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We are aiming to arrive at a similar desktop.


In my mind there are four major steps in the installation procedure of any distribution.

  1. get an iso or an usb to boot from
  2. clean install of your operating system
  3. installing all needed software
  4. customize the system

1. Boot from iso or usb

You can download the iso from the Linux Mint website and then burn it on a cd or a usb. Usb’s can be easily rewritten and are cheap these days. You do not need more than 4GB usb. Some older pc’s can not boot from usb but I have learned it also depends on the usb. So try another one before giving up. Booting from USB is done automatically if you are lucky. Otherwise you will need to find the keyboard shortcut for your hardware on the net or on the (black) bootscreen. I would try out F2, escape and F8 and see you can boot from usb or change the boot order so you can boot from usb.

If you are already on Linux Mint you can use the mintstick application. It has never failed me with over 50+ distro’s to burn the iso to an usb.

If you are on Windows, I would like to point you to this article.

If you are on Mac, I would like to point you to this article.

Alternative information

2. Clean install of Linux Mint 18.1 Xfce

I never mix operating systems on one harddisk or SSD anymore. It is not worth the trouble (on a desktop). With the SSD prices being so affordable, I switch from one operating system to another by unplugging and switching the SSD.

So no dual boot information here. Only two recommendations grub-customizer and bootrepair are applications that have helped me when I had troubles booting. Both are on my github.

First up is a clean install of our system. I made a tutorial about VirtualBox to show you what I do to install Linux Mint which is actually following the standard options and suggestions. If you have installed Linux Mint before, there will be no surprises.

Main installation of xfce and content of the tutorial

  • settings of virtualbox
    • harddisk
    • cpu
    • memory
    • memory graphical card
  • iso of linux mint will be mounted
  • going over the installation procedure
  • reboot
  • update manager – choice and switch to local mirror
  • first do your updates
  • secondly install your kernel (if you want the latest)
  • thirdly install a graphical driver ?

Installing the latest kernel

Uname -a in the terminal will reveal your present kernel.

Use the scripts on my github for an easy installation of the latest kernel for 64 bits cpu’s.

Installing all the software, icons, themes, cursors, …

We will be running four major scripts.

  1. all the software
  2. all the extra software not coming from the repositories
  3. icons, themes, cursors, plank, arc theme colora, mint-y theme colora, …
  4. this is the distro specific script – for now it is empty



Designing our xfce system

We have installed a lot of themes, icons etc. Let us put them to good use.

  • adding an application to favorites or panel
  • variety for the wallpaper
  • changing the theme
  • changing the icons
  • changing the theme of the window border
  • keyboard shortcuts
  • change the mouse cursor
  • icon of the menu will be changed (whisker menu)
  • plank settings
  • getting rid of the shadow under the plank
  • making moving windows transparent
  • aureola conky will be installed
  • get rid of icons on desktop
  • change the name of the whiskermenu
  • if you want the plank to be present at next boot – put ‘plank’ in the autostart applications



It pays off to take a look at this screen as well when you want to change your settings of your windows. It will be active depending on the window manager you choose. In this case xfwm4+compositing. Many effects you can do with compton or compiz can be done native on xfce.


Making a personal menu in the whisker menu

You can add menu‘s to open personal files via the menu. Depending how deep down these files are and/or if you keep forgetting where these files are, it might be interesting to add a separate menu to open them.



Dropbox icon

When you start dropbox from the menu the icon/application will be put inside xfce4-indicator-plugin and then something goes wrong. There is an issue with either dropbox or xfce4-indicator-plugin.

We do not want to see this third icon. It means something has no icon…

Solutions I have found to arrive at a nicer result like this

dropbox stop && DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start

Put this in a shell script and run it at startup


dropbox stop && dbus-launch dropbox start

Another solution I found that works for me is

dropbox stop && DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start

Personally I am going for this solution

Copy/paste the current dropbox file in ~/.config/autostart.

cp ~/.config/autostart/dropbox.desktop ~/.config/autostart/dropbox-fix.desktop

Then we will edit the dropbox-fix.desktop with any text-editor. Leave the original there as it will be recreated anyway if you delete it.

[Desktop Entry]
GenericName=File Synchronizer
Comment=fix-icon - Sync your files across computers and to the web
Exec=env DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start -i

The solution lies in the exec line. I changed the comment line so I know which one is the fix.

