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#1 2014-09-26 04:17:58

ForumUser2
Member
Registered: 2012-04-26
Posts: 2

Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

I would like to export my xfce desktop settings to migrate them to another system running an identical Distro release and set of applications. 

I searched through older threads and found a dated 2009 posting that said that migrating the following directories could accomplish it:

~/.config/
~/.cache/
~/.local/

That posting alluded to other related threads but I could not find them.

I certainly am no xfce expert, but aren't there a lot of other files that may contain desktop configuration info? (e.g. in /etc/xdg ?)

Ideally, I would like to find a utility to export/import xfce desktop settings, but I have not been able to find any such thing.

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#2 2014-09-26 11:38:41

cmcanulty
Member
From: Beulah, Michigan
Registered: 2014-05-10
Posts: 159

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

Yes I would love that too as I run 14 xubuntu machines and would like them all alike. One issue to be careful of once before I tried copying a system and ruined it. A few files are unique hosts for example and there are probably others.

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#3 2014-09-26 13:16:07

ToZ
Moderator
From: Canada
Registered: 2011-06-02
Posts: 4,665

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

This is somewhat a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you consider "settings".
1. All core Xfce settings are located in the ~/.config/xfce4 folder.

2. Keep in mind that Xfce also develops/releases applications like mousepad, gigolo, thunar, orage, ristretto, etc. Their configuration files, if not in ~/.config/xfce4, can be found in either/or ~/.config and ~/.local/share. You'll need to identify which directories they are and migrate them as well.

3. Xfce is also based on some standards that define how certain components work. These include, but are not limited to, the menuing system (~./config/menus & ~/.local/share/desktop-directories), the mime filetype associations and defaults (~/.local/share/applications/mime*), recently-used file information (~/.local/share/recently-used*), application autostart (~/.config/autostart), etc.

4. Customizations that you may have made such as gtk overrides (~/.gtkrc-2.0 and ~/.config/gtk-3.0/*), user-directory customizations (~/.config/user-dirs.dirs), custom themes (~/.themes) and icons (~/.icons), custom-configured applications (~/.local/share/applications/*), custom binaries/scripts (~/bin - or wherever you store them), desktop icons/files (~/Desktop).

5. Other features such as file templates (~/Templates)

6. Personal data (~/Documents, ~/Downloads, ~/Pictures, ~/Videos) which you may or may not want to migrate.

7. Other applications that you might consider a part of Xfce that really are not (web browser, email client, office suite, system utilities) that may be packaged by your distro or installed by yourself that you want to migrate. You'll need to figure out where in your home directory they store their configuration files.

8. Configuration changes that you may have made with root privileges to restricted files that affect the overall configuration of your Xfce user instance. These you should be documenting as you make them.

Generally, the stuff in ~/cache can be ignored unless you want to also migrate saved session information (~/.cache/sessions) or temporary component files (~/.cache/xfce4).

I certainly am no xfce expert, but aren't there a lot of other files that may contain desktop configuration info? (e.g. in /etc/xdg ?)

/etc/xdg or variations thereof (e.g. /etc/xdg-xubuntu) contain distro-specific default configurations that are used to initially populate your ~/.config settings. No need to migrate these unless you've made changes to them (see my point #8 above).

Ideally, I would like to find a utility to export/import xfce desktop settings, but I have not been able to find any such thing.

I am unaware of the existence of such a utility.

Yes I would love that too as I run 14 xubuntu machines and would like them all alike. One issue to be careful of once before I tried copying a system and ruined it. A few files are unique hosts for example and there are probably others.

This is obviously something you would want to test and iron out to make sure you get it right.

If you are looking to migrate an existing system to another exact copy of the system, it may be better/easier to just backup and restore your home directory.

If you are looking at cloning an existing system for deployment on other systems and keeping them similar, you'll obviously need to take a different approach that will require some extra testing and fine-tuning. You can search these forums on the keyword "kiosk" to review some threads that might be helpful.

Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list of the configuration files required for a migration. It really is user/system-specific and only you can decide what is needed for a migration. I would recommend testing any migration attempt in a vm first with copies/backups of actual configuration files/data before attempting the live migration.

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#4 2014-09-26 15:52:35

ForumUser2
Member
Registered: 2012-04-26
Posts: 2

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

Thank you ToZ for the most excellent explanation.  I'm sure it will get me well on my way.

One point of clarification:

8. Configuration changes that you may have made with root privileges to restricted files that affect the overall configuration of your Xfce user instance. These you should be documenting as you make them.

I am assuming that any changes I made through the Xfce GUI tools (e.g. Settings Manager, Settings Editor, etc.) on the source system would not result in 'root modification' to configuration files outside of the user's home directory.  In other words, if I have only used the Xfce GUI tools to set up the desktop on the source system, then I need only worry about hunting down the appropriate configuration files _within_ my user's home directory (plus custom templates/wallpaper/icons/etc.).  Is that correct?

Thanks much for enumerating so many of the files/directories for me to look into.

Last edited by ForumUser2 (2014-09-26 16:06:52)

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#5 2014-09-26 17:34:05

Jerry3904
Member
Registered: 2013-11-09
Posts: 633

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

I am unaware of the existence of such a utility.

We are looking into creating such a utility, and will keep you all informed of any progress.


MX-17 (based on Debian Stable) with Xfce 4.12.
Little collection of Xfce Tidbits

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#6 2014-09-26 18:00:41

ToZ
Moderator
From: Canada
Registered: 2011-06-02
Posts: 4,665

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

ForumUser2 wrote:

Thank you ToZ for the most excellent explanation.  I'm sure it will get me well on my way.

One point of clarification:

8. Configuration changes that you may have made with root privileges to restricted files that affect the overall configuration of your Xfce user instance. These you should be documenting as you make them.

I am assuming that any changes I made through the Xfce GUI tools (e.g. Settings Manager, Settings Editor, etc.) on the source system would not result in 'root modification' to configuration files outside of the user's home directory.  In other words, if I have only used the Xfce GUI tools to set up the desktop on the source system, then I need only worry about hunting down the appropriate configuration files _within_ my user's home directory (plus custom templates/wallpaper/icons/etc.).  Is that correct?

Yes. If you use the Xfce settings dialog then those changes will only be made to your user profile found in your home directory.

Thanks much for enumerating so many of the files/directories for me to look into.

No worries.

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#7 2014-09-26 18:01:41

ToZ
Moderator
From: Canada
Registered: 2011-06-02
Posts: 4,665

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

Jerry3904 wrote:

I am unaware of the existence of such a utility.

We are looking into creating such a utility, and will keep you all informed of any progress.

Sounds very interesting. Would definitely be something I think a lot of people will be interested in. Please share it when it is complete.

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#8 2014-11-10 19:54:10

helix
Member
From: Slovenia
Registered: 2014-11-10
Posts: 3
Website

Re: Export xfce desktop settings & move them to another system?

Hi all. This is one of my first posts here so first I'd like to say a bit about why I ended up in this forum. I have emerged into world of opensource operating systems on behalf of small primary school which is faced with kinda problem now that Win XP support is no longer available. I used to work in corporate environments where M$ platform is enforced and don't have huge experience in gnu/linux systems. I do learn now new os, and I decided to go the FreeBSD way (PCBSD exactly). Now after digging and initial tests I made on hardware currently running WinXP, xfce turns out to be perfect solution for 10yrs old machines. Now to fully transit to only opensource desktops is not yet possible, because the students and teachers use MS Office suite too extensively. That is why I installed both Linux and Win7. Now the Linux part could be just more interesting for students, because the system is so much more responsive compared to Win7. And for students to be able to customize the looks could sparkle some new kid to join the world of opensource wink Now all those previous instructions look very rich, but some export utility would be greatly appreciated. This "export" could be then used by some system for automatically deploying configs (I'm just looking into Ansible)

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