From Gentoo Wiki
Jump to:navigation Jump to:search
This page contains changes which are not marked for translation.
Other languages:
English • ‎español • ‎français • ‎italiano • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎فارسی • ‎中文(中国大陆)‎ • ‎日本語 • ‎한국어

To quote xfce.org: "Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for Unix-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly."


Avoiding unnecessary dependencies

Avoiding optional GNOME support and packages will keep the system more lean and congruous. This section is entirely optional; proceed in this manner if the goal is to keep the system small(er) rather than large(r).

Ensure that the system is using the basic "desktop" profile:

root #eselect profile set default/linux/amd64/17.1/desktop

app-text/poppler have +qt5 by default:

FILE /etc/portage/package.use/xfceUnset qt5 USE flag for poppler
app-text/poppler -qt5

Of course, -qt5 can also be set globally in /etc/portage/make.conf if one desires.


It is time to install the complete Xfce desktop!

Without explicitly including xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd in the emerge command, virtual/notification-daemon will draw in GNOME's x11-misc/notification-daemon instead. So install it together with xfce-base/xfce4-meta and later deselect it so it is not included in the world file:

root #emerge --ask xfce-base/xfce4-meta xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd
root #emerge --ask --deselect=y xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd

Alternatively it may work to install xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd without adding it to the world file in advance, before xfce-base/xfce4-meta.

root #emerge --ask --oneshot xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd
root #emerge --ask xfce-base/xfce4-meta

Of course, it is also possible to select only needed packages:

root #emerge --ask xfce-base/xfwm4 xfce-base/xfce4-panel


Display managers

It is possible to use a display manager to start Xfce. Please refer to the display manager article to configure a display manager.

Most display managers use

  • .desktop files to configure available sessions. The following is an example desktop file:
FILE xfce4.desktopXfce4 desktop file for display managers
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Use this session to run Xfce 4 as desktop environment

The desktop file can be placed in the right location for the display manager.

Starting Xfce without a display manager

startx and startxfce4 are two of the readily available options for starting Xfce without using a display manager.


When using startx, create an ~/.xinitrc file with the following contents:

FILE ~/.xinitrcStarting xfce4 when invoking startx
exec startxfce4

When experiencing authorization or permissions issues within xfce4 in an OpenRC profile (symptoms include being unable to open power manager and unable to suspend/hibernate) make sure that sys-auth/elogind is present, properly configured and elogind USE flag is globally enabled. Then replace the above line in ~/.xinitrc with the following:

FILE ~/.xinitrcStarting xfce4 the right way when invoking startx
exec dbus-launch --exit-with-session xfce4-session


To launch the Xfce4 desktop simply type startxfce4 at the command-line and press enter:

user $startxfce4

Xfce is a desktop environment and as such can be tuned and tailored to the needs of (almost) every user. In this section, a number of popular (or more challenging) aspects are covered.

Volume keys


Install xfce-extra/xfce4-volumed to manage the volume keys (deprecated - Suggested replacements include media-sound/tudor-volumed or use key binds in a Window Manager or mixer):

root #emerge --ask media-sound/tudor-volumed

When using pulseaudio with xfce4, use xfce-extra/xfce4-volumed-pulse:

root #emerge --ask xfce-extra/xfce4-volumed-pulse

Keyboard shortcuts

Run xfce4-keyboard-settings to bind the following keys:

  • volume up button: amixer set Master 5%+
  • volume down button: amixer set Master 5%-
  • mute button: amixer set Master toggle

Consistent GTK 3 themes

Native Xfce theme engine

Xfce's own theme engine, x11-themes/gtk-engines-xfce, is now deprecated and scheduled to be removed. It was last updated in version 3.0, which implemented native support for GTK 3 with no further configuration.

Greybird theme

Another option is to use the Greybird theme, which has support for GTK 2, GTK 3, xfwm4, emerald, and metacity:

root #emerge --ask x11-themes/greybird

Go to Xfce menu -> Settings -> Appearance. Or run xfce4-appearance-settings. Select "Greybird" from the "Style" list.

Now GTK 2 and GTK 3 applications should have a consistent look.

