Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Switching From Gnome 2 To Xfce

Switching to another Desktop Environment can create some havoc. Especially finding replacement programs, applets and utilities one had previously but in some cases those options are no longer viable for any number of reasons.

Switching to Xubuntu I incorporated the following changes to my software line up;


When I switched from Gnome to Xfce I initially spent some time getting things set back up. I originally installed Evolution but that became a problem when I tried to fix a minor issue. I was going to do a reinstall of Evolution as part of the fix but dependencies somehow got broken. I decided to install Thunderbird to handle my email while I looked into the issue. Instead I discovered that Thunderbird had matured considerably and now had available the features I needed, plus others I didn't have with either Kontact or Evolution previously. Since Xubuntu used Thunderbird as its default email client I decided to go ahead and make it my default as well. With available add-ons I was not only able to get the features I needed and wanted but others that produced a better experience for me overall. The following is a list of the add-ons I have installed:

Adblock Plus
Contacts Sidebar (Not available at Mozilla site. Must be obtained at developers website.)
Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus
Firetray (I used AllTray in Gnome for Evolution and it didn't work so well in Xfce. This add-on works better and has user configurable options you will never see in AllTray.)
Image Zoom
Lightning (I removed the Xubuntu version of this add-on and installed the one from Mozilla. I highly suggest you do this as well since this add-on is under heavy development you will want to get and use the latest stable copy available.)
Mail Merge
Mail Tweak
Message Faces for Thunderbird
Provider for Microsoft Exchange
Timezone Definitions for Mozilla Calendar (This is a required add-on. DO NOT REMOVE)
.vcs Support


Sadly this was an applet I found extremely useful but in order to get it into Xcfe required an install of most of the Gnome Core system which I was not willing to do. The good news is I found this neat little utility that is actually better and does not require dbus access to function. You can configure it to automatically run when certain programs start as well.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install caffeine


There is a plugin for Thunar to access Dropbox available here:


Get the latest tarball version and follow the instructions on the website to build and install it.


I just can't get Gwibber to work and this is due in part to new Twitter sign in security requirements. Thankfully a new Linux Native Twitter Client just came on the scene. It has some very nice features while being surprisingly lightweight. Its called Hotot and is available via Launchpad:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hotot-team
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install hotot


I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. The following Blog Post has the correct information on how to get Emerald working on Natty. (Any version of Natty)



Its not Gnome but then with Gnome 3 changing to Gnome Shell and Ubunty defaulting to Unity I wanted a Desktop Environment that allowed me to have the workflow, look and feel I wanted. Xfce has provided that for me and using the above applications, utilities and blog posts have allowed me to keep those functions I had grown accustomed to having.

Many others have expressed the same opinion concerning Unity and Gnome 3. So this post is to help anyone who wants to keep a similar layout like the one they currently have under Gnome 2. Xfce just may be the answer for you.

Its certainly worth looking into.

1 comment:

Dejan Lekic said...

I am doing the same - I just do not like GNOME 3 ... It completely messes up my typical workflow...