Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sat 7th Jun 2014 00:53 UTC
Xfce Over the past several years, mobile devices have greatly influenced user interfaces. That's great for handheld users but leaves those of us who rely on laptops and desktops in the lurch. Windows 8, Ubuntu Unity, and GNOME have all radically changed in ways that leave personal computer users scratching their heads.

One user interface completely avoided this controversy: Xfce. This review takes a quick look at Xfce today. Who is this product for? Who should pass it by?
Order by: Score:
Not so light under the hood
by Hypnos on Sat 7th Jun 2014 03:18 UTC
Hypnos
Member since:
2008-11-19

While the XFCE components are lightweight and modular, they have some not-so-light dependencies. The power manager depends on consolekit, polkit, udisks and upower; polkit in turn depends on spidermonkey, a JavaScript interpreter! Similarly, the Thunar file manager automount plugin depends on consolekit, polkit and udisks.

I use XFCE, and agree with the author that it does a good job of staying out of the way. But I have removed Thunar and the power manager in favor of commandline alternatives.

Reply Score: 9

RE: Not so light under the hood
by Doc Pain on Sat 7th Jun 2014 10:06 UTC in reply to "Not so light under the hood"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

While the XFCE components are lightweight and modular, they have some not-so-light dependencies. The power manager depends on consolekit, polkit, udisks and upower; polkit in turn depends on spidermonkey, a JavaScript interpreter! Similarly, the Thunar file manager automount plugin depends on consolekit, polkit and udisks.


And sadly, those dependencies make it less portable in regards of non-Linux operating systems. :-(

I've been a big fan of XFCE (v3) and Xfce (v4), but in my limited experience, it has become less usable on FreeBSD (my primary OS). While it works as a whole, some functionalities (especially power and disk related) require specific tweaking outside of Xfce to "make it work by different means", and those are very unpleasant means. Some months ago, I had tried to get "everything" running with FreeBSD 10, but I had to move to Gnome because Xfce didn't deliver the expected results anymore, while requiring many system services and using more resources than I would have thought. So it's not just about the amount of dependencies it will install, but also about the services it requires to run. That might be no problem when running Linux on a recent PC, but for older computers (non-multicore, less than 1 GB RAM, no 3D graphics card and so on) it's definitely not so good, especially when not running a tailored Linux (no mainstream "big ass" distribution which includes, installs and runs everything plus the various kitchen sinks).

Furthermore, I must admit that I miss the simple, yet "powerful enough" interface of XFCE (v3) which was a configurable CDE lookalike. Sadly, it isn't maintained anymore - requires Gtk 1, has no Unicode support and does not integrate with "system services" like Xfce (v4) does. Still it was very fast, had "hooks" to make things work (like dealing with disks with xfmount) and didn't require much learning. In this "traditional" sense, it was a perfect replacement for users coming from a Sun Solaris background (with CDE), but also easy to adopt for people coming from "Windows" land. (And I still have a P2 system running it on top of FreeBSD 5 including office, multimedia, graphics and programming applications - works perfectly.)

Earlier versions of Xfce (v4) were also on the FreeSBIE live system CD, and it's still a good GUI environment for systems run from optical media: to try out Linux, to use it as an emergency system, or simply for testing purposes.

Reply Score: 8

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Honestly, that's more an issue of the BSD folks IMO; the source is there.

Reply Score: 2

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Honestly, that's more an issue of the BSD folks IMO; the source is there.


I'm not sure it is that easy. Sure, the source of the Linux kernel (which is a primary dependency) is there, but the BSD kernels are different. Maybe it's even impossible to implement certain things which are too specific (cgroups, u{dev,disk,power,whatnot}). Remember that it's not just about porting or patching simple things - Xfce depends on many kernel functionalities and also system services that do not exist in BSD. And imagine the fun if systemd becomes a required dependency... ;-)

Maybe it's even about "wasted work". Take HAL for example. BSD was lacking behind in HAL support when it became a major dependency of KDE, Gnome, and X itself, often together with DBus. When it started working reliably, it had been obsoleted in Linux already, which moved on to the "u* framework". Still HAL stuff is stuck in many components of the system which has to kept working, or a massive loss of functionality would appear. There probably has to be some reasonable judgment about "if it's worth the trouble". It could also happen that a fork is being created, free of the "Linuxisms", probably lacking certain functions for some time until they get re-implemented in a BSD-specific or even generally portable manner.

But those are just my individual assumptions. If you are interested in details, you should contact the BSD folks directly.

Reply Score: 6

coreyography Member since:
2009-03-06

Perhaps all these DEs should just quit claiming compatibility with "Unix-like OSes" and just say "Linux".

The BSDs have several issues:

1. Less manpower than Linux working on this stuff, especially when you're not talking about FreeBSD;

2. The rapid changing of Linux's interfaces (the hal/*kit/u*/systemd saga someone referred to is an example), especially when it is felt by some in the BSD community that this is a result of not of enough thought and proper engineering up front causing a lot of "scrap and start over" later on.

At least one BSD distribution (PC-BSD) felt that the Sisyphean task of implementing frequently-changing Linuxisms just to make DEs work is not worth the effort, and is building its own DE (Lumina).

Reply Score: 4

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

1. Less manpower than Linux working on this stuff, especially when you're not talking about FreeBSD;

2. The rapid changing of Linux's interfaces (the hal/*kit/u*/systemd saga someone referred to is an example), especially when it is felt by some in the BSD community that this is a result of not of enough thought and proper engineering up front causing a lot of "scrap and start over" later on.


