How To Install Xfce 4.16 On Xubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) Or 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla)

Xfce 4.16 xubuntu 20.04 and 20.10

Xfce 4.16 was released back in December, and it includes some important changes like a dark mode for the Xfce panel, fractional scaling support, and more. This article explains how to install Xfce 4.16 on Xubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) or Xubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla). Undoing the changes is also covered in the article.

Xfce 4.16 release highlights:

  • GLX and compositing improvements for the window manager
  • Support for fractional scaling (available in the display settings)
  • New Status Tray panel plugin which combines StatusNotifier and legacy Systray items
  • The panel now has a dark mode (available in the panel appearance settings)
  • The settings manager has improved search and filter capabilities. Also, all settings dialogs now use client side decorations
  • Thunar now supports pausing copy/move operations

For a more complete list of changes in Xfce 4.16, see the official release announcement. There's also a video here by Linux Scoop, showing some of these changes.

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Upgrade to Xfce 4.16 on Xubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) or 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla)

The Xubuntu QA Staging PPA has the latest Xfce 4.16 available for Xubuntu 20.10 and 20.04, with Thunar and xfwm4 already updated to version 4.16.1. 

Please note that the packages in this PPA are primarily geared towards testing, so use this PPA at your own risk! I found out about it by a retweet from Sean Davis, Xubuntu Technical Lead and Xfce Core Dev, so I guess it should be ok to use (?). But in any case, use it only if you have experience with PPA packages, and read its description (which is shown in the terminal when adding the PPA, and on its webpage) before proceeding.

I'd also like to add that using this PPA will remove the Xfce Notes plugin. If you need it, take this into consideration before proceeding.

Now let's add the PPA and upgrade to Xfce 4.16 on Xubuntu 20.10 or 20.04:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xubuntu-dev/staging

sudo apt update #only needed for Linux Mint nowadays, although I didn't try this PPA on Mint

sudo apt full-upgrade

Once all the packages are upgraded, reboot your system.

In my test on Xubuntu 20.04 (20.04.1), I had 2 network icons on the panel after upgrading to Xfce 4.16. To fix this, I removed the Status Notifier Plugin from the panel (right click on the panel -> Panel Preferences -> Items and remove the Status Notifier Plugin from there), then logout and relogin. 

This happens because the new Status Tray Plugin (which is automatically added to the Xfce panel when using this PPA) now includes the Status Notifier Plugin functionality.

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How to undo the changes

So you want to revert the changes made by adding the Xubuntu QA Staging PPA and upgrading all the packages from there? You'll need to purge the PPA as explained below.

To purge the PPA (downgrade all the packages installed from that PPA to the version that's available by default in Xubuntu), install ppa-purge:

sudo apt install ppa-purge

Now purge the PPA using:

  • For Xubuntu:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:xubuntu-dev/staging

  • For Linux Mint 20.x (I did not try using this PPA on Linux Mint, that's why I didn't include it in this article, but I thought I'd add purge instructions for it anyway, in case you tried this and want to revert the changes):

sudo ppa-purge -d focal ppa:xubuntu-dev/staging

Once all the packages from the PPA are downgraded, reboot the system. You'll also want to re-add Status Notifier Plugin to the Xfce panel, in case you've removed it as I've explained above.

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