I am a long time Gnome fan, but recently I had an unexpected run in with Xfce. I was visiting a friend of mine and he had an old laptop that couldn’t be used for anything much really. So we decided to give a shot at install Linux on it. Obviously Xubuntu was the distro of choice since the hardware was pretty old. We got around to installing it and I quickly noticed how fast the GUI was responding even on such old and rather archaic piece of hardware. The Xfce environment looked really slick indeed. I was under the wrong impression that Xfce missed all the bells and whistles provided by Gnome or KDE. Obviously the next thing was to install it on my own desktop, which I did, and I can tell you, the Xfce desktop manager is quite a bit faster than its older and heavier cousins. I generally don’t mess around with stable OS configurations, but I happen to be a speed freak and anything that is fast and light always tends to get my attention. Naturally I made an exception with this one. Now, Xfce is my default desktop.
With everything set to default, Xfce does take less memory than Gnome or KDE. But it wasn’t the only thing that impressed me about this desktop environment. In functionality too it seems to be designed to enhance productivity. Not like other managers aren’t, but you know those little things that nag you about other windowing systems under Linux; well they are nicely taken care of in Xfce. The desktop environment has a uncluttered interface, and though it may miss the richness of KDE, every focus is made so that the user can find his\her way around quickly. Xfce feels and looks very much like a lightweight clone of the Gnome manager (, thought it is not). Also Xfce will happily work with Gnome and the two can exist on the same machine without conflict and to some extent are even interoperable and share data between them (, like Xfce being able to use Gnome icons and files). That’s just a thumbs up as far as I am concerned.
The default file manager under Xfce desktop, Thunar is much (much) faster to open up, and though it lacks some features of Nautilus, I didn’t find any work hindering features missing. So on the whole, is Xfce for you? Well judging from this post you can pretty much see where I stand. However it is a matter of personal taste. If you like an uncluttered fast desktop, or have a lot of windows open which you switch around often (, I know I do), then you have to check Xfce out. I for one, am pretty happy with Xfce, and I am not switching in a hurry.