I think these two are actually related. ie, because there are so many people working on Linux, often independently, and they all want to have something working, so they have to design on the fly and get it out there. This results in a lot of implicit test-by-use which hurries up the scrap-and-redesign cycle.

Reply Score: 5

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

Perhaps all these DEs should just quit claiming compatibility with "Unix-like OSes" and just say "Linux".


2. The rapid changing of Linux's interfaces (the hal/*kit/u*/systemd saga someone referred to is an example), especially when it is felt by some in the BSD community that this is a result of not of enough thought and proper engineering up front causing a lot of "scrap and start over" later on.

At least one BSD distribution (PC-BSD) felt that the Sisyphean task of implementing frequently-changing Linuxisms just to make DEs work is not worth the effort, and is building its own DE (Lumina).


My point, exactly!

Edited 2014-06-11 08:30 UTC

Reply Score: 2

bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

The problem with keeping older computers is thus...pretty much anything made during the so called "MHz Wars" from 93-06 had ZERO time devoted to power saving so if you sit down and do the math the amount of useful work you are getting for the amount of power you are using? its just not worth keeping.

Lets say that older PC you are talking about is a late model P3, say a 1GHz. According to CPU world the CPU of a Coppermine 1GHz P3 uses 25w and of course this 25w is constant since there is no energy saving features in these chips. To give you something to compare it to an AMD Sempron quad in socket AM1 uses 25w WHILE giving you full HD (the Sempron is an APU) AND four cores AND an extra 400MHz per core AND full surround sound AND GB ethernet AND...see the problem?

Frankly the older systems made before the advent of the Core series on the Intel side and pre AM2 on the AMD side are really not worth keeping, the amount of power you use versus the amount of useful work just doesn't add up.

Reply Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

The problem with keeping older computers is thus...pretty much anything made during the so called "MHz Wars" from 93-06 had ZERO time devoted to power saving so if you sit down and do the math the amount of useful work you are getting for the amount of power you are using? its just not worth keeping.


Yes, this is correct for most of the times. Still it's possible that if you have to work with what you've got, you can still turn a (quite low power) Pentium 1 machine into a usable file server. Of course you get much better results if you're willing to invest money, for example, in low-power mainboards (usually ARM based) and "eco disks" or SSDs. On the other hand, wasting a 2 GHz computer with a fat GPU and a 800 W power supply just for browsing "Facebook" doesn't sound that appealing, too. :-)

Older PCs are still found in many places, and there are still people wanting to use them for something, instead of participating in the annual "throw away, buy new" dance that keeps industry happy. Those formerly were happy about installing Linux and Xfce on that kind of systems, and it was no problem to use them, because they were sufficiently fast and secure (unlike, for example, when people try to install pirated copies of outdated "Windows XP" on it). And if resources were too low to run "mainstream Linux", those people would simply switch to a different OS like FreeBSD or OpenBSD and still use Xfce for its lightweight, but powerful features.

With Xfce not being able to deliver portability and efficiency anymore, other more lightweight desktop environments (and maybe even preconfigured and tailored window managers) could become more interesting as a base to build a fully-featured system consisting of OS, desktop, and application software. But as soon as you enter "too fat" applications to the mix, you're back at the initial problem. :-(

There are also non-profit organisations which are in the business of avoiding the huge pile of office waste (computers and printers), and instead install them with Linux and donate them. This is especially interesting for people who want to learn about computers and achieve experience, but simply cannot afford to buy a new one, even though computers become cheaper and cheaper. But with the continuous "renewal" especially of smartphones (buy a new one every year, throw the old one into a garbage can), tablets and laptops, maybe "component-based" PCs will also become less and less relevant to the general public. And when people don't see the waste they're creating, they don't care. (Maybe I just grew up with the wrong mentality, as I don't feel very comfortable with throwing away something that fully works, just because industry tells me it's "old".)

Frankly the older systems made before the advent of the Core series on the Intel side and pre AM2 on the AMD side are really not worth keeping, the amount of power you use versus the amount of useful work just doesn't add up.


Basically, I agree with this, but allow me to add:

In today's modern PCs, the ratio is still better, and given the assumption that you hardly use 10 % of the resources of the computer, the waste of energy is less (not in relative, but in absolute amount). The problem often isn't that the hardware stops working, but because the software demands more and more resources to perform basically the same tasks (from a user's point of view), which is compensated by buying better hardware, creating toxic waste as a side effect, just to keep the same "average usage speed". On the other hand, there are many features "hidden" from the user which depend on the availability of 4 GB RAM, a 3D-enabled GPU, or the presence of multiple CPU cores. Without the general (and increasingly cheap) availability of those, development would not go into that direction. Maybe that's also the reason why there is so much bloadware - because nobody notices when something is inefficiently programmed, as it's cheaper to simply buy faster computers than to perform an efficiency-oriented code rewrite. (You usually find this mentality in business software.)

For example, I've recently seen a top-of-the-line PC installed with "Windows 8", and I was surprised how terribly slow everything was. The person in question had owned many high-end PCs over the years, all of them equipped with the then-current "Windows", and he told me that he never actually noticed that something became faster, even though he always bought the newest and fastest PCs; instead, he felt like software became slower with every release. And people somehow accept this as being "normal"... now imagine what you could achieve with such hardware if you just added the proper software!

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Not so light under the hood
by zima on Sat 14th Jun 2014 21:56 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not so light under the hood"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Windows (not "Windows") Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 all were faster than the previous version; but I guess that's just improper software for you...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not so light under the hood
by hobgoblin on Sat 7th Jun 2014 12:37 UTC in reply to "Not so light under the hood"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

This seems to be the curse of "open"desktop.org.

