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LXDE is a GPL-licensed free software desktop environment for Unix and other POSIX-compliant platforms, such as GNU/Linux. This article covers its installation, configuration, and troubleshooting.
LXDE uses the GTK+ toolkit.
The Xorg project provides a free software implementation of the X Window System – the foundation for a graphical user interface. Desktop environments such as LXQt, Openbox/KDE, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, GNOME, Deepin provide a complete graphical environment. Various window managers offer alternative and novel environments, and may be used standalone to conserve system resources. Display managers provide a graphical login prompt.

From LXDE.org | Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment:

The "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment" is an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. Maintained by an international community of developers, it comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM than other environments. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications, such as, netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers.

1 Installation

LXDE is very modular so you can choose the packages you need. The minimal obligatory packages which you have to install to run LXDE are lxde-common, lxsession, desktop-file-utils, and a window manager.

You can install the LXDE group by:

# pacman -S lxde

This will install the following packages:

  • gpicview: A lightweight image viewer
  • lxappearance: A utility to configure themes, icons and fonts for GTK+ applications
  • lxde-common: The default settings for integrating different LXDE components
  • lxde-icon-theme: An icon theme for LXDE
  • lxlauncher: An application launcher mainly for netbooks
  • lxmenu-data: A collection of files intended to adapt freedesktop.org menu specification
  • lxpanel: A desktop panel for LXDE
  • lxrandr: A screen manager
  • lxsession: A standard-compliant X11 session manager with shutdown, reboot and suspend support
  • lxtask: A lightweight task manager
  • lxterminal: A lightweight terminal emulator
  • menu-cache: A daemon which automatically generates the menu for LXDE
  • openbox: A lightweight, standard-compliant and highly-configurable window manager typically used with LXDE
  • pcmanfm: The default lightweight file manager for LXDE which also provides desktop integration

After the installation finishes, copy three files to ~/.config/openbox as instructed by pacman:

Place menu.xml, rc.xml and autostart in ~/.config/openbox
They can be found in /etc/xdg/openbox

As the user of interest

mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox
cp /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml /etc/xdg/openbox/rc.xml /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart ~/.config/openbox

You may also want to install some lightweight applications typically used with LXDE:

# pacman -S leafpad obconf epdfview

2 Starting the Desktop

There are lots of ways to start a LXDE desktop.

2.1 Display Managers

If you are using a display manager like SDDM, LightDM, or GDM, switch the session to LXDE. Please consult the display manager's wiki page for instructions.

Instructions for using LXDM, an experimental display manager provided by the LXDE project, are included later on this page.

If not using a display manager you would like to add


to your ~/.bash_profile in order xdg-open to function properly.

2.2 Console

To be able to start the desktop from the console, several other options exist.

To use startx, you will need to define LXDE in your ~/.xinitrc file:

exec ck-launch-session startlxde

This will launch LXDE with policykit session support (allow shutdown, restart, automounting...). Otherwise, use:

exec startlxde

To start LXDE from the command line without a ~/.xinitrc:

$ xinit /usr/bin/startlxde

If ~/.xinitrc already exists this will not work.

Or start LXDE from a console-kit session:

$ xinit /usr/bin/ck-launch-session startlxde

If you want to run startx at boot automatically, take a look at the Starting X at boot guide.

For other tasks you'll want to be sure that dbus is running as a daemon.

3 Tips and tricks

3.1 Application Menu Editing

The application menu works by resolving the .desktop files located in /usr/share/applications. Many desktop environments run programs that supersede these settings to allow customization of the menu. LXDE has yet to create an application menu editor but you can manually build them yourself if you are so inclined.

To add or edit a menu item, create or link to the .desktop file in /usr/share/applications. Consult the desktop entry specification on freedesktop.org for structures of .desktop files.

To remove items from the menu, instead of deleting the .desktop files, you can edit the file and add the following line in the file:


To expedite the process for a good number of files you can put it in a loop. For example:

cd /usr/share/applications
for i in program1.desktop program2.desktop ...; do cp /usr/share/applications/$i \
/home/user/.local/share/applications/; echo "NoDisplay=true" >> \
/home/user/.local/share/applications/$i; done

This will work for all applications except KDE applications. For these, the only way to remove them from the menu is to log into KDE itself and use it's menu editor. For every item that you do not want displayed, check the 'Show only in KDE' option. If adding NoDisplay=True won't work, you can add ShowOnlyIn=XFCE.

3.2 Auto Mount


3.3 Autostart Programs

.desktop files

First you can link a program's .desktop in /usr/share/applications/ file to ~/.config/autostart/. For example, to execute lxterminal automatically at startup:

$ ln -s /usr/share/applications/lxterminal.desktop ~/.config/autostart/
autostart file

The second method is to use a ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/autostart file. This file is not a shell script, but each line represents a command to be executed, if a line begins with a @ symbol, the command following the @ will be automatically re-executed if it crashes. For example, to execute lxterminal and leafpad automatically at startup:

Note: The commands do not end with a & symbol.

