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XFCE4 Screen Flicker Switching Desktops [SOLVED]

By , 5 March 2016

XFCE4 Screen Flicker Switching Desktops [SOLVED]
XFCE4 Screen Flicker Switching Desktops [SOLVED]

I just finished install Debian 8.3 on my new laptop. I'm using the XFCE4 desktop environment because I don't want any of that fancy 3D crap that is all the rage nowadays. All I need is a dozen workspaces, and shortcut keys to switch between them.

XFCE4 does the job perfectly. It's light and fast, and doesn't get in your way. One problem I found with the new installation, is a screen flicker when switching between desktops. Many users wouldn't notice it, but because nearly all my applications run in a black text terminal, that flash of white as the screen redraws is really disturbing.

The problem is reported on the GTK mailing list with no solution. I did figure out a workaround though. The flicker is caused by the window manager redrawing the window background. To do this, it uses the theme colours. All you need to do is select a black theme, and the redraw becomes barely noticable.

XFCE4 comes with one dark theme, called 'xfce4-dusk' (select it in Applications > Settings > Appearance). It doesn't have a black window background, but it is close. I edited the theme to make it a pure black background, which reduces the problem as much as possible. Also, the dark theme is easier on the eyes when using Gnome-GTK applications.

To change the background colour, edit /usr/share/themes/Xfce-dusk/gtk-2.0/gtkrc as root, and look for the following block:

    bg[ACTIVE]        = "#151515"
    bg[INSENSITIVE]   = "#303030"
    #bg[NORMAL]        = "#232323"
    bg[NORMAL]        = "#000000"
    bg[PRELIGHT]      = "#003263"
    bg[SELECTED]      = "#002849"

You can see the change I made above.

This trick really makes a difference on my eyes. I spend about 9 hours a day looking at this screen. The last thing I need is things flashing at me.

I hope this helps you solve whatever problem bought you here.

XFCE4 Screen Flicker Switching Desktops [SOLVED]

About Roger Keays

XFCE4 Screen Flicker Switching Desktops [SOLVED]

Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. Since he left Australia in 2009, he has been living as a digital nomad in over 40 different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, and finding good food. Click here to subscribe to his weekly blog, or stalk him on Facebook and Twitter.

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