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Xfce 4.16 (xfce.org)
351 points by KindOne 64 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 105 comments

Xfce has another little detail not mentioned here: a very friendly forum with one of the best moderators of the whole internet.

"Moderator" doesn't make him justice, though: ToZ will help you achieve almost anything imaginable when it comes to Xfce, and then some!

Big kudos to all the Xfce team and community, and extra sweet love to ToZ, you rock!

well said.

xfce is a gem. ToZ is the man.

This seems like a ton of work and a great achievement. XFCE, for whatever reason, is always my go to desktop environment and really just "feels like home". Thank you to everyone who contributed.

Me too but I can tell you why.

- Coherency: the way it works and is presented does not change much over the years. It's important for me. I don't want to adapt everytime a designer thinks he has a good idea.

- Simplicity: it just works and is well configured out of the box

- Efficiency: not the lightest Desktop Manager in the market but it is light enough so it won't eat resources for nothing

- Right level of complexity: there is enough to configure it to adapt it to your needs but not too much to make it a mess. Take the xfce console for example: you can rename tabs, move them and search text in them. Last time I check these features were not available in Gnome Terminal. But at the same time I don't want much more than that.

Coherency is really important for me: Xfce has been there when Gnome / Unity / Gnome 3 / Mate / Cinnamon were confusing me by offering all the same but not really the same.

Edit: I wrote "consistency" instead of "coherency" but I guess the right term is coherency in this context.

Same. We had this 2010s bubble of design space exploration and constant 'disruption' but in the end .. the good old paradigm is still way more than enough.

I agree, XFCE is there when you need it. No weird experiments, always consistent.

Feels like Win98SE to me (that's a compliment). Love it for that, though back to KDE for my daily driver.

Chicago95 can take that a step further if you like. I'm running KDE lately too (Slackware-current finally got KDE5 recently so I'm trying it out), but XFCE is the old trusty default for me.

Wow, what a blast from the past. I always wonder though is anyone actually using themes like these as their actual daily driver?

Link to the project with Screenshots: https://github.com/grassmunk/Chicago95

My grandmother's computer is an old Debian box with nothing more than `ly` (as a DM), xfce, Chicago95, and Firefox. She loves it, though I made a ton of tweaks here and there to make it easier for her to use (specifically a ton of website launchers on her desktop). She got lost in regards to how to use her computer back in the XP>8 transition so it was great to be able to bring her back to that style of desktop and have the system be easier to fix than Windows 8 or 10.

nice story :)

I ran it for most of 2020 before moving to KDE. I hadn't looked at the project recently until today and saw that it now has 'Chicago95 Plus! A tool to preview and install Windows 95/98/ME/XP themes'.. I'm going to have to try it that out. Of course, I'm probably an outlier in that I love the visual design of user interfaces from that bygone era.

I've used Memphis98 (similar to Chicago95) since it came out. Although just as a GTK-theme, not the entire desktop. Window manager is FVWM and taskbar/panel/session-manager is LXQt, so it's a bit of a Franken-desktop :)

For Qt-apps I use the "Windows" style so they fit together nicely.

Comparing Memphis and Chicago, there are some layout-bugs in Memphis, but I feel like it's overall a bit better balanced than Chicago.

I think all new themes are too bright and flat, Windows 9X was perfect (at least in that regard).

For a FVWM/Motif based theme, you may like the OL/Motif themes from B00merang.

OpenLook https://b00merang.weebly.com/solaris-8.html

Motif https://b00merang.weebly.com/solaris-9.html

The Solaris 9 theme works great with FVWM.

I’ve used chicago95 as a daily driver for a few years now. It’s simple, high contrast, gets out of my way and lets me work.

I used XFCE with this exact theme for a few months and I loved it. The only thing I didn't like was that the light gray top "outline part" of the window decoration doesn't disappear when you maximize a window. I never figured out how to fix that.

it seriously takes me like 15 minutes to find a bug in KDE, although i haven't tried it for 3 years or so. is that improved?

rock solid lately. also on par with XFCE in terms of resource usage, yet lot and lots more features.

Wow, I just learned from your casual remark that you can actually search in the xfce console. Awesome!

You can search in gnome-terminal and konsole as well. It's a fairly common feature.

I believe you. But those I don't use. :-)

Same here. I use it with LM20. I just love its simplicity. For me the peak of desktop UX was Windows 98. No feature since then convinced me. Tiles, docks, animations, ... just NO! Except for [Super] triggering a search for applications ... [Super], [f][i], [Enter] -> Firefox opens up. IIRC that didn't exist in Windows 98.

