Linked by Rahul Gaitonde on Mon 10th May 2004 18:41 UTC
Xfce Before we begin, here's what XFce's website has to say about itself: XFce is a lightweight desktop environment for unix-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use. It's based on the GTK+ toolkit version 2.
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it is a great environmnet, however
by Debman on Mon 10th May 2004 18:58 UTC

the dock needs to be a little bit more useful and easier to configure.

there is a way to configure it and customize it, however, it needs to become much easier to do.

it could be improved :)
by gunnix on Mon 10th May 2004 19:07 UTC

I really like XFCE but there are some simple things I would like to see improved. FOr example I really like the icon plugin to replace the taskbar. But you can't right click the icons and close an application =/. That's 1 easy to solve missing feature.
And XFFM could be greatly improved to I think.. like the author said it doesn't look like 1 solid application. It can be polished and they will do I hope.

On my old computer the rollout menu's (there's a better word for it ;) are too slow, windowmaker is much more responsive (166mhz,64mb ram).

Overall it's really great and with time and some effort it'll become even greater.

PS: thx to the XFCE creators ;)

and...
by gunnix on Mon 10th May 2004 19:09 UTC

It doesn't remember the place of the app! That's maybe most irritating :S

XFCE vs. KDE3.2 question
by anonymaus on Mon 10th May 2004 19:10 UTC

Some comments were made about XFCE "giving KDE3.2 a run for its money."

Just out of curiosity, what are the realistic system requirements of each? I've seen numerous wm's mention they run on older or 'lighter' hardware, but I've rarely seen anyone outline the hardware the recommend for *nix applications.

I've got a project coming up to build a couple of lightweight desktops for a local non-profit, and I'd be curious to know if there was a page floating around listing a comparison of the system requirements of various DE's and WM's.

It'd be really handy to get a sort of "executive overview" of various desktops, to make life easier for would-be (and in my case wanna-be) system integrators.

What?
by David on Mon 10th May 2004 19:17 UTC

For users like me, who're stuck with 6-year-old Pentium IIs, KDE and GNOME seem more or less sluggish (depending upon how much RAM you have). But XFce is blazing fast. It gives even KDE 3.2 a run for its money.

This is the most stupid comment I have ever heard. Considering what is in KDE, the features, the infrastructure and the development environment if it gives KDE a run for its money then it's pointless isn't it?

A missing screenshot
by Anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 19:20 UTC

A screenshot of XFCE with gnome-panel would have been a treat. Personally, I'm comfortable with the less-functional XFCE-taskbar + XFCE-panel combination. Still, it'll be interesting to see what enhancements the next major release will bring to XFCE.

RE: XFCE vs. KDE3.2 question
by TenaciousOne on Mon 10th May 2004 19:26 UTC
next version
by Adam Scheinberg on Mon 10th May 2004 19:37 UTC


XFCE 4 is incredible. Fast, easy, very themeable, and inventive. By version 5, this thing is going to be much more prevelent and have most of the general usability issues ironed out. I'm psyched.

Xfce4
by jeb on Mon 10th May 2004 19:39 UTC

I have found Xfce4 to be a very usable, stable, and remarkably bug free desktop. Xfce is very comfortable to work with.

Xfce4 = good
by Anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 19:54 UTC

4 is a HUGE improvement, and I was well satisfied with it. I use it mainly stock, I hate having icons on the desk, so I was pleased there too. To config the toolbar, right click and look at all of the little modules to play with. Currently at home we're switching between this and Gnome 2.6, both fufill what I need outta a desktop/WM.

If you haven't used anything past Xfce3, you have to try this one.

What license is Xfce4 under?
by Luposian on Mon 10th May 2004 19:58 UTC

BSD? GPL? Something else?:

Luposian

THE Desktop
by rzakaria on Mon 10th May 2004 20:01 UTC

I just love Xfce4, lot of x-tra stuff like the different system load icons, the calender and the yellow notes are really handy. Thanx Xfce people for this software.

RE: What? (@David)
by chazwurth on Mon 10th May 2004 20:06 UTC

He's obviously only implying that it gives KDE a run for its money in terms of speed - which it does. KDE is slow as a turtle compared to Xfce4, especially on slow machines. Xfce is a great alternative for people who don't like any of the *box DEs but want their old machines to run fast and look good.

re: What license is Xfce4 under?
by Anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 20:11 UTC

http://freshmeat.net/projects/xfce/ says that it is under the GPL.

RE: XFCE vs. KDE3.2 question
by James on Mon 10th May 2004 20:19 UTC

From my experience:

KDE - Minimum: P2-300 with 128mb ram
XFCE - Minimum: P133 with 32mb ram

These are what I'd say the minimum requirements would be. Anything less than that and it would be rather painful. This does not take into account the gianormous apps you might be running.

shortcuts
by kallur on Mon 10th May 2004 20:21 UTC

Is there something similar to alt+tab to switch between open applications?

