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A Tour of the Fedora Xfce Desktop

 A Video Recorded Using Fedora 16 Xfce Spin Linux

The Fedora Xfce Spin Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Fedora Xfce Spin is a fork of the standard Fedora distribution which features an Xfce based GUI/desktop instead of the default Gnome one. The Fedora Xfce Spin aim is is to provide a Fedora O/S that is lighter on resources and more suited to older/low specification hardware.

Fedora Xfce Spin is a fork of the standard Fedora distribution which features an Xfce based GUI/desktop instead of the default Gnome one

When you boot Fedora Xfce Spin - at least in Live CD mode from a USB Stick - you will notice that the boot time is quicker than Fedora LXDE Spin. The response time to commands is, however, similar for both spins.

Note: the screenshots in this chapter were taken from the Fedora 16 Xfce Spin release


Default Applications

The applications that come pre-installed with Fedora Xfce Spin naturally reflect the low-resource ethos of the distro; there is still the usual spread of applications - it's just that they have been chosen for their low-resource usage and integration with the Xfce libraries. Here is a taster of some of the applications that Fedora 16 Xfce Spin is currently shipping with:

..Fedora Xfce Spin naturally reflect the low-resource ethos of the distro; there is still the usual spread of applications - it's just that they have been chosen for their low-resource usage..

ApplicationPackage Used
Word Processor AbiWord
Image EditorN/A
SpreadsheetsGnumeric
Email ClientClaws Mail
Media PlayersQuod Libet, Ex Falso, Parole
Video EditorN/A
Internet BrowserFirefox, Midori
ChatPidgin
CD/DVD WriterAsunder
Web SupportN/A
Package Managergpk-application, yum

In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to customize the look and feel should you so desire.

Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using the Fedora Software Center within minutes.

In summary, Fedora Xfce Spin is aimed at Fedora users with older or low specification hardware that is unable to run the standard distribution. If you are an Fedora fan but find that Gnome runs too slowly, then Fedora Xfce Spin may be for you!


The Fedora Xfce Spin Desktop

Fedora Xfce Spin uses the Xfce desktop - which is light on scare resources but delivers a perfectly usable desktop: it perhaps lacks the glitz/slickness and polish of Gnome - but that is, after all, just eye-candy!

When you boot Fedora Xfce Spin, the desktop will display:

The Fedora Xfce Spin Xfce Desktop

As can be seen, the default desktop is a fairly spartan one - with several icon shortcuts in the top left (-to install the O/S and access various directories) and the Top Panel along the top of the screen. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the "Desktop Settings.." option in the Context Menu.

Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area.

Fedora Xfce Spin allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply click-dragging the desired file to the desktop from the File Manager window then releasing the mouse button. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.


The Xfce Top Panel

The bulk of your desktop interaction with Fedora Xfce Spin will be through the panel at the top of the desktop:

The Fedora Xfce Spin Top Panel

This can be divided into four main parts:

  • Icon for the Fedora Xfce Spin Main MenuClicking on the "Applications Menu" button in the top left hand corner of the screen displays the Main Menu, which allows the user access to all the Fedora Xfce Spin functions

  • Icon for the Fedora Power Option Menu

    Access the logoff/power option menu

  • In the middle part of the panel, the thumbnails of all open applications are listed: click on these to jump directly to that window -or to restore it to it's former size if it was previously minimized (iconified)

    Fedora Xfce Spin Application Minimized

  • On the right hand side of the panel is a number of icons. What appears here depends on what you are doing and what is running on your system but, by default, the icons are as follows:

    IconUsage
    Fedora Xfce Workspace Icon

    Clicking on one of the workspace icons allows you to switch to one of the four default workspaces

    The Fedora Workspace Switcher

    Fedora Xfce Spin Alert IconThe next icon is just a display of the current system time: it is not clickable
    Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar Icon

    Clicking the next icon accesses the Bluetooth status and configuration:

