How To Setup a Workstation Computer With Xubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS Step by Step

Xubuntu is
the Ubuntu
flavor with Xfce.
Xfce is a lightweight desktop,
fast, stable, simple and user
friendly. Xubuntu is
Free and Open Source. It is an excellent choice for any desktop computer,
even more for those with older hardware or
lower specifications. A nice environment with great support for sound,
peripherals, removable devices and any kind
of networking (wired, wi-fi etc) “out of the box”. Moreover, a lot of free
(usually Open Source) applications are
available to create your working environment. Version 16.04 LTS provides
software updates for 3 years (LTS = Long
Term Support). In
short, it contains everything you need in a modern desktop.

Xubuntu installation performed on a 7 years old Fujitsu Siemens AMILO
Notebook Xi 3650:

  • CPU: Intel Centrino 2 processor technology with Intel Core 2 Duo
    processor P8400
  • RAM: 4096MB DDR3 Memory
  • Hard disk space: 2 x 300GB SATA 5400 rpm hard drives
  • Graphics card: Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB video memory
    & Intel Graphics Media Accelerator
    4500M HD featuring NVIDIA HybridPower technology

Software installation in Xubuntu (or any *ubuntu) can be performed using
command line

sudo apt-get install 

or using graphic utilities (“Synaptic” or “Software center”). See details in
. In this tutorial I use the
first method.

My goal is to create a Simple And Functional Linux Desktop.

Xubuntu setup is similar to Ubuntu setup. So, I don’t duplicate these
sections, but I put a link to post How To Setup a
Workstation Computer With Ubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS Step by Step



  1. you will not find information on setup server applications like
    apache, php, mysql etc in this article.
    you are interested on this software, please see this
  2. in this article I also describe the software I use for software
    development. If you are not interested on
    kind of software, please skip relevant sections.

Basic setup

Xubuntu desktop setup is a simple graphical procedure. Download Xubuntu
desktop here. Insert the CD (or
the USB) and follow the instructions. Setup
will only ask for your name and password and disk partitioning. Everything
else is a graphical “wizard”.

Main system user

Username and password you provide during default setup will be used to create
the main user of your system. This user
will be automatically added to sudoers group (users with
“administration privileges”).

By default, the root account password is locked in Xubuntu (or any
*ubuntu). So, to execute admin tasks you have to use
sudo. For example:

sudo apt-get install 

Disk Partitions

You may let Xubuntu to decide for your disk(s) partitioning or to define it
manually, as in my case.

I use ext4 file system for system and
data partitions.

This computer has two 300 GB hard disks, so I used the following

First hard disk for the Operating System

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The first partition I defined is the /boot partition (mount point
/boot) and the second is the
root partition (mount point /). It is strongly
recommended to define a
swap partition.
As a rule of thumb set the double
size of your computer
RAM. It is recommended (but not required) to have a separate boot
partition. tmp partition is
optional (more useful for public server systems).

Second hard disk for data storage

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After completing the Basic setup

When setup finishes, you have a working system, covering all of your basic

Next steps include:

  1. Update System
  2. Tweak Command Line Environment
  3. Install more Command Line applications
  4. Programming Languages
  5. Tweak Desktop Graphical Environment
  6. Install more Graphical applications
  7. Install Web Development software
  8. Setup peripherals
  9. Cloud integration
  10. Recovery mode
  11. Backup your workstation

Update System

The first thing you have to do after Basic setup is to update your

Launch “Menu → Settings → Software updater” (recommended)

thumb for full image)

or open a terminal and type

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -V upgrade

Tweak Command Line Environment

This section is optional.

Base system includes a lot of command line tools (GNU or other). To run these programs, first
launch a Terminal.

“Menu → Accessories → Terminal Emulator”

or using keyboard shortcut: SUPER+T

To color bash prompt

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

uncomment #force_color_prompt=yes.

Increase Terminal fonts

Edit → Preferences → Appearance

Furthermore, see relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Install more Command Line applications

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Programming Languages

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Tweak Desktop Graphical Environment

Xubuntu uses Xfce
as Graphical Desktop Environment
(hence the name). Xfce is a lightweight desktop, elegant and

Xfce panel is located at the
top of the desktop. Xfce panel can be easily customized adding new items,
using “right
click”. The main component of the panel is Application launcher (“main

Xubuntu comes with many applications very
useful for everyday work. Core Xfce components and applications are
available from the top Menu (Application Launcher). They are divided into
several categories (Favorites, Office,
Accessories, Graphics, Settings etc). “Favorites” is the area with the most
used applications. You can easily add an
application to “Favorites” just using “right click”.

You can Logout, Restart or Shutdown computer from the Log Out button in
Application Launcher).

Customize Xfce in Xubuntu

Xubuntu settings are available from the Menu. Press “Settings” or use the
“All Settings” button in Application

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There are a lot of settings you can modify to tweak your system:

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System Updates Settings

Select Settings → Software & Updates → tab Updates

The default setting is “Automatic Download and Install Updates”. Set package
updates to “Notify”:

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NVIDIA Drivers

Select Settings → Software & Updates → tab Additional Drivers

Change nouveau to NVIDIA:

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Thunar (file manager)

View → view as Detailed list

View → Configure columns (add Owner Group Permissions)

Edit → Show hidden files

System font

Settings → Appearance → tab Font

Microsoft fonts

To install Microsoft fonts, use:

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Window manager

Settings → Window manager


Xfce Panel

Right click to Xfce Panel and choose “Panel preferences”:

  • Increase “Row size” to 32 pixels

Right click to Xfce Panel and choose “Add new items”:

  • System Load Monitor
  • Keyboard Layouts
  • Show desktop
  • Workspace Switcher

Set Xfce Panel Window Buttons Sorting order

To be able to sort Window Buttons (each running window handler in Xfce panel)
using drag and drop, right click to panel (or Settings → Panel), go to
tab “Items”, select “Window buttons” and press the properties button:

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Change Sorting order to drag and drop:

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Power Manager

Settings → Window manager → tab System

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Right click on Desktop and choose “Desktop settings”. Then select a

NOTE: In Xfce you may have different wallpaper per workspace
“out of the box” without plugins or
extra settings! Just select a Workspace and then change desktop background.

