Linux: Config Files, Nano Editor, and XFCE customizing

Posted: April 2, 2013 in config, Linux, XFCE, xubuntu
Tags: , , , ,

After running GNU/Linux for a little while a user will no doubt want to get to know the guts of GNU/Linux.  One of the first steps is to enable your file manager to see the hidden folders and files.  For Thunar, it is to click on View and then Show Hidden Files.  You will notice there are file and folders that start with a period.  It is these folders and files that are a big  key to how GNU/Linux works for you.  They are, or contain, config files.  GNU/Linux uses config files to set how programs, and processes work.  Users of Microsoft’s OS are probably thinking, “That is a really ancient way of doing things.  Microsoft uses the registry.”  Well, the registry is just one large file that is encrypted.  It also holds some hidden areas, something you won’t find in GNU/Linux.  Everything in GNU/Linux is available for the user to see and modify, sometimes at your own risk. (Side note: If you haven’t ruined your install of GNU/Linux, then you haven’t explored it enough!  lol.  I know I have done it a few times.)

Config files are a really simple way to set program information. Most config files are small text files which are easily and quickly read by almost every programming language.  That is why GNU/Linux uses them.  It is a simple way for the OS and users to use.  Some config files you probably will explore are these .bashrc, .config/xfce4/terminal/terminalrc, and many others.  Don’t be afraid to open them with your favorite editor.  As long as you don’t save it you will be ok.  If you want to do some customization just do a search on the config file and you will find a site that will discuss how to edit it.  Remember, GNU/Linux is open and you can find some documentation on every file.  One last thing, check each program in question, many of them have a preferences area that will set all of the settings you find in a config file.  The .bashrc is a file I edit because it controls your Terminal session.  If you get into Linux, you will definitely get used to the Terminal.

When working within the terminal environment, there will be times you want to edit a file.  I found that nano is an EXCELLENT program to use.  It is easy to use and pretty powerful.  The homepage is here:  http://www.nano-editor.org/   Nano is usually installed on most distributions, or it can be loaded easily from  your distro’s install program.  It has a file browser to find where to save a file.  To save your work just use CTRL O.  Most of the commands are combos of CTRL and a key.  It even has options to have color highlighting for files, which helps seeing command words and the like.  This link shows how to get the config file up and running.  http://www.nano-editor.org/dist/v2.2/faq.html#3.9  Again, read the site.  All the information is there.  Nano makes editing files and such easy.  When making BASH scrips, I will use nano.

For those who love to customize XFCE with themes, icons, cursors and wallpapers, I found settings that will help make it easy.  Now, I found all this from the XFCE site.  It is easy to setup what you need in your home area.  With these folders, you will just drop in what you want and the system programs will find the new theme elements.  To setup custom wallpapers you make a the following path in your home folder:  .local/share/xfce4/backdrops  All of your custom wallpapers will be dropped here.  I can’t remember which folders I created, but just how deep you can go and create what is not there.  If I remember correctly, I had to create the xfce4 and backdrops folders.  Anything you put in there will be automatically picked up by the appropriate tools.  Additional themes will be dropped in a folder by the name of:  .themes .  Cursors and icons are dropped in a folder named   .icons .  These config folders really help with adding new themes.  I used the site http://xfce-look.org/ to get new themes.  Just untar or unzip with the archive manager the downloads and drop them in the appropriate folders.

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