Xfce & Xubuntu 2018 Year In Review

  • January 2, 2019
  • Sean Davis

2018 has been a busy year for Xfce & Xubuntu. As we enter 2019 and continue to inch closer to Xfce 4.14, let’s look back at one of the busiest development years in a while.



Major Releases

  • MenuLibre 2.1.4 introduced some useful new features to the popular menu editor, including a Test Launcher button to try out a launcher before saving and the Parsing Errors dialog to easily identify menu configuration issues.

Other Notable Releases

The Parsing Errors dialog in MenuLibre simplifies menu cleanup and debugging.



Major Releases

  • Exo 0.12.0 was the first stable Xfce 4.14 release for the Xfce application development library. The new release included support for both GTK+ 2 and 3, and added Brave, Geary, Google Chrome, and Vivaldi to the natively supported application defaults.
  • MenuLibre 2.1.5 expanded it’s support of desktop environments. With this release, MenuLibre’s powerful menu editing options are available for Budgie, GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, Pantheon, Unity, and Xfce.

Other Notable Releases



Major Releases

  • MenuLibre 2.2.0 was finally released with an expansive list of improvements. Expanded desktop environment support, easy window identification, launcher testing, and parsing error reporting are just a few of the key improvements.
  • Parole Media Player 1.0.0 included playback performance updates, automatic video output selection, and improved podcast and live stream support. The new Mini Mode reduces the player to a small window that simultaneously stays out of the way and in reach.
  • Xfce PulseAudio Plugin 0.4.0 introduced device manage and MPRIS support to the audio management plugin. Available input and output devices can be selected from the plugin menu, immediately moving streams to the new device. MPRIS support adds media player controls for supported applications.
  • Xfce Settings 4.12.2, 4.12.3, and 4.13.2 improved multi-monitor support for both stable and development releases. The mouse cursor can now be shown with the press of a key, configurable with the Xfce Settings Manager.

Other Notable Releases

Xfce PulseAudio Plugin
The Xfce PulseAudio Plugin makes it easy to manage devices and play your jams.



Major Releases

  • Xubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver”, an LTS release supported for 3 years, was released with 32-bit and 64-bit downloads available. This release included some new desktop applications: Some MATE components replaced their GNOME counterparts for improved desktop consistency; Xfce PulseAudio Plugin replaced the Sound Indicator; and the Xfce Notifications plugin, featuring a new Do Not Disturb mode, was added to the panel.

Other Notable Releases

Wallpaper Contest
The results of the Xubuntu 18.04 wallpaper contest were exceptional.


This was the first month I started published monthly news roundups. For an in-depth look at May’s development progress, check out the June Development Update.


Notable Releases


June Development Roundup

Major Releases

  • Thunar 1.8.0 and 1.8.1 were the first stable GTK+ 3 releases of the Xfce file manager, offering major usability and developer-friendly improvements. The pathbar now includes navigation buttons and a much tidier location selector. GObject Introspection for Thunar’s plugin library makes it possible to develop plugins in a number of programming languages.
  • Xfce Settings 4.12.4 and 4.13.4 featured improvements to display manufacturer recognition. The mappings were updated and various manufacturer names were simplified for better screen real estate. 4.13.4 introduced Xrandr display scaling, making it possible to scale the X display and all applications.

Other Notable Releases

A comparison of Thunar’s old and new pathbar. Image credit: Andre Miranda (see link to Thunar 1.8 release announcement)


July Development Roundup


Major Releases

  • Xubuntu 18.04.1, the first point release in the Bionic Beaver series, became available. At this time, users of a prior release should have received an upgrade notice. This release included several stability and performance improvements.
  • Xfwm 4.13.1 included a massive amount of updates, including a full port to GTK+ 3 and various fixes. This component is one of the critical pieces of the Xfce 4.14 release, so it’s great to see it humming along.

Other Notable Releases


August Development Roundup

Notable Releases


September & October Development Roundup


Notable Releases

Elementary Xfce’s Manila folder icons headline September’s development updates.


September & October Development Roundup


Major Releases

  • Xubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” featured a number of appearance updates and Xfce 4.14 components. Our icon theme, elementary-xfce, was updated with new manila folder icons and optimized, resulting in a smaller install size and improved performance. Many more GTK+ 3 Xfce applications were included.
  • Xfce Screensaver 0.1.0 (and 0.1.1) was announced as a new screen locker and screensaver for Xfce. This application is a port of MATE Screensaver, adapted to tightly integrate with the Xfce desktop. It shares theming with LightDM GTK+ Greeter to guarantee a consistent login and lock experience for users of both.
  • Xfce Settings 4.13.5 featured the new display profiles: saved multi-monitor layouts that are automatically applied when a new monitor configuration is detected. This works with multi-monitor layouts as well as switching a laptop to use only the external display when connected.

