The XFCE 4 desktop environment is excellent to use on dual-monitor Linux setups, for a reason. It’s highly customizable, and it doesn’t assume you have only one monitor. It doesn’t punish you or make things difficult if you want to use multiple displays, unlike other desktops.
In this guide, we’ll go over how to set up XFCE 4 panels on multiple monitors, so that your dual monitors look good and function well. To start the process, plug in both of your monitors and follow the instructions in the article.
One thing that many dual monitor users on Linux like is having individual panels on each screen. XFCE 4 is excellent for this purpose, as there is no limit for panels on the screen. You can place as many as you want, wherever you desire.
To set up “dual panels” AKA configuring XFCE 4 to have a panel for each monitor, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
Step 1: Go to the primary screen on your XFCE 4 desktop and right-click on the panel with the mouse. By right-clicking on the panel, a right-click menu will appear. In the right-click menu, look for the “Panel” menu, and hover over it to reveal it’s options.
Inside of the “Panel” menu, find the “Panel Preferences” button, and click on it to access the XFCE 4 desktop’s panel configuration. You can also access the panel area by opening up the XFCE 4 settings window and clicking on the “Panel” option.
Step 2: In the panel preferences area, look for the menu next to “Panel 0”. “Panel 0” is the default panel on the first monitor and the one that XFCE 4 sets up by default. Next to the “Panel 0” menu, click on the “+” button.
By clicking on the “+” button, you will create a second panel.
Step 3: Upon creating a second panel, it will appear on the screen, floating and small. Click on it and drag it to the second screen using the mouse and place it at the bottom of the screen (or wherever you’d like to place it).
Step 4: Go back to the Panel Preferences” area, and change “Panel 0” to “Panel 1” to select the new panel in the XFCE 4 settings. Then, locate the “Lenth” slider in the “Measurements” section to 100. By setting it to 100, it will span the entire length of the second monitor’s screen.
Step 5: Locate the “Lock panel” button under “General” in the “Panel Preferences” window. Selecting this option will lock the panel to where you placed it on the second screen.
Step 6: Find the “Items” tab, and click on it. In the “Items” area, you can add items to the panel, such as a window switcher, volume controls, and other panel widgets. For more information on panel items, check out this guide here on the subject.
After adding items to the panel, your second panel is ready to use, and your XFCE 4 desktop will be fully utilizing panels on multiple monitors!
Installing a pre-configured panel setup
Setting up dual panels on your dual monitor XFCE 4 setup can be tedious. If you don’t want to spend time configuring the panel, there is another way to set up dual panels on XFCE 4: use an existing configuration. To install the pre-configured panel setup on XFCE 4, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
Step 1: To restore the dual-panel configuration on your XFCE 4 machine, you must install the “xfce4-panel-profiles” package. This package allows users to easily backup and restore configurations. We’ll be using this app to restore the dual panel configuration in this section of the guide.
To install the “xfce4-panel-profiles” package on your computer, open up a terminal window and enter the commands below.
sudo apt install xfce4-panel-profiles
Sadly, Debian Linux does not have the app in their repositories. Try installing the Ubuntu package instead. Though, understand that it may not work.
wget http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/universe/x/xfce4-panel-profiles/xfce4-panel-profiles_1.0.9-0ubuntu1_all.deb sudo dpkg -i xfce4-panel-profiles_1.0.9-0ubuntu1_all.deb sudo apt install -f
sudo pacman -S git base-devel git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git cd trizen makepkg -sri trizen -S xfce4-panel-profiles
sudo dnf install xfce4-panel-profiles
sudo zypper install xfce4-panel-profiles
Step 2: With the “xfce4-panel-profiles” open, launch the XFCE 4 settings app, and locate “Panel Profiles,” and the XFCE 4 Panel Profiles app will open. Then, go to the terminal and download the dual panel configuration file to your computer.
Step 3: After downloading the configuration file, locate the import button, and click on it. Then, use the file browser to locate “dual-monitor-xfce4.tar.bz2.”
Step 4: When you import the dual panel configuration, XFCE 4 will ask you to “name the new panel configuration.” Write in “dual panel setup” in the box, and click “Save Configuration.”
Step 5: Look through the “Panel Profiles” window for the “dual panel setup” configuration, and select it with the mouse. Then, click on the “Apply configuration” button to instantly apply the pre-configured XFCE 4 dual panel setup.
When the configuration is applied, it should look like the picture below (although it may not be exact depending on what system theme you are using.)