A project that seems to have been hijacked by various individuals on Red Hat's payroll. Hijacked in the sense that opendesktop.org was about creating cross-desktop systems, yet more and more their projects require a very specific set of dependencies found either under the Gnome or udev/systemd umbrellas.

Hell, LXDE is jumping ship to QT as we speak. Merging their efforts with Razor-QT in the process.

Reply Score: 7

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Opendesktop has always been about coordinating the common forms of doing things in different desktop environments. So while Gnome, kde, xfce and others are all different having common ways of doing things that applications can use makes everything easier for app developers.

I don't think cross operating system compatibility has ever been part of that goal. I think its mission should always be to make the best open desktop experience possible. Now, linux has so much more funding behind it, that they can spend resources on the desktop and related technologies. the *BSDs don't have that luxury and end up getting left behind as they can't keep up with the pace of change.

So what to do? Hold back everyone because BSD lacks funds? Or sally forth and design the best desktops for open systems?

I say, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Reply Score: 4

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

I don't think cross operating system compatibility has ever been part of that goal. I think its mission should always be to make the best open desktop experience possible. Now, linux has so much more funding behind it, that they can spend resources on the desktop and related technologies. the *BSDs don't have that luxury and end up getting left behind as they can't keep up with the pace of change.


Ironically, this isn't an issue of simply having funds to spend on resources. The fundamental difference between Linux & the BSDs has always been relative to the difference between firmly engineered solutions & "good enough for now" solutions. People always try to frame this topic as a matter of the BSDs not being able to keep up. Yet, the BSDs have never had a need for continuously scrapping infrastructure simply to replace is with something else that'll also be scrapped. Do the job right, from the beginning, so you won't have to constantly rewrite the same shit over & over & over again. So many resources wouldn't need to be spent on the desktop, if the Linux developers wouldn't churn so much. The same can be said of most subsystems in Linux. I still remember the whole crap-fest of the early ALSA days. The Linux guys seemed to start shitting lead bricks when OSS became commercialized. How did the BSDs handle that situation? Well, they basically decided to maintain their own branch of OSS. It took less time & worked nicely. They didn't have to drag anyone through a shit-storm.

So what to do? Hold back everyone because BSD lacks funds? Or sally forth and design the best desktops for open systems?


It's not a matter of funding. If you can't engineer good subsystems, then you shouldn't be writing subsystem code. Design first, then code. If your design is crap, redesign it BEFORE wasting everyone's time. There's a reason that the BSDs are known for being rock solid. Being rock solid isn't Linux's key attribute. The fact that everyone (& their grandmothers) is writing Linux code, even if they don't have any design skills.

I say, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!


Famous last words of ship & submarine commanders...

Reply Score: 3

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

There are many reasons why Linux is the way it is, some of which I've explained in my comment above yours.

Other reasons that Linux must churn is that most hardware is actually badly implemented and so the subsystems must change once in a while because the amount of specific work arounds start working against each other.

Designing things to be perfect from the beginning only works if nothing ever changes. Like I said before, Linux churn is a result of previous Linux churn. BSDs don't experience this because they don't have previous churn to force them. There's no positive feedback loop.

So yes, it is somewhat a matter of funding and resources. Change creates more change, and Linux has a lot more sources of change from outside that it becomes a juggernaut. Linux very much can't say "stop giving us code" for long.

Reply Score: 5

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

Other reasons that Linux must churn is that most hardware is actually badly implemented and so the subsystems must change once in a while because the amount of specific work arounds start working against each other.


Sounds like the solution is pretty obvious -stop piling workarounds on top of each other. It's like finding a victim with a shotgun wound on his chest & trying to patch him up with lots of little bandaids, instead of applying a proper dressing. This isn't a technical matter, it's a social & managerial matter.

if(HerdingCats(sLinuxDevelopmenters) {
StopAllDevelopment();
RemoveUnorgizedDevelopers();
AddFreshDevelopers();
ActuallyEngineerSolution();
ImplementSolution();
ScrapAllOldSolutions();

if(SolutionWorks()) {
CommitSolution()
}
}

It's not rocket science.

(My indention spaces were automatically removed by the site software.)

Designing things to be perfect from the beginning only works if nothing ever changes. Like I said before, Linux churn is a result of previous Linux churn. BSDs don't experience this because they don't have previous churn to force them. There's no positive feedback loop.


Now, you're just making excuses. Churn can always be stopped. Churn could've been stopped when the development started on each major version of the Linux kernel, but no one bothered to actually do it. Every project has a beginning, so saying that the BSDs had no original churn is no excuse. Linux could've started without original churn, but it didn't. Linux could've transitioned to a system with less churn, but it didn't & it won't. Like I said earlier, this is a social & managerial mater -not a technical one. By the way, you're right, Linux churn doesn't exist in a positive feedback loop.

So yes, it is somewhat a matter of funding and resources. Change creates more change, and Linux has a lot more sources of change from outside that it becomes a juggernaut. Linux very much can't say "stop giving us code" for long.


If a project can't reject badly designed & badly engineered code, then that project has serious issues. What's funny is that you really believe that bs. I'm looking at what you wrote & I'm matching it up with how many years came & went that were supposed to be the year of Linux on the desktop. If your desktop can't stabilize because the kernel is churning faster than a dairy farm produces butter, then is it any wonder that the year of Linux on the desktop never arrived? This discombobulated approach to development has forced Linux to play catchup to TWO OSes, where it originally had to play catch up to just one. I've been around for the development of both Linux & the BSDs. As trashy as Windows can be, there's no doubt about the fact that it's still more seamless than Linux...when it's not crashing.

