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This guide introduces the user to LXDE, explains its components, and leads the user through the installation.


What is LXDE?

After installing your base Gentoo system, and the X Server, you have to make many choices regarding your graphical environment, if you want one at all. There are many options available to you, ranging from minimalistic window managers like Openbox, to full-featured desktop environments like KDE, and GNOME.

You may find yourself saying "well, I like the idea of having a lightweight graphical environment, but I don't want to install and configure every component individually like with Openbox." For quite some time, such users installed Xfce. While it provided a nice fully-featured environment without the system intensities of KDE or GNOME, it could still become a bit on the heavy side. Now, you have another choice: the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, or LXDE for short.

Components of LXDE

LXDE, being a desktop environment, is comprised of several components. Each program offers a certain functionality, and together they form the complete desktop environment. Currently, there are eleven core components, and several other programs necessary to make a complete LXDE installation. These programs are the ones pulled in by the lxde-base/lxde-meta LXDE meta package, discussed in the installation section.

Core Components

Other Applications used by LXDE


Initial installation

After you have emerged and configured x11-base, you are ready to install LXDE.

# emerge -av lxde-meta

Just like with other desktop environments, you will need to tell the X Server to load LXDE automatically, by adding it to your ~/.xinitrc.

CODE Adding LXDE to your .xinitrc
$ echo "exec startlxde" >> ~/.xinitrc

This will automatically start your LXDE session when you type startx at the terminal.

If you use a login manager like LXDM, SLiM, XDM, GDM, or KDM, you do not need to edit your ~/.xinitrc . LXDE will simply show up as a choice in your login manager's screen.
As each user has his or her own .xinitrc , you need to make sure to issue that command as your user , not as root.


GTK icon warning

Now that the X server knows to start LXDE on command, type in startx to fire up LXDE. The first thing you may notice is that you get a warning about an improper GTK icon set. To fix this minor hangup, you simply need to change the icon theme. To do so, click on the LXDE application menu (in the lower left-hand corner of the panel), and go to Preferences --> Appearance. In the LXappearance menu, click on the "Icon" tab, and choose nuoveXT.2.2. Hit "Apply," and then "Close." The next time you login to LXDE, the error message will not appear.

Right-click menu

In LXDE, every appearance option is not handled through LXappearance as one might believe. Rather, there are some common options that are handled through a right-click menu on the desktop. At the bottom of that menu is the "Desktop Settings" menu. In here, you can find icon sizes, single-click and double-click behavior, maximum thumbnail size, and desktop wallpaper settings. It may behoove you to look through the these tabs for additional appearance settings.

These "Desktop Settings" can also be found by opening up the file manager (PCManFM), and going to Edit --> Preferences.

External resources

Though this guide will help you get LXDE installed, the documentation does not stop here. There are many resources available to you regarding the various facets of the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. Some such resources are listed below:

  • On the Official LXDE website you will find information regarding developmental progress, a community of support, and recommend system specifications for running LXDE.
  • The LXDE wiki contains instructions for customizing your LXDE installation, including keyboard layouts, autostarting applications, changing the default window manager, and much more.
  • If you are using Openbox as your default window manager, this guide will help you get started with it.

This article is based on a document formerly found on our main website
The following people contributed to the original document: kalos, yngwin, vostorga, hwoarang
They are listed here as the Wiki history does not allow for any external attribution. If you edit the Wiki article, please do not add yourself here; your contributions are recorded on the history page.