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Xfce 4.14 (xfce.org)
380 points by severine on Aug 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 128 comments

I stopped using GTK applications a while ago, so I don't use XFCE anymore, but I still love it, just... from a distance. It's an increasingly uncommon breed of software, which gets better with every release. No pointless shuffling of user interface features in the name of UX "innovation", no rationalizing bugs so that they look like deliberate design choices, just steady improvement. All this by an independent team with basically zero funding.

IMHO, XFCE is one of the few relatively well-known projects that still embodies the spirit of free software as we once knew it. Kudos to the quiet and tenacious people behind it, who still manage to come up with one quality release after another, so many years down the road.

If you want to support (at least some of) their work, Sean Davis has a Patreon account: https://www.patreon.com/bluesabre . Sean is one of XFCE's core developers and the Xubuntu tech lead. I don't know if there's a more official XFCE donation sink (this one is the only one I know of), but hey, it would be a great start!

Xubuntu has been a daily driver for me for a decade. The donation link is good to know about, thank you!

Also, may be good to check out their list of “officially endorsed” products, which seems to help the project too. Not sure how this stacks up compared to a direct donation of course.


Very cool, thank you for sharing.

I had sat on Ubuntu for a while, decided I should learn more linux by installing debian, and failing that, I opted for Xubuntu. I was never a fan of Ubuntu's UI/UX, and wanted something snappier, less rounded, and preferably shipping without so much bloatware, and this seemed to tick most of my boxes.

Do you mind sharing any particular things you like/dislike about Xubuntu?

IMO Xubuntu is a no-frills, simple and reliable Linux distro that is good for daily use on middle-aged and newer machines, but also good for giving older hardware a chance to feel snappy and responsive even as it ages. Device drivers are available and “just work”. I don’t need a fancy UI and window animations. The low overhead and relative simpleness of the OS are it’s best features.

I don’t have a lot of fuss that wouldn’t also be had with many other Linux distros. The occasional manual fix and stack overflow search for some minor issue, the aging repositories that may or may not be maintained anymore, etc.

> and preferably shipping without so much bloatware

I'd definitely be interested in something like this. But does the Xubuntu version limit more than just the typical Gnome desktop environment and associated apps - i.e. is it less bulky with all the services and command line apps that a typical Ubuntu install includes?

I think what the other user responded with is accurate. AFAIK, most popular distros I've looked over seemed to have a 'minimal' option which may even come without a desktop environment so you can simply choose the one you want.

From what I remember, I couldn't find any real differences between Xubuntu and Ubuntu beyond using Xfce and a few variations in bundled apps. It certainly ships with a few less apps than the fully feature packed Ubuntu image, but they do still use "infrastructure provided by Canonical" and I'm not sure what all that entails.

If minimal is what you want, you can install minimalist ubuntu and then only fetch xfce with `sudo apt-get install xfce4`.

> No pointless shuffling of user interface features in the name of UX "innovation"

The stock Ubuntu has a very nasty habit of doing this. And it's trying very hard to make all the mistakes already made elsewhere including commercials for businesses baked into the core operating system and other nonsense.

Ubuntu has stopped including the sponsored OS nonsense as of at least Ubuntu 18.04 and maybe much sooner. Now its just Gnome desktop with some tweaks. I prefer Ubuntu Budgie the most currently.

I just installed 18.04 on a new machine and ended up being greeted by an Amazon shopping icon that restores itself for every new account made.

They still have the icon but they do not send your dash searches to Amazon anymore.

The icon constitutes an ad.

I personally don't see anything particular in this philosophy - the MATE project (arbitrary sample) has the same attitude. I guess it all comes down to old-school DEs just sticking to the old metaphor.

Thx for the Patreon link :)

> I stopped using GTK applications a while ago

So you're only using something like ‎i3, ‎XMonad or ‎dwm?

Ah, no, I'm using lxqt at the moment. It's not perfect but it's okay, and I trust its developers' common sense. Every once in a while I fire up Plasma 5, too, but I'm not convinced. In the last year or so it seems to have gone down the mobile-inspired UI rabbit hole and it's getting increasingly awkward to use.

Other than that, I use the same kind of applications you'd expect any desktop user to use, from file managers to text editors and from office suites to web browsers. Only most of them are Qt-based :). The only GTK applications I still use are Firefox (GTK-ish) and Emacs, which can still be compiled against GTK2 which is a good enough compromise for me.

It's nothing personal, I don't want to get into a big rant about how Linux used to be about choice and about how Gnome is a Red Hat conspiracy, or whatever flag is being waved in 4chan & friends. I just don't like GTK3's UX choices. Oversized widgets, awkward scrollbars and hamburger menus aren't pleasant to use on a 30" monitor. A few years ago I tried to get around that with a custom theme, but theming is... kind of frowned upon in GTK land, so it didn't end well.

