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?
Permalink for comment 590482
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Doc Pain
Member since:

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them, because they were sufficiently fast and secure (unlike, for example, when people try to install pirated copies of outdated "Windows XP" on it).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 Parent Score: 2