    The Fedora Bluetooth Options

    Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar Icon

    Clicking the next icon gives access to the network settings and status:

    The Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar

    Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar Icon

    Hovering the mouse over the next icon gives a display of the battery charge status (-if you are running on a laptop):

    The Fedora Xfce Battery Indicator

    Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar Icon

    The next icon gives access to the Alsa Mixer sound/volume configuration:

    The Fedora Xfce Spin Calendar


The Main Menu

The Main Menu allows users to access to all the Fedora Xfce Spin functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows:

Icon for the Fedora Xfce Spin Main Menu

From here you can access sub-menus such as:

Menu OptionUsage
SettingsClick this icon to customize the desktop and configure the system as you desire
AdministrationClick this icon to access various Linux system administration tools
AccessoriesVarious small tools for making the most of your system
DocumentationAccess the Fedora documentation
GraphicsLists programs for dealing with images
InternetList programs for accessing the internet and the network
OfficeList any applications commonly used for business purposes, usch as word processing and spreadsheets
ProgrammingList programming utilities and tools
Sound & VideoList any applications for audio / video viewing
SystemClick this icon to access various Linux system administration tools
Log OutOptions to close the current session, power off, restart, etc

Note: most options will themselves have sub-menus off them


The Application Launcher Bar

Fedora Xfce Spin also features a bottom panel, which acts as a shortcut launcher for your applications. By default, the Fedora Xfce Spin application launcher panel includes the following icons:

Fedora Xfce Spin App Launcher Panel

These map to the following functions (-from left to right):

Note: these options can be modified or expanded if desired


The Thunar File Manager

Fedora Xfce Spin uses the Thunar File Manager, which is the Xfce standard. This works very much like that of it's Gnome counterpart with only superficial differences (-mainly the general Xfce look and feel).

The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the Launcher - or via the "Accessories" option on the Main Menu. Both will open up a window to your user home directory, similar to that below:

Fedora Xfce Spin Thunar File Manager

Left-click any item to select it -or double-click a directory to navigate down into it. Double-click a file to either open it or run it (-depending on whether it is executable or not). Right click a file to access the context menu - which allows you to rename, delete, copy the file, etc.


The Context Menu

If you right-click on any blank area of the desktop, the Context Menu will display:

This allows you access to some basic options, such as to create a new file or customize the desktop (e.g. to alter the fonts used and set background wallpaper).


The Firefox Browser

If you select the "Firefox" option in the "Internet" category of the Main Menu or directly from the Launcher, then a window to the Firefox internet browser will open up:

Fedora Xfce Spin Firefox Browser


The Fedora Xfce Spin Workspace Switcher

Workspaces in Fedora Xfce Spin operate in a similar way to their Gnome equivalents. If you click on one of the Workspace icons in the Top Panel, the desktop view will flip to show all windows currently open in that workspace:

Fedora Xfce Spin Workspace Switcher

This allows you to neatly partition your desktop so that it does not get too cluttered - for example, by allowing you to keep personal and work applications in different workspaces.


The Fedora Application Browser

If you cannot find the desired application in the Main Menu, you can click on the App Browser icon in the Application Launcher Bar and use this to search or drill down by application type (Category) to find it:

Fedora Xfce App Browser


Exiting Fedora Xfce Spin

When you have finished with Fedora Xfce Spin, select the "Logout" option in the Main Menu or click on the "Shutdown" icon in the Top Panel. A dialogue box will display from which you can select from a number of options:

Fedora Xfce Spin Confirm Shutdown

Where:

  • Log Out : log out of the current user session
  • Restart : power the PC down, then back up
  • Shut Down : power down the PC, losing everything in memory
  • Suspend : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
  • Hibernate : save the current state to disc and power down
  • Save session for future logins : save the current session to disc and restore it at next logins
  • Cancel : quit the shutdown menu

Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply select the "Cancel" option.


References and Further Reading:


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