Very nice + LuitLinux XFCE-based LiveCD
by -=StephenB=- on Mon 10th May 2004 20:25 UTC

Ironically enough, this article popped up on the front page at just about the same time as I finished downloading a copy of the LuitLinux ISO (a small Knoppix-based liveCD that uses XFCE 4 as its desktop - http://luitlinux.sarovar.org/). My comments:

- The flash demos on the XFCE site (under screenshots) are a great idea, they're the main thing that got me to try it.

- It would be nice if there were a simple setting to "use iconbox instead of taskbar" - I couldn't find a method to disable the taskbar entirely through the GUI.

- It would also be nice if there were a way to make a panel entry *only* act as a menu - whether you click the menu widget or the button itself.

- This may sound like an odd comment, but I'd actually like to be able to use the new spatial nautilus to draw XFCE's desktop and act as its filemanager. Hey, it's the closest thing I've seen to BeOS' OpenTracker on *nix.

All in all, playing around with it quite impressed me. Great for middle-of-the-road power users like me - aka people who want something simple enough that it "just works" most of the time, but robust/flexible enough that it can allow you to more efficiently perform common tasks.

XFCE lacks of...
by anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 20:29 UTC

...nice integration of ROX2 (desktop icons and nice, fast filemanager) and taskbar into panel, so that I don't waste space for taskbar *&* panel and doesn't move my mouse from taskbar to panel and vice versa, if I move my mouse (i'm lazy ;-)

All at all, it *could* be a very fast DE, but it lacks of... read above!

Sorry, it's only my wishes what XFCE could have (and these wishes makes XFCE not being overbloated) and if you mean you don't need my wishes than you don't have to activate my it to use XFCE.
But maybe other people wants my wishes too?

"Start menu"
by Nikola Pizurica on Mon 10th May 2004 20:39 UTC

>There's no single "Start Menu"

There is "Start menu" in CVS version in a form of "Desktop menu" plug-in for panel, I'm using it right now.Works and looks great, also there is menu editor.

Best way to try XFCE - FreeSBIE
by CdBee on Mon 10th May 2004 20:42 UTC

If you want to try XFCE out without having to install a *nix OS to your hard drive, have a look at FreeSBIE - http://www.freesbie.org/

It is a FreeBSD Unix LiveCD distributed as an ISO - within 5 mins of downloading it I was in XFCE playing with settings.

Here is a screenshot: http://www.freesbie.org/images/20040224.jpg

I couldn't get online with it as this version (1.0) doesn't have a driver for my nForce2 motherboard's onboard networking, but your mileage may vary.

re freesbie
by CdBee on Mon 10th May 2004 20:44 UTC

.. forgot to mention - it boots to a text prompt, type

startx

to load the desktop WM

screenshot
by Nikola Pizurica on Mon 10th May 2004 20:58 UTC

Forgot to post screenshot, with Desktop menu plug-in from CVS version:
http://pizurica.on.neobee.net/screenshot/xfce-cvs.png
(with rox filer and rox pinboard for desktop icons)

desktop performance
by Paul on Mon 10th May 2004 20:59 UTC

To the fellow who asked about performance, I don't know about XFCE, but KDE is usable with as little as 96MB of RAM. I run it on my laptop just fine, and that's all it has. Anything less than 96MB, however, and there is an extreme drop-off in performance.

RE: XFCE lacks of..
by Nikola Pizurica on Mon 10th May 2004 21:03 UTC

>and taskbar into panel, so
>that I don't waste space for taskbar *&*
>panel and doesn't move my mouse from taskbar
>to panel and vice versa, if I move my mouse

There is panel plug-in for just that. It is part of xfce4 goodies, here is how it looks:
http://xfce-goodies.berlios.de/images/xfce-taskbar-plugin.png

Article synopsis
by Anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 21:13 UTC

Kinda of odd to say 'GTK+ toolkit', given that the 'TK' stands for the latter.

Unless you mean to say 'Gimp ToolKit toolkit'? ;)

RE: shortcuts
by Raf on Mon 10th May 2004 21:26 UTC

Yes, there is. Alt + Tab cycles through all open applications on the current virtual desktop (perhaps it is possbile to make it cycle between all open applications as well, I don't know about that).

i'd love to use xfce4...
by dr_gonzo on Mon 10th May 2004 21:34 UTC

...but i keep going back to KDE. xfce4 was just too awkward to use. instead of having a taskbar, they should just highlight the apps' icons in the panel when they are running, kinda like in mac os x, also, instead of having an "add launcher", the panel should have drag 'n' drop support.

that'd rock!

