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(Sorry for the inconvenience)

Xfce[1] is a lightweight desktop environment that aims to be low on system resources and fast, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

The first time you start XFCE4, you will see the message shown in Figure 6.4a:

Figure 6.4a: Panel Welcome Message


In XFCE, a panel[2] is a bar which can hold many items such as application launchers, window lists, a clock, a notification area, and application menus. Your initial panel setup options are:

  • Migrate old config: select this option if you wish to have a single panel with an application launcher and other icons as shown in Figure 6.4b. The application launcher menu may be reached from the upper left, or by right-clicking on the desktop.
  • Use default config: this option will install a large panel across the top and a small, minimal panel centered on the bottom. The application launcher menu may be accessed by the fireball icon in the lower left, or by a right-click on the desktop.
  • One empty panel: this option will install a panel with no icons. The application menu is available by right-clicking the desktop as shown in Figures 6.4b and 6.4c.

Figure 6.4b shows a screenshot of XFCE4 running on a PC-BSD® 9.1 with the application menu open:

Figure 6.4b: XFCE with Complete Panel Migrated From Old Config


Figure 6.4c: XFCE with Minimal Panel Using Default Config


If you wish to change your configuration choice at a later time, reset the panel using ApplicationsSettingsSettings Editor, as shown in Figure 6.4d, then exit to the login prompt without saving session info. The next login to XFCE will present the panel configuration choice again.

Figure 6.4d: Using Settings Editor to Reset Panel


In addition to the PC-BSD® utilities, XFCE provides the following utilities:

  • Xfesktop[3]: desktop manager found in SettingsDestkop. Sets the background image, provides a right-click menu to launch applications, and can show files (including application launchers) or iconified windows.
  • Xfwm4[4]: window manager found in SettingsWindow Manager. It provides window decorations, virtual desktops, multiscreen mode, transparency and a keyboard shortcuts editor.
  • Ristretto[5]: fast and light-weight picture viewer found in GraphicsRistretto Photo Viewer.
  • Midori[6]: light-weight graphical browser found in InternetMidori.
  • Xfburn[7]: CD/DVD burning tool found in MultimediaXfburn.
  • Orage[8]: calendar and reminder daemon found in OfficeOrage Calendar.
  • Thunar[9]: file manager found in SystemThunar File Manager.

A list of recommended applications for XFCE can be found on the XFCE Wiki[11].

Editing the Menu

XFCE no longer includes a graphical menu editor. The XFCE team recommends using alacarte which is included when you install XFCE4 on PC-BSD® and which can be started by typing alacarte within an xterm.

Figure 6.4e shows a screenshot of alacarte running on PC-BSD®.

Figure 6.4e: Using alacarte to Customize Applications Menu


Any entry with a checkbox will appear in your menu. To remove an item from the menu, simply uncheck its box. To create a new menu category, either highlight a top-level menu (e.g. KDE Menu or System) or an existing category and click the "New Menu" button. To add a new entry, highlight the category where you wish the entry to appear and click the "New Item" button. Input a name for the entry, browse to the path of the application and press "OK".

XFCE Plugins

XFCE supports many plugins which provide additional applications that are separate from the official XFCE distribution. You can browse for plugins and read descriptions for each at the XFCE goodies website[12]. If you find a plugin that is not available within AppCafe®, this README[13] explains how to determine if a FreeBSD port is available, how to request a PBI if a port is available, and how to request a port if one does not already exist.

After installing a plugin, go to SettingsPanelItems and click the + button to see the "Add New Items" screen shown in Figure 6.4f.

Figure 6.4f: Adding a Plugin to the Panel


Simply select your new plugin from the list, and click the "+Add" button. It will immediately be added as an icon in the panel.


  1. http://www.xfce.org/
  2. http://www.xfce.org/projects/xfce4-panel
  3. http://www.xfce.org/projects/xfdesktop
  4. http://www.xfce.org/projects/xfwm4
  5. http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/ristretto
  6. http://www.twotoasts.de/index.php?/pages/midori_summary.html
  7. http://www.xfce.org/projects/xfburn
  8. http://www.xfce.org/projects/orage
  9. http://www.xfce.org/projects/thunar
  10. http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-taskmanager
  11. http://wiki.xfce.org/recommendedapps
  12. http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/start
  13. http://forums.pcbsd.org/showthread.php?t=13642
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