Curious here. Advantages of XFCE over KDE or Gnome. I use KDE. I need to know from a regular user. VM is not enough.

I'm a die hard KDE user but, my office workstation runs on XFCE (because I like to use different things overall).

My main reason is not presence of advantages but absence of disadvantages.

I like XFCE's simplicity and stability. It's as stable as the big boys in the town. I like how it looks in default configuration (I started this thing with C64. I love how old computing looks).

You can work relatively fast in XFCE. While it doesn't go above and beyond like Dolphin, Akonadi and KDE in general, it can accomplish what it needs to do out of the box. Thunar is capable enough (4.16 brings per folder view preferences, which is important).

XFCE, because lack of sheer eye-candy, uses screen space very efficiently. So, it provides you massive amount of space especially in big screens.

I don't miss KDE's interconnectedness and integration while using XFCE but, it needs different solutions. Again I want to emphasize that it's not a disadvantage, but a mere difference.

If you want a straight, run of the mill but well refined desktop environment, XFCE is the top choice in my book. It can provide you what you need without bloat. I personally don't understand why people continuously torture themselves by re-configuring various WMs over and over. I understand i3 and other managers are nice but, they're not practical in my book.

Xfce is lighter weight than Gnome 3, and actually allows you to customize things that matter (to me). You can set it up in various ways visually, even though the default look is usable out of the box.

Xfce's window manager is the best of all I've tried. Maybe not as configurable as e.g. Sawmill, it has a lot of useful functions that are missing from Gnome-based offerings, and from macOS: window snapping, automatic window resizing to grab available space (in several ways), simple automatic tiling, easy putting a window above others, etc. They all can be configured to have arbitrary shortcuts.

Xfce has fewer ambitions to integrate things and have their own everything. It allows you to just work with your apps without distraction.

Most importantly, Xfce is not trying to imitate macOS, but does its own thing, and stays consistent. It has very little magic in it.

Also, bugs are quite few and far between. They do not seem to rush to release new stuff.

Does it have an expose style feature? I started using Gnome a few years ago almost by accident, and since then I can never go back to a window list. As Gnome started pissing me off (it is very unstable, in a version-to-version change way, not in a crash way) I discovered that I am too addicted to it and couldn't find expose style elsewhere.

In the old days, you got an exposé style feature by compiz and friends. I don't know the current situation, but for instance KDE/KWin also features an exposé style (can be triggered by keyboard shortcut or magic edges/corners for the mouse cursor).

I think it does, in a form of a separate app: https://docs.xfce.org/apps/xfdashboard/start

Does Sawmill still work on new systems? Every time I install it gets more and more difficult, to the point where when I tried installing in on Ubuntu 18.04 I just gave up.

I switched to XFCE after Gnome 3 was released and have used it ever since. There's been enough said here recently about the problems with Gnome 3 and the attitude of the Gnome developers, but the 10,000 ft view is that they refuse to stop pretending that my desktop PC is an iPad. Microsoft made the same mistake with Windows 8 / Metro, but at least they eventually backpedaled.

If you think Windows usability peaked around Windows XP, XFCE might be worth trying.

All I want is an application menu, some launchers, a window list, a widget/notification area, and some reasonable keybindings. Gnome 2 had these things, and then early Gnome 3 got rid of basically all of them. If some fancypants UX researchers want to experiment with replacing menu bars with hamburgers, that's fine, but I'm just not interested.

I've done more than my fair share of WM hopping (I still use i3 on my laptop because I like being able to resize windows with my keyboard when I don't have a mouse), but XFCE is my workhorse. It may look boring, but it's reliable. It has more than enough features for working productively, and I appreciate the fact that the development team doesn't completely change the way everything works every few years just to chase the latest flashy trend.

Funny you say that, but on a limited Linux VM, it's the only environment that runs and looks relatively decent.

KDE - Looks great, runs like a slug stuck in molasses.

Gnome - Looks meh, runs slightly better.

Unity - Looks great, same performance as KDE.

For whatever reason XFCE gets accused of looking ugly, but I tend to agree with you. It looks fine out of the box, better with some minor tweaking, and is fully themeable if you're into that sort of thing.

KDE always had a reputation for being a bit of a resource hog. Gnome 3 was a rewrite in Javascript, so no surprises there. I never personally used Unity, but it always felt a little annoying when I had to use it on other computers, probably due to the layout and corner gestures.

