The LXDE Configuration HOWTO
What is LXDE?
After installing your base Gentoo system, and the X Server, you have to make many
choices regarding your graphical environment, if you want one at all. There
are many options available to you, ranging from minimalistic window managers
like Openbox, to full-featured
desktop environments like
KDE, and GNOME.
You may find yourself saying "well, I like the idea of having a lightweight
graphical environment, but I don't want to install and configure every
component individually like with Openbox." For quite some time, such users
installed Xfce. While it provided
a nice fully-featured environment without the system intensities of KDE or
GNOME, it could still become a bit on the heavy side. Now, you have another
choice: the Lightweight X11 Desktop
Environemnt, or LXDE for short.
Components of LXDE
LXDE, being a desktop environment, is comprised of several components. Each
program offers a certain functionality, and together they form the complete
desktop environment. Currently, there are eleven core components, and
several other programs necessary to make a complete LXDE installation.
These programs are the ones pulled in by the LXDE meta
package, discussed in the installation section.
is a GTK theme and icon configurator that allows you to customise the look of LXDE.
is a collection of default configuration files and the main set of icons.
is the application menu manager.
is a keyboard and mouse configurator.
is the panel that includes the application menu, system tray, and clock.
is a graphical interface to X Resize and Rotate, allowing for display manipulation.
is a session manager, providing options to shutdown, reboot, and suspend the system.
LXsession-edit allows you to enable / disable applications at startup.
is an easy way to edit application shortcuts, especially for desktop icons.
is the task manager used to view / edit running services and programs.
is the vte-based tabbed terminal emulator.
Other Applications used by LXDE
is the window manager, responsible for drawing the containers for programs.
the incredibly fast, tabbed file manager.
the configurator for OpenBox, allowing you to change window decorations
is the default image viewer.
After you have emerged and configured xorg-server, you are ready to
install LXDE. While you may install each component individually, the more efficient
and preferred method is to emerge the meta package set:
Code Listing 2.1: Opening the Portage keywords file
# nano -w /etc/portage/package.keywords
Code Listing 2.2: Installing LXDE
# emerge -av lxde-meta
If everything looks to your liking (meaning the current set of USE flags,
et cetera), then say "yes" when asked if you want to emerge the packages.
Just like with other desktop environments, you will need to tell the
X Server to load LXDE automatically, by adding it to your
Code Listing 2.3: Adding LXDE to your .xinitrc
$ echo "exec startlxde" >> ~/.xinitrc
This will automatically start your LXDE session when you type startx
at the terminal.
If you use a login manager like SLiM, XDM, GDM, or KDM, you do not need to
edit your ~/.xinitrc. LXDE will simply show up as a choice in
your login manager's screen.
As each user has his or her own .xinitrc, you need to make sure to
issue that command as your user, not as root.
GTK icon warning
Now that the X server knows to start LXDE on command, type in startx to
fire up LXDE. The first thing you may notice is that you get a warning about
an improper GTK icon set. To fix this minor hangup, you simply need to change
the icon theme. To do so, click on the LXDE application menu (in the
lower left-hand corner of the panel), and go to Preferences --> Appearance.
In the LXappearance menu, click on the "Icon" tab, and choose nuoveXT.2.2.
Hit "Apply," and then "Close." The next time you login to LXDE, the error
message will not appear. However, you are not limited to using the nuoveXT.2.2
icon theme. You may install any other icon theme through LXappearance, and
when it is selected, the GTK icon warning will no longer appear when starting PCManFM.
In LXDE, every appearance option is not handled through LXappearance as one
might believe. Rather, there are some common options that are handled through
a right-click menu on the desktop. At the bottom of that menu is the
"Desktop Settings" menu. In here, you can find icon sizes, single-click and
double-click behaviour, maximum thumbnail size, and desktop wallpaper
settings. It may behoove you to look through the these tabs for additional
These "Desktop Settings" can also be found by opening up the file manager
(PCManFM), and going to Edit --> Preferences.
Though this guide will help you get LXDE installed, the documentation does not
stop here. There are many resources available to you regarding the various
facets of the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. Some such resources are
On the Official LXDE website you
will find information regarding developmental progress, a community
of support, and recommend system specifications for running LXDE.
The LXDE wiki contains
instructions for customising your LXDE installation, including
keyboard layouts, autostarting applications, changing the default window
manager, and much more.
The contents of this document, unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under the CC-BY-SA-2.5 license. The Gentoo Name and Logo Usage Guidelines apply.
Page updated November 30, 2009
This guide introduces the user to LXDE, explains its components, and leads the
user through the installation.
Ben de Groot
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