But, you know, their code -- their choice. I don't like the choices but I think it's a big step forward from the '90s and a big test of maturity for the open source community. Making (what I believe to be) our own mistakes is way better than cargo culting Microsoft and Apple, which is what we've done up until 5-6 years ago.

Edit: also, why are you folks downvoting the parent comment? It's a productive question, even if it looks uninformed (i.e. I'm guessing the downvotes are because it's conflating "GTK applications" with "desktop applications", which looks silly but have you had a look at Ubuntu lately?). If you think that's a stupid question, fine, but are you really that sure you've never asked a stupid question in your life?

>Every once in a while I fire up Plasma 5, too, but I'm not convinced. In the last year or so it seems to have gone down the mobile-inspired UI rabbit hole and it's getting increasingly awkward to use.

Can you cite an example of this? I use Plasma 5 and I genuinely don't know what you're referring to - in fact I really enjoy the way the keyboard is a first-class citizen, with sensible single-key hotkeys for all common actions. I'm more productive in Plasma than in any other DE - it's full of wonderful little power features that make life pleasant, without sacrificing ease of use if you haven't gotten around to learning them yet.

I know there's some effort at mobile convergence behind the scenes, but I can't percieve any negative impact to me day to day at all.

> Can you cite an example of this?

Sure, several :). For example:

- The tree layout of Settings Manager is no longer around (it can still be enabled at compile time, though, and I think e.g. SuSE still does it). The default one is the strange hierarchy/screen-based which is pretty obviously meant for touch interfaces.

- The same layout is used by Discover and it's very obviously a mobile design. Actually, anything Kirigami-based is like that :).

- The new Virtual Desktops settings page in System Settings is very obviously reworked from the same perspective. Instead of two spinboxes (number of rows, number of desktops), you now have to click "Add" to add a new desktop, then manually edit its name (by default, they're all called "New desktop").

- The default Alt-Tab switcher, which is remarkably awkward to use from the keyboard (switches applications and brings windows to the front at every step, somewhat like Fluxbox' alt-tab if anyone remembers that) is actually very smooth to use on a touch device. You can sort of see that on a desktop, too, if you try to use your mouse the way you'd use your finger on a touchscreen. You can hold-to-scroll through the left-hand side view and switch to a given window by clicking its thumbnail.

(Edit: plus the usual suspects: oversized widgets and titlebars, large icons with humongous space between them etc.)

The good thing is that Plasma is super configurable. I don't mind changing default settings that I don't like. In fact, I'm all for fashionable defaults, I completely understand the dynamics involve there.

But I also don't trust that I'm going to be able to change these default settings 12-18 months from now -- not to settings that are appropriate for a desktop machine with a large monitor, in any case. And KDE is a big beast. It's hard to migrate settings even between two computers running the same KDE version. If you go all in, it's hard to turn back. I've already done that once with KDE 3.2 and it took me months to sort it out when 4.x hit the market. I'm not sure I want to do it again.

Edit: FWIW, I do try to keep an eye on it because it's actually the only Qt-based desktop environment that's unlikely to get abandoned soon :). Plus, while Plasma 5 feels a bit bumpy to me, it's definitely better than KDE 4, and that's a big deal. Last night, in fact, I tried my hand at hacking on Breeze a little, to make it slightly more compact. It's definitely better than other flat themes but boy is it awkward to use with those huge widgets. If I can get it to look okay, I'll try to see if there's a way I can get this into upstream, too (maybe make some things configurable?), or just package it separately as a compact theme for me and anyone who's interested.

Historically, the KDE community has been super friendly and willing to help newcomers. I'm not sure if it's the same now that there's a visual design group and whatnot, but I'd definitely rather write code than whine about software I get for free :).

Settings Manager: on my machine I can configure it to have the tree view in its hamburger "settings" button, at runtime; no recompile required. Experimenting with it however I personally prefer the default "sidebar" style, as I can see more sections at once - the hierarchies don't pay for their overhead in my opinion.

Similarly, I don't think you can chalk the change in Virtual Desktop interface up to optimizing for mobile at the expense of desktop. You still have a spinner for "rows", so it's not like it's an effort to get rid of spinners. I think it's more likely to do with trying to help users organize and categorize their activities, which is an angle they've been pecking at in various forms for a while. It's not any harder to click "Add" than the up-arrow on a spinner, and it's not any harder to click "-" to delete a desktop than a down-arrow on a spinner; the difference is that now desktops have identity instead of being fungible units, and these labels show up if you hover over the taskbar desktop switcher (a decidedly non-mobile feature, as you can't hover on a touchscreen). You can also jump straight to them with KRunner, which I imagine is great if you have a lot of them. Maybe it's a silly feature, but it doesn't really hurt to let them try - it's not like you're adding desktops all day.