Reply Score: 2

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

You seem really ignorant of how Linux development works. All your criticisms would apply if Linux were a corporate project with top down control.

But Linux isn't.

In fact, you seem to think that waterfall development model is either in use, or should be in use, with Linux.

You're right that it isn't rocket science. Because to build rockets, you have top down control of every aspect of designing and building a rocket. Large, open source, software systems are not built like that, and your rant shows you to be completely ignorant of these matters.

Reply Score: 2

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

You seem really ignorant of how Linux development works. All your criticisms would apply if Linux were a corporate project with top down control.

But Linux isn't.


I'm well aware of the development model used by Linux. News flash, it's exactly that model that I'm criticizing. You fail to see the big picture, simply because you want to view the *nix ecosystem as the Linux ecosystem. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about every other *nix that lives in this environment? You want to complain about the other *nix derivatives, as if Linux isn't the newcomer. People like you want to change stander *nix software to suit Linux, as if that software didn't exist long before Linux. Here's the meat & potatoes of the matter -Linux's crappy development process poison's the well for everyone else!

In fact, you seem to think that waterfall development model is either in use, or should be in use, with Linux.


I'm saying that people who can't properly design subsystems have no business writing code.

You're right that it isn't rocket science. Because to build rockets, you have top down control of every aspect of designing and building a rocket. Large, open source, software systems are not built like that, and your rant shows you to be completely ignorant of these matters.


First, rocket science isn't about building rockets, it's about understanding & designing rockets. The people who could be considered rocket scientist don't normally build the rockets themselves -I should know, I spent a large bulk of my career maintaining rockets & missiles. Even for the ones who do build rockets, the most important part is the understanding what you're trying to accomplish & actually using a design process to achieve that goal. In addition, the Linux way of development isn't the only way to develop software -if you've been around for longer than a decade, then you'd already know this. The fact that I've been contrasting Linux's way with the BSD way shows that I know exactly what I'm talking about. Now, you just said that open source development doesn't work that way. But I know of 3 BSDs who's development model, in fact, DOES work that way. What exactly do you think we've been talking about this whole time??? You're constantly trying to call people ignorant, while prominently displaying your ignorance.

Reply Score: 2

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

Other reasons that Linux must churn is that most hardware is actually badly implemented...


BTW, when has this NOT been the case? That's no excuse.

Reply Score: 2

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"Other reasons that Linux must churn is that most hardware is actually badly implemented...


BTW, when has this NOT been the case? That's no excuse.
"

Yeah, and how much hardware do the BSDs have to accommodate compared to Linux?

Linux is continually being purposed into a lot of esoteric hardware that is not being experienced by any other operating system.

Like I said, you have absolutely no understanding of scale and change.

Reply Score: 2

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

Yeah, and how much hardware do the BSDs have to accommodate compared to Linux?

Linux is continually being purposed into a lot of esoteric hardware that is not being experienced by any other operating system.


Ok, let's get down to brass tacks. None of that esoteric hardware means shit in a discussion about desktops, unless it's actually desktop hardware. Also, considering that we're talking about desktops, it's really a poorly attempted distraction to bring up hardware that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. But, since you want to take it there, name a piece of hardware that must be constantly designed around multiple times just to get the X server or even XFCE to run on it, that no other OS works with...I'll wait.

Like I said, you have absolutely no understanding of scale and change.


Sounds like you're still trying to blow smoke about commodity hardware & the development of infrastructure that supports it. No one believes that bullshit. Either design it right, or move out of the way for someone else to do so.

Your whole argument has basically amounted to bull's milk -& I'm not drinking it!

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I guess the obvious retort is: then why does the desktop on BSDs suck so very, very much?

I was being nice saying that they couldn't devote resources to doing it right.

You're essentially saying, they can't do it right because they can't do it right? That's kind of insulting to the BSD devs.

Reply Score: 5

demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

I guess the obvious retort is: then why does the desktop on BSDs suck so very, very much?

I was being nice saying that they couldn't devote resources to doing it right.

You're essentially saying, they can't do it right because they can't do it right? That's kind of insulting to the BSD devs.


The obvious answer is that the BSD developers mainly don't deal with desktops...until now. If you recall, the desktop software was supposed to be portable & multiplatform -the X server runs on pretty much ALL *nixen systems. The DM's are supposed to run on the X server & really aren't supposed to be kernel dependent. That's how it's always been until the Linux developers came & started upsetting the consolidation that'd taken so long to establish. Unless you've been dealing with *nix for over 2 decades, you wouldn't know anything about this. Now, you have portions of the DM & the X server starting to creep down into none standard APIs & shitting all over the ability of the whole software stack to run in a multiplatform way. Why else do you think that there's now a BSD desktop in development? Yet, so many Linux users started complaining about how resources would be better used if they're shared. Well, no, the Linux developers have already proven that there's no benefit in trying to share resources with them.

Reply Score: 2

diegoviola Member since:
2006-08-15

This seems to be the curse of "open"desktop.org.

A project that seems to have been hijacked by various individuals on Red Hat's payroll. Hijacked in the sense that opendesktop.org was about creating cross-desktop systems, yet more and more their projects require a very specific set of dependencies found either under the Gnome or udev/systemd umbrellas.

Hell, LXDE is jumping ship to QT as we speak. Merging their efforts with Razor-QT in the process.


