MX Linux + XFCE

For my Toughbooks CF-19 MK2 / MK3 I’ve often used the XFCE desktop; with Debian Wheezy, Xubuntu, MX18, MX19 and now MX21. Over 10 years XFCE grew from modest (120 MB) to greedy (700 MB) memory consumer. But it got more features and still works. Hardware specs, to give an impression:

This page documents my XFCE desktop configuration, mainly as a quick reference for myself and others using a similar setup. MX installation and base configurations were described on a previous page.

blank display bug

First of all I disable display blanking before doing anything on XFCE. There is or was a bug in XFCE where display will not recover from blank (black, really) display after inactivity.

Menu > Settings > Power Manager > Display > Display power management

Just to be sure, set Blank, Sleep and Switch off to Never, for Battery and Plugged in. You can still switch off display by closing the lid, if that is a good idea at all.


Horizontal panels are most useful for a non-widescreen display. My main panel with most widgets is at the top. Panel height 40 makes icons just big enough for touch operation (probably not shown 1:1 here).

xfce top panel

My 20 pix bottom panel has two widgets:

panel bug

After moving MX default vertical panel to horizontal at the top, windows may be partly covered by the panel. Apparently the window manager is not properly informed. When this setting says “bottom”, change to “top”:

MX Tools > MX Tweak > Panel > Display panel horizontally

Two different menu widgets are available for the panel, the first of which is installed by default:

  1. Whisker Menu
  2. Application Menu

Since my menu button sits left on the panel I want to see categories below the button and applications on the right. Right click Whisker Menu button to select Properties. This pops the Whisker Menu config window. There select:

Appearance > Position categories next to panel button
Whisker Menu

To edit menu categories and application details, right click the menu button and select “Edit Applications”. This pops the MenuLibre editor.

To add an app in the Favorites section, right click its name and select “Add to Favorites”. App details can be edited via this context menu as well.


XFCE Workspace Switcher widget can do a useful miniature view of app icons (much better than KDE). I use 4 workspaces. Switch workspace with CTL + Alt + Right (or Left).

window manager tweaks

For optimal use of small display, hide title of maximized windows in:

Menu > Settings > Window Manager Tweaks > Accessibility

Another useful tweak is on tab Focus. When a window raises itself: Switch to window’s workspace (instead of Bring window on current workspace). This should prevent reorganization of workspaces.

window size bug

Since MX 21 (XFCE 16 and higher) a window may open too large for the display, such that it is partly invisible even with a scroll bar, if scrollbars are present at all. Window buttons may be out of reach.

Windows can be resized and some will remember their new size next time. To resize when window borders are out of reach:

Alt + F8

This will activate the cursor on the diagonal resize handle. Move the cursor (without mouseclick) to resize. For windows which will not remember their new size (as is the case with puredata documentation patches) it may be simpler to just maximize with double click on title bar.

Wi-Fi autoconnect bug

Even when a Wi-Fi access point is set to connect automatically this will not happen in practice without an additional setting. Settings in XFCE via:

Both will pop window Network Connections where you can select a Wi-Fi access point to change settings (cogwheel button). On tab General make sure that all users may connect to the network:

Wi-Fi autoconnect

Not sure why “all users” is needed but otherwise autoconnect will (mostly?) not work. Long known bug in Network Manager, also applies to KDE desktop.

UI freeze

I’ve seen total UI freeze (user input and display) several times when on battery. Only hardware switch off possible. No clue about the cause yet. Power save tool tlp was already disabled before it happened once more.