Alt-tab - again, it's trivially configurable with a checkbox "show selected window". I don't think one default is obviously better than another in this case, although now you've pointed it out I think I'll try it unticked for a while. Arguably, changing windows "immediately" is more intuitive for new users. At any rate I don't see the relationship with touch. Yes, I can click on the window thumbnail - a lovely feature! Better than endless cycling when there's many windows open. Incidentally, I found the correct settings page for this by typing "alt-tab" into KRunner - incredible!

Anyway - I don't think making a touch-friendly interface is bad, as long as it's not at the expense of a no-touch interface. I've never felt like the inability to touch my screen has limited my expressive power in Plasma. After all, things which are easy to touch are also easy to click on! There's no real need to make interfaces tiny and fiddly. As for defaults, I wouldn't worry too much about these settings going away. This isn't Gnome - KDE's entire design philosophy is based around configurability.

Yeah, I don't know if I gave the right impression with that last post. I don't think Plasma 5's non-touch experience has been going down disastrously lately. There's nothing that screams "made for mobile" that you can't change (even Breeze's huge widgets, I mean, there's always other themes). And if touch devices are fashionable and is what gets people interested in KDE and gets contributors on board, I'm by all means happy if that gets to be the default :).

But I'm not convinced the "not at the expense of a no-touch interface" part is going to stay true for long.


> Settings Manager: on my machine I can configure it to have the tree view in its hamburger "settings" button, at runtime; no recompile required.

Some distros still enable that feature but it's a distro-specific thing. I don't know if it's maintained anymore.

> Similarly, I don't think you can chalk the change in Virtual Desktop interface up to optimizing for mobile at the expense of desktop. You still have a spinner for "rows", so it's not like it's an effort to get rid of spinners.

No, but it's kind of awkward to use :). Clicking "Add" four times gives you four desktops with the same name, for example. It's definitely not an easier interaction model than the spinner-based one.

...but this sort of discussion (is it better to have an extra spinner, or an extra button and manually edit each desktop's name? Which one is more intuitive? Which one is more discoverable? Which one is etc. etc.) is kind of a bikeshedding dead end to me. As long as it receives bugfixes, as opposed to rewrites, for the foreseeable future, I couldn't be happier.

The bit about bugfixes vs. rewrites isn't just whining, it's kind of a pain point for small-time contributors -- which, realistically speaking, is how 90% of independent developers get into a project, we're all small-time contributors first (unless you're hired by a big company to work right on something full-time, which is increasingly common in the FOSS world, but not specifically for desktops). It's pretty hard to motivate yourself to contribute a fix when you know it's gonna be useless one or two years from now. Feeling like you're participating in the steady improvement of a thing is pretty nice. Feeling like you're participating in the perpetual churn of an eternal beta isn't much fun.

Hi, I'm still on lxde, and I wonder how lxqt compares at this point in time. But if you try to search the net you only ever get comparisons to xfce, mate, or whatever.

Would you be so kind to give me your take on lxde vs lxqt?

I haven't used lxde so I can't tell you much about it. What I can tell you is that it has a "start" menu, a taskbar, a desktop switcher, icons on the desktop and Openbox :). It doesn't do anything that you haven't seen before, but pretty much everything it does, it does reliably.

It's... I dunno, it's like FVWM95, only from this century. I used Openbox + a bunch of tools cobbled together before. It doesn't do anything my old setup didn't do, but it sure is more comfortable. No scripts, no custom setups... all that was fun twenty years ago but I'm not a teenage l33t h4x0r anymore, I got work to do nowadays...

I'm not sure why people conflate it with Lubuntu, you can use it on any distribution, and the fact that it's very easy to package means there are few packaging-related problems with it. It's also pretty easy to compile from source if you need that, for whatever reason.

> it's like FVWM95, only from this century.

I wonder how you'd feel about Trinity Desktop Environment? I feel like Trinity and Lxqt are in the same space when it comes to system requirements.

They're a world of difference apart! TDE uses its own fork of Qt 3. Qt 3 is huge, and while Timothy Pearson, who maintains it, is an extraordinarily capable programmer, I doubt he and his team can maintain it and TDE that well. LXQT, on the other hand, can be compiled against the latest Qt 5 libraries. Besides, TDE isn't "just" the desktop, there's a whole application suite in there, too. I doubt that you'll get proper, 2019-level support for TLS, for example, in those applications. Bugfixes are occasionally committed but whether or not they're enough is anyone's guess.

Plus, you get all the usual problems, like inconsistent theming (Qt 3 engines, unsurprisingly, don't work with Qt 5; Plastik, CDE, Motif and Windows are in both Qt 3 and Qt 5 but you need to manually add color palettes etc.)