The latest version of KDE (past year or so) uses approximately the same "freshly launched" size as XFCE does and is as snappy as anything else on a relatively modern system (when compared to Gnome3 and XFCE). I think the main reason to pick XFCE is the interface and overall stability not because it's lighter than KDE any longer.

XFCE is a lightweight desktop environment that uses GTK. It has its own GTK engine, window manager (XFWM), and its own set of apps built on top of GTK... most of them much are faster than their Gnome counterparts.

Thunar is much faster than Nautilus, XFWM is faster than Mutter, XFCE panels are much faster than the Gnome Shell, XFCE GTK engine is much faster than Adwaita... and the list just goes on and on. The result is a really fast and responsive user experience, that will run fast even in low spec machines.

I am not a fan of the default panel layout and overall configuration, but XFCE panels are easy to configure as well as highly configurable. You can create as many panels you want, position them anywhere you want and put any elements on them... There's even a way to create a macOS-like global menu, although I don't recommend it.

> XFCE GTK engine is much faster than Adwaita

Not to rain on anyone's parade but the XFCE GTK engines haven't worked in a heck of a long time because theme engines were removed ("deprecated", quoth the GTK team, as in they left the interface in but removed the actual functionality, so they didn't do anything anymore) many years ago. The default XFCE theme (Greybird, I think?) uses CSS, just like Adwaita, and there's basically no difference between the two.

Everything else is true as far as I know :-).

Not OP, and I've never used KDE. But I used Gnome 2, when it was the default DE for Ubuntu. Then Ubuntu switched to that DE-which-I-cant-recall-the-name, with the sidebar and what appeared to me to be a strange desktop which made me lose some reflexes. So I switched over to Xubuntu and it made me feel more at home, it was a desktop as simple as I could ever hope, in fact, its logic was (for me) intuitive. I never felt the need to customise it beyond its defaults: it just worked. It's been ~8 years now, and I never looked back. So, to answer your question: the main advantage is that it looks and works like a known paradigm for someone coming from Gnome2 or Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP.

I'm also curious.

In the old days XFCE was the go-to DE for the low spec systems back when KDE and Gnome were massive bloats, but KDE slimmed down lately due to massive development efforts to the point of using less ram than XFCE so I'm curious which would be better for a laptop with 4GB of RAM since IIRC, XFCE apps do use less memory but that's because they also do way less than the KDE ones.

Hopefully there are some up to date DE connoisseurs on HN to shed some light.

If you mostly use GTK applications, it's a great way to use them in a well-rounded desktop environment that isn't Gnome. That's appealing enough for a lot of people, even 10 years after the first Gnome 3 release. Some people (like yours truly) just ditched the applications and moved to other things, like KDE land. Some didn't and just ditched the DE.

They have very legitimate reasons -- e.g. Thunderbird (and Evolution, for all its faults) kindda work with Exchange if you jump through some hoops, whereas KMail 2 still barely works with anything.

Other than that: it's very stable, very fast (QML and QtQuick, as it turns out, aren't very good at giving you a fast, low-latency interface and permanent iteration by lots of developers), easy to setup.

In many ways, XFCE is to Gnome 3 what KDE 3.x was to KDE 4.x and the Plasma series (except it's also maintained [1]): a solid, traditional platform that modestly aims to build things with the tools we have right now for the computers we have right now, instead of developing an advanced technological and design framework that will also work on the machines that the design hive mind says we'll have tomorrow.

[1] Yes, I know about TDE :-).

New Linux user here. I switched from Mac a few months ago and wanted to try out Linux on a spare machine. It's not a beast, but it has a decent graphics card (1060), lots of ram, fast storage, etc. I found GNOME to be shockingly sluggish. KDE was better, but the animations still felt far from clean, snappy, fast.

Eventually i found my way to XFCE because i couldn't make it slow. Everything felt very snappy, no feeling of slow FPS.

That's about it for me, honestly. I haven't configured it much, yet. I use the desktops to shove some non-interactive apps like Spotify to the background. Nothing special, really. XFCE just works. Sure, the other desktops are more pretty .. but that wasn't worth the low FPS to me.

Just so you know, in KDE, you can change the animation speed to "instant", which basically disabled all animations and makes it snappy.

It shows windows, has a bunch of great QOL and power-user features, and doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles. I don't want my DE to have a bunch of animations and transparency effects and things popping up in every corner every five seconds. I just want a thing to show windows and let me efficiently navigate them. XFCE does that perfectly.

Lighter, simpler.

