In my previous blog post I detailed the installation process for Debian testing. In this post, I’ll detail the changes to XFCE4 that I made in order to replicate as closely as possible the Cinnamon desktop environment.

Basic Setup & Minor Tweaks

The first thing to do after logging in is to select Use default config from the prompt that appears.

After this, you’ll see a panel at the top and bottom of the screen - I want to remove the bottom panel and move the top panel to the bottom, to reproduce the more familiar layout.

To do this, right click the bottom panel: Panel > Panel Preferences and click the button displayed on the image.

Deleting the bottom panel

Now, right click the top panel and select Panel > Panel Preferences, then uncheck Lock Panel. Move the mouse to one of the edges, grab the panel (where the dots are) and drag all the way to the bottom of the screen. Check Lock Panel to fix its position.

What I like to do now are some minor panel tweaks:

  1. Right click Applications Menu and click Properties
    1. Uncheck Show button title
    2. Click the icon; on the Select icon from dropdown, select Uncategorised Icons
    3. Select debian-logo
  2. Right click the clock in the bottom right of the panel, select Properties
    1. Uncheck Show frame
  3. Add some additional items to the panel
    1. Right click the panel, select Panel > Add New Items
    2. Select an item and if necessary, right click it and select Move to reposition it

Main Graphical Tweaks

Now, I want to get similar appearance and behaviour to Cinnamon, especially when scrolling windows that don’t have focus (this is one of my favourite features).

Click the menu on the bottom left (that is now set to the Debian logo) and select Settings > Settings Manager. The following sub-headings will show which section of the Settings Manager you will find these options in.

Window Manager

I like to remove the shade button on the Button layout section, as I never use it. To do this, drag it from the Active area to Hidden.

On the Advanced tab, uncheck Wrap workspaces when dragging a window off the screen. This change allows us to immediately snap windows to the edges of the screen (something I like to do with a terminal).

Window Manager Tweaks

On the Accessibility tab, uncheck Raise windows when any mouse button is pressed. This change allows us to move the mouse over a background window and scroll through the content - again, something I like to do with a terminal window in the background.

On the Workspaces tab, uncheck Use the mouse wheel on the desktop to switch workspaces.

On the Compositor tab, check Enable display compositing and Show shadows under regular windows to make things look a bit nicer.

File Manager

On the View new folders using dropdown, select Detailed List View. This may also need to be set within the file browser under View > View as Detailed List View.

Select the YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss date format.


On the Menus tab, uncheck Show applications menu on desktop right click, and uncheck Show window list menu on desktop right click.


On the Fonts tab, you may need to check/uncheck Enable anti-aliasing a couple of times if the default is a box with a line (as opposed to a check).


That pretty much completes my Debian XFCE4 setup - it’s not a perfect comparison to Cinnamon, but it works for me and hopefully you’ll find a few useful settings that you can use with your own setup.

Finished desktop