How to optimize XFCE4 for tablets

This guide describes how to make XFCE more usable on tablets.

Recently I bought a used Dell Venue 8 Pro (3845) tablet. It’s an Intel Bay Trail tablet which comes with Windows preinstalled. But it is quite easy to get Linux up and running (see this guide from Studio :: TeaBag).

I tried some distributions and finally decided to go with Xubuntu 19.10 Eoan. XFCE has a low memory footprint (the tablet has only 1GB of RAM), looks nice and feels snappy. But it is a desktop environment, so here are some tips to improve usability on tablets.

Settings: Appearance

  • Increase font size

    Fonts -> Custom DPI setting: 120

Settings: Desktop

  • Increase icon size

    Icons -> Icon size: 64

  • Activate single click

    Icons -> Single click to activate items: yes

Settings: Window manager

  • Change theme for bigger titlebar buttons

    Style -> Greybird-accesibility

Settings: Panel Preferences

  • Increase row size

    Display -> Row size: 38 pixels

  • Whisker menu: Increase icon size

    Appearance -> Item icon size: Small
    Appearance -> Category icon size: Smaller

  • Add workspace switcher to the panel

Settings: Workspaces

  • Use multiple workspaces

    Number of workspaces: 4

Settings: Session and Startup

  • Activate Onboard to launch on-screen keyboard on start. If you are not using Xubuntu, you might have to install it first.

  • Deactivate Blueman applet if not needed to save some memory.

Settings: Lock Screen

  • Disable the lock screen

    Lock Screen -> Lock Screen with Screensaver: no
    Lock Screen -> Lock Screen with System Sleep: no

  • Alternative: Configure on-screen keyboard

    Lock Screen -> On Screen Keyboard: yes
    Lock Screen -> On Screen keyboard command: onboard


  • Activate single click

    Edit -> Preferences -> Behavior -> Navigation -> Single click to activate items: yes

  • Remove some unused packages:

    apt purge libreoffice-core libreoffice-common simple-scan xfburn
  • Replace Firefox web browser with Midori

    apt purge firefox
    apt install midori

Don’t forget to set Midori as preferred web browser application.