Other Notable Releases


Major Releases

  • Xfce Screensaver 0.1.3 is the first beta release of the new Xfce Screensaver. It features an expanded configuration dialog, better support for X11 Screensaver and XDG Screensaver, and fully documented functionality. With a focus on improved code quality, contributors should have a much easier time with the project going forward.

Other Notable Releases

Xfce Screensaver is compatible with all Xscreensaver themes.



  • Lubuntu and Xubuntu announced that they will no longer ship 32-bit ISOs for Ubuntu 19.04 and onwards. Ubuntu 18.04 will continue to be supported for the 3-year LTS support window.
  • André Miranda published The Ultimate Contributor’s Guide to Xfce, which is definitely a worthwhile read for new and existing contributors.

Notable Releases

Cheers to 2019

Look out for Xfce 4.14, we’re so close! Keep an eye out for more updates in the coming months.

New xfce4-panel development release

  • January 2, 2019
  • Simon Steinbeiß

What better way to start a new year than with a release? 🙂

xfce4-panel 4.13.4

After patching up xfce4-settings and finishing the “primary display” story with the patches against xfdesktop I decided to turn to the panel and continue making it 4.14-ready. Next stop: xfce4-panel 4.13.4.

New plugin icon size feature (plugin devs continue reading)

A few things had bugged me there for a while, for one the lack of consistent icon sizing. What the new “icon size” property I implemented gives you is a way to set one icon size per panel instance, so you can have e.g. a 60px panel with 48px icons, or a 32px panel with 16px icons (which gives the icons more padding/breathing room visually). If you set icon sizing to “automatic” (the default value) the panel will try to calculate meaningful sizes for your icons based on the panel size, as before.

Preferences Dialog with the new icon option
32px panel with 16px plugin icons





So while the panel’s API call xfce_panel_plugin_get_icon_size has been around for a while in the 4.13 cycle, I extended this now to also handle fixed sizes set by the user per panel instance.
I highly encourage every plugin developer/maintainer to use the API call mentioned above in their panel instead of custom size calculations, as it will lead to consistent sizing of all panel plugins per panel.
You can find examples of its usage here (panel core plugin) and here (external plugin).
The logic is always the same:
1) Connect to the size-changed signal
2) Get the icon size with xfce_panel_plugin_get_icon_size
3) Set the plugin’s icon with gtk_image_set_pixel_size

Correct menu positioning (again, plugin devs please read)

Luckily I’m not the only one currently hacking away on the panel. So another thing Alistair was fixing is the menu positioning on the panel’s core plugins. This is however a fix that all plugin developers/maintainers should pull in against their plugin. It leads to consistent positioning of the plugin menus in general and in overflow situations. You can find a good example for the correct usage of gtk_menu_popup_at_widget (which is used for showing plugin and other menus) here.

Tasklist fixes

After deciding to use the panel’s “Window Buttons” (aka “tasklist”) plugin more to test its stability I managed to fix a few bugs in window grouping. For instance the buttons of grouped windows now support the “active”, “minimized” and “urgent/blinking” states and are consequently more consistent with ungrouped buttons.
I also dug a little into libwnck – which we rely on for the app icons and the grouping in tasklist – and was able to get us high resolution application icons. While it worked fine for a single panel instance or for multiple tasklist instances with the same icon sizes, adding multiple tasklist plugins with different icon sizes led libwnck into a signal loop. Due to this unfortunate bug (or: mis-implementation) I had to revert this commit/feature. Ultimately the issue has to be resolved in libwnck – or alternatively we may come up with a separate tasklist-based plugin that relies on bamf instead of libwnck (future plan).

Small theming updates

Apart from the things mentioned above, I have also introduced some new CSS style classes which can be used by themes/themers.

To be more concrete, for orientation-specific theming (e.g. margins or paddings) you can now use .xfce4-panel.horizontal and .xfce4-panel.vertical.
For the tasklist I have introduced a group-buttons class which you can use to visually distinguish single-window buttons from group-buttons. This is useful as the behavior of those two buttons is different (group buttons pop up a menu with all associated windows, single-window buttons focus the window in question).

Lots of deprecation, bug fixes and translation updates

Finally, we also managed to fix a lot of bugs and deprecations in the code (thanks Alistair!).

Get it while it’s hot!

