Adapt the panels of Xfce (Linux Mint Xfce, Xubuntu)


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The panels of Xfce, which is the desktop environment of (among others) Linux Mint Xfce and Xubuntu, deserve their own page. Because you can do so much with them...


Contents of this page:

Move the panel

1. It's very easy to move the panel, for example from the bottom of the display to the right side.

Right-click with the mouse on the panel - Panel - Panel Preferences...
Tab General: remove the tick for: Lock panel

Now you can see that at the right and the left side of the panel, a small "handle" has appeared. The far left and the far right icons have shifted a little to the middle because of this. You have to look closely, because the the handles are hardly visible.

Place the mouse pointer on a handle, press the normal left mouse button and keep it pressed. The pointer has now changed into a little hand. Now you can drag the panel to the place where you want it.

Do you wish to move it from the bottom to the right side of the panel? Then in the Panel Preferences, you have to change the Mode from Horizontal into Vertical.

Now drag it to the right.

When you're done, put the tick back for: Lock panel.

Click Close.

Add shortcuts to the panel

2. It's convenient to add some application shortcuts to the panel. For Firefox and for the terminal, for example.

This you can do by a simple "drag and drop" operation from the click menu. Click on the mouse icon top left - click on the application you want to add to the panel - keep the mouse button pressed and drag the icon to the left or right of the panel.

Note: a plus symbol should appear in the icon, otherwise it won't work. Drag clearly to the left or right of the panel.

Add a weather report to the panel

3. Always handy: a nice weather report in the panel of your Xfce desktop.

See the screenshot of Xubuntu below (click on it to enlarge it):


You can add the weather report to your panel like this:

Right-click on the panel - Panel - Add New Items... - click Weather Update - click the Add button. Click Close.

Now configure the new item:
Right-click No Data (in the far right in the panel) - Properties - Tab Location - Location name: click the button Change... and fill out the name of your city, or of a city near you.

Now remove an irritating animation: click on the tab Scrollbox and remove the entries Wind direction (WD) and Wind speed (WS). Click Close.

When you click the item normally (a left-click also), a forecast will pop up of the coming four days.

Adapt the clock and date display

4. Don't like the clock and date display of Xfce? Adjusting is easy:

Right-click on the time in the upper panel - Properties
Clock Options - format: make sure it's set to Custom Format and supply the desired format. You can find a complete list of the clock format options on this page.

Put a system load monitor in the panel

5. You can put a handy system load monitor in the panel like this:

Right-click with the mouse on an empty space in the panel - Panel - Add New Items...

Click on System Load Monitor and then click Add.

Now you can move the monitor to the place in the panel where you want it. Right-click mouse on an empty space in the panel - Panel - Panel Preferences... tab Items- click System Load Monitor and move it up or down with the arrows.

Now change an important setting of the monitor. Right-click the icon of System Load Monitor - Properties

Update interval: set it at 2.0 s. This limits the amount of system load caused by the monitor itself.

Finally, it's often handy to add some extra empty space between the monitor and its neighbours (looks better).
Right-click with the mouse on the panel - Panel - Add New Items...
Click Separator and then Add.

The newly added separator is now "invisibly" on the far right of the panel; move it by a right-click with the mouse - Move.

Backup your panel settings

6. The panel of Xfce can be modified in many ways; sometimes a bit too easily. Therefore it's wise to backup its settings, so you can always quickly restore its previous state. Like this:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install xfpanel-switch

Press Enter and type your password when prompted. In Xubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. Press Enter again.

This has installed a fine backup tool for the panel. Then start using it:

Menu button - Settings - Panel Profiles

Below in the application window, backup your current panel settings by clicking on the second button on the left ("Save Configuration").

Note: now you've only made a backup of the settings of the panel in your own user account, so repeat this in all other user accounts (if there are any).

Lock the panels (kiosk mode)

7. It may come in handy to safeguard the panels of Xfce against a clumsy user, who may otherwise remove them by accident.

You can do that by locking down the panels, or put them in kiosk mode. You can do that as follows:

a. Configure the panels in your user account exactly as you want them. Including plugins etc.

b. Now copy the panel settings in your home folder, to a systemwide folder. The settings file is called xfce4-panel.xml.

Menu button - System - Xfce Terminal

Copy and paste the following magical incantation into the terminal (this is one huge line, not two lines!):

sudo cp -v ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/

Press Enter and type your password when prompted. In Xubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. Press Enter again.

c. Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste to avoid typo's):

xed admin:///etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml

(Xubuntu: first install gedit and then replace xed by gedit in the above command line)

Press Enter.

Almost at the top of the text in that text file you see the line:
<channel name="xfce4-panel" version="1.0">

Delete that line and replace it by this line (use copy/paste):
<channel name="xfce4-panel" version="1.0" locked="*" unlocked="root">

Save the modified text file.

Reboot your computer.

The panels are now in kiosk mode and can't be deleted or modified. See the screenshot below, what happens when you try to modify it anyway (click on it to enlarge it):


Note: when your Xfce has more user accounts than your own, the kiosk mode has an annoying side effect.

Those other users will namely lose a part of the functions of their panels, because they have been locked on the settings of one user account (yours).

Undo panel lockdown (reverse the kiosk mode)

7.1. Reversing the panel lockdown is easy: simply remove the file xfce4-panel.xml from the system folder in which you placed it earlier on.
Removal by terminal command is easiest:

- Open a terminal:

Menu button - System - Xfce Terminal

Copy and paste the following magical incantation into the terminal (this is one line):

sudo rm -v /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml

Press Enter and type your password when prompted. In Xubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. Press Enter again.

- Reboot your computer.

The panel lockdown has now been undone, for all user accounts.

Want more tips?

8. Do you want more tips and tweaks? There's a lot more of them on this website!

For example:

Speed up your Linux Mint!

Clean your Linux Mint safely

Avoid 10 fatal mistakes


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