Qt.

Get it right.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not so light under the hood
by Savior on Sun 8th Jun 2014 08:24 UTC in reply to "Not so light under the hood"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

Might be not so light under the hood, but what I am asking is this: is it important at all? What need do these "light" desktop environments serve at all?

I mean, they are all fine and dandy, until you start your first program. Any modern browser takes more resources than the OS and the DE combined, perhaps several times so. If you want to edit documents offline, you are stuck with LibreOffice (no, gEdit or Abiword do not cut it) -- not exactly lightweight, either. If you do programming (not in Python), you will need an IDE; and if you are so unlucky to be a Java programmer, you will need something really heavy, like Eclipse. Games? Don't make me laugh.

So I guess these lightweight DEs are more like a beautiful wallpaper: it makes you feel better for the first 5 seconds after your desktop starts up. After that, it doesn't matter anymore.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Not so light under the hood
by kwan_e on Sun 8th Jun 2014 13:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Not so light under the hood"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Might be not so light under the hood, but what I am asking is this: is it important at all? What need do these "light" desktop environments serve at all?


I think some people have the nostalgic idea of still running on decade old hardware, probably without a modern web browser.

For the rest of us, there's SSDs and tons of RAM.

Reply Score: 4

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

I think some people have the nostalgic idea of still running on decade old hardware, probably without a modern web browser.

For the rest of us, there's SSDs and tons of RAM.


My point was that mostly we need that SSD and tons of RAM because of our web browser & co. and not because of the DE -- and there is no reak replacement for those. I have used KDE, Unity, even XFCE on the same Core2Duo laptop, and what I found is that aside from bugs (such as Unity menu intergration making Firefox unbearably slow), the DE hardly matters. Granted, if you wanted to run Linux on an Amiga 500, you would have to choose everything very carefully. ;)

Reply Score: 6

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"I think some people have the nostalgic idea of still running on decade old hardware, probably without a modern web browser.

For the rest of us, there's SSDs and tons of RAM.


My point was that mostly we need that SSD and tons of RAM because of our web browser & co. and not because of the DE -- and there is no reak replacement for those. I have used KDE, Unity, even XFCE on the same Core2Duo laptop, and what I found is that aside from bugs (such as Unity menu intergration making Firefox unbearably slow), the DE hardly matters. Granted, if you wanted to run Linux on an Amiga 500, you would have to choose everything very carefully. ;)
"

I think you'll have to test it on less than a Core2Duo to maybe see the difference.

I sometimes do wonder if the people who use modern hardware and still notices a difference aren't doing so because of a psychosomatic effect.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Not so light under the hood
by Hypnos on Sun 8th Jun 2014 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Not so light under the hood"
Hypnos Member since:
2008-11-19

There is a difference between resources going to software complexity and resources going to multimedia. Software complexity brings a host of problems: maintainability, security, and vendor lock-in.

We can examine your examples by these criteria --

* Gaming: optional, doesn't handle private information, other software doesn't depend on it => don't care, just need RAM and disk space

* Browser: essential, handles private information, other software doesn't depend on it => a reliability and security risk, must remain vigilant, but luckily there are a lot of drop-in replacements to choose from

* IDE/word processor: same as with browsers, but less easy to replace with alternatives. I use the Unix shell for coding and LaTeX for big documents, but understand that these are not viable solutions in many spaces.

* OS/desktop: same as with IDEs/word processors, but even more difficult to replace. Special care must also be taken since many parts of the OS and DE run with elevated privileges. This is where one should demand good design and execution, and invest in platforms that deliver it. So far Linux works for me (I use Gentoo), but I might move to FreeBSD in the future.

Desktops are more of a problem as they try to strike a balance between Grandma-usability and being maintainable. I understand XFCE's choices given their limited manpower, but they introduce a problem.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I think the idea is that the desktop environment should not be the one consuming resources, but leaving those to things like the IDE, Office Suite, Games, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not so light under the hood
by jrincayc on Tue 10th Jun 2014 03:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Not so light under the hood"
jrincayc Member since:
2007-07-24

First of all, I do have hardware that gnome and kde don't run on and XFCE does.

Secondly, a lot of the applications that I do run such as Emacs and a terminal, that use relatively few resources.

Reply Score: 2

Who's definition of "traditional"
by MacMan on Sat 7th Jun 2014 04:11 UTC
MacMan
Member since:
2006-11-19

I find it really annoying how a lot of people use the word "traditional" to refer to the Windows95 user interface.

Well, here's some shocking news:

WINDOWS 95 WAS NOT THE FIRST OPERATING SYSTEM OF EVERYONE ON THE THE PLANET.

Some of us consider "traditional" to be SunView or Indigo Magic Desktop (SGI), which, hello, look nothing like Windows 95.

To me, the Windows95 interface is about as alien as it gets as I've never had to use one for any length of time.

Reply Score: 5

MacMan Member since:
2006-11-19

FYI, my primary desktops happen to be Window Maker on Ubuntu 13.04 and OSX 10.6.

WindowMaker is my interpretation of traditional as it works like NeXT. I've been using WindowMaker since the late 90's.

Edited 2014-06-07 04:15 UTC

Reply Score: 5

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

windowmaker on my dev machines but xfce on my laptops. I just use my dev box, others also use the laptops.

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

To me, the Windows95 interface is about as alien as it gets as I've never had to use one for any length of time.


You most likely belong in a minority there. Definitions such as this always go with the majorities, not the minorities, and it's pointless to get all upset about that.

Reply Score: 14

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It is condescending to think that poor non-westerners can put up with broken unstable barely supported technology.


