Install Mind Blowing Xfce 4.12 Desktop Environment on Linux

Xfce wallpaper

Hi everyone, this article is all about what is Xfce Desktop Environment, installation procedure and some features of the new release of Xfce ie version 4.12 .

There are a lot of Desktop Environments in the world of Linux Distributions. Most of the Desktop Environments are usually maintained by their respective Distribution maintainers like Cinnamon and Mate is maintained by Linux Mint Developers, Unity which is also maintained by the Ubuntu Developers,etc but there are also some awesome famous Desktop Environments like Gnome, Xfce which are not usually maintained by a Linux Distribution Developers. They are ported to other Distributions so that they can be compatible with them. Likewise, Xfce also gets ported to other distributions for better performance in those Operating Systems. Most of the major Linux Distributions maintain Xfce in their own way per their own taste.

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. Xfce is based on GTK +2 which is all time favourite desktop environment which is amazingly fast with a set of cool features. Xfce 4.12 is still based on GTK+2 for but there is partial support for GTK+3 with Xf* programs being optionally allowed to support GTK3 in parallel (libxfce4ui already supports an optional parallel GTK3 install).

Here is the list of changelog of the release of the latest Xfce 4.12. But some of the awesome major features of Xfce 4.12 are listed below.

  • The intelligent panel hiding feature has been implemented.
  • Windows preview in alt+tab (Compositor need to be enabled too).
  • Better monitor and multi monitor support
  • Xfce’s Thunar file manager finally supports tabs.
  • Thunar now also has support for multiple file properties, support for binary file size units, inverting the selection, improves volume / remote location handling, and improvements to the shortcuts side pane.
  • The xfwm4 window manager has smart placement optimizations for determining the best area to place a new window where it’s least covered on the screen. Xfwm4 also now supports aligning windows next to each other rather than using random gaps.
  • The xfce4-panel has improvements to its clock plug-in, including a popup calendar and support for timezones.
  • The xfce4-settings area has improved display settings with the ability to clone displays via the GUI and other basic monitor management options. There’s also now mouse settings as part of xfce4-settings.
  • There is support for imgur uploads added in xfce4-screenshooter.

Here are some quick steps on how we can install Xfce 4.12.0 in Linux Operating System.

1. Downloading Xfce 4.12.0 Package

First of all, we'll need to download the whole xfce compressed tarball by running the following command in a shell or terminal.

$ wget

downloading xfce

2. Extracting the Package

Now, we'll want to extract the downloaded tarballs. So, we'll need to run the following command.

$ tar xvjf xfce-4.12.tar.bz2

extracting xfce package

All the necessary packages will be extracted by the above command inside src directory.

$ cd src/

Now, we'll need to extract all the packages so that we can compile them accordingly.

$ for i in `ls *.tar.bz2| awk '{print $NF}'`; do tar xvjf $i; done

3. Compiling Xfce

Now, after we finishing the extraction process, we'll need to compile them. We should compile Xfce v 4.12.0 in the following order.

  • xfce4-dev-tools (only required if you build from GIT)
  • libxfce4util
  • xfconf
  • libxfce4ui, garcon
  • exo
  • xfce4-panel
  • thunar
  • xfce4-settings, xfce4-session, xfdesktop, xfwm4, xfce4-appfinder

Before we start to compile, we must install necessary dependencies for the compilation of the packages using the command below. Here, I am running Ubuntu so, I am running apt-get to install the required dependencies, this command may differ from distros to distros.

$ sudo apt-get install autoconf automake intltool pkgconfig glib2.0 gtk+-2.0 dbus-glib2.0 xfconf gio2.0 libglade2.0 perl libwnck* gudev-1.0

We need to compile these packages using the same command lines. We should enter into the package directory using cd command then run the following command as:

$ ./configure

The above command will check whether the dependencies are properly installed or not. If there's something missing then, it is highly recommended to install them and rerun the above command.

$ make

The above command compiles the packages and gets ready to be installed.

4. Installing Xfce

After compiling the packages, we want to install them in our system by running the below command.

$ sudo make install

Note: It is highly recommended to run and compile every packages listed in the above list in step 3 and install them using the above command and rerun the commands in order until every packages are installed successfully.

5. Running Session

After we finish installing each and every packages with their dependencies, we would surely like to test or run our latest XFCE 4.12.0 Desktop Environment out of the box. To do so, we'll need to logout from the current session and then, choose our newly installed XFCE Desktop session.

Note: If you are trying to upgrade your old Xfce Desktop Environment to version 4.12 then, after completing above steps please run the following command to take effect.

$ mv ~/.config/xfce4  ~/.config/xfce4.bak && cp -r /etc/xdg/xfce4 ~/.config ;

xfce about


xfce desktop

window selection

Desktop Manager

window corner


Hurray! We have successfully install our latest XFCE Desktop Environment version 4.12.0 . Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems that aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. It is based on GTK+2 which is cool. So, Xfce 4.12.0 is an awesome amazingly fast Desktop Environment. If you have any questions, comments, feedback please do write on the comment box below and let us know what stuffs needs to be added or improved. Thank You! Enjoy Xfce 4.12.0 :-)

Arun Pyasi 7:00 am


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  1. In case you'll get a

    libxfce4util-1.0 >= 4.12.0.
    version conflict on debian, add this:

    export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/xfce4/lib/pkgconfig:$PKG_CONFIG_PATH

    and rerun ./configure

  2. My os is centos 7
    I could not install all packages mentioned by you because it simply says package not available
    example for: glib2.0 gtk+-2.0 dbus-glib2.0 etc
    What to do about it, they are not available at also

    while runnig configure in xfconf-4.12.0 it gives error

    checking pkg-config is at least version 0.9.0... yes
    checking for dbus-1 >= 1.1.0... not found
    *** The required package dbus-1 was not found on your system.
    *** Please install dbus-1 (atleast version 1.1.0) or adjust
    *** the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable if you
    *** installed the package in a nonstandard prefix so that
    *** pkg-config is able to find it.

  3. Hi, I am compiling XFCE4.12 and the ./configure script is not generating a makefile for xfconf. I ran autoconf, tried make clean (doesn't work), and .configure numerous times, but it results in "no targets specified and no makefile found. Stop."

    ./configure ran smoothly every time with no errors, and & are generated successfully. There is a file called missing.

    Any advice?

  4. Not very confidence inspiring seeing errors for invalid object types, incompatible pointer types and pointer references during compilation of the individual packages!