sskras / swan-desktop

Xfce4 desktop for Windows

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Swan is a Linux-like graphical desktop for 64 bit Microsoft Windows based on Cygwin

Key Features

  • X Window system
    • Window's window-manager, taskbar and alt-tab integration
    • Shared clipboard
    • Access to Windows fonts in X
  • Xfce 4.12 desktop
    • Arc GTK theme and Paper icon theme as defaults
    • Uses Window's default browser as Xfce's default browser
    • pulseaudio support available with swan-desktop-audio package
  • Thunar file-manager
    • "Open here" for terminal, cmd.exe and Windows explorer
    • "Open with Windows" to use Windows file-type associations in Xfce
    • Symlinks created in Cygwin are navigable from Windows
  • Xfce terminal
    • Bash shell with sensible defaults and colors
    • Git shell prompt
    • UTF-8 support
  • Git
    • Preinstalled with default configuration
    • Http authentication credentials are stored in Windows Credential manager
      • gnome-keyring support available with git-credential-gnome-keyring package
    • Seahorse GUI to manage and unlock SSH keys
    • command-line tab-completion
  • Engrampa archive manager handles zip, tar, gz, bz2, xz, and more
  • Common utilities
    • Busybox provides lightweight versions of many standard utilities
    • openssh, wget, nano, git, gcc, python, perl (and more) come pre-installed
  • spm utility wraps cygwin setup.exe for quick package installation and removal
  • Install packages from the official Cygwin and Cygwinports mirrors


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  • Download the Swan Setup executable (here is the source code).
  • Running that will download the cygwin setup executable and install the swan-desktop package in unattended mode.
  • If Windows "Smart Screen" prevents execution you can click "more info" and "run anyway" to continue.
  • Then, find the Desktop shortcut named "Swan Xfce4 Desktop". Use that to start Xfce.
  • Should you find a bug, or have a suggestion, log it at the GitHub Issues page.

Package Management

The swan-base package includes the spm command, which is a wrapper for the Cygwin setup.exe installer. The spm command aims to make package managment easier, while maintaining compatibility with the Cygwin project.

Here are some example usages:

spm -u Updates all installed packages. WARNING: may kill running processes to update binaries.
spm -S Searches available package names/descriptions. Accepts regex.
spm -m Lists dependencies of package(s) that are not installed (yet).
spm -i Installs packages. Multiple packages are separated by spaces.
spm -t Lists top-level packages that are not needed by any other package.
spm -s Searches installed package names. Accepts regex.
spm -r Removes packages, but not the dependencies.
spm -R Removes packages, and dependencies. Leaves dependencies needed by other packages.

There are more options available, use spm -h to get a full listing.

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Xfce4 desktop for Windows

License:GNU Lesser General Public License v3.0


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