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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
So you're only using something like i3, XMonad or dwm?
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?
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.
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 :).
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.
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.
Would you be so kind to give me your take on lxde vs lxqt?
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.
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.
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 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'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.
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.
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.
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.
That's awesome, I'll try again with new xubuntu, hopefully there won't be such nasty bug, or do you recommend another distro?
Was xubuntu using dev version of XFCE which is 4.13?
> Many Xfce 4.13 components have been added or updated, providing an updated snapshot of Xfce 4.14 development.
I hope it will keep being awesome as it currently is!
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.
cat > /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf <<'_EOF'
Identifier "Intel Graphics"
Option "AccelMethod" "sna"
Option "TearFree" "true"
> larger thumbnails as well as support for a "folder.jpg" file altering the folder's icon
> "Do Not Disturb" mode
> HiDPI support
Thanks to Canonical's decision, I ended up migrating to XFCE, I was actually quite happy with Unity before.
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.
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.
Looking forward to using the new version once it hits Xubuntu.
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 :)
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.
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.
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>
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 ).
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.
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.
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.
If it is for the high level stuff, they could give Vala some love instead.
GTK2 own renderers were managing to outdo external ones for many reasons
I guess you're alluding to DockbarX  and xfce4-dockbarx-plugin . Those, and specific dock apps (there are quite a few) are the alternatives as of today.
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
> Xfway Aims To Provide A Wayland Compositor Inspired By Xfce's Xfwm4 
> 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  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 .
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
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 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/
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).
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
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.
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.
I see it as very basic feature for a modern desktop/window manager.
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.