Posted in Debian, Open Source, System

Debian and beyond

 

It’s not new that I have Debian installed on a netbook that a friend of mine borrowed me.  You can read here  and  here,  if you want to know more.

So I installed it with XFCE, Mate and Cinnamon as desktops.  I used Mate but didn’t like it and quickly abandoned.  I used Cinnamon and although I like it better, I got tired of GTK3 themes looking alike and that it’s a bit slow for this machine.

My desktop today
Debian with Cinnamon

Feeling increasingly unhappy with my desktops I decided to give XFCE a go.  Last time I used it, I found it ugly and not really better than any other desktop, so I dropped it rather fast.  But now, I thought that after so much time they could well have improved appearance and usability, and selected it on LightDM.

 

XFCE is awesome!

screenshot xfce gtk appearance
XFCE showing Cairo Dock and GTK beauties

This desktop is exactly what I wanted.  It’s pretty and fast.  And if you add a docker it’s perfect.  It comes with a long list of themes by default, plus including whatever themes you have installed for other desktops.  It’s highly configurable, like Mate, but fancier.  I didn’t even needed to install anything extra, just chose from the default list and gave the panel some transparency.

The only point against it, is how to set a wallpaper. It forces you to choose from pre-selected folders and can’t choose a child directory.  But!  There’s a workaround for it.  Go to the folder where is the image you want as wallpaper, right-click on it and select  “Set as wallpaper”.  Voilá!  Your desktop has new background.

 

Beyond XFCE Debian

Screenshot xfce with Cairo Dock
XFCE with Cairo Dock resembling OSX dock

Cairo Dock has many themes and ways to enhance/refine its appearance, plus many options about its behaviour, apps, desklets, etc.  It’s very complete and useful and isn’t heavy at all.  I use it on a 1GB RAM machine and it doesn’t affect the overall performance.  To add programmes to the dock just grab them from menu and drop them in the docker.  You can also add customised shortcuts. Just right-click on the dock and a menu with options will show up.

The one downside I found is that even marking it to start at the session beginning it doesn’t, and it’s not listed in XFCE startup applications.  I have to manually start it which is kinda annoying.  Particularly for someone like me, absent minded.

Screenshot xfce with Plank
XFCE with Plank Dock

Plank Docker on the other side is much more simple but still pretty and configurable.  You have many options and you can change the icons appearance, add animations and install new themes if the default ones aren’t your cup of tea. It’s very light and start with session as one would expect a docker to do. To add new programmes to the dock you can open them, and once open you right-click on the docked icon and select  “Keep on dock”.  Alternatively, you can drag and drop programmes from desktop or menu.

The downside is that Preferences seems to be nowhere. No right-click will show it. What to do?  Type on a normal terminal :

plank --preferences

and the preferences window will show up instantly.  I couldn’t find any easier way to call Plank Settings. If anyone knows, please, post it on comments.

 

Oh, oh… KDE

Screenshot_20170618_215500

Plasma 5 is compatible with all the docks available including two dock extensions (plasmoids).  In the screenshot we can see KDE Plasma with Cairo Dock.  Like in XFCE, it works nicely and it’s very configurable. It doesn’t start with session though, you will need to start it manually or select  “Start with session” from contextual menu. Planck also works nicely although you’ll need a bit more of work to get it themed properly. If you mark it to start with session, it should.

As a side note, the plasmoid Latte gives option to KDE native dock.  Sadly, it’s really bare what it offers and configuring it is complicated. Compared to other desktop agnostic dockers, has nothing to do.

 

Extras

Plank themes collection:  https://github.com/LinxGem33/Plank-Themes

Cairo Dock:  http://glx-dock.org

Plank Settings (varies between distros):  https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2303311

Docky (abandoned):  http://wiki.go-docky.com/index.php?title=Installation

 

Thanks for reading, hope this was helpful or at least interesting for you