Tweak Firefox

is preinstalled in Xubuntu. See
this post for details: How To Setup And
Configure Mozilla Firefox on Ubuntu 16.04

Tweak Libreoffice

Adding Spell-check for your language is simple.

Select Settings → Language Support. Xubuntu will check automatically for your
language dictionaries and
will set them up.


After default setup you will find Gnome Network Manager on Xfce panel. Ethernet
Network (wired
connections) and Wireless Networks (Wi-Fi) are all available there.

Assign static IP address

After default setup your computer will obtain a “fake” IP address
automatically, using DHCP. If you want to assign a
static IP address:

Top bar → NetworkManager → Edit connections


Ethernet → Wired connection 1 → Edit → IPv4 settings

thumb for full image)

and press Save

Enable the changes you made

Top bar → NetworkManager → Ethernet Network → Disconnect

Then connect again

Top bar → NetworkManager → Ethernet Network → Wired connection

Check the changes you made

Top bar → NetworkManager → Connection Information

or using command line:


Desktop magnification

Desktop magnification is an accessibility feature. It is also very important,
when you create screencast videos.

In Xfce zooms the entire desktop (up to Zoom in, down to
Zoom out).

NOTE: If you want to disable this feature

Settings → Settings editor → select xfwm4 → change property zoom_desktop

Install more Graphical applications

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: some minor differences:

  • Dropbox

    Install Dropbox the same way as in

    sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox

    In Xfce there is a bug with Dropbox Panel Icon (it is not working).
    To fix it

            nano /usr/local/sbin/
            dropbox stop && DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start

    Call this script every time computer starts:

  • Text editor

    You will not find Gedit in Xubuntu. Install Geany

            sudo apt-get install geany
  • CD burning

    Xfburn is preinstalled in Xubuntu (so, you do not have to install

  • Gnome disks

    You will not find Gnome disks in Xubuntu. Install Gnome disks using:

            sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility

Install Web Development software

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: the only difference I have to mention is about Gvim. In
Xubuntu vim-gtk is preferable
than vim-gnome as you do not want to install Gnome libraries on
which vim-gnome depends:

sudo apt-get install vim-gtk

Setup peripherals

Printer – scanner

It’s quite easy to setup a printer (in my case HP OfficeJet 4500).

Menu → Settings → Printers → Add

Then use the wizard.

Web camera

It will be detected automatically during installation. You can try it using

sudo apt-get install cheese

Cloud integration

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Recovery mode

Press and hold “SHIFT” key during boot. GRUB (boot loader) menu will display.
Select “Advanced Ubuntu Options” to
enter Recovery mode.

Backup your workstation

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: Deja-dup is not preinstalled in Xubuntu, so you have to install

sudo apt-get install deja-dup


Operating system

Base Linux System default setup

CLI software

File manager Midnight commander  
Process viewer htop  
Bandwidth usage monitor iftop  
Networking OpenSSH  
File archivers p7zip  
Secure delete wipe  

Programming languages

GNU bash 4.3.43 default setup
Perl 5.22.1 default setup
Python 2.7.11+ default setup
Java Oracle JDK 8  

Desktop environment


Terminal Xfce Terminal default setup
Settings manager System Settings default setup
  NVIDIA X Server Settings  
File manager Thunar default setup
Password manager KeePaasX  
Cloud storage client Dropbox  
Package manager Synaptic  
Web browser Firefox default setup
  Google Chrome  
Mail client Thunderbird default setup
Download manager uget  
BitTorrent client uget with aria2 plugin  
BitTorrent client Transmission default setup
FTP client Filezilla  
Text editor Mousepad default setup
Text editor Geany  
Run as user gksu  
Screen tool for eyes protection Redshift  
Office suite LibreOffice default setup
PDF reader Document Viewer default setup
Image/photo editor Gimp  
Image viewer Ristretto Image viewer default setup
Screenshot take Screenshot default setup
Graph editor yEd  
Extra media codecs xubuntu-restricted-extras  
Video converter (FFmpeg GUI) Winff  
Video editor OpenShot  
Slideshow editor Imagination  
Screen Recorder Kazam  
Web cam Cheese  
Audio editor Audacity  
Media player Parole default setup
Scanning Simple scan default setup
CD burning Xfburn default setup
File archivers Gnome Archive Manager default setup
Sync tool FreeFileSync  
System profiler hardinfo  
Disk partitioner, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, benchmarking etc Gnome disks  
Disk partitioner gparted  
Disk health inspection tool GSmartControl  
Hardware temperature monitoring tool psensor  
Backup Deja-dup  
Encryption AEScrypt  
Virtualization Virtualbox  
Remote access Teamviewer  
Music Notation MuseScore  
Games Mines default setup
  Sudoku default setup

Apps for Web Development

Version control Git  
PHP IDE PhpStorm  
Code editor Gvim  
Localization tool Poedit  
Diff/merge tools Diffuse  
Database Manager PgAdmin3  
Documentation generator Doxygen  
Javascript Documentation generator JsDoc Toolkit  

Screenshots Collection

View Screenshots Collection here.

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