Don't go putting words in my mouth, I never even so much as implied that. I was talking about the need for a cheap/free OS that can be used even on a decade-old hardware. That *is* a real usecase already out there and your silly, chidlish exaggerations don't change that.

Reply Score: 7

MacMan Member since:
2006-11-19

Yup, I do realize that I'm in the minority.

However, this is OSnews where one would expect that users here have an interest in things not Microsoft.

I was just bringing up the point that words like traditional, conventional, etc should not automatically be inferred to mean "looks like Windows95".

In some parts of the galaxy, drinking warm fish juice for breakfast is considered traditional (5 pts to whoever can identify this place). I for one prefer my fish juice cold.

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I find it really annoying how a lot of people use the word "traditional" to refer to the Windows95 user interface.


When I think of 'traditional' desktops, I think of a desktop background that you can put icons on, some sort of taskbar/dock, a recycle bin, etc. I'm not sure if Win95 was the first to put all of these elements together, but I think it was the first widespread 'mainstream' desktop environment that most can identify with. So, I think referring to it as the defacto 'traditional' desktop is pretty accurate, since most of us have been using it for nearly 20 years.

Reply Score: 10

puenktchen Member since:
2007-07-27

"I find it really annoying how a lot of people use the word "traditional" to refer to the Windows95 user interface.


When I think of 'traditional' desktops, I think of a desktop background that you can put icons on ..
"

Yes - and without a "Start Menu" - like LisaOS, MacOS, GEM, TOS, AmigaOS, Nextstep, RiscOS, Windows before 95, OS2 - everyone who used a GUI before 1995 still knows how a traditional GUI looked like for more than ten years before MS screwed it up.


On Topic: I still always liked Xfce

Edited 2014-06-07 10:17 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Its traditional, not because it was first, but because it was so popular with so many people for so long.

Reply Score: 5

gan17 Member since:
2008-06-03

To me, the Windows95 interface is about as alien as it gets as I've never had to use one for any length of time.

For me, if a desktop can't tile and/or doesn't come with dmenu, then it may as well be toilet paper. The whole "traditional" clicky-clicky desktop is beyond me.

Thing is, we're a minority. No one gives a toss about us, and they really shouldn't. We just whine too much for our own good, to be frank.

Edited 2014-06-07 18:31 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

WIMP: Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer. It's older than Windows 95, it's even older than the Mac. It goes all the way back to Xerox PARC, where both Microsoft and Apple got inspiration for their first mouse-driven interfaces.

That's not so say minimalism and non-standard interfaces are bad things; I've found a happy medium between minimalism and features in Openbox, but it's not for everyone.

Reply Score: 4

SeeM Member since:
2011-09-10

Some of us consider "traditional" to be SunView or Indigo Magic Desktop (SGI), which, hello, look nothing like Windows 95.

To me, the Windows95 interface is about as alien as it gets as I've never had to use one for any length of time.


While I like Win'95 for gaming I always preferred Program Manager over Start menu. Maybe because dos installers don't create start shortcuts anyway.

From this perspective it's Ubuntu Unity that went back to the roots, as it's very similar to Amiga Workbench 3.x, NeXT and older MacOS. I like that inspirations and a fact that a commercial Linux desktop developers saw something outside Windows world. Something that free OSS devs from KDE and older Gnome sadly didn't realize.

Reply Score: 2

Not light
by pepa on Sat 7th Jun 2014 07:10 UTC
pepa
Member since:
2005-07-08

I want to like XFCE, and to a large extend I do, but an environment like MATE or LXDE are significantly lighter on resources. My main problems with XFCE are the lack of integration of any sort of half decent World Clock. Something like gsimplecal can be launched as an application, but I know of no way to integrate that into the XFCE clock in a non-hackish way. The other big beef is the placement of icons on the desktop is totally inflexible. So I need to use either pcmanfm or nautilus as a file manager, causing me to either flee to LXDE or Gnome-flashback (or MATE). Because of these to preferences (requirements for me), XFCE in its native form might never work.

Reply Score: 5

The title pretty much sums it up
by crystall on Sat 7th Jun 2014 08:16 UTC
crystall
Member since:
2007-02-06

As a long time GNOME2 user I tried GNOME3 and even stuck with it for 3 releases, trying to smooth its edges with extensions and tweaks that reduced some of the annoying changes in the user interface. One thing that I found frustrating was how slow it was in spite of running on some pretty top-of-the-range hardware. I'm not sure how much of that was caused by the use of GL acceleration with open-source drivers (I was using a Radeon HD3870 at the time) and how much by GNOME3 itself but it was pretty damning. It also had some horrible quirks: for example setting the polling rate of my Razer mouse to 1000Hz caused the window manager to suck 20% of a CPU core for no apparent reason.

In spite of this what put the final nail on it for me was the stability. The last version I used was 3.8 so I understand that it was early in the 3.x cycle but it was just too unstable for my tastes. Common functionality both in the window manager / file manager and in the accompanying core applications would contain horrible bugs. Crashes were frequente and I filed over 20 bugs via ABRT while using it. The use of extensions to fix UI problems was probably making the issue worse as some had bugs of their own.

So one day I just decided to give Xfce a spin; I hadn't used it for a while and it didn't seem to have changed much which was good. What was better however was that it was fast, smooth and solid. I've been using it for a year now as my main desktop and the only issue I had was a minor glitch in the Thunar file manager when plugging a digital camera. That's it: no crashes, no "you have to restart the shell" messages, no broken functionality in the core applications.

