Howto: Load Xfce menu with IceWM

July 24, 2006 at 9:15 am | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 8 Comments

Do you miss the Xfce menu when you’re using IceWM? Here’s how to get it back:

1) Edit the file .icewm/toolbar. Open up a terminal (Xfce menu > System > Terminal) and type:

mousepad .icewm/toolbar

Paste in the following, at the very top:

prog "Start" "/usr/share/icons/Human/24x24/places/distributor-logo.png" xfdesktop -menu

Save, and exit.

2) Now we need to edit your X session file, and make sure that xfdesktop gets loaded when you log in. To do this, type the following:

mousepad .xinitrc

And paste this in the file:

xfdesktop &

* Note: if the file is empty, paste this in, instead:


xfdesktop &

Save, and exit.

3) Remove IceWM’s default start menu by editing its preferences file. To do this, type the following:

mousepad .icewm/preferences

Search for (or, if the file is empty, paste in):


and change it to


Save, and exit.

4) Log out and back in. Now when you log in, you should have Xfce’s menu when you click the start button, and when you right click the desktop. You’ll have your old keyboard shortcuts and whatnot too. Enjoy!



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  1. What are the benefits of using IceWM as against it? I mean, isn’t XFCE supposed to be light and fast by itself?

    In other words are you suggesting that IceWM is faster than xfwm4 ? Are we shutting down xfwm4 and replacing it with IceWM?

  2. Well, I’m using IceWM right now, so I decided to write a guide on it.

    I’m not replacing anything with anything. I switch from IceWM to Xfce all the time.

  3. Ah ok . Thanks for that .. I was curious to know which is “better” .. the default XFCE window manager (xfwm4) or the IceWM window manager. I will give your instructions here a try as well

  4. IceWM is less user-friendly, but you can customize a lot of it. I suppose it’s the window manager for geeks.

    But yeah, IceWM is pretty fast, mainly because nothing’s really changed in it for 6 years. It’s what I used before the days of Xubuntu.

  5. I use ubuntu dapper with gnome and xfce desktop. I installed IceWM and tried to follow your instruction for installing xfce menu with IceWM. But when I go to the second step after doing mousepad .icewm/toolbar and do :
    Paste in the following, at the very top:

    prog “Start” “/usr/share/icons/Human/24×24/places/distributor-logo.png” xfdesktop -menu
    I get a message saying ‘Can’t open file to write’
    I don’t know what is the issue. Please help.

  6. Oops…the file doesn’t exist. Try touch .icewm/toolbar .

  7. can i use xfce right click main menu in metacity?

  8. To answer Hari Sundararajan. The reason to change XFCE to icewm is AFAIK that since icewm is designed to mimic windoze and Xfce not, everyone wants to change to IceWM. and to answer cyxob. You can use the Xfce right click main menu in gnome by going to the gconf-editor and telling nautilus to not load the desktop (uncheck the option />apps>nautilus>preferences>show_desktop) and load xfdesktop4.

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