Migrating the desktop to XFCE

I’ve been using Linux Mint KDE for two weeks, though I found it improved in its latest version, I still found some bugs in the window manager (broken windows decorations, system freeze) and found bugs in the desktop manager (issues freezing the session logout). So if you need to restart your system every day is not practical for productions environments. I decided to go back to XFCE. I’ve been for a year with XFCE before without any problem. It’s a rock-solid desktop environment, lightweight and customizable.

This is my road to get configured XFCE. The first thing I did – of course-  was install the desktop environment. Because Linux Mint is derived from Ubuntu I migrated to the Xubuntu desktop. To install Xubuntu run the following line in the terminal.

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

You may want to install “xfce goodies”, additional items for your Xfce to get a complete Desktop environmet experience. There are several Xfce packages, install them from the command line, aptitude or Linux Mint software app-store. The following is a list of additional packages:

mint-artwork-xfce – Default artwork for Linux Mint
mint-backgrounds-xfce – Desktop backgrounds for Linux Mint Xfce
xfce4-appfinder – Application finder for the Xfce4 Desktop
xfce4-artwork – additional artwork for the Xfce4 Desktop
xfce4-battery-plugin – battery monitor plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-clipman – clipboard history utility
xfce4-cpufreq-plugin – cpufreq information plugin for the Xfce4
xfce4-cpugraph-plugin – CPU load graph plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-datetime-plugin – date and time plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-dict – Dictionary plugin for Xfce4 panel
xfce4-diskperf-plugin – disk performance display plugin
xfce4-eyes-plugin – eyes plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-fsguard-plugin – filesystem monitor plugin for the Xfce4
xfce4-genmon-plugin – Generic Monitor for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-goodies – enhancements for the Xfce4 Desktop Environ
xfce4-hdaps – plugin to indicate the status of HDAPS
xfce4-indicator-plugin – plugin to display information from applications
xfce4-linelight-plugin – Search plugin for Xfce panel
xfce4-mailwatch-plugin – mail watcher plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-messenger-plugin – Dbus messages plugin for xfce4-panel
xfce4-mount-plugin – mount plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-mpc-plugin – Xfce panel plugin which serves as client
xfce4-netload-plugin – network load monitor plugin for the Xfce4
xfce4-notes – Notes application for the Xfce4 desktop
xfce4-places-plugin – quick access to folders, documents
xfce4-power-manager – power manager for Xfce desktop
xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin – Xfce4 panel plugin to control pulseaudio
xfce4-quicklauncher-plugin – rapid launcher plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-radio-plugin – v4l radio control plugin for the Xfce4
xfce4-screenshooter – screenshots utility for Xfce
xfce4-sensors-plugin – hardware sensors plugin for the Xfce4
xfce4-smartbookmark-plugin – search the web via the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-time-out-plugin – time out plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-timer-plugin – timer plugin for Xfce panel
xfce4-verve-plugin – Verve (command line) plugin for Xfce panel
xfce4-volumed – volume keys daemon
xfce4-wavelan-plugin – wavelan status plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin – Alternate Xfce menu
xfce4-xkb-plugin – xkb layout switch plugin for the Xfce4

First I needed to setup the main panel. In the first session login I configured the panel adding new items like Whisker menu, Workspace switcher ( I configured an empty panel), System load Monitor, Disk performance monitor, Network monitor, Free space checker, Weather update and  Action Buttons.

One thing missing is the keyboard shortcut for screen captures. To set this up go to “keyboard” settings and the “Applications Shortcuts“.  Click “add” button and enter the following command “xfce4-screenshooter“. Press OK button and press the “prtscr” key to assign it to the screenshooter. Done!

Customizing XFCE

The next step is customize the desktop environment. I will use Cairo-dock as application launcher. I changed the cairo-dock theme to light-gray-simple . To change Cairo theme : Right Button on cairo-dock/ Cairo-Dock / Configure / Themes. In the left panel choose the theme and Apply.


To change the wallpaper: Right Click on the desktop / Desktop settings. Just a couple of wallpapers shows up. Change the folder selection Other in the folder settings. You may select more folders at /usr/share/backgrounds/ , you’ll find severals wallpapers at linuxmint-sarah, linuxmint-serena and linuxmint-sonya folders.

Setup a new color-style . Go to Settings ManagerAppearance . You may change the icon-theme too in the Icons tab. I choose “Ultra-flat-icons” .

To change the windows decorations, go to Settings Manager- Window Manager.  And select a new window decoration.


Finally a few tweaks on the Whisker menu.

Why do I like XFCE?

XFCE is simple but customizable. It’s seamless integrated with cairo-dock. Its panel plugins are very useful, like the workspace switcher, you may drag and drop windows out-of-the-box. Other panel plugins like the system load monitor are very lightweight too, and not too buggy as cinamon’s plugins. The desktop environment is lightweight and very stable. It’s one of the bests desktop-environments the only negative point is its slow development cycle: they release new version every 2 years .