Frankly, even though TDE pushes all the right nostalgia buttons and even though I instantly feel better about anything with Pearson's name on it, I don't think I want it on my systems :). I tried it and it's fun but a bit difficult to use in 2019.

They're in the same space in terms of requirements but a very different space in terms of bugfixes, compatibility and perhaps security.

I have used both.

I was very sure they have messed up a perfect thing that was lxde, but 5 minutes of using lxqt and configuring it, I had all the good bits of lxde with a lot of awesome new bits.

I was sold on it until it (18.10) booted to a black screen reboot loop and basic debugging didn't resolve the issue. I didn't have time to nail the cause but it could have very well been me tweaking config.

I am back on 18.04LTS but will be upgrading happily to lxqt at 18.04's EOL.

> I didn't have time to nail the cause but it could have very well been me tweaking config.

I've had a couple failed Ubuntu upgrades recently, with similar behavior ("oops, you can't boot anymore, sorry!"). And I only use it on one fairly boring machine doing fairly boring things with it—I don't tweak anything.

EvilWM is a nice non-gtk window manager (though I don’t actively avoid GTK, it has been my daily driver on and off for years).

KDE native apps are built on qt too

This was what I was wondering to. I'm still learning about the ins and outs of Linux.


Wasn't GNOME 2 mostly funded by the likes of Red Hat and Sun (for the Java Desktop System)?

Yes, and that was the moment when things start to go wrong


I've been using XFCE for years now and it's just absolutely my favorite no thrills DE.

I used to use Enlightenment e16.

Then some months ago e16 was superseded by e17 (with the various versions 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22) => e17 is very nice but I never ever managed to run a bug-free version of it (they could rename the software to "Bug").

Desperate for an alternative, I tested other window managers and XFCE was the only one that provided some features that were similar to e16 and that I wanted to keep using => using since then XFCE on all my PCs and notebooks with no problems (and I'm since today a patron of Sean Davis, yo).

Really looking forward to the vsync of XFCE 4.14 :)

"Alternatives" is one of the main reasons of why I love Linux - everybody can choose in a huge number of areas the type of software that fits him/her best.

I used to really like XFCE and it was my daily driver on my laptop for 6years because it was no compromises on performance type of GUI. Also worked amazing in VMs if you needed to test something and WSL on windows didn't exist.

But then they started working on GTK v3 and things started to fall apart (my experience is only from xubuntu but i think it doesn't matter). Thunar got really buggy, often crashed in random locations and it was painful to use. This one at least got fixed.

Then mousepad. It used to be really fast editor but after i switched from old xubuntu to 18.04 it feels extremly sluggish when opening lager document with syntax highlight. E.g. download html of youtube and open it in mousepad, it's unusuable.

And then the clipboard issues and large image (screenshot) killed it for me and I had to switch to KDE. It takes ~0.5-1s more to load apps like dolphin compared to thunar but at least once you load them they just work. I still hope I'll be able to come back, the zero animation GUI is appealing to me.

Thunar was crashing long before the gtk3 port, hopefully it's much more stable now. The clipboard failing on large chunks of data has been fixed too.

The file managers for Gnome and KDE are both really crashy for me, too. I don't know which graphical file manager to use in Linux without going back to MC or something.

Linux is the only desktop OS I use where application crashes and major glitches (some subsystem of KDE crashing, for example) are still like a once every hour or two occurrence, even when not doing anything especially odd or taxing.

> The clipboard failing on large chunks of data has been fixed too.

That's awesome, I'll try again with new xubuntu, hopefully there won't be such nasty bug, or do you recommend another distro?

Besides Xubuntu, Manjaro (or plain Arch) and openSUSE Tumbleweed support Xfce very well.

Really curious, this is the first release with GTK3. Is it not? XFCE 4.12 was still with GTk2 (unless you were using XFCE 4.13 which is a development version). I could be wrong. But AFAIK, this is the first XFCE release with GTK3.

Was xubuntu using dev version of XFCE which is 4.13?

I haven't dig into it that much but I can quote from their blog posts

> Many Xfce 4.13 components have been added or updated, providing an updated snapshot of Xfce 4.14 development.

[0] https://xubuntu.org/news/xubuntu-19-04-released/

[1] https://xubuntu.org/news/xubuntu-18-10-released/


thunar got buggy/crashy long before the switch to gtk3

I remember it was around the time the work started on porting to gtk3, maybe it wasn't tied directly into it but I remember it was xubuntu 16.04 that released really buggy thunar version that shouldn't have been released to LTS. I'd say that was a major oversight that xubuntu team had made. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/XenialXerus/FinalRelease/Xubuntu

Love Xfce, it's the only sane-minded desktop environment.

I hope it will keep being awesome as it currently is!

