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 freedesktop.org. This allows Xfce to seamlessly interoperate with programs written for other desktop environments, if those programs follow the specified standards.
Install a new Debian system with Xfce
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 https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current-live/amd64/iso-hybrid/
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.
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:
thunar - File Manager for Xfce
xfdesktop4 - xfce desktop background, icons and root menu manager
xfwm4 - window manager of the Xfce project
xfce4-panel - panel for Xfce4 desktop environment
xfce4-settings - graphical application for managing Xfce settings
xfce4-power-manager - power manager for Xfce desktop
xfce4-session - Xfce4 Session Manager
xfconf - utilities for managing settings in Xfce
xfce4-notifyd - simple, visually-appealing notification daemon for Xfce
Xfce also provides utilities that are frequently used on a personal computer:
mousepad - simple Xfce oriented text editor
ristretto - lightweight picture-viewer for the Xfce desktop environment
xfce4-taskmanager - process manager for the Xfce4 Desktop Environment
xfce4-screenshooter - screenshots utility for Xfce
xfce4-terminal - Xfce terminal emulator
xfce4-notes - Notes application for the Xfce4 desktop
xfce4-appfinder - Application finder for the Xfce4 Desktop Environment
xfce4-clipman - clipboard history utility
xfwm4-themes - Theme files for xfwm4
xfburn - CD-burner application for Xfce Desktop Environment
orage - Calendar for Xfce Desktop Environment
The Xfce panel provides a window list, application launchers/menus, a clock, and can be extended using many plugins/applets:
xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin - Alternate menu plugin for the Xfce desktop environment
xfce4-indicator-plugin - plugin to display information from applications in the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin - Xfce4 panel plugin to control pulseaudio
xfce4-battery-plugin - battery monitor plugin for the Xfce4 panel
xfce4-power-manager-plugins - power manager plugins for Xfce panel
xfce4-clipman-plugin - clipboard history plugin for Xfce panel
xfce4-datetime-plugin - date and time plugin for the Xfce4 panel
- And many more:
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
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.
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
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.
Power management 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. One is for the backlight permission and the other is for the suspend permission. I have detailed the fix that I used to repair the issues Here
Teams/DebianXfceGroup - The Debian Xfce packaging team