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Xubuntu with Gedit, Nautilus and Plank

07 Jun 2017 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'

I'm using Xubuntu (Ubuntu with XFCE) as my primary operating system, because it is ridiculously fast on my NVMe SSD powered Intel NUC i7. By default Xubuntu comes with "Thunar" installed as it's file manager and "Mousepad" as the default text editor. Mousepad is very limited in features and Thunar has some stability issues. Reasons to replace them with the older (Gnome 2 era) tools "Gedit" and "Nautilus". Unfortunately in Xubuntu 16.04 these application have been changed beyond recognition with added buttons to the title bars and a removed main menu. Luckily some people forked the old Gedit and Nautilus and made them available under the new names "Nemo" and "Pluma".


Replace Thunar with Nemo (Nautilus fork)

Nemo is the file manager in Linux Mint. It is a fork of Nautilus and can be found in Ubuntu's 16.04 repository, so it can be easily installed. It works great and looks good too. You should select Nemo as the preferred file manager application in the "Utilities" tab of the "Preferred Applications" application (that you can find in the XFCE Main Menu under "Settings"). You should not uninstall Thunar, because the rendering of the desktop icons still relies on it and it is quite a hassle to let Nemo handle those. The only place this becomes visible is in the context menu of the desktop icons. I can assure you that you will hardly notice this. The second command below is to make the "open in terminal" context menu entry work.

sudo apt install nemo
gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec xfce4-terminal

Replace Mousepad with Pluma (Gedit fork)

Pluma is the text editor in Ubuntu Mate. It an almost unchanged fork of Gedit. It is also included in Ubuntu's 16.04 repository, so there is no need to use a PPA. It is a very simple application that sports a nice set of plugins. Alternatively you can install text editor "Geany", also from the repositories, that is also a good Gedit replacement with a wide variety of options and plugins.

sudo apt install pluma

Add Plank as a dock for a modern feel

In order to have a dock in Xubuntu I install the awesome tool "Plank". You can configure it by executing "plank --preferences" on the command line. Plank provides a really user-friendly, fast and good looking dock that can be easily maintained. You can simply add icons by dragging them from the main (Xubuntu) menu to the dock. Removing is equally simple as you can simply drag the icons to the desktop to make them disappear. Middle-click opens a new window, while left click focusses and right click allows to close the application via a context menu. I recommend this dock as it removes the classic Gnome feel from the operating system and makes it look more like MacOS (especially when you put the dock on the left).

sudo apt install plank
plank --preferences

Enjoy a fast and good looking Linux!

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