Copyright © 2004, 2005 os-cillation
Table of Contents
Installing software from source was mostly pain with Linux/Unix systems in the past. Even with proper autoconf'ed software packages, the process of configuring, building and installing is an error-prone task, especially if you want to configure the software in a custom way, it can be disturbing to dive into the software documentation just to figure what is required to enable this option. In addition its an uneasy task to keep track of installed files once more and more software packages are installed from source.
This installer was developed to address the issues mentioned above. It allows for smooth installation and uninstallation of software from source. This offers several advantages over alternative approaches:
Before you start the installation process, you need to make sure
that your system is setup properly to run the installer. The installer
itself requires a properly working Gtk+ 2.2 (or above) installation,
whereupon both the Gtk+ runtime files and the Gtk+ development files are
required. Debian users should check if the package
libgtk2.0-dev is installed, whereas RedHat,
Fedora, Mandrake and SuSE users should check
In addition to the Gtk+ package, the Xfce desktop environment
also requires the libraries
libXpm. These files
are distributed as part of the X11 distribution. Debian users need to
install the packages
RedHat, Fedora, Mandrake and SuSE users need either
dependent upon the X11 distribution - XFree86 or XOrg - in use, while
Mandrake users should also make sure that the package
libxpm4-devel is installed.
Furthermore, the Disk based hashtables library written by
Edscott Wilson Garcia is required by several Xfce components. It
can be downloaded from the SourceForge Project page. Some
distributions also ship a DBH package, for example, Debian users
need the package
FreeBSD users will have to install the port
databases/dbh; Fedora users should install
Some Linux distributions have been reported to have obscure
dependencies, which allow you to install the development packages
mentioned above, without actually having a working build environment.
Please check that you have a working
(GNU C Compiler) and a working
Pre Processor) installed on your system prior to running the installer.
For example, if you use Fedora FC3, you need to make sure that the
cpp (which was at
cpp-3.4.2-6.fc3 at the time of this writing)
is installed on your system. In case of SuSE Linux, the packages
in question are usually named
cpp as well, although the exact name
First of all, you need to download the installer file
Xfce page for download locations.
Once downloaded, you need to mark the file
using the command:
$ chmod +x xfce4-22.214.171.124-installer.bin
The remainder of the installation process depends upon where you plan to install Xfce. You can either choose to install Xfce system-wide for all users (this is the preferable option) or you can choose to install Xfce for your user account only (most likely in some place below your home directory). Installing Xfce system-wide requires root access to the machine and therefore involves the following commands:
$ xhost +localhost $ su # ./xfce4-126.96.36.199-installer.bin
If the installer tells you that it is unable to connect to your X server, try the following commands instead:
$ xhost +localhost $ su # env DISPLAY=:0 ./xfce4-188.8.131.52-installer.bin
You can also use
sudo to run the
installer with root permissions (this requires you to setup
sudo properly first, see the supplied
documentation for details):
$ sudo ./xfce4-184.108.40.206-installer.bin
In case you don't have root access to the system or just don't want to install Xfce system-wide, you need to run the installer as user, using the command:
The installer now verifies the integrity of the downloaded file, extracts the installation wizard and the packaged software (this may take a while depending on the I/O performance of your computer) and performs some other steps required for the installation process. In case all these operations are successful, the output given on the terminal should look like this:
Verifying file integrity... OK. Extracting the installer... OK. Checking for usable C compiler... gcc Checking for usable C++ compiler... g++ Checking for GNU make... gmake Checking for package config tool... pkg-config Checking for GLib (GModule) >= 2.2.0... detected 2.4.8 in /usr/local Checking for Gtk+ >= 2.2.0... detected 2.4.14 in /usr/X11R6 Compiling installer-gui... OK. Running installer-gui...
