How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

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How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby Lecram » 2016-01-07 11:05

This how to is for the people who want to build their own Debian desktop. Our aim will be a desktop that is based on Debian stable, less resource hungry and be attractive at the same time. Download the netinstall iso from debian website burn it in a cd or a pendrive and run the installation. In this how to I assume you know how to partition your hard drives and setting up your user account during installation. When the installer asks, if you want to install desktop environment or file server,etc uncheck all and proceed with the installation it will install the grub boot loader and then reboot. After your first login you will be presented with a console desktop. login with your username and password. and then become root.
Edit Sources.list
After you have become root edit your sources.list in /etc/apt and add contrib and non-free section to the repo. Use httpredir rather than a specific mirror since it will automatically choose the best mirror for you.
Code: Select all
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Code: Select all
deb http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main contrib non-free

save the file and update the repo.
Code: Select all
# apt-get update

Install Xorg, Xfce4 desktop environment and slim login manager.
Code: Select all
# apt-get install  xorg
# apt-get install pulseaudio pavucontrol
# apt-get install xfce4
# apt-get install xfce4-goodies
# apt-get install slim

Reason for installing xfce4 desktop environment are it is lightweight,visually appealing and can be customized. Slim login manager is an independent login manager
Reboot your computer. you will be greeted with an login manager, now login with your username and password. You will now have an barebone desktop environment.
now open terminal from the menu and install synaptic.
Code: Select all
# apt-get install synaptic
# apt-get install python-gtk2 python-glade2

Since we have now installed synaptic we can now use the GUI package manager to install the following packages.
    a. Shotwell image viewer
    b. Font manager.
    c. Simple scan //Optional.Install only if you have scanner
    d. VLC
    e. Exaile music player // Optional.VLC alone is enough for most of the multimedia needs
    f. Iceweasel
    g. Transmission bittorrent client
    h. Atril pdf viewer
    i. Xchm
    j. fbreader
    k. Gtk-chtheme
    l. NTFS-config
    m. Gdebi package installer
    n. Flashplugin-nonfree
    o. qt4-qtconfig
    p. Galculator
    r. Openjdk 7 and Iced Tea 7-plugin
    s. firmware-linux-free and firmware-linux-nonfree
    t. Ghostscript
For office application you can use either
    [i] kingsoft wps office for linux
    or
    [ii] use Abiword for word processing, Gnumeric for spreadsheet For presentation install libreoffice-core and libreoffice-impress
Misc Utilities
    a. lzip
    b. lzop
    c. rar
    d. unrar
    e. zip
    f. Numlockx
    g. Locate
    h. Gparted
    i. NTP
Optional application to install:
    a. Radiotray
    b. Winff
    c. Chromium
    d. Dropbox
    e. Scrot //If you install this package then you can remove xfce4-screenshooter package
    f. Sudo
    g. Pepperflashplugin-nonfree
Themes and Icon themes
I had installed a lot of themes you don't have to install all the themes i've listed here.
    0. gnome-accessibility-themes
    1. gnome-colors-common
    2. gnome-dust-icon-theme
    3. gnome-human-icon-theme
    4. gnome-icon-theme
    5. gnome-illustrious-icon-theme
    6. gnome-noble-icon-them
    7. gnome-theme-gilouche
    8. gnome-themes
    9. gnome-themes-extras
    10.gnome-themes-standard
    11.gnome-themes-standard-data
    12.gnome-wine-icon-theme
    13.gnome-wise-icon-theme
    14.gtk-smooth-themes
    15 gtk2-engines
    16.gtk2-engines-aurora
    17.gtk2-engines-cleanice
    18.gtk2-engines-magicchicken
    19.gtk2-engines-moblin
    20.gtk2-engines-murrine
    21.gtk2-engines-nodoka
    22.gtk2-engines-oxygen
    23.gtk2-engines-pixbuf
    24.gtk2-engines-ubuntulooks
    25.gtk2-engines-wonderland
    26.gtk3-engines-oxygen
    27.gtk3-engines-xfce
    28.faenza-icon-theme
Configuration:
a. Add the user to group root by the following command
Code: Select all
# usemod -a -G root user

b. If you do install sudo to your system then edit /etc/sudoers. WARNING: YOU SHOULD USE SUDO IF YOU ARE THE ONLY USER IN THE SYSTEM
Code: Select all
# nano /etc/sudoers

add the following in the user privilege section in the sudoers file
Code: Select all
#User privilege specification
user    ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL         

add the user to group sudo
Code: Select all
# usemod -a -G  sudo user

c. Customizing Sim login manager:
Edit slim.conf
Code: Select all
# nano /etc/slim.conf

change the value of numlock off to on.
Code: Select all
# Activate numlock when slim starts. Valid values: on|off
numlock             on

