XFCE Cupertino Way

I really like GhostBSD … and NomadBSD. They are really great graphical and easy to use FreeBSD variants for the lack of better word. While NomadBSD is more focused on portable USB pendrive edition the GhostBSD is more like a Ubuntu replacement. Install and use on your laptop or desktop computer. It comes in two flavors – the default MATE edition and an alternative XFCE edition.

One of the things I really like about Ubuntu MATE edition is that it comes with desktop layout helper tool that will allow you to select one of the available predefined MATE desktop layouts.

ubuntu-mate-desktop-layout

From all of the available ones I like the ‘Cupertino’ one the most – its tries to mimic the Apple Mac OS X operating system behavior with global menu on top and Plank dock at the bottom … and it does it really well.

ubuntu-mate-cupertino

I wanted to do something similar on GhostBSD but unfortunately the Vala Panel Application Menu for MATE desktop environment is not available for FreeBSD (and that means its also not available for GhostBSD). Fortunately the XFCE global menu is available on FreeBSD as x11/xfce4-appmenu-plugin package so I will try to make GhostBSD look more like Ubuntu Mate in its Cupertino layout with several easy steps.

By default GhostBSD XFCE edition comes with single XFCE panel at the bottom. I have done pretty straightforward installation with fish(1) shell chosen as default during installation.

ghostbsd-xfce-default

Fonts

By default GhostBSD comes with 96 DPI set by the installer. Lets change that to something smaller. Start the Appearance application.

xfce-appearance

Now set the desired settings for the fonts on the Fonts tab. After some checks the 80 DPI along with Hinting set to None looked best. I also switched to the Ubuntu font.

xfce-fonts

ZSH Shell and Terminal

While the fish(1) shell is quite decent interactive shell with sane defaults I really prefer the POSIX syntax compatible zsh(1) shell instead. I talked more about that in my Ghost in the Shell – Part 7 – ZSH Setup article.

I will not repeat everything I wrote there and I will just paste the instructions here to make that zsh(1) shell configured and nice looking.

root # pkg install -y \
         zsh \
         zsh-autosuggestions \
         zsh-syntax-highlighting \
         ubuntu-font

root # fetch -o /usr/local/etc/zshrc https://raw.githubusercontent.com/vermaden/scripts/master/zshrc

user % fetch -o ~/.zshrc             https://raw.githubusercontent.com/vermaden/scripts/master/DOT.zshrc

user % fetch -o ~/.zshrc.DOAS.SUDO   https://raw.githubusercontent.com/vermaden/scripts/master/DOT.zshrc.DOAS.SUDO

user % chsh -s /usr/local/bin/zsh

user % fc-cache -f

As we are at the terminal related things enable Solarized (Dark) theme in the XFCE Terminal options.

terminal-theme

… and change font to Ubuntu Mono with your preferred size.

teminal-font

Now you have the zsh(1) shell configured and set as your default shell. Also the XFCE Terminal looks better now. Some settings will require logout and login route but I recommend something different. Go through all these setting and then do just one single reboot or logout/login routing.

zsh-ready

XFCE Global Menu

I though that XFCE global menu is – same as MATE one – not available on FreeBSD. Fortunately Joel Carnat with its FreeBSD 13 on ThinkPad T460s article proved me wrong. He even added the instructions to his guide – for which I am very thankful to him.

To get XFCE global menu on FreeBSD (and GhostBSD) we need to do these steps.

root # pkg install -y xfce4-appmenu-plugin

user % xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/ShellShowsMenubar -n -t bool -s true

user % xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/ShellShowsAppmenu -n -t bool -s true

user % xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/Modules -n -t string -s appmenu-gtk-module

Now we will be able to add the XFCE AppMenu Plugin to our top panel.

xfce-appmenu-plugin

We need to now move the XFCE panel from bottom to the top. Go into the Panel Preferences as shown below and move it.

xfce-panel-move-top

After moving it to the top and enabling the Lock Panel option add/remove the Items to match this list below. Feel free to also add other items that you need.

xfce-top-panel-items

To make the XFCE AppMenu Plugin look even better enable Bold Application Name in its Preferences dialog.

xfce-appmenu-bold

As for the Whisker Menu left only icon enabled to display to make it look better.

whisker-icon

The XFCE AppMenu Plugin should be now ready and the top panel should look somewhat like that.

xfce-global-menu-short

You can also customize the DateTime plugin to your needs.

xfce-datetime

Window Manager

The Window Manager settings are not controlled by the Appearance application. It has its own separate one. Lets start it.

xfce-window-manager

We will also set the Ubuntu font here.

Groups

Make sure your user (vuk in this guide) is in below groups.

root # pw groupmod wheel    -m vuk
root # pw groupmod operator -m vuk
root # pw groupmod video    -m vuk
root # pw groupmod network  -m vuk

You can omit the network group if you do not intend to use network.sh to manage your network connections.

Plank

As the last step we will add the Plank dock at the bottom.

root # pkg install -y plank

user % plank &

user % plank --preferences

You should see something like that on the bottom of your screen.

xfce-plank-bottom

The Plank preferences are shown below.

xfce-plank-preferences

Make sure to add Plank to Startup so it will start automatically at each login.

xfce-plank-startup

Result

After all these steps our GhostBSD looks more or less like that now.

xfce-ghostbsd

Plain FreeBSD Way

Some people will prefer to stick to the ‘original’ FreeBSD instead of using preconfigured GhostBSD. This last section is for them. First install FreeBSD like described HERE. Then install these packages shown below.

root # pkg install -y exa ubuntu-font xfce xfce4-appmenu-plugin xorg-minimal

user % echo '. /usr/local/etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc' > ~/.xinitrc

user % xintrc

Now having done the above do all the steps from that article.

The end result seems quite similar.

xfce-freebsd

You may even want to replace Plank with another bottom XFCE Panel if you want.

xfce-freebsd-pkg-prime

Viola! You have XFCE configured on plain FreeBSD. One thing to keep in mind is that besides XFCE you have nothing more πŸ™‚ Using GhostBSD method all other things are configured. With plain FreeBSD way you have no device automounting. No network plugin in the taskbar. No power management tuning. No other applications. Nothing. But you can all do it yourself using the needed articles from the FreeBSD Desktop series or other sources.

One last thing. I really appreciate that GhostBSD exists and is actively maintained and expanded – this guide is not here to make it look bad. Its here to make it better.

Regards.

5 thoughts on “XFCE Cupertino Way

  1. froggy

    Nice post. XFCE was always simple and no-bullshit option whenever I need a DE.
    Also a suggestion: If you like to dive into stuff and configure it to your liking, you’ll LOVE awesomewm.

    Like

    Reply
    1. vermaden Post author

      Thanks.

      The Vimix theme is one of the themes that GhostBSD comes with.

      I did not installed it.

      I am also not sure if its available on FreeBSD packages.

      You can ask the creators of GhostBSD by Twitter or GibHub about that, they will help you I am sure.

      Hope that helps.

      Regards.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Pingback: FreeBSD 13.1 on ThinkPad W520 | πšŸπšŽπš›πš–πšŠπšπšŽπš—

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