In case of a problem, the installer will report an error here
and write detailed information about problem to the file
.xfce4.installer-log in your home directory. Please
include the relevant parts of this file, when reporting problems to the
A common problem is that the installer is unable to find the Gtk+
installation on your system. This can have several causes, whereupon the
most prevalent cause is that you forgot to install the Gtk+ development
files along with the runtime files, read the section called “Preparations”
for details on how to fix this problem. If you are sure that you installed
the Gtk+ development files, but the installer keeps on telling that it
is unable to detect Gtk+, you may need to set the environment variable
PKG_CONFIG_PATH to tell the installer where to find
your Gtk+ installation. For example, say you installed Gtk+ into
/opt/gtk2, you may need to execute
PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/opt/gtk2/lib/pkgconfig:$PKG_CONFIG_PATH" export PKG_CONFIG_PATH
prior to running the installer.
If everything goes well you will be presented with the graphical installation wizard. See the next section for details on the installation wizard.
Once the installation wizard starts up, it will display an introduction screen with information about the software that is going to be installed - Xfce Desktop Environment 220.127.116.11 in this case - and where to ask for help if trouble strikes back. Click Next to continue with the installation.
The next screen checks if all requirements for the successful installation
of the Xfce Desktop Environment are met. Besides the requirements listed
above, you need
libxml2 (both runtime and
development files), the everything-to-postscript converter
a2ps and the ICE authorization helper
which is part of the X11 distribution. You cannot continue from here
until all of the requirements are met.
Please make sure that you install libxml2, not libxml1, as Xfce
really requires libxml2. Debian users need the package
libxml2-dev, while RedHat, Mandrake and SuSE users
need the package
users need to install the port
Once all of the system requirements are met, you can choose the features you want to include with this build. Select a feature from the list to see its description.
Now you need to specify the location where you plan to install Xfce to. If you started the installer as superuser you can choose virtually every directory you like. If you started the installer with your user account, you are mostly limited to locations below your home directory.
If you have Xfce installed already, e.g. say you have installed Xfce 4.2RC3 using the installer, and want to upgrade this installation to Xfce 18.104.22.168 now, just enter the same path here, that you used for the installation of Xfce 4.2RC3 and the installer will take care of upgrading everything properly.
The setup for the installation is finished and the installer is ready to build and install Xfce now.
Xfce is now build and installed on your system, this will take a lot of time - around 30 minutes on decent i386 machine. You will be present with a button Error log if something fails. Click the button to see the log messages.
If the installation succeed, you will be prompted to complete the installation wizard, just click Done here. The installer will cleanup all temporary files used during the installation and terminate itself afterwards.
If you use the GNOME Display Manager (
to start your X session, and did not select the option Setup
Display Managers during the installation or if for some
reason the installer was unable to setup
properly, then you will have to manually create a
file to teach
gdm about your fresh
Xfce 22.214.171.124 install.
xfce42.desktop file is generated in
$PREFIX is the prefix you chose) during the
installation already. It is usually enough to simply copy the
example file to the
directory used by
gdm; this directory is
usually located in
or some other location, refer to the documentation of your system for
details. You need to restart
gdm after you
copied the file.
Lets say, you installed Xfce into
and your system looks for available sessions in
/usr/share/xsessions, then you will need to
perform the following step (as superuser) to register Xfce with
cp /usr/local/share/examples/xfce42.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/xfce42.desktop
If you use the KDE Display Manager (
to log in to your X desktop, and you did not select the option
Setup Display Managers during the installation
or if for some reason the installer was unable to setup
kdm properly, then you will have to manually
.desktop to teach
about your new Xfce 126.96.36.199 installation.
First, you need to locate the directory where
searches for its
.desktop files. The commands
kde-config locate kde.desktop locate mwm.desktop echo `kde-config --expandvars --install data`/kdm/sessions
may help you to find locate directory. Common locations are
Once you found the
kdm sessions directory, you
need to create a new file
xfce42.desktop in this
directory, with the following content:
Example 1. An example xfce42.desktop file
[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Type=XSession Exec=/usr/local/bin/startxfce4 TryExec=/usr/local/bin/startxfce4 Name=Xfce 4.2 Comment=The Xfce 4.2 Desktop Environment Comment[de]=Die Xfce 4.2 Desktop Umgebung
If you didn't install Xfce into
then you'll have to adjust the
TryExec lines to match your installation.