Try 56
by Chris on Mon 10th May 2004 21:34 UTC

"To the fellow who asked about performance, I don't know about XFCE, but KDE is usable with as little as 96MB of RAM. I run it on my laptop just fine, and that's all it has. Anything less than 96MB, however, and there is an extreme drop-off in performance."
Xfce and flux were usable on 56MB (64-8 for gfx).
I use xfce on my main desktop because I noticed KDE 3.2 was dogging up application load times (I don't know how, but if I ran something off the panel icon it would take longer to load). Also, I couldn't get arts to stay off. And the final annoyance was random process usage. I liked KDE 3.2, but it doesn't fit my use as well as xfce. I still recommend KDE and Gnome to noobs, xfce is too difficult to edit the startup.

Re: license
by Anonymous on Mon 10th May 2004 21:39 UTC

I guess XFCE is licensed under a dual license (BSD and GPL).

Too annoying
by Marcus Sundman on Mon 10th May 2004 21:56 UTC

There are lots of small details highlighting the fact that the developers of XFce4 haven't even read a single book on UI design. (E.g. the 1 pixel "dead zone" between the panel buttons and the edge of the screen, which causes it to take 2-5 times longer to select an item.)

Then there are things that can only be attributed to sheer stupidity, such as Xffm thinking the file type is determined by the text after the first dot in the file name. Really, I kid you not! (It took me quite a while to realize why it couldn't remember what application to use although I told it again and again. I first ran "My video 1.1.mpg" and when asked I told it to always use xine for this type of files, and then when I ran "My video 1.2.mpg" it aksed me again what application to use, apparently thinking that "2.mpg" is a new file type and completely different than the previous "1.mpg" file type. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!)

WM?
by Q on Mon 10th May 2004 22:03 UTC

Is Xfce a glorified window manager?

Performance
by dpi on Mon 10th May 2004 22:28 UTC

(No, it is a DE.)

"KDE - Minimum: P2-300 with 128mb ram"

Mind you, performance improved between KDE 2.x and KDE 3.x. I assume you mean KDE 3.x. I've ran KDE 2.x on a P2-400 + 128 MB RAM for quite a while and the performance was "acceptable".

"XFCE - Minimum: P133 with 32mb ram"

For XFce4 i can confirm this. Though the browser will run slowly (no matter wether you use Opera, Galeon or Mozilla Firefox).

lalalal
by Myren on Mon 10th May 2004 22:35 UTC

xfce4 has a much smaller memory footprint than kde. it'll run a slower processor too, but by how much is anyone's guess/annoyance. if you want a lusch configurable lightweight interface, xfce is it. pretty too, very geoshell esque.

still, aint nothing like FluxBox, or, if you wanna bite the bullet, OpenBox-"it-adheres-to-more-standards-than-your-apps-will"-3 is always an apt-get away. but thats just me.

It's the combination! :)
by dpi on Mon 10th May 2004 23:11 UTC

"[...] still, aint nothing like FluxBox, or, if you wanna bite the bullet, OpenBox [...]"

Point taken, and to each his/her own.

However what i like so much in XFce4 is that it is both lightwight and user-friendly. Sure, KDE runs well on stuff like P2's, but those are more expensive than P1's. Blackbox/Fluxbox/Openbox/IceWM runs fast on P1's, but not as user-friendly as as XFce4.

Say a poor family may chose between to buy 3x a P1-200 (with *Box or XFce4) or 1x a P2-350 (with KDE/GNOME) while the family consists of say 5 kids and 2 parents. What would you recommend? What about a NGO where work has to be done?

Really, XFce4 combines lightwight _and_ user-friendly so well it makes perfect sense in loads of situations where either KDE or *Box simply isn't an option.

I'm very thankful for its existence.

Buy a better computer
by Bob on Mon 10th May 2004 23:12 UTC

To people discussing what will run on lower system requirements, why bother? Memory is dirt cheap now, there's no reason not to have 512Mb. People who have time to install and configure all these obscure WM clearly spend most of their days on their computers. If that is the case, why not just go and buy better gear and use what make them more productive and not what runs best on a 486 SX 66Mhz with 8Mb of RAM?

I also agree comparing XFCE to KDE is silly. They have completely different aims to each other. Saying that, I do not see why you would want to use XFCE to give you a partial desktop environment to work with.

RE: It's the combination! :)
by Bob on Mon 10th May 2004 23:18 UTC

"Say a poor family may chose between to buy 3x a P1-200 (with *Box or XFce4) or 1x a P2-350 (with KDE/GNOME) while the family consists of say 5 kids and 2 parents. What would you recommend? What about a NGO where work has to be done? "

What does it matter? I'd be impressed if you could still buy below 1Ghz in most shops now they are so cheap. Plus, XFCE doesn't offer anything near to the facilities that KDE and GNOME do. In any practical scenario, you're going to be running KDE and GNOME applications anyway.