Of course it might not have the bling of other desktop environments but frankly who cares. I code all day on my Linux machine for a living; it needs to work, to be fast and responsive and to be stable. Xfce gives me these three characteristics in a familiar and unsurprising environment, why change?

Reply Score: 8

remenic Member since:
2005-07-06

I can attest to the issue with polling rate, although I have it with compton & xfce. When I move a window, compton tries to render/update it 1000 times per second, despite my refresh rate being only 60. It causes a lot of CPU usage and even jumpy movement.

Setting it to 100hz fixes that and makes XFCE+compton the fastest OpenGL composited desktop ever for me.

Reply Score: 2

oss desktop is dead?
by project_2501 on Sat 7th Jun 2014 12:48 UTC
project_2501
Member since:
2006-03-20

I hate to say this but after years of hope that an old desktop would become functional stable and popular.. I now think the game is over.

The need for a desktop has diminished. More apps / services are accessible with a wider range of clients .. IPads Chromebooks android phones...

The role of the desktop is now to simply provide access to those apps... And take care of things like power peripherals

I exaggerate but not by much.

This is why many many OSS people use the best hardware and desktop combination to get on with working coding painting... There are very few Linux specific apps anymore and so the need to get the desktop working flawlessly is not so urgent. Apple macbook air ... And you're done.

And virtualization of course further killed the need for a Linux desktop.

Reply Score: 0

RE: oss desktop is dead?
by WereCatf on Sat 7th Jun 2014 13:26 UTC in reply to "oss desktop is dead?"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Apple macbook air ... And you're done.


While that may be the case in the western countries among well-off citizens it's still a losing proposition in developing countries and financially very poor areas. The need for a low-cost, high-quality desktop may have, indeed, dropped quite a bit over the years, but it's not disappeared entirely, and that's only talking about the functionality and costs -- the need for freedom hasn't diminished.

Reply Score: 5

RE: oss desktop is dead?
by Vanders on Sat 7th Jun 2014 20:03 UTC in reply to "oss desktop is dead?"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

The need for a desktop has diminished. More apps / services are accessible with a wider range of clients .. IPads Chromebooks android phones...

The role of the desktop is now to simply provide access to those apps... And take care of things like power peripherals


Death of the desktop predicted. Film at '11.

Reply Score: 9

Reducing screen resolution? Really?
by tidux on Sat 7th Jun 2014 14:13 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

I'm pretty sure Xfce has let you scale fonts for at least five years, genius. Reducing screen resolution is the idiot's method of increasing "readability."

Reply Score: 6

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's pretty harsh. Maybe it's just a personal preference? Font scaling has some issues on certain WMs/DEs, and Xfce in particular can look crappy when you start increasing the font size. Some of the window decoration themes simply aren't designed for scaling up the fonts. With a good enough monitor, reducing the resolution can give you a correctly proportioned, easily readable screen without goofy-looking fonts.

Reply Score: 5

Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

I am sure what he means is telling the system that the screen is higher dpi that in actually is (like setting pixel density 150dpi instead of what could be the actual 100dpi) so that the desktop believes the screen is smaller and it renders things larger. Or maybe the reverse, if the text you get by default is too large text, like with Ubuntu.

Reply Score: 2

Xfce is my current favorite
by BluenoseJake on Sat 7th Jun 2014 18:48 UTC
BluenoseJake
Member since:
2005-08-11

I switched to Xfce from KDE 3.5 when 4 came out and was so crappy, and even though KDE 4 is much better now, I have never felt the need to switch back. It's simple, it works, and just keeps getting incrementally better.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Xfce is my current favorite
by UltraZelda64 on Sat 7th Jun 2014 20:56 UTC in reply to "Xfce is my current favorite"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I used a bit of GNOME 2 and Xfce during the end of GNOME2/KDE3's time, and only tried KDE4 as an everyday desktop with a more recent openSUSE release. I was still on a machine with only a gig of RAM, so I wasn't exactly happy with its performance... but since then, I've moved onto tiling window managers (using i3 right now).

I've been kind of wanting to go back to Xfce and give it a try after all this time, but just can't bring myself to... and even if I did, I think I'm so spoiled by tiling window managers and their total lack of mouse as a requirement that I probably wouldn't feel quite right using it (or any stacking window manager, for that manager). Still... I had a great experience with Xfce in several releases of Zenwalk, KateOS, SalixOS and others years ago. Xfce was definitely at the top, IMO.

Reply Score: 2

Windows 8 has a desktop
by Mr. Dee on Sat 7th Jun 2014 21:02 UTC
Mr. Dee
Member since:
2005-11-13

And it pretty much works just like Windows 7.
With Windows 8.1 with Update 1 (both free to Windows 8 users) it provides a pretty consistent Windows desktop experience. You can set Windows to boot directly to desktop in fact with Update 1 it does this on non touch hardware.

Windows 8/8.1 desktop features all the familiar elements of Windows such as Taskbar for hosting your open apps and shortcuts. File Explorer provides improved file management tools, ribbon based toolbar provides quick access to configuration and organizational tools. You can now mount VHDs and .ISOs natively.

To be honest, the desktop in Windows 8/8.1 actually feels more powerful. So, I find it strange when you say Microsoft is all about touch, yes, they were forcing it on users, but they never killed the desktop, just made it a legacy feature of the OS, just like the transition from DOS to Windows 1x/2x/3x that still provided DOS as a legacy component for legacy apps.