The Ultimate Contributor’s Guide to Xfce

  • December 3, 2018
  • André Miranda

Once in a while someone comes around and ask hey, I love Xfce and would like to contribute, but where do I start? How can I be of use? How can I implement a fancy new feature?, I have no doubt the answer is 42. Unfortunately, we don’t have a supercomputer (and millions of years) to distill a meaning from that one-size-fits-all answer, therefore to offer proper guidance, some questions should be asked first, e.g. What exactly do you want to improve? Do you have any programming skills? Besides programming, how else would you like to help? It’s been a long time since I’ve been planning to write a comprehensive guide, I hope this to be helpful to hitchhikers and new contributors. As any open source project, there are several ways to collaborate, everyone is welcome to help in any or many ways they are able, in this guide I’m going to explain and give hints for all contribution forms I can think of.


Our translators do an amazing work, most of major languages are constantly updated, I really appreciate their tirelessly effort. But don’t feel unmotivated, there is always room for improvement, especially if you speak any of the not so updated languages.

Xfce uses gettext which generates .po files from source code. You can view those files from any component repository, for example Thunar.

Fortunately, translators need not know terminal commands or any complex tool, since Xfce translations are handled in Transifex, a web-based translation platform. At that link you can see the overview of the current status of translations.

Once you sign up, you can ask to join a translation team. Be patient, it may take a while for a coordinator to approve your request. If you think your request is taking longer than it should, say a couple weeks, please poke us via the translation mailing list.

After joining a team, Transifex should be intuitive, there is even a comments section in case of doubts for a particular text to be translated, but developers are not notified. In this case I recommend using the mailing list or bug tracker.

For further details check the documentation page about translations.


If you have spare coins to donate, the official way to do so is via Xfce’s bountysource page. You can donate to the organization itself or put a reward of a specific bug. The money is more than welcome, but we are not actively making use, hence I hint donors to place rewards for things they expect (bug fixes, features, etc). Even if you make a hefty donation, we would be very thankful, but this is an open source project 100% run by volunteers, no one is implicitly obliged to act upon your requests.

Bug Reporting / Testing

This one could be of your interest if you are an enthusiast eager for new features and not afraid of rough edges. Xfce versioning is quite simple, even versions (e.g. 4.12) are stable and odd ones (e.g. 4.13) are development versions. Since development cycles are very long (2~4 years), at some point the development version gets good enough to be used (read “tested”) on a daily basis. Unsurprisingly development version users may find regressions (new bugs) and getting reports for them is invaluable to developers, this ensures the stable release will be more solid for more people when it comes out.

The bug tracker is where those bug reports live. Please try your best to look if a bug has already been reported and please try to be as more descriptive as possible, but avoid verbosity. Mozilla has a nice guide on how to write a bug report.

Have some Programming/QA/DevOps knowledge? Please, please, please lend a hand to xfce-test, we need automated tests really bad.


Are you more into design and CSS is a breeze for you? Good news, gtk3 themes are completely written in CSS, you can even use a preprocessor such as Sass. Truth must be said, since the introduction of gtk 3.0 (2011, I guess) there were several compatibility breaks, many theme authors got fed up and abandoned their projects. Fortunately things are more stable since 3.20 (I guess).

Our friends of Project Shimmer have being doing an amazing job, their theme Greybird is shipped on Xubuntu and is now Xfce’s reference theme. Xfce is also supposed to look good under Adwaita (gtk’s default theme). By the way, until 4.12 (gtk2) Xfce ships several classic themes, unfortunately they had to be archived because they need to be rewritten for gtk3.

Finally, as a theme author what are your contribution options? I would say: contribute to Greybird, port/rewrite the classic themes to gtk3, improve Xfce support in other themes out there or roll your own theme!

Since you made this far in this section, perhaps you have web design skills, if so, improvements to our website are also welcome. You may want to file reports for the www.xfce.org project. Just keep in mind that Xfce’s philosophy is about minimalism.


Our wiki and docs sites contain many helpful pages, but one doesn’t need to browse much to notice that some have outdated information. Think you can help us with that? Please write a draft or two and share them via the mailing list, we may then give you permissions to edit those pages.

Xfce documentation has some hints on how to write docs.


This is the most effective way to help, we are always looking for new people to improve, fix, hack and eventually maintain Xfce’s components. You don’t have to be a ninja, just the basic knowledge of a programming language, preferably C, a bit of git and most importantly the desire to learn. Some people are scared of C, because they heard it’s too low level… Fear not, the language is quite simple. Yes, there are pitfalls and gotchas, as any other language, but the experience is improved by gtk’s and glib’s utility functions and abstractions.

First things first, Xfce’s modular architecture feature several components, some are part of its core and some are optional apps or panel plugins. Take some time to read their description. You might wonder what the heck is a window manager? or I never heard of freedesktop.org or d-bus, are they edible?. Search for them, I can’t possibly explain everything there is to know about Linux desktops in a single blog post.

