce4-xkb-plugin settings issue

There's a bug in version 0.5.4.1-1 which causes xkb-plugin to lose keyboard, layout switching and compose key settings. As a workaround you may enable Use system defaults option in keyboard settings. To do so run

xfce4-keyboard-settings

Go to Layout tab and set the Use system defaults flag, then reconfigure xkb-plugin.

Thunar does not display any thumbnail

Thunar relies on Tumbler to generate thumbnails. You can install Tumbler by issuing

pacman -S tumbler

More details in Thunar's page.

Locales ignored with GDM

Become superuser and add your locale to /var/lib/AccountsService/users/$USER:

su -c "nano /var/lib/AccountsService/users/$USER"

Replace hu_HU.UTF-8 with your own locale:

[User]
Language=hu_HU.UTF-8
XSession=xfce

You may also do it with sed. Note the backslash before .UTF-8:

su -c "sed -i 's/Language=.*/Language=hu_HU\.UTF-8/' /var/lib/AccountsService/users/$USER"

Restart GDM to take effect.

Restore default settings

If for any reason you need to revert back to the default settings, try renaming ~/.config/xfce4-session/ and ~/.config/xfce4/

$ mv ~/.config/xfce4-session/ ~/.config/xfce4-session-bak
$ mv ~/.config/xfce4/ ~/.config/xfce4-bak

Logout and login for changes to take effect.

Related Articles

External Resources