I work in an environment where I am exposed to a variety of customers, both adults and students. A lot of teachers bought notebooks with Windows 8 when the went off on vacation and brought them to use at work. Students too I notice also seem to have Windows 8 based notebooks that outnumber the amount of Windows 7 notebooks. I have asked several of them about their experience with Windows 8. Most say its really different, that's the usual response, but then you hear, its not really hard to use.

You can notice the engagement with OS, lock screens are customized images of themselves and their families. The Start Screen is normally changed with a different background and color scheme to suit the users taste. The seem to find the desktop just find if they want to browse the web or use traditional desktop apps like Office.

So, this idea that users are somehow complaining comes across as bull crap to me. We might say the upgrade pace to Windows 8 is evidence that persons are not interested, but what would you expect with a great release called Windows 7 and the fact that many users are more than happy with what it does for them?

Windows 7 is the new XP and I won't be surprised when 2020 comes Microsoft will be in a similar situation trying to get users off it to Windows 12 or whatever version is out by that time.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Windows 8 has a desktop
by TechGeek on Sun 8th Jun 2014 05:31 UTC in reply to "Windows 8 has a desktop"
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

Windows has a broken UI design. It is designed for both touch and non touch devices simultaneously. The problem is that you either are one or the other. If you are on a touch device, why should you have to switch to desktop to use a normal app? And for God's sake, if I am on a desktop with no touch, why can't you lock out metro? It is very jarring to have to pop back and forth between the two interfaces when trying to get work done.

EDIT: It seems you can come close to locking out metro using some third party tools. But still, why should you have to pay extra for it?

Edited 2014-06-08 05:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Windows 8 has a desktop
by BluenoseJake on Tue 10th Jun 2014 15:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Windows 8 has a desktop"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

I have a touch laptop running Win 8.1 here that begs to differ, I use the touchscreen often while using the keyboard. It works well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Windows 8 has a desktop
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 9th Jun 2014 16:49 UTC in reply to "Windows 8 has a desktop"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Have you considered a job in Microsoft's PR department?

There was a lot of crazy stuff in that like "engagement" that they would find attractive.

You either recognize that the UX is fundamentally screwed up and needs to be improved ( like Microsoft does now), or you're in denial (Microsoft under Balmer) .

Reply Score: 2

future of xfce
by TechGeek on Sun 8th Jun 2014 05:45 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

I kind of wonder about the future of xfce. I like the DE, but I wonder if gtk2 is a dead end. And I don't really like Gnome3 at all. The thing that has kept me away from KDE is all the bloat. I don't want a bunch of apps I don't normally use, yet they are tied in. qt 5 is suppose to fix that and make things modular. LXQT is now out in beta and if it is modular, it will be my new desktop.

Reply Score: 3

RE: future of xfce
by kwan_e on Sun 8th Jun 2014 05:59 UTC in reply to "future of xfce"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I kind of wonder about the future of xfce. I like the DE, but I wonder if gtk2 is a dead end.


Linus, who hates C++, chose to have his program "Subsurface" converted to Qt because it was too hard to do basic things.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: future of xfce
by tylerdurden on Sun 8th Jun 2014 19:48 UTC in reply to "RE: future of xfce"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17


Linus, who hates C++, chose to have his program "Subsurface" converted to Qt because it was too hard to do basic things.


Huh? What does this mean?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: future of xfce
by kwan_e on Sun 8th Jun 2014 21:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: future of xfce"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"
Linus, who hates C++, chose to have his program "Subsurface" converted to Qt because it was too hard to do basic things.


Huh? What does this mean?
"

It means not even the suckiness of C++ (in Linus' view) was enough to stop him from ditching GTK2 in favour of Qt. This is how much GTK2 is a dead end from the point of view of one developer.

Reply Score: 7

RE: future of xfce
by ebasconp on Sun 8th Jun 2014 17:18 UTC in reply to "future of xfce"
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

I was wonder about its future too since they are not releasing anything since April 2012.

Reply Score: 3

Screensaver / Screen Lock
by sb56637 on Tue 10th Jun 2014 04:47 UTC
sb56637
Member since:
2006-05-11

The main reason I don't use XFCE is because it is designed to integrate with xscreensaver and xlock. I detest both of those programs. Xscreensaver has fade-to-black, but the fade can't be interrupted while it's in process. And the xlock screen is hideous, to put it mildly. Not only is it ugly, it also has an extremely long and non-configurable delay if the password is fat-fingered.

It is possible to replace these ancient and crufty old xscreesaver/xlock programs, but it requires manual hacking of aliases to xlock, which XFCE is hard-wired to use.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Screensaver / Screen Lock
by karunko on Tue 10th Jun 2014 07:57 UTC in reply to "Screensaver / Screen Lock"
karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

It is possible to replace these ancient and crufty old xscreesaver/xlock programs, but it requires manual hacking of aliases to xlock, which XFCE is hard-wired to use.

Not true:

Settings -> Keyboard -> Application Shortcut pane

If you double click on "xlock..." you can change the shortcut AND the command itself.


Hope this helps,

RT.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Screensaver / Screen Lock
by olejon on Tue 10th Jun 2014 08:53 UTC in reply to "Screensaver / Screen Lock"
olejon Member since:
2012-08-12

In Xubuntu 14.04 it uses Light Locker instead, so the lock screen is like the login screen.

This review should have been of 14.04. It's great.

Reply Score: 3

LinuxBBQ
by Kochise on Tue 10th Jun 2014 15:28 UTC
Kochise
Member since:
2006-03-03

Linux with 76 Windows Manager to try out :

http://linuxbbq.org/

Kochise

Reply Score: 2