Translation(s): English - Español - Français - עברית - Italiano - 한국어 - Português (Brasil) - Русский - Svenska - Українська - 简体中文

Xfce Logo (GPLv2)

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for Unix-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use.

Xfce consists of a number of components that together provide the full functionality of a desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick and choose from the available packages to create the best personal working environment.

One of Xfce's priorities is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at This allows Xfce to seamlessly interoperate with programs written for other desktop environments, if those programs follow the specified standards.

Xfce is based on GTK 3 in 4.14 and newer. Xfce 4.12 and earlier (as found in Debian 10 and earlier) are based on GTK 2.


Install a new Debian system with Xfce

During Debian installation, select Xfce desktop environment at the Selecting and Installing Software installation step.

Alternatively, at the Debian Installer boot prompt, press the Tab key to edit the command line, then add desktop=xfce.

For a complete rundown refer to the Debian Desktop Howto.

Run Debian Live with Xfce

A Debian live system with Xfce is available at

Install Xfce in an already installed system

You can install Xfce as the only desktop environment on your computer, or alongside another desktop environment. Your display manager should allow you to select the appropriate desktop before logging in.

To install the full Xfce desktop environment and utilities, install the xfce4 package.

xfce4-goodies is a metapackage that will install many useful plugins and applications related to Xfce. It's a suggested package for standard users that want a complete Xfce desktop experience, however you may have a more "minimal" installation by only installing the specific packages that you want from the list below.

You can search for packages using the xfce4 search term. The "main" Xfce packages are:

Xfce also provides utilities that are frequently used on a personal computer:

The Xfce panel provides a window list, application launchers/menus, a clock, and can be extended using many plugins/applets:

xfce4-genmon-plugin, xfce4-linelight-plugin, xfce4-mailwatch-plugin, xfce4-messenger-plugin, xfce4-mount-plugin, xfce4-mpc-plugin, xfce4-netload-plugin, xfce4-notes-plugin, xfce4-places-plugin, xfce4-quicklauncher-plugin, xfce4-radio-plugin, xfce4-screenshooter-plugin, xfce4-sensors-plugin, xfce4-smartbookmark-plugin, xfce4-systemload-plugin, xfce4-timer-plugin, xfce4-verve-plugin, xfce4-wavelan-plugin, xfce4-weather-plugin, xfce4-wmdock-plugin, xfce4-xkb-plugin, xfce4-cpufreq-plugin, xfce4-cpugraph-plugin, xfce4-dict, xfce4-diskperf-plugin, xfce4-equake-plugin, xfce4-fsguard-plugin, xfce4-hdaps

Run Xfce

From a display manager

Select Xfce from your display manager (desktop login screen).

Most display managers will detect Xfce automatically.

For the slim display manager, edit /etc/slim.conf and set login_cmd exec ck-launch-session /bin/bash -login /etc/X11/Xsession %session

From the console

Xfce can be started from the console simply by running the startxfce4 command. startxfce4 is a script that sets the required environment variables and calls Xinit to start the X server with the Xfce session.


Preventing screen-tearing

In the Window Manager Tweaks section of your settings application, under the Compositor tab, uncheck the Enable display compositing box. This will disable some graphical effects but also can help reduce screen-tearing.

Since Xfce 4.14, V-Sync can also be enabled through the use of commands. You might try running:

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/vblank_mode -s MODE

where MODE can be either vblank, glx, or xpresent. You may experiment with different options to see which is the most effective at reducing screen-tearing for you.

Advanced users may look into replacing the default Xfwm4 window manager and compositor with compton instead, which has been noted by some users to also reduce or eliminate screen-tearing.

Resetting to defaults

Try running:

mv ~/.config/xfce4-session/ ~/.config/xfce4-session-bak
mv ~/.config/xfce4/ ~/.config/xfce4-bak

These two commands will rename your configuration directories, forcing Xfce to regenerate them when you next start it. If you want to restore your old configuration, you may remove the -bak that's been appended to the old directories.

Suspend and backlight issues

As of 05/15/2020, there are 2 rules files missing from /etc/polkit-1/ that are required to make xfce4-power-manager work properly (bug 773743):

In order to get suspend issue corrected perform the following:

# create the necessary directory
$ sudo mkdir /etc/polkit-1/rules.d
$ sudo chmod 755 /etc/polkit-1/rules.d
# create the new configuration file, with the following content
$ sudo nano /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/85-suspend.rules

polkit.addRule(function(action, subject) {
    if ( == "org.freedesktop.login1.suspend" &&
        subject.isInGroup("users")) {
        return polkit.Result.YES;

# fix permissions on the configuration file
$ sudo chmod 644 /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/85-suspend.rules
# in the following file, change the "suspend" rules to <allow_any>yes</allow_any>
$ sudo nano /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.login1.policy

The process is similar to fix the backlight modification authentication errors:

# create the necessary directory
$ sudo mkdir /etc/polkit-1/rules.d
# fix permissions on the directory
$ sudo chmod 755 /etc/polkit-1/rules.d
# create the configuration file with the following content
$ sudo nano /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/89-backlight.rules

polkit.addRule(function(action, subject) {
    if ( == "org.xfce.power.backlight-helper" &&
        subject.isInGroup("users")) {
        return polkit.Result.YES;

# fix permissions on the configuration file
$ sudo chmod 644 /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/89-backlight.rules
# in the following file change the "backlight" rules to <allow_any>yes</allow_any>
$ sudo nano /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.login1.policy

This will prevent authentication errors/credentials dialogs from appearing.


CategoryDesktopEnvironment | CategorySoftware