Sep 13 2017

How to setup a workstation computer with Debian Wheezy and XFCE4 #debian, #wheezy, #xfc4, #workstation, #linux, #sysadmin, #how-to, #open #source, #nvidia, #libreoffice, #networkmanager, #pontikis, #blog, #blog, #technology #blog, #web #development, #web #design, #howto, #tutorials, #tech #news


How to setup a workstation computer with Debian Wheezy and XFCE4

Debian is an ideal solution for servers. Stability is the main advantage of Debian. At the same time the stable Debian version doesn’t contain the most recent packages. So, Debian is not one of first choices for someone who wants to use Linux for Desktop. Probably he/she will choose Ubuntu or Linux Mint or Fedora.

I use Archlinux on my desktop PC. Even if Archlinux is not suitable for the novice Linux user, it is rock solid, it contains cutting edge software and you can find any package you want in its repositories (official or AUR).

But, recently, I setup my old laptop, Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Notebook Xi 3650 with Debian 7 Wheezy and XFCE4. I was surprised with the final result! Not a super cool and fancy desktop, but a nice environment with great support for sound, Flash, Nvidia and any kind of networking “out of the box”.

Why Xfce? Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment, fast, simple and user friendly. Personally, I am not a fan of latest versions of Gnome, KDE or Ubuntu Unity.

Of course, it’s a matter of choice, but I don’t like graphical wizards and I can not stand unstable systems. I want to have to control of what I install on my computer and how.

Some little hacks

Default Debian 7 installation comes with XFCE 4.8 and LibreOffice 3.5 As latest XFCE 4.10 is much more better than the previous version (the same with LibreOffice), I use some hacks to setup these versions on Debian stable. It is not required, but it worths the try. This is possible by using repositories of Testing version (Debian Jessie). More information is available here and here.


In the following tutorial, I present all steps I followed, but some of them are not required for a common desktop PC. So, I marked them as “optional”. I use nano text editor, but you can use vi or other graphical editor e.g. geany. I also use systemd. so to restart apache (for example), I use systemd restart apache2.service instead of the equivalent service apache2 restart on systems with initscripts.

Base system

Download small Debian image from here .

I don’t use the graphic installation mode and I don’t setup graphical environment in this phase. I will do it later

Detailed information with screenshots is available in this post .

System tools

GSmartControl is a graphical user interface for smartctl (from smartmontools package), which is a tool for querying and controlling SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) data on modern hard disk and solid-state drives. It allows you to inspect the drive’s SMART data to determine its health, as well as run various tests on it.


VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use.


Most JAVA applications require the Oracle JAVA SDK or JRE, so I prefer to download manual the preferred version (as .tar.gz) from

manually uppack to /opt and then to use update-alternatives Debian command to select the default version (if many). So, to declare a version with update-alternatives.

To choose the default:


First install Libreoffice 3, which is the Debian Wheezy version

Then add this line to your package sources ( /etc/apt/sources.list )

update package sources

Install Libreoffice 4

You may change Libreoffice java SDK from Options

PDF viewer

Evince is a document viewer for multiple document formats. The goal of evince is to replace the multiple document viewers that exist on the GNOME Desktop with a single simple application.

Evince is specifically designed to support the file following formats: PDF, Postscript, djvu, tiff, dvi, XPS, SyncTex support with gedit, comics books (cbr,cbz,cb7 and cbt).

Screenshot tool

Shutter is a feature-rich screenshot program for Linux based operating systems such as Ubuntu. You can take a screenshot of a specific area, window, your whole screen, or even of a website – apply different effects to it, draw on it to highlight points, and then upload to an image hosting site, all within one window. Shutter is free, open-source, and licensed under GPL v3.

Photo editing

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.

Media player

VLC media player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Printer and Scanner

An HP printer, HP Officejet 4500 will be installed. A static IP ( has been assigned to this printer.

First install CUPS (Common Unix Printing System)

In case of HP printer, install drivers from HP Linux Imaging and Printing .

Start CUPS service

In most cases, the following change is required:

Important: create URL for your device:

you will get something like

Run the diagnostic utility to ensure your device is recognized (optional but useful).

Finally. add printer using CUPS web interface

Select http protocol and set the above hp url. Then select a driver with cups.

Test your scanner:

Install scanning software:

A GUI to produce PDFs from scanned documents

Web develpoment software

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