Bob,
by dpi on Mon 10th May 2004 23:31 UTC

"What does it matter? I'd be impressed if you could still buy below 1Ghz in most shops now they are so cheap. Plus, XFCE doesn't offer anything near to the facilities that KDE and GNOME do. In any practical scenario, you're going to be running KDE and GNOME applications anyway."

Are you gonna pay some 1 GHz CPU's, motherboards and RAM for the non-profit organisation i volunteer for? We're already very thankful for receiving any 2nd hand computer part for free.

"Memory is dirt cheap now, there's no reason not to have 512Mb"

Makes only sense for middle class people. Not for poor people, semi-middle class, loads of non-profit organisations, 3rd world countries, homeless people...

Really, i think you do not have the slightest idea of how much "dirt cheap" to some is. It means that "dirt cheap" RAM, 1 GHz processor, huge HDD to stick tons of media/warez on and KDE/GNOME are simply _not_ an option.

"I do not see why you would want to use XFCE to give you a partial desktop environment to work with."

Same as with KDE, it is extremely easy to customize lightweight, basic programs in XFce4. Programs like: a screensaver, a file manager, mounting a floppy, a webbrowser, an e-mail program. With the exception of a user-friendly & fast (not yours, but my definition applying on the hardware i'm talking about) browser.

Finally, wouldn't you rather give away your old P1/200 + 32 MB RAM + 1 GB HDD, which has no value to you anymore, to someone who has NOTHING at all? Including a user-friendly DE with it? Those are the situations i'm speaking about, and there's only one user-friendly _and_ lightweight DE which makes this possible IMO: the one we're discussing.

Don't make it apply to much to your own living standards. Don't forgot there are people in this world who are far, far worse off than you are. Like i said, to each his/her own.

XFCE is great
by Gallen on Mon 10th May 2004 23:53 UTC

I use XFCE all the time. I prefer it because it looks nice, works nicely, is simple and has a nice feature set. It runs on anything I own (which is some pretty old stuff) and starts faster than I could ever hope for.

For those that complain about UI design. I choose to do work with my desktop, not complain about a pixel here. Who cares if it takes 2-5 times as long to start my xterm. I only have to do it once. I really only click those buttons every once in a while and it gives me a nice pretty, uncluttered environment to work in.

xffm may not be the greatest, but it is fine to use, and it's not a hog like konqueror or nautilus. It takes no time for me to configure it to my liking and it works great.

For people think that KDE is the best for everybody for all purposes, perhaps they should just try sitting still for a while and listening. The world isn't using only KDE. I know very few people here at my university who choose KDE. Everybody else uses XFCE4.

That said, if you don't care about appearance, XFCE3 is the fastest thing around (except maybe twm or fluxbox, but it is still quite usable). It made my old P2 233 feel faster than my Athlon XP.

I hope people will understand that it's good that there are choices, and that XFCE is a great platform for getting work done. It may not be the best platform for Grandma, but it sure is the best for me with my physics and engineering.

RE dpi
by gunnix on Tue 11th May 2004 00:01 UTC

"Say a poor family may chose between to buy 3x a P1-200 (with *Box or XFce4) or 1x a P2-350 (with KDE/GNOME) while the family consists of say 5 kids and 2 parents. What would you recommend? What about a NGO where work has to be done?"

I totally disagree with giving 3 computers to 1 family. If these people are poor I'm sure they can do without the energy cost of 3 computers running. Nevermind kids wanting to play computergames all the time, which is no good for anyone.
Rather get them 1x p2 350 with XFCE ;) or just 1x a 200mhz ...

That's my tought, but I have no practical experience in this matter. I'm very interested in these things though and I want to do something like you do. Do you guys have a website

By the way...Windowmaker is a good option next to xfce too... it's actually quite a lot faster. And it has very useful features. But I'm sure you know it ;)

i dont like Kfce
by hbb on Tue 11th May 2004 00:36 UTC

it copies off windows and there are better alternatives out there. It fails to challenge KDE and GNOME. Plus, it copies off windows. UNIX/Linux does NOT need to keep copying off microsoft!!!!

