Manjaro Xfce tweaks - Seasoning and spice


Updated: September 20, 2017

Xfce, the final frontier. These are the escapades of the BSS Dedo. It's continuing mission, to seek out new goats and new distributions, to boldly tweak where no one hath tweaked before. Manjaro, a nice system, founded in the blood of sacrificial animals and that distro which reviles noobs the most, AKA the special distro what Dedo won't really test. But that's not the important thing here. What we want to do is tweak Manjaro, so it's even nicer than in its default guise.

Anyway, recently, I've presented you with a fresh new pimping guide for Xfce, which elaborates on several new tips and tricks that you can use to make here be desktop environment behave in a more productive, elegant and visually pleasing way, building on the experiences way back from Ubuntu Pangolin era. Now we shall expand, but with a very specific focus on Manjaro and how it does things. After me.

Teaser

Manjaro Firefox dark theme

One of the observations from my Manjaro 17.0.1 test is that Firefox comes with a non-default theme. It has a dark GUI, which aligns well with the overall gray-green theming used in Manjaro, but it doesn't sit well with the overall light-colored approach used elsewhere across the desktop. Therefore, we will change this.

Unfortunately, the tweaks cannot be performed using the Firefox preferences or add-ons menus, and we need to go deep like: command line. We will remove the extra styles used to change the Firefox look & feel. Well, what you need do is navigate to the following folder and move (or remove) the contents:

/home/<user>/.mozilla/firefox/manjaro.default/chrome/*

The contents may be owned by root and you will need sudo permissions.

Firefox theme change

Greybird

Manjaro, as well as many recent Xfce desktops come with a very rich repertoire of themes and windows decorations, but the supreme Greybird is missing from the equation. The reason is, why it's supreme, not why it's missing, it offers thicker, more easily grabbable windows controls, and no 1995-era gradients. You will need to manually add it - compile it really. However, the compilation will - by default - fail.

sass --update --sourcemap=none ./gtk-3.0
make: sass: Command not found
make: *** [Makefile:559: compile] Error 127

You will need to install the ruby-sass package, after which things will be good.

Greybird added

Greybird, nice

Annoying beeps (on logout)

We talked about this when we set up CentOS 7 on the Lenovo G50 machine. This can be disabled in a variety of ways. One way of doing this is to actually change the inputs for your user:

echo 'set bell-style none' >> ~/.inputrc

Then, either logout and log back in, or force the new bindings with:

bind -f ~/.inputrc

You can also disable beeps with (the CentOS 7) trick:

xset -b

Then, to make it permanent, create a file /etc/xprofile (if it does not already exist) and copy the xset command there. On next logon, the annoying beeps will be gone for good, and I really wonder why this isn't the default.

Notification area, dark arrow

Nope, this is not the name of a new and mediocre comics-based movie. It's a bug, which affects a large number of themes across the Xfce desktop scene. A pun. Hi hi. If you recall my original Manjaro review, I spent a lot of time trying to tweak the panel and the notification area, change the colors and fonts and whatnot. This is explained in detail in the Xfce pimping guide linked above. But the one thing I was not able to solve in the review then is the little expand arrow that shows hidden icons in the notification area.

The rest of the panel items conforms to my theming and gtkrc-2.0 configurations, but the arrows remains dark, and this seems to be a hard-coded value in the overall desktop setup. There's a similar bug open for a different theme. In general, there isn't a quick answer for this issue, and the workaround is to actually not hide anything for the time being, until this is resolved.

Notification area settings

Notification area, result, no hidden items

Thunar sidebar places and devices order

The official Xfce file manager is a nice thing, but it has a lot of small problems. The expected home dir folders aren't shown in the side pane - Downloads, Music, Videos, etc, the Devices, Places & Network locations cannot be rearranged, with Devices taking the top stop, which isn't the best option, and then, there are several other quirks.

Luckily, some of these can be remedied. Right-click on either Devices or Places and then selectively choose to hide partitions or devices or whatever you do not want show in the side pane. Likewise, you can right-click on any folder and 'send' it to the side pane, where it will become a convenient shortcut. This is exactly what we want to do with the home directory folders. Lastly, you can also make the side pane bigger, so it's more easily accessible.

Sidebar

Hide devices

Send to

Thunar, final look

More reading

If you like this article, you may also find the following of interest:

Make Gnome 3 more accessible for everyday use

Additional Gnome 3 pimping

Fedora pimpage, parts one and two

Conclusion

And here we are, at the far end of the galaxy, and all shall be revealed. Now, taste is subjective, possibly, arguably, hence the high cost of spices and whatnot, to cater to our whims and such, but I do believe that any software tweaking is essentially covering up for basic shortcomings in a product. Manjaro is a very decent offering, but like many smaller distributions, it suffers from a million papercuts that take as much time fixing as developing an entire operating system from scratch.

Hopefully, if you have some time and inclination, these tweaks can help you enjoy Manjaro, and Xfce, more than the defaults permit. Not big changes, but then the devil is in the detail. Noises, themes, file manager behavior, notification area, some other glitches, and so forth. Anyway, as always, if you have any ideas or request, and you'd like me to take a wild stab at something that's bothering you, do write, and I will try to be of assistance. Call me Mr. Helpful. And we're done.

Cheers.

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