Hi, I also like xfce, and I've used it for a few years in the late noughties. But then I tried lxde, and I've stuck with that ever since. While I agree things like KDE and Gnome3 are atrocities, what makes you think so of lxde?

Not the original poster, but the trouble I had with lxde was that it never felt consistent. It felt more like openbox where you made a desktop out of dozens of indepedent projects that each did things their own way.

Xfce, by comparison, feels like each program is part of a package. That is not to say it's perfect: I still have to pull in Mate applications for things like a task manager, archive manager, and calculator. I also had to write my own replacements for things like a text editor that doesn't open every new document in a new window. But I get a whole lot of mileage out of Xfce's file browser, desktop, panel, terminal, settings panel, etc.

I'm a bit nervous about the Xfce move to GTK3, and I hope I won't end up with any client-side decorated windows, or the GTK3-style file picker.

I haven’t used LXDE/LxQt in several years but this has been my experience as well. XFCE feels like an intentional, designed singular “piece” where LxQt feels stitched together.

Also not OP but the window management in lxde felt a lot like windows xp. You couldn't even snap applications to one side.

Brrrr... I actually hate automatic snapping of windows when the window border gets to close to the screen border. When I want that on LXDE, I use the keyboard shortcut.

My issue with using "lightweight" DEs in linux is they're so badly polished. VSync is way off. There are minor glitches all around the place. I used to use AwesomeWM which was by far the best DE experience I had in my life. Currently I use OSX and even though OSX looks more aesthetic I can never achieve the simplicity and efficiency of AwesomeWM. Even then, when I occasionally go back to lightweight DEs and say watch a movie, I immediately realize the VSync issue. Gnome and KDE does NOT have these minor issue but they're also not nearly as efficient as awesome, XMonad, ratpoison, xfce, lxde etc.

The release notes for this version of XFCE mention improved vsync support. (Though the amd opensource drivers have an option that just “fixes” vsync across the board for me, and I only use lightweight WMs that don’t do anything special to support vsync).

For what its worth, XFCE 4.14 still has tearing for me on a Skylake Intel iGPU.

  cat > /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf <<'_EOF'
  Section "Device"
  Identifier "Intel Graphics"
  Driver "intel"
  Option "AccelMethod" "sna"
  Option "TearFree" "true"
this is what I had to do when I was using xubuntu to fix that

Since these things don't come installed by default in big distros, I can't help but think they need to introduce some big trade-offs. I don't know if doing this without understanding this trade-off is a good idea. (not saying it's not, but I don't know)

There are but the thing is - vsync is a trade-off in itself. That's why there're variable refreshrate monitors with freesync and gsync, so obviously the better solution is to use them. But intel needs to support those first. Until then... you just need to deal with either of those trade-offs[0].

[0] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/intel_graphics#Tearing

Most lightweight X DEs or window managers like awesome in Linux don’t make any attempt to implement vsync, it’s up to you to use another standalone compositor to enable it, usually compton. If it’s not working even then it’s probably a problem with the graphics driver not the DE, and a heavyweight DE likely wouldn’t fare any better. Personally I have never been able to make nVidia cards vsync reliably and my Intel laptop is also never quite right. Only AMD with their newer driver has been perfect for me.

For me, AMD with no compositor is fine. I think it always double buffers. I have a freesync enabled (and my monitor supports it)

I’m very excited about high DPI support. I switched to xfce on all my Linux boxes because I like the simplicity but the lack of proper high dpi was a nuisance.

> [session manager] can now run commands not only "autostart style" at login time, but also when your computer suspends, logs out etc.

> larger thumbnails as well as support for a "folder.jpg" file altering the folder's icon

> "Do Not Disturb" mode

> HiDPI support

I switched to xfce about a year ago (from gnome) and have not looked back yet. It is great and I quite like the "oldschool" feel. Really recommend trying it out!

I've been using Xubuntu for about 10 years now. Over the weekend, I tried to switch my main desktop to Ubuntu. The animations instantly drove me back. I didn't even bother looking if I could turn them off because I knew, even if there is an option, I'd be fighting with them after every update for the rest of my life.

In hindsight my desktop experience peaked about 10 years ago when I started out as a dev using XFCE. The move away and subsequent desktops; Gnome, Mac, Windows have not touched that golden age of window management.

Can't you just use Xfce again? You could still be riding that peak...

You're absolutely right. Have a company MBP for the time being but after this I will absolutely be looking at Xfce again.

For me the peak was when KDE 3 and Gnome 2 were around: probably just about when Ubuntu arrived on the scene.

It is my current WM, uses C, but at least isn't as slow as GNOME with JavaScript everywhere.

Thanks to Canonical's decision, I ended up migrating to XFCE, I was actually quite happy with Unity before.

> Most components also received GObject Introspection support.