Check out Blackhole Desktop Environment ;-).. Now we're talkin about a challenger!

sorry!!! I got them mixed up!
by hbb on Tue 11th May 2004 00:39 UTC

Sorry. XPde desktop environment is the one I was talking about copying off windows. My mind went for a minute ;-)

But still I think KDE and GNOME and BDE are better alternatives

@ gunnix
by dpi on Tue 11th May 2004 00:47 UTC

"I totally disagree with giving 3 computers to 1 family. If these people are poor I'm sure they can do without the energy cost of 3 computers running. Nevermind kids wanting to play computergames all the time, which is no good for anyone.
Rather get them 1x p2 350 with XFCE ;) or just 1x a 200mhz ... "

Point taken. I agree, especially when it is possible to distribute them over 3 families who need a computer.

"That's my tought, but I have no practical experience in this matter. I'm very interested in these things though and I want to do something like you do. Do you guys have a website"

Yes. The folowing places provide a platform for free Internet access to homeless people, squatters, or anyone else who has interest to experiment with Linux. They're also a social hangout ;)

Ascii, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands: http://www.scii.nl
Puscii, in Utrecht, The Netherlands: http://www.puscii.nl
Leeuwscii, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands: No Website afaik. Not opened yet afaik. Last time i heard, they were almost there.
There's also one in Lyon, France but i forgot its name and website.

Feel free to take a look.

Hardware also gets distributed to other countries (ie. Spain) occassionally, but such shipments are quite expensive.

There might be projects like this in Belgium as well, i don't know. If you're really interested in starting one up, i'm willing to help where i can (i live in Dutch Limburg). If you want, i can also bring you in contact with other people who might be able to help you: people from Belgium, people from *SCII's.

At PUSCII (where i volunteer every once in a while when i can afford the trip) we experimented with WindowMaker, IceWM, Fluxbox, FVWM, and later with XFce4. While XFce4 is slightly slower than the other ones, users found it more convenient. So we chose XFce4 while we were running WMaker/IceWM/Fluxbox/FVWM before that for a few years. We started using XFCe4 around the time XFce 4.0.1 was out.

I'd say that based on my observations, XFce4 generally makes the learning curve to usage (browse, mail, file manager, print, mount floppy, etc) smaller than the other alternatives. Perhaps the standard configurations of the WM's were bad, i never thought about that.

dpi
by Bob on Tue 11th May 2004 00:58 UTC

"Are you gonna pay some 1 GHz CPU's, motherboards and RAM for the non-profit organisation i volunteer for? We're already very thankful for receiving any 2nd hand computer part for free."

Is that really relevent to most people? I want features and things that will make me more productive. I do not use a program or DE because it will run well on an ancient computer. Most people on these boards use their computer for hours every single day and can happily afford new computer parts based on how much they use it. A family can easily buy a powerful computer today for a fraction of the cost 10 years ago. The monitor for a computer costs more than a decent CPU now! Why confine yourself to XFCE because you're too cheap to spend a few $100 on something you use every single day?

Bob,
by dpi on Tue 11th May 2004 01:22 UTC

"Is that really relevent to most people?"

Most people from where? On OSnews.com? On Slashdot.org? Sure, that would be very much mostly. From UK? From USA? Sure, though there are poor people in 1st world countries as well. Or.. from Hungary, Spain, Brasil, the Harsh Streets? Poor people are still more common than rich people... at least in my world, unfortunately this is true.

"Most people on these boards use their computer for hours every single day and can happily afford new computer parts based on how much they use it."

I think you underestimate the power to perceive information from what is now the largest knowledge vault of our societies, ever known: Internet. Or underestimate the power one can type, edit and print something for school on their computer. Or the power to learn a computer instead of hanging around on the streets. Or the power to communicate electronically with people far away, using e-mail or chat.

Rather something than nothing at all; XFce4 allows this something, while not top-notch, to be powerful. Because of this, i say: XFce4 has its place, and i'm thankful for its existence (my whole point in 1 sentence)

"Why confine yourself to XFCE because you're too cheap to spend a few $100 on something you use every single day?"

I never said i do. I have more than enought nice hardware. Though not the latest of the greatest for other reasons, i am more than happy with what i currently have (using GNOME currently).

According to my definitions of "dirt cheap" hardware is cheap enough to be defined as really "dirt cheap" when it is given away for free in quantities. This means new hardware cannot be dirt cheap as of now, though Bill Gates prefers to see it different in the future. Like with Unicef: it costs little, and it creates so much chances for people, that it feels better to give a bit of money than doing nothing at all. You don't feel it in your purse; others do, heavily. You don't feel it when you give that old computer away either, given it is so out of date that you can easily afford that new "dirty cheap" hardware to run the latest of the greatest.

As done in my previous posts i've already explained why XFce4 is important and made a difference. Perhaps it doesn't for you, feel free to whatever suits you. Like i said: "to each his/her own"!

Off to sleep...

