Adapt the panels of Xfce (Linux Mint Xfce, Xubuntu)

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The panels of Xfce, which is the desktop environment of (among others) Linux Mint Xfce and Xubuntu, deserve their own page. Because you can do so much with them...

Move the panel

1. It's very easy to move the panel, for example from the top of the display to the right side.

Right-click with the mouse on the panel that you want to move - Panel - Panel Preferences...
Remove the tick for: Lock panel

Now you can see that at the right and the left side of the panel, a small "handle" has appeared. The far left and the far right icons have shifted a little to the middle because of this. You have to look closely, because the the handles are hardly visible.

Place the mouse pointer on a handle, press the left mouse button and keep it pressed. The pointer has now changed into a little hand. Now you can drag the panel to the place where you want it.

Do you wish to move it from the bottom to the right side of the panel? Then you have to change the Mode from Horizontal into Vertical.

Now drag it to the right.

When you're done, put the tick back for: Lock panel.

Click Close.

Upper panel: add shortcuts

2. It's convenient to add some application shortcuts to the upper panel. For Firefox and for the terminal, for example.

This you can do by a simple "drag and drop" operation from the click menu. Click on the mouse icon top left - click on the application you want to add to the panel - keep the mouse button pressed and drag the icon to the left or right of the panel.

Note: a plus symbol should appear in the icon, otherwise it won't work. Drag clearly to the left or right of the panel.

Add a weather report to the upper panel

3. Always nice: a weather report in the upper panel.

Adapt the clock and date display

4. Don't like the clock and date display of Xfce? Adjusting is easy:

Right-click on the time in the upper panel - Properties
Clock Options - format: make sure it's set to Custom Format and supply the desired format. You can find a complete list of the clock format options on this page.

Put a system load monitor in the panel

5. You can put a handy system load monitor in the panel like this:

Right-click with the mouse on an empty space in the panel - Panel - Add New Items...

Click System Load Monitor and then click Add.

Now you can move the monitor to the place in the panel where you want it. Right-click mouse on an empty space in the panel - Panel - Panel Preferences... tab Items- click System Load Monitor and move it up or down with the arrows.

Now change an important setting of the monitor. Right-click the icon of System Load Monitor - Properties

Update interval: put it at 0.75 s. This limits the amount of system load caused by the monitor itself.

Finally, it's often handy to add some extra empty space between the monitor and its neighbours (looks better).
Right-click with the mouse on the panel - Panel - Add New Items...
Click Separator and then Add.

The newly added separator is now "invisibly" on the far right of the panel; move it by a right-click with the mouse - Move.

(continued in the column on the right)

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Backup your panel

6. The panel of Xfce can be modified in many ways; sometimes a bit too easily. Therefore it's wise to backup its settings, so you can always quickly restore its previous state. Like this:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install xfpanel-switch

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, this is normal. Press Enter again.

This has installed a fine backup tool for the panel. Then start using it:

Menu button - Settings - Xfce Panel Switch

Below in the application window, backup your current panel settings by clicking on the second button on the left ("Save Configuration").

Note: now you've only made a backup of the settings of the panel in your own user account, so repeat this in all other user accounts (if there are any).

Lock the panels (kiosk mode)

7. It may come in handy to safeguard the panels of Xfce against a clumsy user, who may otherwise remove them by accident.

You can do that by locking down the panels, or put them in kiosk mode. You can do that as follows:

a. Configure the panels in your user account exactly as you want them. Including plugins etc.

b. Now copy the panel settings in your home folder, to a systemwide folder. The settings file is called xfce4-panel.xml.

Menu button - Accessories - Terminal Emulator

Copy and paste the following magical incantation into the terminal (this is one line):

sudo cp -v ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/

Press Enter. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

c. Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste to avoid typo's):

gksudo xed /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml

Press Enter.

Almost at the top of the text in that text file you see the line:
<channel name="xfce4-panel" version="1.0">

Delete that line and replace it by this line (use copy/paste):
<channel name="xfce4-panel" version="1.0" locked="*" unlocked="root">

Save the modified text file.

Reboot your computer.

The panels are now in kiosk mode and can't be deleted or modified. See the screenshot below, what happens when you try to modify it anyway (click on it to enlarge it):

Note: when your Xfce has more user accounts than your own, the kiosk mode has an annoying side effect.

Those other users will namely lose a part of the functions of their panels, because they have been locked on the settings of one user account (yours).

Undo panel lockdown (reverse the kiosk mode)

7.1. Reversing the panel lockdown is easy: simply remove the file xfce4-panel.xml from the system folder in which you placed it earlier on.
Removal by terminal command is easiest:

- Open a terminal:

Menu button - Accessories - Terminal Emulator

Copy and paste the following magical incantation into the terminal (this is one line):

sudo rm -v /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-panel.xml

Press Enter. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

- Reboot your computer.

The panel lockdown has now been undone, for all user accounts.

Want more tips?

8. Do you want more tips and tweaks for Linux Mint? There's a lot more of them on this website!

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