In case anyone doesn't know what this is. GI is a system for accompanying system components (i.e. shared libraries) with XML meta-data (in separate files) that describes their API's: types, functions, arguments, and argument semantics (in/out pointers: who owns/allocates/frees, and whatnot).

Here is the significance: if the GI info for a component is correct, and if you can parse it in your language, from that info you can generate accurate FFI bindings, without manual work.

The accurate, detailed semantic information cannot be gleaned even if you parse the C headers. Without something like GObject Introspection, you're looking at a lot of manual work.

I'd also like to mention the excellent community forum, with some of the most helpful mods and fellow users in the FOSS landscape.

Xfce is my daily driver for cloud development. I use Xubuntu running in VirtualBox on a Windows gaming laptop. (I know, I know, Oracle and all that!) Running in seamless mode works quite well. Since I code in Golang, I don't need the fastest machine around for fast compiles. Also, since I run ubuntu VMs on AWS, I have nearly zero mismatches between my development environment and deployment. I can even run my full IDE/debugger (I use Goland) in a deployed environment for debugging.

Which brings me to a segue: This seems like a good place to ask what's the lightest weight developer-cromulent environment possible that would support a GUI? When I bring up an IntelliJ IDE on a VM, I see that I'm using just short of 6.5 GB of disk. Most of that seems to be the OS, which at the moment is Xubuntu. What's lighter weight, but not outdated and annoying? (When I incorporate Docker, 6.5GB is going to be a bit heavyweight.)

Back in the Smalltalk days, the Visual Smalltalk image with some libraries loaded could basically do the same thing as VNC, but with no OS dependencies and with a much smaller footprint. People were already debugging server deployments with a full IDE back in the early 2000's.

It advertises itself as midweight, so of course you can find lighter distros/DEs out there, but the snappiest desktop Linux I've used recently is MX Linux, with comes with a very polished Xfce... Try it, it has a lot of pro-user features!

Link: https://mxlinux.org/current-release-features/

Great news! XFCE still is my favorite desktop environment on normal PCs for being the right balance between features and snappiness, although I tend to use rox-filer rather than Thunar for operations on most used directories for it being faster than Thunar (although Thunar did improve a lot). To do so I keep those 4 or 5 icons on the panel each of which calls rox-filer and one of the paths as the argument (example: "rox-filer Documents" as command with "~/Documents" as working directory). This makes it much faster especially with crowded dirs.

By far one of the best windows managers out there!

Looking forward to using the new version once it hits Xubuntu.

I've been testing it since 4.13-pre1 and it's a solid (if slightly overdue) release.

this is the one project where point releases actually mean something

Nice! Congrats to the team and I look forward to trying it out later on.

XFCE has been my DE of choice since the Gnome 3 thing, and I love how it still gives me the (relatively modest) options to arrange things as I like, without attempting to re-educate me on how I should use my computer.

I first tried XFCE when I was looking for somethign lightweight to run on an eeePc 901 (the first consumer atom machine, IIRC).

Keep up the good work :)

I'm quite excited with this news. If this release is nice enough, i think i will migrate to xfce4 from kde plasma.

Hell yes. Fastest desktop in the land.

To be honest, on my low-end laptop, Xfce doesn't seem any faster than Unity. I think Xfce lacks animations, which makes it feel 'snappier'. Gnome (even the Ubuntu Gnome variant) is unusable though, so sluggish.

I bet twm or fvwm would be even faster. :)

Short sad personal story.

I once entered in a class and heard the familiar Windows 95 startup sound. Thinking it was a VM, I went and checked: a group of students were customizing their Linux distribution to look like Win95.

I asked them if they knew fvwm95, the window manager of my youth; they didn't, and I suddenly realized that a) it's not supported anymore b) they were all born after Windows 95 was released c) I'm slowly getting old.

“What is this Xorg stuff you are talking about already? Is it like Wayland? Oh you could run windows through the network? Nice! Wait, apps had to connect to a socket to draw stuff? So weird. Wasn't it inefficient as hell to send whole full screen windows at 100 Hz using this? Oh you could bypass this to have… what you call it again? “Direct rendering”? Sounds like a horrible hack.”

I get you're joking and while it seems to be trendy to put Xorg down, the reality is that it's actually the one that works.

Wayland is still very buggy and not at all ready for mainstream use.

I really don't get that Debian took it up as the default in Buster. Xwayland sucks also, it breaks applications that run fine under X.org and very few applications have native support for Wayland. </rant>

Well, yes, I'm still using Xorg too :-) Middle click paste is not yet supported in KDE with Wayland [1], and it seems that KDE and Wayland don't like suspend / resume on my machine, and recently (after a bios update ?), adding a screen have made the system crash.

Besides, as far as I know, it is not possible to run Wayland apps on Android (yet, but it seems that it is a hard problem [2]).