RE: bob/dpi
by chazwurth on Tue 11th May 2004 03:04 UTC

Bob,
It really does make a difference, particularly in the non-profit world. Ever tried working on a project that requires workstations but has a budget of -- LITERALLY -- zero? Scrounged 266 MHz machines with 64 RAM each are a godsend in that situation, and it's nice to have an operating system and desktop environment that can use them to their fullest. Not everyone is a home user or a corporate office; sometimes there really is no money at all for bigger and better machines. You might be surprised by how many non-profits are trying to eke whatever they can out of terribly outdated hardware because they just can't get anything better. The great thing about Linux+Xfce in such situations is that many of these organizations need workstations to perform several specific tasks over and over again, not to be versatile desktop machines. With the right software, such machines can actually do what these organizations need.

That aside -- Xfce has its uses on modern hardware as well. Not all of us like to use desktop environments that are feature-rich even on fast(er) machines. Although I use Gnome almost exclusively on my laptop these days, my desktop (an AthlonXP 2000+, 512DDR) runs Xfce almost always. I just don't need anything more on that box.

Comparisons...
by Azmeen Afandi on Tue 11th May 2004 03:07 UTC

Ok, disclaimer: I'm a very happy user of XFce and have used KDE (my former favourite DE), Gnome (sorry to the fans, but I never liked it), Fluxbox (if only font sizes are more predictable in this otherwise very fine WM) and Blackbox (my preferred WM).

I gave XFce a try after using Fluxbox and Blackbox for about 3 months... I love the speed of both WMs, but they are just "funny" in terms of how app windows are handled. Again, I have played with "sticky windows" settings and other miscellanous tweaks for both WMs, but it just doesn't "feel" right to me. And I understand _completely_ that this is not a WM-specific issue... it's just my own _preference_ which I am very much entitled to.

I know I could have taken the easy way out and go back to KDE, or maybe give Gnome another try, but honestly, I'd rather try something new (probably "different" is a better word). I have a pretty recent hardware (Athlon TB 1.4GHz, 384MB 266Mhz DDR RAM), and I don't do any processor-intensive work on my PC.

I don't hate icons on the desktop... but I am a registered offender of dumping everything on the desktop. Strange that I don't realize that my desktop is a jungle until it's too late (I got too comfortable with the desktop that I can find most important stuff, but sometimes it takes quite some time to find that rarely-used file).

Which is what makes me glad that I tried XFce... it never gave me the chance to mess up my desktop for the Nth time! I can't say that it's a lack of usability... nor can I say that it's a feature... But I don't think I'm alone in preferring an iconless (or an uniconable) desktop.

For those who say that you can't compare XFce with KDE or Gnome... that's just unfair. You can, provided that it's a logical comparison. Speed is a very controversial thing to compare, however, I can vouch that XFce loads and feels faster than KDE. I also understand that KDE loads a lot of other "helper" processes, but as a DE _ALONE_, XFce is much faster.

Feature-wise, I very much agree that XFce is not as all-rounded like KDE or Gnome. But to me this is not a bad thing. Heck, I don't think I've ever used (or need) half of the bundled apps in KDE (or Gnome). I can "bundle" the apps _I_ prefer and not what my DE's developers think I would like.

In the end... it's about choice. There's no right or wrong here.

funny how it came up
by foo on Tue 11th May 2004 04:03 UTC

I'm interested in how old comps with Linux can be used for low-to-zero income populations here in the 1st world...and xfce was the DE I settled on! As for the comment about cheap memory...I wish I lived/shopped where you are...memory for cheap old computers can be surprisingly steep in price, take pc66 sdram for example. I believe the last time I checked current pc2700 was far cheaper than old sdram ;)

Like some others have expressed, I can't wait for the next big version of xfce.

peace
foo

@dpi
by gunnix on Tue 11th May 2004 08:57 UTC

I'm interested what distribution and browser you install on those old computers?

By the way... people saying buying new hardware is not expensive... Most people don't need new hardware for what they do on a computer. The most useful things can be done without much processor speed. That said I'm also against buying new hardware and throwing away old working hardware polluting our world... There are people who "need" it for their job but a lot just think they do ;) . It's good when those old computers are given to poor people though.

These light and speedy apps like XFCE, etc. are the future. Also if computers would only use as much power as they really need for what they are processing (hope so in the future)... then those light apps would use less electricity , and you get less wasting of energy in this world. Ever tought of how much electricity those computers waste ? =/

Here's a short story of how I tried to install xfce.

Warning, rant ahead. The reader is advised to interpret the following as a constructive criticism.

First, I got the source. Actually, I used Sorcerer's package management software to install it. But let's pretend that I had tried to install it from the source. It wouldn't probably have been all that different with most other distributions out there, either.

