*liveVoyager 12.04 User Guide - Xfce



1. Introduction

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for unix-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and light, while maintaining a pleasant appearance and a high usability.
Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. Consists of several components that provide the full functionality that you would expect from a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately, and you can choose packages, to create your own desktop environment.

Another Xfce priority is adherence with standards, particularly those defined by freedesktop.org.

2. Using Xfce

2.1 To begin

2.1.1 Login Manager

Xfce4-session install a file that should add an option for the operator access to start the Xfce session. Xfce Desktop Environment does not have its own DM, but there are various options such as gdm, slim, and lxdm lightdm.

2.1.2 Command Line

Use startxfce4 to start Xfce session or choose "Xfce Session" in the login manager, which includes the session manager, the panel, the window manager and desktop manager. Read auto login from console for more infos.

By default, the "Xfce session manager" handles the Applications Launcher. It allows you to save your session when you turn off Xfce, so that the next time you log in, will be automatically launched the same applications.

2.2 The default Desktop

The Xfce Desktop Environment is not a single entity that provides all the functionality, but rather tries to join the old UNIX tradition of small tools that do one thing and do it well.
When you start Xfce session for the first time, many applications are started by Xfce session manager:

In a default session there is a panel with full width in the upper part of the screen and a smaller one in the lower part. The Panel tool manages all panels on the screen.
The top panel shows a graphic pager with thumbnails of all workspaces, a list of the running applications on the current workspace, and a system tray with the status icons of some apps, such as media players or instant messenger.
The bottom panel shows many application launchers and a clock. You can right-click on any item in the panel, to enter in a menu through which changing its properties, add or remove new items.
Desktop Manager
The desktop manager provides the desktop background, and two menus when you click on the desktop background. It can optionally show icons on the desktop, and files stored in the /Desktop folder.
The right mouse button opens a menu that allows you to launch applications. Take a look at the manual for how to change its contents.
The middle mouse button (or use the Shift + left keys) open a list of all running applications. You can activate an application by clicking on its item in this menu.
Window Manager
The window manager is responsible for apps windows placement on the screen, and applies the windows edges, and their decorations. It allows you to move windows by dragging the title bar, and applies buttons on the title bar, for example to close, minimize/maximize a window. Take a look at the manual for a full explanation on configuring the window manager.
Settings Manager
The Settings Manager works behind the scenes, and ensures that all Xfce applications update their configurations, if the user changes something in the Settings Manager, readings configurations from the hard disk at the boot time. Take a look at the Settings Manager for a complete explanation about it.

2.3 Common Applications

This section will explain how to use a variety of applications, to quickly enable you to get acquainted with Xfce.

2.3.1 Start applications and tools

Xfce panel
The panel is designed to allow quick access to the most frequently used applications, including them in the main panel.
The desktop menu
Another way to launch applications is using the desktop menu, activated by the mouse. Read the Desktop Manager manual to know how to change desktop menu contents.
Application Finder
If you know the application name that isn't in the panel or in the desktop menu, you can use the quick starter. To launch it, simply press Alt + F2 or choose the "Run Application ..." in the desktop menu.

2.3.2 Manage windows and workspaces

Basic operations on windows
You can move windows around the screen by dragging the title bar. A window can be closed, hidden, maximized, modified and immobilized, using the buttons on the title bar.
Right-click the title bar to open a menu with all the things you can do on the windows.
Collapse a window, means that it displays only the title bar, and can be obtained using the mouse wheel on the title bar.
If you want to maximize your windows so that they do not cover the entire screen, you can set-up the workspace edge in the configuration window
Managing Applications
To find out which applications are currently running, just look at the top panel, where you will find the apps list. Clicking on one of the buttons in this list, you will put the related application window in the foreground.
When you middle click on the desktop, you'll see a menu with all open applications, sorted by workspaces. Click on one of them to put its window in foreground
You can change the workspace by clicking on it in the pager, which is in the panel. Pressing Ctrl + Alt + Left Arrow or Right Arrow you will pass from one workspace to another in both directions. Use the mouse wheel on the pager or on the desktop, you get the same result. To add or remove workspaces, use the middle click to open the menu or use the related configuration tool in Settings Manager.

2.3.3 Using the Settings Manager

Through the Settings Manager window you can access the global preferences for many Xfce applications. You can start it by pressing its icon in the Main Menu, or by pasting this command in the Terminal:


There are many tools to configure the Xfce desktop environment, in order to customize the system to your liking.
More infos can be found in the manuals of the separate components of Xfce.

2.4 Useful Links