It just feels simple and keeps out of the way. I used KDE way back, before v4, and it was my favourite DE then. But it always had these broken glitches and an over abundance of settings and utilities that were not always on par with the core KDE. I have learned that I prefer less with even quality than more with uneven.

KDE feels like Windows 10 to me, and that's a bad thing. It's so disorganized. But, Gnome 3 screwed up input, mostly trackpad scrolling, so I use KDE or XFCE.

You can customize it quite a bit and unlike with gnome, it won't suddenly break every few months.


My experience on ubuntu and arch, while memory usage is almost similar, KDE startup time is significantly slower. Turning off balloo helped, but not much.

What do you mean by "startup time"? Booting into Linux? Opening a window?

KDE and Gnome are significantly more expensive resource wise.

KDE is lighter than XFCE on RAM.

Reality says it depends. Various distros load various utilities. Kubuntu and Xubuntu for example use close to the same amount of memory from on button press to sitting idle. Thus it all depends on what you launch. It's quite common for a browser with lots of windows to use 8-10 times the memory that either xfce or kde uses at start so it really is diminishing returns if you have a modern system with 8+ G of ram.

One of the few that doesn't give me fits when I run remote vnc sessions (independent of main "desktop" session)

same here. I always install Xfce if I need to use linux with GUI

I haven't used Xfce in a long time, but it will always have a soft spot in my heart. It kept my computer usable when I was a teenager, and was the first open source project I contributed to (translations). Congrats to the Xfce team on the new release, and on having hit their stride again, it seems, with the move to GitLab.

Same. I've since moved on to LXDE and then LXQt, but XFCE was there for me first.

LXQt as daily driver? May I ask what distro? Any annoyances?

Lubuntu, dual booted on a win10 machine. They switched over from LXDE a couple versions ago. Couple compatibility errors in an app or two but otherwise I'm really impressed with it.

Same! I wonder if they added in the ability to make the window resize edges wider than 1pixel yet. So many wasted hours trying to find the resize pixel on all the windows

You can assign a key chord with left and right mouse click-and-drag for window movement and resize. Configuring this is one of the first things I do.

I can hold Alt and left-click-and-drag to move the window, or Alt and right-click-and-drag to resize. This works from anywhere in the target window. Resize will move the nearest edge or corner to your click.

Thanks for the tip !

They did not :) I usually use the Resize window menu to do it but I usually use full size windows so I haven't taken the time to find a faster way or maybe a fix.

So, is this the first version of Xfce without a dependency on Gtk2 (i.e. Gtk3-only)?


Finally fractional scaling support! Kudos to XFCE team

Odd how no one has mentioned the addition of client side decorations. Personally it's a huge dealbreaker for me, I really dislike how they look. It's a shame, because the release and Xfce in general otherwise seems really good. Guess I'll stick to MATE for now.

Yeah I agree, I been using XFCE for many years but I think that CSD is a bad move! I hope they at least remove search bar from titles. If they don't improve it, I may have to switch to i3.

I agree. But there is hope. You can also switch to this fork: https://github.com/Xfce-Classic/libxfce4ui-nocsd

Maybe there will be an option to disable it?

Fractional scaling finally arrived, I will try it ASAP. Last time I looked in to Xfce there was no way to have a fixed workspace on a secondary display (something that possible in Gnome, for instance). Since I use workspace a lot having a secondary display is kind of useless because it switches workspace at the same time. I since started to use the rather fine Xfce+Awesome combination, but should Xfce get a fixed workspace feature I might go with pure Xfce again.

It sounds like their move to GitLab is really helping development. I hope that trends continues for them. Xfce is a great DE.

Thanks to all contributors, I have found a home in XFCE after Ubuntu drop Unity.

I liked the design of Unity. But I'm honestly surprised you'd pick Xfce over Gnome if you liked Unity.

Unless, of course, your preferences just changed, or you didn't really like Unity either.

Easy, GNOME 3 has too much JavaScript bloat, broken workspace concept, requires extensions for simple stuff like collapsing windows into their header bar, a basic feature in almost every X Windows window manager since forever.

Neither Unity nor XFCE suffer from that.

Fair enough! (Aside: The performance is horrible, but I doubt it has anything to do with JavaScript being the language of choice)

Oh no, those icons. Shadows and depth without perspective looks really awkward. Lots of the icons blend into the background because of low contrast and lack of border or drop shadow. I really liked the tango icons.

Well, I don't have a strong opinion on them myself, but I can offer you some reassurance: this is Linux. There's always at least a few programmers grumpy enough in response to any kind of change that they'll do something about it and provide some option to use the old thing. I'm sure the tango icons will have their own legacy icon theme soon enough, if not already.