Now you can login to your new Xfce desktop using
kdm. If Xfce doesn't show up in
kdm afterwards, check the paths you put in the
xfce42.desktop file and try to restart
The installer tries to automatically detect a CDE installation on Unix systems if run as root and installs the following files (if not already present):
/usr/dt/config/Xsession.xfce4 /usr/dt/config/Xsession.xfce42 /usr/dt/config/C/Xresources.d/Xresources.xfce4 /usr/dt/appconfig/icons/C/Xfce4logo.pm
Once the installation completed you can simply select
Xfce 4.2 Desktop from
Sessions menu to log into your newly
installed Xfce. You might need to force
to reread the list of installed sessions first.
You may also want to install the additional Gtk+ user interface themes that ship with Xfce. They are available as a separate installer here.
You may also want to install the additional goodies for Xfce - a collection of useful and neat plugins for the Xfce panel. They are available as a separator installer here.
If you built Xfce against Xorg 6.8.0 or above and selected the feature Composition manager during the installation, you can now go on and enable transparency and window shadows in Xfce.
First of all, the Composite extension has to be activated in your
/etc/X11/xorg.conf using the following
Section "Extensions" Option "Composite" "Enable" EndSection
Be sure to restart your Xserver afterwards. On next login, you should see window shadows already and the panel should be transparent when the mouse pointer is outside the window area.
You can make individual windows transparent or opaque using the small
is available from the freedesktop.org
CVS Server or as part of your Linux distribution. After
transset you can simply
run it and click on a window to make it transparent. You can
choose how much transparency you want. For example
$ transset .5
will give 50% transparency (allowed range is 0 to 1, whereupon 0 means 100% opacity).
Please be aware that the Xorg Composite extension is still under
development, and still includes quite a few bugs. Using the composition
manager can notably slow down your working environment if your video card
does not support the RENDER extension in hardware. It is known to work well
with NVidia graphic
cards using the
nvidia driver, especially if you
add the line
Option "RenderAccel" "true"
Device section of your
xorg.conf. But take note,
that Xinerama or TwinView do not play well with Composite, so, for now
you can either use DualHead or Composite with the
If you decide to uninstall Xfce later on - though we doubt you will want to do this once you discovered the strength of Xfce - run the command
with the same user you installed Xfce earlier (e.g. prepend sudo if you installed as root). You will be presented with a graphical uninstallation wizard. The uninstallation process will start once you click Next, so be sure to check that you really want to uninstall Xfce before clicking Next.
Once confirmed, the uninstaller will start to remove the Xfce Desktop Environment from your system.
This error message tells you that the
script was unable to verify that the C++ preprocessor is setup properly
on your system. You can most probably fix this problem by installing the
g++ package for your distribution.
For some reason the installation wizard is not able to connect
to an Xserver, which is required for the installer. This usually
happens when you use
su in turn doesn't pass the
DISPLAY environment variable properly.
Try to use the commands
$ xhost +localhost $ su --preserve-environment # ./xfce4-188.8.131.52-installer.bin
$ xhost +localhost $ su # env DISPLAY=:0 ./xfce4-184.108.40.206-installer.bin
:0 with your display
name if required).
To report a problem or make a suggestion regarding the installer or this manual, use the os-cillation forum at http://www.os-cillation.de/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi#installer_cat or point your IRC client to irc.freenode.net, join the channel #xfce and ask for help.
In case you want to request a new feature, please make clear why you consider it a worth addition for the installer. It is more likely that a new feature gets added if you provide good arguments for the feature.