[1] https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=373907

[2] http://www.jlekstrand.net/jason/projects/wayland/wayland-and...

For anyone that's interested in actually doing this, Chicago95 is the best way to make XFCE look and feel like Windows 95: https://github.com/grassmunk/Chicago95

As would xmonad, sway, i3, or whatever TUI WM.

The wm in twm and fvwm stands for window manager. A desktop environment contains a window manager, though its much more than merely that. Just like an apple is a fruit, but not every fruit is an apple. Comparing a DE with a WM is apples to oranges. You can probably look up the exact differences in Wikipedia.

One can try out Xfce on a Raspberry Pi as its the default DE on Raspbian (full default install). It is blazing fast. Since most people are accustomed to Windows 7 and Windows 10 (or Server equivalents) it works reasonably easy for them. You can't say the same for the two (or any) WMs you mention.

My default "WM" is a TUI called Tmux. I use it on every practically every computer I use.

I surely know what a DE is all about.

For example, a desktop environment also offers public APIs for the applications to plug into, which XFCE doesn't seem to offer other than D-BUS.

So you never try KDE

I use Plasma 5 everyday, and it is nowhere as fast as Xfce.

And this is telling for Xfce, because Plasma 5 is pretty fast (once started).

I'd say Plasma 5 is pretty fast. Xfce is instant.

Xfce 4 is kind of timeless. I could use Xfce 4.14 today, and then go back in time to 2005 and use Xfce 4.2 on my Pentium 2 (333 Mhz) laptop with 96 MiB of RAM and it would still feel very familiar and look quite the same. Actually, this is the opposite for me: current versions of Xfce still feel familiar to me.

No such thing can be said of KDE and Gnome. Even of Gnome 2 between the different versions.

It sounds funny, but I waited for this for years :D Great news.

EDIT: The below text is actually fake news - a rebuild of appmenu/vala against latest xfce seems to solve this.

However, if you are using valapanel/AppMenu, maybe you'd like to wait with the upgrade until a compatible version is released[1].

1. https://gitlab.com/vala-panel-project/vala-panel-appmenu/iss...

Is it normal for Xfce stable releases to take 4+ years? If I was a user waiting for HiDPI support I probably would have just given up.

I've been using Xfce on hidpi since 2015 with just font scaling (using the DPI setting in xfce4 settings/Xorg), and it has worked fine, other than the minor issue of unscaled icons in the Window Buttons panel.

Yep, but they are all high quality. Xfce has been my daily driver for over 10 years now. I've just had to wait patiently to buy HiDPI hardware - and now it's cheaper so for me win/win

wow! This was unexpected for me. Changes happen so rarely with xfce and for me it is a good thing. But I wonder with all the optimizations going with gnome will xfce be any lighter anymore? I mean the next gnome versions, even 3.32 is resource hungry sometimes.

It's exactly because of these optimizations that Gnome is running slower. They have so many things to optimize that optimizing one makes two slower -- it's a vicious cycle.

Plus the amount of stuff that gets written in Python or JavaScript.

If it is for the high level stuff, they could give Vala some love instead.

A story how early GTK3 was loosing so much to GTK2 even with first taking full advantage of fast Cairo rendering.

GTK2 own renderers were managing to outdo external ones for many reasons

Not to mention that GTK3 is so over-optimized that it skips some important calculations and sometimes ends up with certain widgets positioned incorrectly. It's a mess.

I agree. I do not remember why did I switch away from xfce to this new gnome (3.32)? I hope they get faster with their progress.

Haven't used Xfce in a few years... is there finally a native Dock/SuperBar or a proper plugin that isn't some hack that nests alternative docks inside a panel?

No, there isn't.

I guess you're alluding to DockbarX [1] and xfce4-dockbarx-plugin [2]. Those, and specific dock apps (there are quite a few) are the alternatives as of today.

[1] https://github.com/M7S/dockbarx

[2] https://github.com/TiZ-EX1/xfce4-dockbarx-plugin

Amazing news. Unfortunately, without HiDPI support, most Linux DEs other than Gnome and KDE have been unusable for years.

So is it fully migrated to Gtk3 now?

> In this 4.14 cycle the main goal was to port all core components to Gtk3 (over Gtk2)


So depending on the definition of "fully", that would be yes or no :) Some details can be found here https://wiki.xfce.org/releng/4.14/roadmap#status

Does that mean they'll start with Wayland support now?

Someone is on it:

> Xfway Aims To Provide A Wayland Compositor Inspired By Xfce's Xfwm4 [1]

> While it doesn't appear to be an official part of Xfce at least at this time, Xfway is a Wayland compositor inspired by Xfce's Xfwm4 window manager.

Xfway was pointed out on the Wayland mailing list [2] for this Xfce window manager inspired compositor.

