How to install XFCE4 on Debian

June 25, 2007

I installed using a 3.1 version (Sarge), but i upgraded to 4.0 Etch. Then, i needed to install a light window manager in my old computer (Athlon 1GHZ). XFCE is one of the most important and i have wanted to try it for a long time!.

Then, lets play :D. The first, you will need some packages to install it. You can obtain it using APT.

First, make sure you’ve the following:

  • GCC (GNU C/C++ compiler, 4.2.0 is the last version at this time)
  • bzip2 data compressor
  • libgtk2.0-dev (GTK+ runtime libraries)
  • libxpm-dev
  • libsm-dev
  • libice-dev
  • pkg-config (It’s a tool to manage and compile libraries)

Before you install (or not!) this packages, download the last version of the XFCE installer from a mirror (Like SourceForge.net -> XFCE on SF). You can use “wget” to download to your hard drive. At the time of this writing, the last version is 4.4.1, and the installer file have this name -> xfce4-4.4.1-installer.run.

The final step its too easy. Simply, log with “root” or use “sudo” command, and type this:


Before this, the package will be uncompressed (Showing dots in the screen..), and will show a screen with a welcome message, like a typical assistant.

At this point, you only must follow the instructions and XFCE will be installed on your system 🙂 .

I had some issues during the installation. One of them, shows something like this error.

(installer-gui:3721): Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display:

To solve this, make sure your GTK+ runtime libraries, are > 2.0 version. Try this command “apt-get install-f libgtk2.0-dev”

I’d other error, which shows this message after much more “warnings” about fonts.

could not open default fontfixed

To solve this, type “apt-get install xfonts-base”.

Before this, you can start XFCE typing “startxfce4”.

Enjoy your new desktop 😛 !




  1. Thanks a lot on the tip for the fonts!

  2. 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.

    To install Xfce on debian 7 wheezy
    # apt-get install xorg xfce4 xfce4-goodies thunar-archive-plugin synaptic gdebi wicd

    To install extra XFCE packages
    # apt-get install xdg-utils xfce4-power-manager xfce4-goodies htop bzip2 zip unzip unrar-free

    There are more gui to choose from http://namhuy.net/1085/install-gui-on-debian-7-wheezy.html

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