In my opinion the best way to get started with code is to scratch your own itch, you know, deal with that annoying bug or a behavior that could be improved. The rule of thumb is to browse Xfce’s Bugzilla and look for that bug or report it in case no one noticed the problem until now. Then go to Xfce’s repository browser, clone the repository for the component you are about to hack, fix the problem and attach a patch to the bug report. That’s easy for me to say, isn’t it? I’m going to prove you it is not that hard, let’s go step by step.

Building from source

Suppose we are interested in hacking xfce4-appfinder, the first thing we need to do is to build and be able to run that component:

git clone git://git.xfce.org/xfce/xfce4-appfinder
cd xfce4-appfinder
./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --enable-debug

The ./autogen.sh command will fail if you never compiled a Xfce component before, we need to have installed development packages for dependencies, unfortunately it’s hard to give instructions since package names vary between distributions. In most cases it helps a lot to not panic and read the error message. For example:

checking for exo-2 >= 0.12.0... not found
*** The required package exo-2 was not found on your system.

For Debian/Ubuntu sudo apt install libexo-2-dev does the trick. Actually on Debian/Ubuntu sudo apt build-dep [package-name] installs all build dependencies of the given package, xfce4-appfinder in our case. On Arch Linux, there is no *-dev packages, if you have Xfce installed, you will need to figure out fewer dependencies packages to install and you can also check the makedepends variable from the PKGBUILD of the component you are interested.

Moving on, the --prefix=/usr option is useful if you want to install the component on your system (with sudo make install), it means to replace the version provided by the system package manager. Be aware that daily usage of development builds is cool because of unreleased fixes and new features, but it’s also risky because new bugs may appear or due incompatibilities with stable components.

The --enable-debug allows interesting things for development such as debugging with gdb, more detailed backtraces and compiling warnings. Keep in mind that binaries with debug symbols are larger and possibly slower, often unnoticeable.

After make, the binary is ready to run, however xfce4-appfinder as some other Xfce components run in background (daemon mode), in this case we need to stop its process with xfce4-appfinder -q. Hint: this specific component has a preference to disable daemon mode (Preferences -> General -> Keep running instance in the background), so I recommend disabling it while in “write code-compile-run” loop. Now from the root of the repository, run src/xfce4-appfinder. Congratulations, you have just built your first component! If you don’t believe me, change the window title “Application Finder” (appfinder-window.c) to something else, build and run again with make && src/xfce4-appfinder.

This was just a quick summary of how to build Xfce components, the wiki has a much more detailed explanation.

Smashing bugs

Now to make things interesting let’s fix a bug, but this time I need you to clone and build Mousepad, Xfce’s text editor. The steps are very much the same, except that Mousepad does not run in background which makes things easier. Go on, clone and build it. Hopefully you have successfully built Mousepad by now, if not read carefully error messages spilled on the terminal, if you can’t figure them out searching those messages on the web could be helpful. If you tried really hard and nothing worked, ask for guidance at #xfce-dev, stay online and be patient, try one more time if no one replies after one day.

Now you are able to execute Mousepad with mousepad/mousepad from the source folder, we are ready to smash a real bug. Obviously I wouldn’t be so reckless to let a bug live just for beginners fix it and never push the fix, the bug I have in mind was fixed centuries ago (2014), actually it was one of my first contributed patches. With the magic of git, we can travel back to mousepad-0.3.0 (gtk2!) and smash that bug once again. Before we go back, clean the source folder with make distclean, now you are good to run git checkout mousepad-0.3.0. Git will complain that “you are in ‘detached HEAD’ state”, you might know what that means, otherwise ignore it for now and remember to learn git later, because you know, having a detached head is not comfortable at all ;)

Once again configure and build Mousepad (./autogen.sh && make) and fix the bug… Oh, but I haven’t even told what is broken :) Allow me: execute Mousepad, type “hello world”, save the file somewhere and close Mousepad. Now run Mousepad again and open that file, type some gibberish and choose File -> Revert, it will ask for confirmation, press “Revert” and it says it failed to revert even though it worked. Weird, isn’t it?

So where do we get started? Have a look at the terminal, it says g_error_free: assertion 'error != NULL' failed, looks fishy. Open Mousepad source folder in your favorite editor. I hope the editor you are using features a text search on all files, because to locate the suspect part of code, we need to search for the error message from the dialog, in this case “Failed to reload the document.”. Ignore .po files, they are used only for translations. If you are still following me this far, you might have found the message at mousepad-window.c:3983 and look! Just below that line there is g_error_free which was mentioned by that terminal message, so we must be close, my dear Watson. Notice how that chunk of code is executed only if succeed is FALSE, and succeed is the result of mousepad_file_reload function call. Hmmm, let’s go into that function (mousepad-file.c:859), take your time to read it.

