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I used to use XFCE 4.0 exclusively before KDE 3.2. And then I found that I can happily use KDE with prelinking enabled and all eyecandy turned off (including wallpapers and K menu picture). I really can't see any difference in speed (besides launching times, which are not bad too thanks to the prelinking) -- and this is on Celeron 266 with 128M RAM! But the gain in functionality is significant.
The main reasons why XFCE loses IMO compared to KDE are the following:
* Panel functionality. As much progress as XFCE has made with 4.2, the panel stays basically the same: you have to open a dialog that creates an application launcher and then manually enter information in it. I think in the 21 century it's become pretty standard to be able to drag-n-drop a launcher on the panel from the application menu.
* Application Menu. I understand that this is the first implementation, but the way it exists today, application menu in XFCE is extremely messy compared to KDE's or GNOME's.
* Desktop icons. Those who say that desktop icons are bad believe usually that they exist for launching apps, and for this kind of use they are indeed useless. But desktop is NOT a kind of launcher panel! To me, it is a special filemanager window that is accessible by one click (the Show Desktop button) and DOES NOT TAKE SPACE ON THE TASKBAR! This is the location where you put all the stuff you haven't yet decided where to put, and for such a purpose desktop icons make perfect sense.
I heard though that the panel is going to be rewritten in the future (probably in the 4.4 version), so maybe it will invalidate some of my complaints...