Download themes for slim from these links, the default looks ugly.
Extract the themes. copy the extracted themes to the /usr/share/slim/themes
Code: Select all
# cp /home/user/slim_th  /usr/share/slim/themes  -r

change the themes in /etc/slim.conf
Code: Select all
# current theme, use comma separated list to specify a set to
# randomly choose from
current_theme       Bamboo_Stones

As you can see i'm using the bamboo stones theme from the second link.
d. Keyboard shortcuts:
Code: Select all
Settings -> Keyboard -> Application Shortcut -> click Add

A dialog box will open give the command and click okay and then press the key to be mapped to the command.
    1. Printscreen key -> /usr/bin/xfce4-screenshooter
    2. Left Windows key -> /usr/bin/xfdesktop --menu
    3. Right Windows key -> xfce4-popup-applicationsmenu
e. Firewall/Security:
Make sure you install firewall in your system because it is the first line of defense. Please refer to these how to's on firewall/security.

By now you should have a functional Debian desktop. I have also published this how to in my blog.

Recommended Reading:
Last edited by Lecram on 2016-01-07 11:17, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby dilberts_left_nut » 2016-01-07 11:11

Lecram wrote:WARNING: YOU SHOULD USE SUDO IF YOU ARE THE ONLY USER IN THE SYSTEM
Why?
AdrianTM wrote:There's no hacker in my grandma...
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby Lecram » 2016-01-07 11:38

dilberts_left_nut wrote:
Lecram wrote:WARNING: YOU SHOULD USE SUDO IF YOU ARE THE ONLY USER IN THE SYSTEM
Why?


For example if your computer is in a LAN and if you have given sudo access to some other user then there is liability to your system security since they can use that to access your sensitive files. Even though we can restrict which commands a user can access with sudo overall if you are paranoid about security it will be a bad idea to give sudo rights to other users other than yourself.
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2016-01-07 12:22

Adding your user to the root group is a bad idea, IMO.

Also, why use the entire xorg metapackage if you want a minimal install?

Same goes for both XFCE metapackages -- I don't think most people will want all the bells & whistles.
Don't break DebianHow to report bugs

SharpBang GNU/Linux — a pre-configured Openbox/Tint2 desktop running on Debian stable
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2016-01-07 12:25

Lecram wrote:if you are paranoid about security it will be a bad idea to give sudo rights to other users other than yourself.

Why not just use su(1) then?

It requires one fewer package & configuration file to manage and produces the same effect.
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby Lecram » 2016-01-07 13:01

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:
Lecram wrote:if you are paranoid about security it will be a bad idea to give sudo rights to other users other than yourself.

Why not just use su(1) then?

It requires one fewer package & configuration file to manage and produces the same effect.


It's true, that's why I made it an optional package to install. It is only for those who want Sudo.

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Adding your user to the root group is a bad idea, IMO.
Also, why use the entire xorg metapackage if you want a minimal install?

Need to learn more about minimal xorg install.
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Same goes for both XFCE metapackages -- I don't think most people will want all the bells & whistles.

Sometimes people want the bells&whistles.
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Adding your user to the root group is a bad idea, IMO.

There is some concern about that but if you are the sole user of the system you do want to have some administrative privileges as an user. But if it is a networked computer then yes it is a very bad idea.
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby dilberts_left_nut » 2016-01-07 14:28

Lecram wrote:
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Adding your user to the root group is a bad idea, IMO.

There is some concern about that but if you are the sole user of the system you do want to have some administrative privileges as an user. But if it is a networked computer then yes it is a very bad idea.

No, you don't.
That's what the root account and the concept of privilege separation are for.
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby arochester » 2016-01-07 14:41

why use the entire xorg metapackage if you want a minimal install?
It is not really a minimal install. With the install of xfce and xfce-goodies nearly all of the xfce desktop environment has been installed. There are many additional packages and themes that I would just not use.

How does it differ initially from letting netinstall make an xfce installation?
Select a Desktop Environment

To select the desktop environment that the debian-installer installs, enter "Advanced options" on the boot screen and scroll down to "Alternative desktop environments". Otherwise, debian-installer will choose GNOME.
...
Xfce is a fast and light alternative, and especially suited if you were using GNOME 2 and find GNOME 3 disappointing.

https://wiki.debian.org/DebianDesktopHowTo
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Re: How to: Debian Xfce a DIY approach

Postby masinick » 2016-01-13 19:09

Perhaps it is because this original topic is a few years old, but there are certainly a few ways to easily get a workable Xfce desktop. One great way is to simply either download or build a Debian Live USB for Xfce. Using a small netinstall and then selecting Xfce is another way. As someone mentioned, perhaps these are not the ways to get the most compact, flexible Xfce you can get - in that case, you may wish to avoid using a lot of metapackages and instead research and install precisely what you want.

But if you want it fast and easy, a netinstall or a pre-prepared live image with Xfce seems pretty easy, either by taking someone else's work, or by making your own and creating an ISO image.
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