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?
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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:

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.

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