BSD · Desktop environments · FreeBSD · FreeBSD 11 · XFCE · XFCE 4

Installing XFCE-4 on FreeBSD 11

XFCE is a lightweight desktop environment for Unix like Operaing Systems. In this article let us see how to install XFCE on FreeBSD 11.

FreeBSD 11 can be downloaded from this link. Install FreeBSD according to your requirements, and once the installation is complete, use the following steps to install XFCE desktop evironment.

For more details and documentation of XFCE desktop you can have a look here.

Update the package list

pkg update

Upgrade the packages, in case there are updates available

pkg upgrade

Install the packages required.

pkg install xf86-video-fbdev xorg xfce

Add the following lines to /etc/rc.conf to enable mouse daemon, dbus daemon and hal daemon.


Create a new user for testing the setup

adduser test

Test the installation by running the following command as the user created above. The command brings up the XFCE session.

exec /usr/local/bin/startxfce4

The login screen requires a display manager to work. XFCE  doesn’t have a display manager of its own.Hence we can use any other display managers like XDM, GDM, slim etc to use the login manager. Here lets see how to configure Slim display manager with XFCE.

Install Slim

pkg install slim

Add the following line to /etc/rc.conf


Add the following line to .xinitrc file in the user’s home directory. If the file was available earlier, create a new file.


Change the ownership of the above file.

chown test:test /home/test/.xinitrc

Reboot the machine. Now the machine will boot into Slim login, where you can login to XFCE session. You will get a screen similar to the image below.


Once you login, this is how your screen will look like:


One thought on “Installing XFCE-4 on FreeBSD 11

  1. Brilliant! I had installed Gnome originally, but wanted something more lightweight. The instructions here are on point. Thank you.

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