As you might have reckoned (or not, no worries), it starts with state checking, checks if the file still exists, clears a buffer and, the most important part, reloads the file, the result goes into a boolean also called succeed. At this point, you may want to use gdb to debug this code, but I won’t teach you this, there lots of tutorials out there. The poor’s man debug is printf, I use it a lot, though some claim it’s a bad practice. Anyway, try it, put g_print ("succeed is %s\n", result ? "TRUE" : "FALSE"); in the line after succeed gets assigned (mousepad-file.c:886), then build and try to reproduce the bug, messages on terminal may help you understand what is happening. Ok, indeed succeed is FALSE at that point, so let’s dive into mousepad_file_open, then read it.

Found anything interesting? No? Go back and check its signature. Still no? What about its return type? Yes, it returns gint which is assigned to a gboolean variable! How is that even possible? If you know a bit C, you probably know any non-zero number yields TRUE when evaluated in a boolean expression, consequently 0 yields FALSE. If you read that function code, you saw that it returns non-zero when something went wrong (a common pattern in C programs and libraries). By now it should be clear that this is the opposite of what we expect for succeed, 0 means no error but when converted to boolean results in FALSE. So what is the fix? Well, try to figure it out yourself, you have all the information needed :)

Once you have your solution, compare it to the one provided in Bug #10636.

Sharing Code

Now you know how to build components and smash bugs, browse Xfce’s bug tracker and try to fix something that looks easy. If you have an idea on how to fix or some code that seems to work but you are not so sure, don’t be afraid to ask at #xfce-dev. Once you have a good enough solution, attach a patch (see git commit & git format-patch) to the bug report. Wait a few days, if you get no answer, poke us at #xfce-dev or use the Xfce4-dev mailing list. After some merged patches, you may ask commit rights and join the dev club, yay!

By the way, (I hope that) soon we will move our infra to GitLab, so merge requests will be the new standard way to share code, much more convenient IMHO.


  • Use whatever text editor/IDE you are comfortable with.
  • The terminal is your friend, get used to it, then you will love it.
  • Now that almost all components are gtk3-based, GtkInspector is an invaluable tool.
  • Offline documentation browser such as Devhelp and Zeal are faster and more convenient than using a web browser.
  • Glade is a WYSIWYG interface editor, many Xfce components have their ui created with it.
  • D-Feet is useful when dealing with D-Bus.
  • Tricky bugs will need advanced tools to find their cause, in this case gdb and valgrind are good companions.
  • Xorg’s utilities, for instance xev and xprop.


  • General user questions? Xfce’s forum and #xfce at IRC/Freenode are the best place to get help.
  • Translation stuff? Xfce-i18n mailing list.
  • Stuck with anything related to code? Xfce4-dev mailing list. Besides that #xfce-dev at IRC/Freenode is where devs hang out. All of us have a real life (I think) and live across different time zones, so once again, be patient and stay online.


I wasn’t sure where to tackle this subject, so here it is: maintainers are awesome folks, but don’t take this role too seriously, it creates frustration in many ways.

Let me explain: someone is trying to figure out how to fix a bug or introduce a new feature, but may think that effort is a waste of time since the maintainer should be much more experienced and able to implement it in the blink of an eye. The bug is not updated for a long time so users get tired of waiting (it’s an absurd, this bug is from 2008!), probably the maintainers are lazy, stupid or both. It doesn’t take long to maintainers also get tired and abandon development for their own reasons. Finally the component is considered unmaintained which greatly reduces the chances of contributions (patches) make their way into releases.

Don’t take that as a rant or as “shut up and let’s work at our own pace”. What I mean is that newcomers are more than welcome to propose solutions and send patches, do not expect a dedicated maintainer for the every component (people come and go). Be proactive, take part, propose, ask, learn, disagree, fix, explain, help and eventually you become a maintainer :)

That’s it, I hope this guide covers as much as possible contribution forms as possible, even at the penalty of its length. And remember, this is a volunteer-based project not a job so have fun!

Xfce Screensaver 0.1.3 Released

  • November 25, 2018
  • Sean Davis

After 3 weeks of dedicated development time, the first Xfce Screensaver beta release is now available! With better event handling, a significantly upgraded preferences dialog, and a tidier codebase, the new version is nearly ready for prime time. 🎉

What’s New?


  • All available configuration options are now available in the Preferences dialog, boosting the easily accessible options from 4 to 13!
  • Idle time is now based on the X11 Screensaver plugin instead of the GNOME Session Manager.
  • Xfce Screensaver now respects the xdg-screensaver state, inhibiting the screensaver when using apps like Caffeine or watching a fullscreen video.
  • Screensaver and lock screen functionality can easily now be toggled separately.



  • Dropped unused configuration options [1, 2, 3]
  • Renamed all Xfconf properties for improved clarity and easier maintenance [1, 2]

Bug Fixes

  • Replaced Help link with a link to the Xfce Docs (Xfce #14877)
  • Added /usr/lib and /usr/libexec as trusted engine paths, enabling local installs on Linux with access to existing screensavers (Xfce #14883)
  • Fixed screen blanking and locking on FreeBSD and OpenBSD (Xfce #14846)
  • Fixed lock screen crash on laptop lid-close events (GTK #1466)
  • Fixed daemon crash when scrolling through available themes
  • Improved window size resizing for smaller displays
  • Renamed included screensavers to avoid conflicts with MATE Screensaver
  • Reduced flicker rate when multiple keyboard layouts are available (still not fully fixed, but greatly improved)

Build Improvements

  • Silenced warning: ar: ‘u’ modifier ignored since ‘D’ is the default
  • Fixed warning: Target given more than once in the same rule

Code Quality

  • Applied cpplint fixes and added cpplint configuration file
  • Cleaned up unused variables, trailing spaces, and deprecated code
  • Glade templates were cleaned up and organized for easier maintenance

Translation Updates

Albanian, Basque, Chinese (China), Chinese (Taiwan), Danish, French, Galician, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Malay, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Turkish



This is the first beta release of Xfce Screensaver. While still not recommended for production machines, this is a great time to test and report bugs so we can put together an awesome stable release soon.

Source tarball (md5sha1sha256)

Xubuntu users (18.04, 18.10, and 19.04) can grab the package from the Xubuntu QA Experimental PPA.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xubuntu-dev/experimental
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xfce4-screensaver

Remember to also remove or exit light-locker and start xfce4-screensaver (or log out and back in) and add support for xfce4-screensaver to the xflock4 script.

Thanks and enjoy!

Adventures in primary display land

  • November 12, 2018
  • Simon Steinbeiß

As some may have noticed I have lately patched “Primary Display” support into a few of our components. It all started with the display settings dialog… But let me start right at the beginning.

“Primary” is a setting of X11’s RandR extension that “is expected to be used by desktop environments to mark the screen that should hold the primary menu bar or panel” (quoted from the specification). So in short: the “Primary Display” should hold your panels, your desktop icons, your notifications, potentially your presenter’s screen (if you use LibreOffice) etc. in a multi-display setup.

In 2016 I started by introducing a hidden setting in xfce4-notifyd. This meant your notifications wouldn’t pop up during presentations on external displays anymore (because the default setting before was to follow the mouse pointer’s location). I personally needed/wanted this and it felt like an easy fix.

In 2017 I added the feature to xfce4-panel. Before that you had to either hard-code the location of the panels or use the “Automatic” setting, which always puts your panels at the left top part of the screen (x=0, y=0). In combination with the display settings option this provided an easy way of moving the panel around and keeping it on certain displays even when connecting new additional ones.

In late 2018 I started working on the big missing piece of the puzzle, which is xfdesktop. At the time of writing, my patches are still in review in this bugreport (testing welcome!), but things work ok or at least well enough to give me hope that we will see this in the next development release.

Display Settings Primary information

In parallel to the xfdesktop patch I also picked up the display settings dialog again after gathering some input from friends at work and decided to pull in all the information about the usage and configuration of the “Primary Display”, as its settings are spread across several components and dialogs. The point of this popover is to show the current configuration status as well as adding a shorthand for accessing all those settings dialogs.

I also went with a new way of highlighting which display is configured as “Primary Display” that is hopefully more easily understandable than the panel I added in the 4.13.5 release. The star is shown both in the displays widget as well as in the properties list of each display, so users can easily visually match which display is primary and what that means.


Xubuntu Development Update November 2018

  • November 1, 2018
  • Sean Davis

Aaaaaaaaaaaand, we’re back! After skipping last month’s development update, there’s a lot of new developments to unpack for the previous 2 months. Let’s get right to it.

Xubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish”

We wrapped up development on Xubuntu 18.10 throughout September and October, landing the following changes in the last month and a half of work.

This release includes 6 new GTK+ 3 Xfce components, giving users a snapshot of the Xfce 4.14 development. More information about the release can be found in the release notes.

Upcoming Fixes

Since the 18.10 release, we’ve identified fixes for two of our documented bugs. We’ll be pushing these fixes to our users via the stable release updates.

  • Panel: Window buttons are not clickable at the top pixel of the screen (LP: #1795135)
    • Resolution: Export GDK_CORE_DEVICE_EVENTS = 1 (Xfce Git)
  • Settings Manager: Mouse fails to scroll embedded panels (LP: #1653448)
    • Resolution: Export GDK_CORE_DEVICE_EVENTS = 1 (Xfce Git)


September New Releases

October New Releases

4.14 Roadmap Updates

The Xfce development team has worked on tidying up the Xfce 4.14 roadmap over the last few days. Statuses have been updated, pending work has been moved to the top of each section, and completion percents have been adjusted to better reflect each project’s progress. With these updates, we can now see that…

Xfce 4.14 is now approximately 83% complete.

Of course, we need all the help we can get to get this milestone out the door. Check out the Xfce Contribute page to find out how you can help.

What’s Next?

With the 18.10 release now behind us, and the 19.04 cycle starting today, it’s time to get back to work! No release goals have been determined yet, so stay tuned to the Xubuntu Development mailing list for updates about Xubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” development.

Xfce Screensaver 0.1.1 Released

  • November 1, 2018
  • Sean Davis

The second release of Xfce Screensaver is now available! Featuring a number of bug fixes, translations, and general improvements, this release is a big step forward for the newest Xfce application.

What’s New?


  • Added support for color settings from Xfdesktop 4.12 and 4.13
  • The black fallback color has been replaced with the Xfdesktop default
    • #152233 or super dark blue
  • The interface files for the preferences dialog and lock screen are now compiled and included in the binaries
  • The warning displayed as the root user is now an InfoBar to make it more visible
  • Screensaver Preferences can now be embedded in the Xfce Settings Manager

Bug Fixes

  • Fix crash when no background placement is configured (Xfce #14769)
  • Redraw the screensaver on monitor configuration events (Xfce #14796)
  • Automate detection of PAM configuration, add a new flag to override (Xfce #14779)
  • Notify the user when Xfce Power Manager has an incompatible configuration and include a button to resolve it (Xfce #14782)
  • The unlock dialog is now correctly drawn with the Adwaita GTK theme
  • Fix builds on OpenBSD, build status can now be tracked on the Xfce Build Bot

Translations (All NEW!)

Albanian, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (China), Chinese (Taiwan), Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Malay, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish


With just a single release, packaging for the new screensaver is starting to appear all over the place! If you know of any other places it’s been packaged, drop me a line. 🙂



Please be aware that this is alpha-quality software. It is not currently recommended for use in production machines. Please continue to test it, report bugs, provide feedback, and submit patches so we can make the best screensaver and locker possible for Xfce.

Source tarball (md5sha1sha256)

Xfce Screensaver 0.1.0 Released

  • October 15, 2018
  • Sean Davis

I am pleased to announce the release of Xfce Screensaver (xfce4-screensaver) 0.1.0! This is an early release targeted to testers and translators. Bugs and patches welcome!


Xfce Screensaver is a screen saver and locker that aims to have simple, sane, secure defaults and be well integrated with the Xfce desktop.

It is a port of MATE Screensaver, itself a port of GNOME Screensaver. It has been tightly integrated with the Xfce desktop, utilizing Xfce libraries and the Xfconf configuration backend.

Homepage · Bugzilla · Git


  • Integration with the Xfce Desktop per-monitor wallpaper
  • Locking down of configuration settings via Xfconf
  • DBUS interface to limited screensaver interaction
  • Full translation support into many languages
  • Shared styles with LightDM GTK+ Greeter
  • Support for XScreensaver screensavers
  • User switching


  • DBus >= 0.30
  • GLib >= 2.50.0
  • GTK+ >= 3.22.0
  • X11 >= 1.0
  • garcon >= 0.5.0
  • libxklavier >= 5.2
  • libxfce4ui >= 4.12.1
  • libxfce4util >= 4.12.1
  • Xfconf >= 4.12.1


Click to view slideshow.


Please be aware that this is alpha-quality software. It is not currently recommended for use in production machines. I invite you to test it, report bugs, provide feedback, and submit patches so we can get it ready for the world.

Source tarball (md5sha1sha256)

New xfce4-settings release

  • October 2, 2018
  • Simon Steinbeiß

After quite a bit of development time I’m happy to announce the next development point release of xfce4-settings in the 4.13 series.

There are many fixes in this release – most visibly also UI improvements. This includes consistent padding/margin etc across all dialogs as well as a restored hover-effect in the Settings Manager. Finally both the advanced (fake panel as indicator for primary displays, re-arranged settings and distinct advanced tab) and the minimal display dialog (new icons, improved strings) received a facelift.

But – despite the nature of the 4.14 cycle – there is also a new feature:
display profiles.

This new feature allows you to store one or more profiles for a particular display configuration that you may be using. In order to uniquely identify single displays we rely on the so-called EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) so a profile becomes a combination of those unique EDIDs. As already mentioned, you can store multiple profiles per setup to cover use-cases like rotating single screens or when enabling/disabling or re-arranging certain screens may be necessary. For instance in office situations where you switch a lot between one or multiple docking stations, projectors and other external devices, this feature will allow you to do so with ease.
Every scenario just has to be configured and saved once.

It is important to note that the list of available profiles is always filtered based on the currently connected displays. To be exact: this means that at least the currently connected displays need to be part of the profile definition for the profile to appear in the list. In turn this also means that if you only have your internal laptop display connected, you will see all profiles because your laptop display will always be part of every profile (even if it is disabled!).





To make the deal a little sweeter I implemented auto-applying of profiles when new displays are connected. This is an optional feature that automatically enables the first – if there are multiple defined for the set of currently connected displays – matching profile.
This action is also triggered if you open the minimal dialog, giving you a shortcut to auto-apply profiles. 

What is not yet implemented is profile-awareness for xfsettingsd. So the settings daemon does not automatically enable a profile if you simply start your session, but previously worked in a different display setup. However, this is a point I would like to address in a future release.

In the meantime, enjoy xfce4-settings 4.13.5!

Xubuntu Development Update September 2018

  • September 8, 2018
  • Sean Davis

A week later than expected, it’s the September development update! The theme for August (and early September) has been visual improvements, with a few bug fixes tossed in for good measure. Check it out! 


Bionic Beaver (18.04)

Bionic was pretty stable in August, with only one of our packages making it through the SRU process and into the hands of our users.

We’re currently looking to get these new releases and fixes into Bionic.

  • Catfish 1.4.6
    • This is a new release with numerous bug fixes and a much-improved thumbnailer.
  • Xfce Settings: Mouse acceleration not configurable in Xubuntu 18.04 (LP: #1758023)
    • This issue is related to libinput taking over mouse configuration, and will be resolved by building xfce4-settings with libinput support.

Cosmic Cuttlefish (18.10)

The following source package updates landed in Cosmic in August.

  • elementary-xfce 0.12-1ubuntu1
    • The elementary-xfce icon theme is now available on Debian! Previously, this theme was part of the xubuntu-icon-theme package.
  • ristretto 0.8.3-1 (Debian sync)
  • thunar-archive-plugin 0.4.0-1 (Debian sync)
  • thunar-media-tags-plugin 0.3.0-1 (Debian sync)
  • xfce4-taskmanager 1.2.1-1 (Debian sync)
  • xubuntu-artwork 18.10
    • The development wallpaper is set on boot and the desktop.
    • The xubuntu-icon-theme is now a branding package, that upgrades the elementary-xfce icon theme with the Xubuntu distributor logo.
  • xubuntu-default-settings 18.10
    • “Square icons” were enabled in all supported plugins, improving size and shape consistency on the panel.
    • Orage configuration was updated to use the “paplay” command for sounds by default (LP: #1054396)
    • The panel was updated to be 80% transparent at all times. This is a settings migration to support the new GTK+ 3 panel.
    • The Xubuntu session was updated to correctly set XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP (LP: #1590089)
  • xubuntu-meta 2.227
    • This package release replaces the fwupdate dependency with the newly minted fwupd.


New Releases

Xfce had 3 new releases in August, featuring a variety of bug fixes and usability improvements.

Xfce Display Profiles (Preview)

Simon has been hard at work implementing a nifty new feature for the Xfce Display Settings, display profiles! This feature allows you to save and switch between various display setups, useful for users on the go or presenters. This hasn’t been merged into master yet, so designs are not final.

Spacing Improvements

I’ve spent the last week submitting patches to the Xfce core applications, panel plugins, and Thunar plugins. My goal is to improve the overall look and feel of Xfce by improving the consistency of it’s preference dialogs. A few before and after screenshots are below.

I’ve based my work on the excellent GNOME 2 HIG Window Layout documentation. Xfce has long borrowed the design philosophies from this document (to varying degrees) and is once again benefiting from the well-written work.

Shimmer Project

Elementary Xfce Icon Theme

Xubuntu’s beloved icon theme has had a few significant updates in recent weeks. From build optimizations to new upstream icons, there’s a lot to unpack.

The theme has added a Makefile and build tool to convert the theme’s SVG sources to PNG. Xubuntu has included the PNG-building functionality for some time, and now it’s available for everyone. PNG-based themes are faster to load and generally crisper at various sizes. Included in the new build options are PNG optimization. Optipng is now used to optimize each of the generated files, reducing the overall file size.

Updated icons coming from upstream this month include dialog-password, selection icons, graphics icons, and manila-colored folders. The manila folders are a sharp contrast from the longtime blue, but after using them for a few days, they’re actually pretty nice.

Other Updates

Mugshot 0.4.1

I released Mugshot 0.4.1 early last month with a number of bug fixes and code quality improvements. You can check out the release notes and find downloads here.


Ready to start giving back to your favorite open source projects? Remember that there’s something for everyone, and you can get started quickly with the Xubuntu and Xfce contributor docs. If you don’t know where to start, join us at #xubuntu-devel on Freenode… we’ll point you in the right direction.