Ok, I "configure && make install" it and start looking for the window manager binary. All right, it must be this "xfwm4". I change my .xinitrc to say "exec xfwm4" in the end, end of story. Right?

Nope. I start my X and an empty screen appears. "The software must be broken. What a POS this is." All right, maybe I'll try reading the installation guide on the web page. After 30 minutes of intensive reading I find that it's not started by startx or xdm running my .xinitrc, but instead by some script called "startxfce4". All right -- "one of those weird window managers again," I think to myself. But I'll try it, and hey - it works.

Almost.

The next thing I realize that my xterms have the wrong font and colors. It seems as if my .Xresources are not read when I start xfce. I wonder why.

After another half an hour, I find why. The "xrdb -merge .Xresources" is included in the default /etc/xfce4/xinitrc but is commented out! WTF, I think furiously. Why on earth?

If I were some n00b Red Hat user I'd just get root and edit the default xinitrc straight away. But nope, I consider myself a hardcore linux hacker so I decide to make my personal .xinitrc.

So I spend a good 30 minutes wondering where to put it. ~/.xinitrc obviously doesn't work since my old one wasn't executed. Aha, there it is, in ~/.xfce4/xinitrc. I double-check the information from the manual from /usr/bin/startxfce4 because I don't really trust the manual at this phase - how could it when the software is obviously so crappy that it doesn't honor any well-known conventions?

I copy the default xinitrc to ~/.xfce4 and uncomment the crucial lines.

I try to run startxfce4.

It still doesn't work. Maybe something is wrong with my .Xresources? Maybe it didn't read my xinitrc? Why could that be? Maybe it requires that it's executable? I check that /etc/xfce4/xinitrc isn't executable either, so it can't be that.

I spend ANOTHER half an hour debugging the problem, inserting all sort of debug statements (including a lot of swear words) into my ~/.xinitrc and restart xfce about ten times. I won't even look at the manual since I feel that it was so obscure and useless before. Besides, the webpage said that I just need to make my own .xinitrc. It certainly would have been mentioned if anything else is needed.

Then I check, once again, /usr/bin/startxfce4 to find out the reason as to why it didn't read my xinitrc.

My xinitrc actually *has* to be executable.

Even though /etc/xfce4/xinitrc _isn't_.

Even though the standard X11 startx doesn't require it to be.

Unbelievable.

chmod +x ~/.xinitrc, ta-dah, it works.

Great. After two hours of fighting, I've managed to get it up and running. All right, maybe I could've spent less than half an hour for each four steps depicted above. Maybe 10 minutes per task would have been enough. But that's still 40 minutes, enough to make most people give up in the process.

All right, all of these things are described in the manual but firstly, the developers should pay attention to the following fact, proven by usability research ages ago:

NOBODY WILL READ THE MANUAL.

(You're lucky that I even read the installation web page! Which, by the way, doesn't contain _all_ necessary information and also contains way too much text to be processed easily. So I resorted to hacking and trial-and-error which at the time was the more comfortable alternative.)

And secondly, when people get so annoyed that they are forced to reading the manual, they are not at all delighted when they find out that xfce4 applies _almost_ precisely the usual mechanisms employed by every other sane window manager out there (use startx or xdm, run from .xinitrc). But just slightly differently so that your gathered-through-several-years-with-other-window-managers instinct lets you down there.

And boy, that's annoying.

Well, I have no problems any more. Xfce is a nice environment to use. But it could be more popular if it also was an easy environment to install.

(And it actually _is_ true that nobody will read the manuals, or at least the world would be a better place if everyone wrote their software so that nobody would _have_ to read them. I heartily recommend studying some usability literature, they actually have pretty useful things to say.)

third world markets
by peter on Tue 11th May 2004 12:23 UTC

A new computer with monitor costs US$ 360 in Ecuador. In a community with 80 families this means US$ 5 for each family to buy it. It wil be a 1 GHz with 128 RAM, 40 GB and whatever.
The shop will install happily whatever software you want.

To get donated computers a community must apply for them. They will get second hand garanteed computers with training and legalised Microsoft software.

You could use old computers, LTSP and XFCE4 to make them work. However, you can't get old hardware like memory and video cards, LTSP4 makes it more difficult to use old videocards and most of the info is in English. We've been victims of a so called "Donation" by some German radio station and their trash costed us a lot of money to get it through customs, a lot of time to make it work and a lot of frustration to see that it can't network etc.

I would opt for that new, cheap 1 GHz computer, add a dual head, connect two extra monitors, USB keyboards and USB mice and use Linux with XFCE4 to make it a cheap and fast computer center.
For the community it would mean that each family would have to pay US$ 9 to get a new system so they would share 1 computer for each 27 families instead of 1 in 80.