There are dozens of icon themes available. They should already mostly work because, according to the post, XFCE has moved to the standardized icon naming.

At least they're easily distinguishable by both shape and color.

Icons are trivial to change in Linux. If you preferred the Tango icon pack then just set the icon pack to Tango. There are GUI utilities to manage this for you too.

Xfce happily uses whatever icon set you name in the settings app.

Same with GTK themes.

Agreed. I didn't know what was wrong with them at a first glance but now I see it.

They look more like the icons from a phone from 2004, like a Motorola or Symbian OS.

Still love XFCE.

Ah, the best non tiling desktop environment on linux just got an update. Nice!

Not slow, not bloated, just a DE as it should be.

The alternatives simply don't work for me. lxde or lxqt are horribly ugly to me.

lxde is so dang light (especially installation and memory wise) though :) . It is my go to for a VM where I need GUI stuff but don't want to pay too much for it.

One of the great things about Xfce is that everything is just a standalone component.

My desktop is Xmonad and xfce-panel works great on it. I use panel, settings, power-manager from Xfce (probably a few more). It's very stable and its simple and flat design makes it a great fit for tiling window managers.

Will this make it into the upcoming Debian Bullseye release?

They haven't even had soft-freeze yet, it's only happening in February.

That's good then. I'd thought it was was going to be earlier than that.

Enable the Debian Backports repo and give it the highest priority. Ask the #debian users in Freenode for help in order to set it up right.

Was I the only one who shed a tear when XFCE stopped having the CDE-alike panel design?

I wonder if it's sort of a signal of the evolution of the free-software desktop experience.

A lot of the '90s/'00s paradigms were pretty strongly "we're trying to replicate the experience of a lustworthy expensive system" -- see WindowMaker/AfterStep to look like a NeXT, FVWM to look like Motif back when that was expensive and proprietary, IceWM offering OS/2 style themes, and how everyone went to make workalike themes when the QNX Photon "full desktop on a 1.44M floppy" demo disc dropped.

Now, they just have their own styles, but at the same time, they seem less uniquely identifiable.

I've been using xfce for about 5 years now and I love it. Simple and minimalist.

I like the xfce look and the xfce specific apps unfortunately I tried using xfce on a dell xps 15 laptop and had problems with screen tearing while scrolling up/down. I never found a fix so ended up on KDE.

Try disabling XFCE composor in "Windows Manager Tweaks" it fixes tearing issues.

    xrandr --output <display> --set TearFree on
Fixes that on most monitors and display adapters for me.

Wait a second, why wouldn't TearFree be enabled by default?

Are there people who wish to have screen tearing out of the box?

This answer has some good detail on the tradeoffs of TearFree with the Intel driver. https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/518362/whats-the-do...

Screen tearing is usually due to rendering faster than the display can support. So you wouldn't want to have it on by default since it likely impairs frame rate if I had to guess.

I hope they redo the old GTK and XFWM themes for XFCE but for GTK3. Some themes had no match, specially that one yellow/lavender one with a gradient window close to the XP colours, but with no bezels.

In case you are interested to try it in VM, OpenSuSE images are good option. Vanilla is available here:


Easy conversion to a VirtualBox image (.vdi)

Had previously been testing in a Docker image [1], but this is a bit more convenient. OpenSuSE has a number of useful options I was previously unaware of.

[1] https://github.com/schuellerf/xfce-test

Does anybody know how hard is it to switch from gnome to xfce on arch linux? Is it just removing gnome and installing xfce?

Maybe someone could share their experience who has made the switch recently. If it is not a big thing that could potentially break everything, then I'd be happy to try it out.

Start by just installing the xfce4 packages. Then when you're on the login screen, I believe there is a "cog" icon somewhere that let's you choose your session. Choose Xfce. Enjoy.

If you enjoy it enough, you can uninstall Gnome packages. Just make sure not to uninstall GDM unless you want to replace it with something else. I'm sure the Arch wiki has suggestions on the Xfce page.

You can probably just install them alongside each other.

In Xubuntu the login manager lets you switch between whatever DE you like. I think the Xubuntu login manager is lightdm so if you set that up properly you should be able to have both XFCE and Gnome easily. There were some ways Lightdm and XFCE didn't play very nicely together, especially around screen locking, but it's possible they've been fixed.

Find the Arch page on installing XFCE and it will tell you the combination of packages you want and after the install log out and you should be able to select your desktop via your login manager. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xfce

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