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Many, many thanks to Andrewski for this FAQ


Many Gnomers are disillusioned with the bloated look and performance of 2.8. Xfce, while not a replacement in all respects, is a worthy successor; it is much more modular and is quite zippy!


Basic Configuration and Installation

(Note: I don't know of a location for 4.2 beta RPMs.)

The best way to find Mandrake RPMs for Xfce is to install from Charles Edwards's site: http://www.eslrahc.com. If you get a chance, thank him for his contribution! (Xfce used to be in the Mandrake main repository but, for some reason, is no longer.) See the RPM tutorial on this site for how to add a collection (like this one) to your urpmi database.


A note on which RPMs to install: Similar to Gnome, not all packages available are necessary. There are plenty of plugins for the panel that, mostly because I use GKrellM, I have never wanted to install. Also, there is a session control program that I also don't like; I prefer to have Xfce start up by opening my symlinks in my autostart folder (something its default xinitrc does for you). It means one less program running and one less system tray icon.


Once you have the repository set up, you can just `urpmi xfce` and the dependencies will be calculated for you.


Basic Setup

Most of the basic setup involves the startup script. Instead of editing the "standard" xinitrc, Xfce uses a script to launch its own xinitrc. By default, the script reads from a global file (somewhere like /etc/.../xfce4/xinitrc). The basic setup it provides is OK, but probably has some things you don't want and misses others you do. So, copy that one to ~/.xfce4/xinitrc. (The script will then execute your user's file before it tries to execute the global one.) Make sure it is executable! (chmod u+x xinitrc); otherwise, it will not be run and the global one will be executed as a fallback (a known bug that won't be fixed until the 4.2 release). Once it's copied, you can open it up in your favourite editor and customise to taste. Most of the commands are commented fairly well so you know what's happening when, but a few additional notes thereon:

:idea: You can change the path to your ~/Desktop/Autostart folder if you choose; I much prefer ~/desktop/.autostart so my folder is hidden and so I don't have any folders with caps.

:idea: Don't put any commands after the xfce4panel section or they won't get executed; the panel is the controlling application, i.e. killing it kills your Xsession. Thusly and therefore, it is the last command executed.


Once you have it customised to taste, the included script to start is startxfce4 (in xfce4-utils). I suggest, even if you normally use a DM to log in, that you use this script the first few times to catch any output, error or otherwise, that your xinitrc will give. I use the following command to do so, which will catch the standard output as well as the error output and output it to a file xfce.log in my home directory:

startxfce4 &> ~/xfce.log

You'll get output from your X server and from Xfce, so not all is applicable (but that is a good way to debug your X output, if you haven't already!).

The RPMs should automagically add Xfce to your display managers, so once you start it up it should already be listed in the available sessions.



Xfce is good. :banana: It utilises GTK themes for widgets, since it's pretty good-looking and since there is already a large user base contributing to the themes (from Gnome). Thusly, you can find any GTK theme you like and download it (or use the one you used to use in Gnome). Unzip it to ~/.themes/ (or at least provide therein a symlink to the appropriate folder where the theme resides). It will then be available for selection in the Settings -> User Interface. (Make sure you have the appropriate GTK engine installed for the theme you choose! otherwise it will just look plain.)


If screenshots are important to you, then here are some that showcase the actual features of Xfce:




I'm not going to duplicate information that's already out there, especially if this hasn't sold you yet. So here are some good resources for the Xfce user, or if you'd just like to read more about it:

Xfce homepage

Xfce Documentation - Though lacking in some cooler tricks, it covers the basics for everything

Xfce forum - Has some good information; peruse the archives!

Xfce Goodies - Plugins and such.


I particularly recommend the forum since, not to toot my own horn but, I'm a moderator there (same username) and I try to answer all the questions. Our userbase is still small enough that this is feasible. :)


Updated 11/09/04

Edited by LiquidZoo
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