There is also a global autostart file at /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart. If both files are present, all entries in both files will be executed.

3.4 Bindings

Mouse and key bindings (i.e. keyboard shortcuts) are implemented with Openbox and are described in detail here. LXDE users should follow these instructions to edit the file ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml

3.5 Cursors

Main article: X11 Cursors.

A basic way is to add the cursor to the default theme. First you will need to make the directory:

# mkdir /usr/share/icons/default

Then you can specify to add to the icon theme the cursor. This will use the xcursor-bluecurve pointer theme:

[icon theme]

3.6 Digital clock applet time

You can right click on the digital clock applet on the panel and set how it displays the current time. For example, to display standard time instead of military time in the format of HH:MM:SS:


And in YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS format:

%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S

If you wish to display standard time with and AM/PM:

%I:%M %p

See the man page on strftime (3) for more options.

3.7 Font Settings

Most users of LXDE usually try to use GTK+ programs because GTK+ is the backend for LXDE. To set the fonts, you can use lxappearance and set the main font. For other fonts you will need to use the Gnome Font Preferences Control Panel:

# pacman -S gnome-control-center

After you have set your preferred font settings, you can safely remove the program as its settings will be retained.

3.8 Keyboard layout

1 way: Add in /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart following line before @lxpanel --profile LXDE:

@setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:alt_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,ru

or ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/autostart (for separate user):

setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:alt_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,ru

2 way: Create /etc/xdg/autostart/setxkmap.desktop as following:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Fix keyboard settings
Exec=setxkbmap -rules xorg -layout "us,ru" -variant ",winkeys" -option "grp:ctrl_shift_toggle"

3 way: Edit ~/.Xkbmap for current user or /etc/X11/Xkbmap for all system add following line:

-option grp:ctrl_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,ru

4 way: Add folowing line in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc or ~/.xinitrc:

setxkbmap -option grp:ctrl_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,ru

5 way: Xorg#Switching_Between_Keyboard_Layouts

3.8.1 Add the “Keyboard Layout Switcher” to our taskbar

  1. Right-click on your taskbar
  2. Choose “Add / Remove Panel Items”
  3. Choose “Add”
  4. Choose “Keyboard Layout Switcher”

3.9 Gnome-screensaver with LXDE

Install the needed packages:

pacman -S gnome-screensaver gnome-session

Create a simple launcher for gnome-session to allow the screensaver to work in ~/.config/autostart/gnome-session.desktop

[Desktop Entry]

Now logout and log back in to enjoy gnome-screensaver.

3.10 lxpanel Icons

Default icons used by lxpanel are stored in /usr/share/pixmaps and any custom icons you want lxpanel to use need to be saved there as well.

You can change default icons for applications by taking the following steps:

  1. Save the new icon to /usr/share/pixmaps
  2. Use a text editor to open the .desktop file of the program whose icon you want to change in /usr/share/applications.
  3. Change



3.11 LXDM

LXDE now provides an experimental display manager called LXDM. It's implemented with GTK+ and supports theming. To install LXDM:

# sudo pacman -S lxdm

To start LXDM automatically with your computer, you can edit /etc/inittab or /etc/rc.conf. For more info on how to do this, see Display Manager.

3.11.1 Configuration

The configuration files for LXDM are all located in /etc/lxdm. The main configuration file is lxdm.conf, and is well documented in it's comments. Another file, Xsession, is the systemwide x session configuration file and should generally not be edited. The other files in this folder are all bash scripts, which are run when certain events happen in LXDM.

These are:

  1. LoginReady: Is executed with root priviledges when LXDM is ready to show the login window.
  2. PreLogin: Is run as root before logging a user in.
  3. PostLogin: Is run as the logged-in user right after they have logged in.
  4. PostLogout: Is run as the logged-in user right after they have logged out.
  5. PreReboot: Is run as root before rebooting with LXDM.
  6. PreShutdown: Is run as root before poweroff with LXDM. Expected Logout Behavior

What might be slightly surprising with LXDM is that, by default, it does not clear the last user's desktop background or kill the user's processes when that user logs out. If you desire this behaviour, you can edit /etc/lxdm/PostLogout like this:


# Kills all your processes when you log out.
killall --user $USER -TERM

# Set's the desktop background to solid black. Useful if you have multiple monitors.
xsetroot -solid black Autologin

If you want to log in to one account without providing a password, find the line in /etc/lxdm/lxdm.conf that looks like this:


Uncomment it, then substitute your own username instead of "username".

3.12 LXNM

Note: LXNM is no longer under active development. It's suggested to use NetworkManager and nm-applet.