Now let us disable the autostart of Dropbox. Our .desktop file will do the autostart from now on.
You need to do this.

dropbox autostart n

BUT this command line did not work for me. Going to the settings in dropbox itself and ask it not to autostart, did not work either.
But ticking off the first line about dropbox DID WORK. Screenshot below.

Check if your dropbox-fix.desktop file is activated via menu “Session and Startup“.
Be sure to check the standard dropbox line is ticked off. Leave it there. It will be recreated on every boot.

Now I have a file I can copy/paste in future installations of Xfce.

IF you want the menu of Xfce to start the right dropbox instance then go to the start menu, right mouse click and edit applications and change the code there as well.
The code to copy/paste is a few lines up.

Reboot and enjoy.

Window managers

In the article about Mate we explored the various window managers.
In Mate we use the application Mate-Tweak, in Xfce we use the application “Desktop Settings“.

As you can see we have 7 window managers. We can set 2 of them ourselves : Compton and Compiz.


We can use our own compton.conf file to make sure that we have a personalised shadow or fading or opacity or dimming.

BUT we need to save the compton.conf file in ~/.config for this to work.

In the tutorial I will go over the most important settings of the compton.conf file.


Compiz can be changed as well and has its own application to do so.
Ccsm stands for compiz configuration settings manager.

We will show the following settings

  • wobbly windows
  • cube or 3d cube
  • hovering windows before cube (two monitors should take “one big cube”)


Compiz – Making menu’s,… transparent

Copy/paste this code in the proper place in your ccsm – Opacity, Brightness and Saturation.

Tooltip | Menu | PopupMenu | DropdownMenu

You can decide that the opacity should be different for the “Menu”. Then you will have to add this one separately and with another transparency amount.

Compiz – Save your working configuration

Would it not be great if we could save our working configuration of compiz for a later installation or an installation on another system?

Exporting and importing your settings – two ways are possible.

Compiz – Open new windows in the center of your screen

In previous youtube tutorials you saw that windows are standard opened in the top left of the screen. Let us change the setting to open a new window in the center.

Compiz – All about the compiz cube

We will show you which settings matters in order to have a great and beautiful cube. We will make it also a bit transparent and will use our own wallpapers for background, and top and bottom of cube.


Compiz – Animations

Animations can be set manually to any of the following actions :

  • open and close animation
  • minimize and unminimize animation
  • shade animation
  • focus animation

Tip : use the random setting to see all the effects

Compiz – Opacify windows

When you have two windows stacked on top of each other, you can make the one on top transparent by hovering with your mouse over the windows behind it.

The youtube tutorials shows you what I am attempting to explain here.

Compiz – Dim inactive windows

TIP : Super or windows key – XFCE seems not to like this key – use other key combinations

This shortcut will focus on your active window and will make all other windows darker.

Compiz – Show desktop

Compiz can take care of the animations to show your desktop when it is cluttered with all kinds of windows.

Tip : you can set it fully random

Compiz – Shadows or window decoration

Like in compton you can set the shadow of your windows. You can change radius, opacity, colour and offsets for active windows and inactive windows

Compiz – Tile your windows

There are keyboard shortcuts available to tile your open windows to half of the screen, a quarter of the screen or full sceen.


Here we can also change the green colour for the preview outline to any colour we like.


Compiz – Scale

You will get an overview of all open applications and you can choose which one you want to activate.


Compiz – Benchmark

If you want to know what the fps or frames per second are when you are turning your cube, you can activate the benchmark.



I realize this installation can seem like a blackbox where things are happening beyond your control due to these scripts . But a script is just a collection of steps you would have taken manually in the terminal. I can only recommend to try to read the scripts and learn scripting. Installing operating systems are no longer a drag or time-consuming for me.

There is NO NEED for you to change the window manager. Xfce can be quite beautiful without. You have the possibility to choose. Compton is quite stable and gave me no trouble whatsoever. Compiz on the other hand can get you in trouble. Remember you can reset the compiz settings and try again.

In the overview article you will find that there are 102 tutorials for Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon that still apply to Linux Mint 18.1 XFCE as well. I urge you to see these for more detailed information.

If you have Linux Mint 18 XFCE and wonder how to upgrade to Linux Mint 18.1 XFCE, check out this article.