New XFCE features in Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Great news: on April 17th, 2014 Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr was released! Should you upgrade right away or to wait. This is a tough question. I was still on Xubuntu 12.04, because that was the previous LTS. My strategy is to upgrade from LTS to LTS. This gives me serious improvements every upgrade, but only once every two years. Also I think that most production environments will not follow Ubuntu’s regular release schedule of two new versions per year. So with the Easter days off I decided to give Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr a shot. I noticed the following new XFCE features:

1) New XFCE start menu (Whiskermenu)

whisker

It sure looks pretty, but I cannot start the start menu with the (Windows) “start” key on my keyboard (called “Super” in Linux).

whisker_start

By adding the above highlighted line, it works as I expected. Now I can press the “start” key and start typing. Also I would change the line that says “xflock4″ from the default “Ctrl-Alt-Del” to “Super+L” allowing for locking pressing the Windows key and letter “L” combination.

2) Snap-to-side window maximizing

This image from WindowSpace shows how Snap-to-side works:
snap-to-side-2
It also clearly explains how “Snap-to-corner” works:
snap-to-corners-2
To get “Snap-to-side” behavior to work properly in Xubuntu you may want to disable the highlighted checkbox:

snap-to-side

To get “Snap-to-corner” functionality working in Xubuntu you may actually have to wait a little. Both Alistair Buxton and Štěpán Dalecký have written patches for XFCE:

These may make it in a next release. It is a pity that XFCE does not support this yet. Maybe PyWO – Python Window Organizer is a good alternative to this. Or does anyone have another trick for this?

3) There is only one panel

By default, XFCE now only has one panel and it is on the top. It contains both the start button, the window buttons (for all open windows) and the clock and notification icons. Actually, the panel is just like the one in Windows XP, but instead of on the bottom it is on the top. I prefer to add a bottom panel that contain the window buttons and remove those from the top panel. This gives me the old and familiar “Gnome 2″ feeling and that makes me happy.

Instructions:

  • Right click the top panel
  • Choose: Panel – Panel Preferences
  • Press the green “+” to add “Panel 1″
  • Drag it to the bottom
  • Make the “Display” tab of “Panel 1″ equal to “Panel 0″
  • Add the “Show Desktop” and “Window Buttons” in the “Items” tab
  • Remove the “Window Buttons” from the “Items” tab in “Panel 0″

xfce_new_panel

Conclusion

I added a shortcut for the start menu, changed the way the window snapping works and added a second panel. With these small modifications on, I like XFCE in the new Xubuntu even better. If you want to highlight other new XFCE features, or have improvements on the ones above, then let us know using the comments.

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