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Chapter 5. Tour of the Xfce desktop

This chapter introduces the Xfce 4 desktop in Fedora. It is easier to explain how to use the desktop after explaining some of the common terminology used with the Xfce 4 desktop.

5.1. The Xfce 4 desktop

One common reason for using the Xfce 4 desktop is to provide a feature-rich desktop environment for a desktop computer or a laptop with limited memory.
The Xfce desktop
The Xfce desktop
Figure 5.1. The Xfce desktop

The Xfce 4 desktop has three distinct areas. From top to bottom, the areas are:
  • the window list panel.
  • the desktop area.
  • the menu panel.
The layout and location of these items can be customized, but the term used for each of them remains the same.
The window list panel is located at the top of the screen. It features the Show Desktop icon, displays the running applications as buttons, and gives access to the workplace switcher and the trash.
The desktop area is the large space between the two panels. The Filesystem , Home Directory , and Trash icons are located in the top left corner of this area.
The menu panel is located at the bottom of the screen. On the left part of the panel it contains a number of default icons that start software applications and, on the right, also provides a clock, fast user switching, volume control applet and a notification area.
The following sections discuss the Xfce 4 menu panel, desktop area, and window list panel in further detail.

5.1.1. The Xfce 4 menu panel

This panel contains a number of launchers for common software. To customize its appearance, right-click on the panel and select Properties .
  • Applications contains all the programs.
  • Terminal contains the console.
  • Mousepad is a generic text editor.
  • Thunar is a file manager program.
  • Firefox is a popular web browser.
  • Sound Control right mouse click allows you to mute the sound and set your preferences.
  • Notification Area
  • Trash
  • Workspace Switcher allows you to switch to other desktops. Four are configured by default.
  • Show Desktop minimizes all open windows to show a clear work area.
  • Clock is a generic clock that can be modified by right clicking on it.
  • Switch User/Quit is the button on which you click to log out, restart, and shutdown Xfce.
Right-clicking the clock on the right hand side of this panel provides access to a menu that allows you to:
  • change the clock's display to and from a 12 and 24 hour format.
  • change to or from a digital clock style.
Logging out of Xfce4 provides a way to switch the current username, this is located next to the clock.

5.1.2. The Xfce 4 desktop area

Before any additional icons are added to the desktop, the desktop area contains three icons by default:
  • Filesystem – this contains all mounted volumes (or disks) on the computer; all of these are also available by clicking on the Applications menu and selecting Filesystem .
  • Home – this is where all files - such as music, movies and documents - belonging to the logged-in user are stored by default. There is a different home directory for each user and users cannot by default access each others' home directories.
  • Trash – deleted files are moved here. Empty the Trash folder by right-clicking the Trash icon and clicking Empty Trash .

    Permanently deleting files

    To permanently delete a file, and bypass the file's move to Trash , hold down the Shift key when deleting the file.
Right-clicking on the desktop presents a menu of actions related to the desktop area. For example, clicking on Change Desktop Background lets you choose a different image or photograph to display on the desktop.

5.1.3. The Xfce 4 window list panel

The Applications button consists of several components:
  • Run Program...
  • The Terminal
  • The File Manager
  • The Web Browser
  • Preferences
  • Administration
  • Accessories
  • Development
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Multimedia
  • Network
  • Office
  • Other
  • System
  • Help, About, and Quit buttons.
Open applications appear as button icons in the middle part of the window list panel.
The application window that has focus appears as a depressed button. Usually, this is the application whose window is on top of all others currently on the screen. To switch from one running application to another, click on the desired application's button in the window list.

Use the key combination AltTab to switch between open windows

Holding down the Alt key while you tap the Tab key allows you to cycle through all open applications.

  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire