Linux for Starters

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Try Different Desktops – Part 16


XFCE is a lightweight and versatile desktop environment that utilises a classic drop-down or pop-up menu to access applications. A little time and effort is needed to properly customise the desktop to suit personal taste.

Before we start, open up a Terminal and make sure your system is up-to-date with the command:

$ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

We can install xfce with the command:

$ sudo apt install xfce4

This will install 45 packages. It’s a 16.9 MB download and uses 84.9 MB of additional disk space.

To get the full experience, we recommend you install the xubuntu-desktop package that offers several applications of its own.

$ sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop

This metapackage installs 280 packages. It’s a 157 MB download using 590 MB of additional disk space. It installs useful programs such as xfce4-terminal (a lightweight terminal emulator) and engrampa (an archive manager).

Once the xubuntu-desktop metapackage is downloaded, you’ll be asked to configure LightDM, a display manager that aims to be lightweight and fast. While Ubuntu 21.04 uses GDM as its display manager, several Ubuntu flavors still use LightDM. It’s the recommended display manager for XFCE too.

Linux for Starters - configuring lightdm

Select ‘lightdm’ from the list and press Enter.

Linux for Starters - configuring lightdm

We can now reboot our system, and XFCE will be your resident DE.

Linux for Starters - xfce

Page 4 – MATE

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction
Page 2 – KDE Plasma 5
Page 3 – XFCE
Page 4 – MATE
Page 5 – Budgie

All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
Part 1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
Part 2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
Part 3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
Part 4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
Part 5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
Part 6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
Part 7Updating the system, install new software.
Part 8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
Part 9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
Part 10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
Part 11Getting help from your system.
Part 12Learn all about the file system.
Part 13Manipulating files from the shell.
Part 14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
Part 15Managing users on your system.
Part 16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
Part 17Gaming on Linux.
Part 18Protect your privacy with this guide.
Part 19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
Part 20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
Part 21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.
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  1. Well, before coming to this article I only knew about KDE, xfce, Gnome etc. as Linux desktop environments.
    But the way you represented it looks completely confusing to me at least from the naming conventions (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Mate etc.).
    But I must thank you for such a well organized content structure. I might have to go through some more article to connect the dots.

    1. Kubuntu, Lubuntu,and Ubuntu MATE are Linux distributions (derivatives of Ubuntu), not desktop environments.

      KDE, XFCE, GNOME are desktop environments.

      The former can use the latter. For example Ubuntu MATE uses MATE as its default user interface.

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