LXNM is a program based on scripts that attempts to manage the network connections. It is script-based and strives to make networking configuration as automatic as possible. It is not a full blown networking system like NetworkManager. If you want greater control, Wicd and Gnome's verions of NetworkManager works well with LXDE. You can install LXNM from [community] repository:

# pacman -S lxnm

The main script will need to be run as root. If you plan on consistently using it, put it in your /etc/rc.conf. LXNM works with the network status monitor applet in lxpanel. LXNM works well most of the time, though at times it can take a while to get a connection.

3.13 PCManFM

PCManFM parabola page

If you want to be able to access the Trash, mount volumes, and folder/file tracking you'll want gvfs support:

pacman -S polkit-gnome gvfs

polkit-gnome provides an authentication and will need to be started on login:

mkdir -p ~/.config/autostart
cp /etc/xdg/autostart/polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1.desktop ~/.config/autostart

Arch's polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1.desktop currently doesn't exempt certain desktops. If you have trouble launching it remove the line:


PCManFM @ LXDE wiki

3.14 Replacing Window Managers

Openbox, the default window manager of LXDE, can be easily replaced by other window managers, such as fvwm, icewm, dwm, metacity, compiz ...etc.

LXDE will attempt to use window manager from the user lxsession configuration file ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/desktop.conf. If it does not exist, it will then attempt to use the global configuration file /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/desktop.conf.

Replace the openbox-lxde command with the window manager of your choice:


For metacity:


For compiz:

window_manager=compiz ccp --indirect-rendering

3.15 Shutdown, Reboot, Suspend and Hibernate Options ( LXSession-logout)

To have all Shutdown, Reboot, Suspend and Hibernate Options working you need to have dbus running. You also need to have pm-utils and upower installed.

#pacman -S pm-utils upower

Then add your user to the power group:

# gpasswd -a <USERNAME> power

Be sure to have your ~/.xinitrc configured as said in Starting the Desktop:

exec ck-launch-session startlxde

If you still encounter problems, add the folowing lines in /etc/PolicyKit/PolicyKit.conf inbetween the <config> tag:

<match action="org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.shutdown">
 <return result="yes"/>
<match action="org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.reboot">
 <return result="yes"/>
<match action="org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.suspend">
 <return result="yes"/>
<match action="org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.hibernate">
 <return result="yes"/>

4 Troubleshooting

4.1 SSH Key Management

A very lightweight solution to ssh key management can be found by using keychain. See the using keychain article for details.

4.2 NTFS with Chinese Characters

For a storage device with an NTFS filesystem, you will need to install the NTFS-3G package. Generally, PCManFM works well with NTFS filesystems, however there is one bug affecting NTFS users that if you have files or directories on an NTFS filesystem, the names of which contain non-latin characters (e.g. Chinese characters) may disappear when opening (or auto-mounting) the NTFS volume. This happens because the lxsession mount-helper is not correctly parsing the policies and locale options. There is a workaround for this:

Remove the /sbin/mount.ntfs-3g which is a symbolic link.

# rm /sbin/mount.ntfs-3g

Create a new /sbin/mount.ntfs-3g with a new bash script containing:

/bin/ntfs-3g $1 $2 -o locale=en_US.UTF-8

And then make it executable:

# chmod +x /sbin/mount.ntfs-3g 

Add or edit the following line to /etc/pacman.conf under the [options] tag to prevent modification of this file in case of upgrading:

NoUpgrade = sbin/mount.ntfs-3g

4.3 KDM and LXDE Session

As of KDE 4.3.3, KDM will not recognize the LXDE desktop session. To fix it:

# cp /usr/share/xsessions/LXDE.desktop /usr/share/apps/kdm/sessions/

4.4 GTK+ Warnings with lxsession 0.4.1

When starting GTK+2 programs you get the following message:

GTK+ icon them is not properly set

This usually means you do not have an XSETTINGS manager running. Desktop environment like GNOME or XFCE automatically execute
their XSETTING managers like gnome-settings-daemon or xfce-mcs-manager.

This is caused by the migration of lxde-settings-daemon config files into lxsession. If you made customizations to these config files, you are in need of merging those config files:

  • /usr/share/lxde/config
  • ~/.config/lxde/config


  • etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/desktop.conf
  • ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/desktop.conf

Alternatively, you can use lxappearance from the community repository to fix this.

4.5 Using KDEmod3 Applications under LXDE

As older versions of KDEmod[-legacy] are still installed under /opt/kde/bin, they are not automatically recognized by LXDE. To use them, you can either edit your PATH with the following command:

# echo 'PATH=$PATH:/opt/kde/bin' >> /etc/rc.local

or you can add the following script to /etc/profile.d/kde3path.sh:


Then make it executable:

# chmod a+x /etc/profile.d/kde3path.sh

5 Resources

6 Acknowledgement

This wiki article is based on ArchWiki. We may have removed non-FSDG bits from it.