Now where can I get the micro-credits to make this work...

RE: It might be easy to use, but a hell of a chore to install
by Anonymous on Tue 11th May 2004 13:42 UTC

"But let's pretend that I had tried to install it from the source. It wouldn't probably have been all that different with most other distributions out there, either."

Most other distros (and *BSDs too) have native packages (sometimes both source and binary) for XFCE4 and, hence, installing XFCE4 is no more difficult than installing any other wm/de.

@ gunnix
by dpi on Tue 11th May 2004 17:42 UTC

"I'm interested what distribution and browser you install on those old computers?"

On PUSCII we generally use Debian GNU/Linux. Some run FreeBSD and one RedHat computer. We also experiment with Live CD's like Knoppix, Clustered Knoppix, Dyne Bolic, etc.

As browser we use Galeon. We used Opera in the past. Mozilla Firefox is also installed and occasionally used. Lynx and Dillo also IIRC.

Can't speak about the other ones.

"Ever tought of how much electricity those computers waste ? =/"

Yes. Old PC's use generally less energy than newer ones. Also a problem for us. One option to cut costs slightly is to use a multihead together with a faster one (700-1000 for 3) as explained on the ASCII website.

What a weird name...
by Lord of Come on Tue 11th May 2004 18:19 UTC

XFCE... couldn´t they find a more weirdo name than this? Open Source terminology contamination. Just name the DAMN thing something at least pronounceable. The window placement is bad, why isn't there a config to make windows place themselves at the center? Just damn tired of "smart" placement.

Spain
by medium-medium class Spanish on Tue 11th May 2004 18:21 UTC

It's funny to see how many of you think Spain is an under-developed country ...

Perfect as it is!
by xzgv on Tue 11th May 2004 18:46 UTC

I don't use KDE or GNOME because these behemoths are sluggish on my PII/266 128mb RAM.

XFCE4 is perfect, simple, pretty and extremely fast, it consumes very little memory. I wanted the apps original icons for the panel, so i looked for them with the command: locate <package> xpm or pixmaps.

Being a blackbox refugee i changed the left workspace margin
to 5 in the settings manager, ao now i can right-click on the left side of the screen and choose from the Debian menu,
if i'm looking for an obscure app.

The taskbar and panel in auto-hide, gives me the whole screen to read more confortable in my 17" monitor.

XFCE4 devs: don't add any more stuff unless it makes it faster, ignore the KDE cry-babies who want their wm to make coffee for them. Keep it fast and simple.

Thanks for a great product.

@js
by Anonymous on Tue 11th May 2004 19:14 UTC

Sorcerer, huh? ubergeek,huh? Let me stay a dumb newbie.

In Debian:

apt-get -y install xfce4

In /home/username/.xinitrc:

exec xfce4-session

xrdb -merge /home/username/.Xresources

logout/login

and voilá!

hope this helps

pager
by Anonymous on Tue 11th May 2004 19:47 UTC

"After this is the graphical pager. The best part is, I can drag a window previewed in the pager (for instance, the GVim window in the leftmost workspace) in the picture above, to another workspace, and it'll actually move! The only other place where I've seen this kind of functionality is in Enlightenment."

Er, GNOME has done this for ages.

Excuse && Enlightenment
by dpi on Tue 11th May 2004 20:47 UTC

"It's funny to see how many of you think Spain is an under-developed country ..."

I never said that, an what i said wasn't meant as an offense to people from ie. Spain. I am perfectly aware it is a generalisation just as it is a generalisation when one claims everyone in the USA is rich. No offense meant.

"Er, GNOME has done this for ages."

In which versions? If it was 1.x it could just as well been E actually, since GNOME _used_ E for ages as well!

XFCE 3 was great
by David Skoll on Wed 12th May 2004 02:38 UTC

I run XFCE, but not version 4. I'm sticking to the latest release of version 3, because I greatly prefer it. Version 4 tries to copy all the things I hate about Gnome/KDE/Windows like the taskbar.

taskbar
by gunnix on Wed 12th May 2004 10:23 UTC

Yea the taskbar is a bit rediculous... should be off by default

@dpi
by gunnix on Wed 12th May 2004 10:43 UTC

You ever tried Epiphany or Backarrow (skipstone based)? I think those are lighter then galeon.
Dillo is idd a fast one and I hope they get frames support soon.

and w3m is also a nice console browser with images support in x ;)

Also maybe this page is interesting for you: http://www.ibiblio.org/amigo/
The minimal install index is good info


Re: What
by David on Thu 13th May 2004 22:27 UTC

He's obviously only implying that it gives KDE a run for its money in terms of speed - which it does. KDE is slow as a turtle compared to Xfce4

I don't think you realise what you've just written there.