The code appears to have started out from the Weston code-base but adding support for Sway's WLROOTS among other changes inspired from Xfwm4.

Those wanting to give this Wayland compositor a whirl can find it on GitHub [3].

[1] https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Xfway-Xf...

[2] https://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/wayland-devel/2019-Ju...

[3] https://github.com/adlocode/xfway

I like xfce as much as the next casual Linux user, but how big a deal is it really? How impactful on the world is the not-even-first-rank Linux desktop? Is its usership even in the tens of thousands?

The stats at popcon.ubuntu.com show Thunar and XFWM installations at around a quarter of a million. Of course, that only includes Ubuntu users who opted in to stats tracking, so the global count would be higher.

How does this number relate to the number of KDE and LXQT/LXDE installations?

I just hope compositor works better now...

One would hope so, as there are several mentions of the compositor in the changelog: https://www.xfce.org/download/changelogs/4.14

I was waiting for this update!

No mention of systemd or logind! :-)

I've tried using linux desktop for daily use multiple times. Xfce was usually my choice for its simplicity and snappiness.

But, there was this 1 simple thing that made me lose faith in the linux desktop:

For xfce's default folder viewer: Thunar, there was no possibility to adjust a per-folder view settings. At first I did not beleive it, but there were multiple discussion complaining about the same issue, including a 12-years old bug report(https://bugzilla.xfce.org/show_bug.cgi?id=3521 )

For a desktop manager endorsed by major distrubitions, I find this to be mind blowing and enraging.

It gave me the feeling that linux desktop is an un-finisehd, unpolished, hacky piece of software

So you used a somewhat obscure window manager, found a missing feature in the folder viewer you were using and jumped to the conclusion that Linux has a broken desktop experience?

Isn't that always what Linux people say? No matter what is broken, there are hundreds of other applications that aren't broken in that specific way, so there's nothing wrong with the Linux desktop.

If he was complaining about gnome I'd hand it to him. But he installed niche software and complained it doesn't support mainstream features.

I used the default window manager that comes with xfce.

I tried setting up other window managers in xfce, and come to the conclusion it is not straightfoward, and the integration with the rest of the system is not perfect.

Also it was a feeling of imperfection that pushed me back (I am sure you can setup the linux desktop for your liking if you tried enough)

I would not recommend Xfce to a newcomer, though I know some people who started using Linux with it and kept it.

I think I would recommend Cinnamon (I don't like it personally but people seem to like it) or Unity (especially since they came back to Gnome. This desktop looks nice and easy to use).

I like Plasma 5, I find it's the best general purpose desktop environment across all the major OSes, but somehow non-technical people don't seem to like it so much.

All these observations are anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt. I didn't conduct a study and the number of people is low.

There is a ongoing effort in the KDE community to improve usability and usability and they are doing a great job. I recommend reading https://pointieststick.com/

I tried multiple desktop managers. Everyone had its own perks.

Coming from windows, xfce felt the most natural for me.

I also considered implementing the feature, but it was out of my skill set(probably doable with enough effort and time).

You started with unconventional software, though. Why didn't you try to use gnome? It's far more broadly used and supported. It's not perfect, but the criticism you have against it would make more sense in terms of ditching Linux in your desktop computer.

I actually tested gnome and didnt like it.(I cant recall the exact reasons) I also spent considerable time with other DMs (kde5, lxde and unity), and ended up liking xfce

I think its a shame that the linux desktop software is so fragmented.

Sometime, I fantasize about a parallel world, with a parallel linux trovalds working solely and maintaining THE linux desktop manager

I don't think the fragmentation is really a problem. It's not like if there was a single option, then everyone who's currently involved in working with other desktop environments would automatically join in.

That said, gnome has the largest chunk of the market share. Sort of like the chrome of Linux desktop. It has all features I've ever used in any desktop environment (to be fair, after Windows 98 I only used Linux and Mac os) But each person will enjoy a different UI, I guess.

But it is not a bug. It is a feature you miss.

There are actually many areas in linux desktop that are hacky and unfinished, but this is not one of them. It would be helpful to have that feature, yes, but I never missed it, mostly because of shortcuts in thunar

strg + 1 normal thumbnail view

strg + 2 detailed list.

Sure !

I see it as very basic feature for a modern desktop/window manager.

Yes, you do. But apparently the majority of thunar users does not ... so it does not make the whole linux desktop useless.

Never said it was useless, it was a feeling of using an unpolished product.

But that is a matter of perspective. I felt enraged and could not believe that you cannot change the windows 10 file explorer to a dark theme. Maybe you can now, they advertised this amazing feature as soon to come, but I don't know as I do not have to use that anymore.

So I prefer thunar over windows file manager, or worse, the filemanager on my chromebook any day. So it is very polished software for my use case, even though not perfect.

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