Kali Linux Xfce FAQ

Table of Contents

The new Kali Linux Desktop is incredibly fast and absolutely gorgeous. Here are some tips and tricks to help you find your way around it quickly.



Switch Desktop Environments

Q: I absolutely love the new theme and I desperately want it, but without having to re-install my system. How can I migrate my existing Kali Linux installation?

A: Run sudo apt update && sudo apt install -y kali-desktop-xfce in a terminal session to install the new Kali Linux Xfce environment. When asked to select the “Default display manager”, choose lightdm.

Next, run update-alternatives --config x-session-manager and select Xfce’s option. If you would also like to remove the Gnome window manager, which we do not recommend until you are sure you are ready to, run apt purge --autoremove kali-desktop-gnome. Be sure to run this after setting up Xfce.

Next time you login after a reboot you will have the Xfce theme, if you did not run the update-alternatives command you can choose “Xfce” in the session selector in the top right hand corner of the login screen.


Q: I installed Xfce, but it doesn’t look like the preview. How can I get it to look the same?

A: If you are having issues, it may be that a config file is not set properly. First, backup .cache, .config, and .local. Next, running rm -r .cache .config .local and then rebooting will likely fix those issues.


Q: How can I get a Kali Linux image with GNOME instead of Xfce?

A: Just download the Kali GNOME image from kali.org/downloads/


Q: I tried Xfce and I really like it but I still would like to switch back to GNOME. How can I do that?

A: You can run sudo apt update && sudo apt install -y kali-desktop-gnome in a terminal session. Next time you login you can choose “GNOME” in the session selector in the top right hand corner of the login screen.



Q: I have a HiDPI screen and everything looks tiny. Is there a way to improve that?

A: Please see our HiDPI page


Screen Captures

Q: How can I take screenshots?

A: Press the Print Screen key on your keyboard will launch screenshooter. Pressing enter will take the screenshot. Alternatively you can click on the “Screen-Recorder” icon in the quick-launch panel (the far right icon in the panel next to the application menu) and choose “Screenshot”.


Q: How can I record videos of my screen activity?

A: Pressing Ctrl & Print Screen on your keyboard will launch the screen recorder. Pressing Enter will start recording. Alternatively you can click on the “Screen-Recorder” icon in the quick-launch panel (the far right icon in the panel next to the application menu).



Q: How can I switch to a lighter, brighter theme?

A: Kali Linux provides two default themes: dark and light. To switch to the light theme, go to “Settings -> Appearance” and:

    - In the “Style” tab, select “Kali-Light”     - In the “Icons” tab, select “Flat-Remix-Blue-Light”

go to “Settings -> Window Manager” and:

     - In the “Style” tab, select “Kali-Light

To switch from “Light” to “Dark”, just select the Dark themes in these settings.


Q: I love the buttons on the right hand side, but I’d love them even more on the the left. How can I switch?

A: You can move the buttons from one side to the other in “Settings -> Window Manager-> Style -> Button Layout”. Just drag and drop them to the other side of the word “Title”.


No Terminal Showing Up

Q: When I try to launch the terminal, the window shows up, but the contents are empty, what gives?

A: There may be an issue with your graphics and the xfwm4 compositor in use. To disable the compositor, go to “Settings -> Window Manager Tweaks” from the main menu on the desktop and:

     - In the “Compositor” tab, uncheck Enable display compositing

If you want a compositor still, and the xfwm4 compositor isn’t working for you, you can use an alternative like “compton”.

     - sudo apt install -y compton

Then to have it auto run at login, go to “Settings -> Session and Startup” and:

      - In the “Application Autostart” tab, click “Add” and enter “Compton” for the name, and “compton” for the Command, then click “OK”, log out, and back in.

Alternatively, if this issue is occurring in a VM disable 3D acceleration in the VM settings.


Language Settings

Q: How can I change the GUI language?

A: In the LightDM login screen, select the desired language using the language selector on the right hand side of the top panel.


Q: How can I change my keyboard layout?

A: The keyboard layout can be changed in “Settings -> Keyboard -> Layout


Q: How can I setup a different input method not available through “Settings -> Keyboard -> Layout”, e.g. Japanese (Anthy)?

A: You can install ibus to configure different input methods, for Anthy you also have to install ibus-anthy, i.e. via

sudo apt install -y ibus ibus-anthy

You can now add and configure various input methods through “Settings -> iBus Preferences”. Once configured, you can use the newly added “iBus” icon on the right hand side of the panel to select the preferred input method. For a list of available input method engines, refer to:




Q: How can I get in touch to discuss some questions I have?

A: Please join us in the Kali Forums. It is the home of a vibrant community and the best place to discuss everything around Kali Linux.


Q: I have found a bug. Who should I talk to?

A: Awesome. Not the fact that there is bug but that you found it. Please open a bug report in the Kali Linux Bug Tracker. We really appreciate your help in making Kali Linux better.

Updated on: 2023-Jun-30
Author: re4son