Other themes

Other themes available in Portage that are compatible with XFCE can be emerged with the following list:

root #emerge --ask x11-themes/clearlooks-phenix x11-themes/gnome-themes-standard x11-themes/gtk-engines-aurora x11-themes/light-themes x11-themes/murrine-themes x11-themes/nimbus x11-themes/redhat-artwork x11-themes/shiki-colors x11-themes/tactile3 x11-themes/zukini

Additional applications

There are a number of additional applications that are part of Xfce.

Package Description
x11-terms/xfce4-terminal A popular terminal emulator for Xfce; superior to the standard xterm program.
xfce-base/xfce4-appfinder Application finder.
xfce-base/thunar Xfce's file manager.
xfce-extra/xfce4-mixer Volume control. (deprecated and removed from Gentoo - Pulseaudio users can install xfce-extra/xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin. Others can install media-sound/volumeicon or similar tray audio mixer)
xfce-extra/thunar-volman Manages removable media and drives.
xfce-extra/tumbler File previewer for Thunar.
xfce-extra/thunar-archive-plugin Plugin for Thunar to work with archives; uses app-arch/file-roller.
xfce-extra/xfce4-battery-plugin Displays battery percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status, warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power levels, which can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when the battery is almost exhausted.
xfce-extra/xfce4-verve-plugin A small command line embedded into the panel; quicker than opening up another terminal to run a command.
xfce-extra/xfce4-mount-plugin One-click mounting of devices listed in /etc/fstab.
xfce-extra/xfce4-sensors-plugin Monitor hardware sensors, such as CPU temperature, fan RPM, hard drive temp, motherboard voltage, and more.
x11-themes/xfwm4-themes Several window-manager themes.
xfce-extra/xfce4-power-manager An application to monitor and manage power usage (especially important for laptops). Choose maximum-performance or battery-saving modes. Adjust screen brightness and setup hibernate, suspend, and shutdown actions (i.e., when the lid is shut or buttons are pressed). Can warn when the battery reaches certain levels, or even turn off the machine. Includes panel plugins to display battery/charging status, and control brightness.

The following applications work well in Xfce and round out a basic desktop environment.

Package Description
app-editors/mousepad Lightweight text editor.
app-cdr/xfburn CD burning application.
x11-misc/alacarte GNOME's menu editor works fine in Xfce.
x11-terms/tilda Lightweight quake-style terminal emulator.
app-office/orage Simple calendar.


Enable vertical window snapping

Most modern desktop environments have vertical window snapping enabled by default. This is also possible in Xfce, but not by default. To enable, navigate to: SettingsWindow managerAdvanced tab.

  • Make sure the "Snap windows to screen border" checkbox has been checked.
  • Make sure the checkboxes under "Wrap workspaces when reaching the screen edge" have been unchecked. These interfere with vertical window snapping.

Once the checkboxes are set it should be now possible to drag a window to the right or left side of the screen, which should cause the window to resize to 50% of the screen width.

Keyboard shortcuts can be set in order to do this via the typical Super+ or Super+ behavior. Navigate to SettingsWindow managerKeyboard tab.

Set the "Tile window to the left" and "Tile window to the right" actions with the Super+ and Super+ key combinations respectively.

Audio mixer complains about missing pavucontrol binary

Clicking the speaker (audio) icon in the panel and then selecting Audio mixer... results in a message saying "pavucontrol binary not found".

The solution is to install media-sound/pavucontrol:

root #emerge --ask media-sound/pavucontrol

Program starting hotkeys are not working / Colors not changeable from appearance

Xfce can have hotkeys for both starting an application as well as modifying the behavior of an already running application or setting. An example of behavior hotkey is the Ctrl+Alt+D combination, which minimizes all windows to show the deskop (and vice-versa).

Assuming that hotkeys for starting an application (such as Alt+F2 to start the application finder) are not working, while the application can be started from the menu, then Consolekit is not running. Start it, and make sure that it gets started at boot time:

root #/etc/init.d/consolekit start
root #rc-update add consolekit default

This will also start D-Bus, a prerequisite for Consolekit. Restart X to enjoy the new hotkeys and colors.

See also

  • Xfce/Guide — provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight, full-featured desktop environment.