The pros of XFCE DE?

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deanr72
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The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by deanr72 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am

After watching a video about MX Linux, downloading it, being super impressed and then downloading and playing with Mint XFCE, I find myself becoming more and more impressed with the XFCE desktop. For example, I just learned how easy it is to have different wallpapers on each virtual desktop - something which you comes across as being a major gripe for many who use different DEs.

I'm currently on Mint Cinnamon 19.1 (and Cinnamon has been my daily driver since I switched to Linux just over a 15 months ago) and am weighing up switching to XFCE. I don't think I really 'need' to, but I've noticed just a few bugs starting to appear now - mostly due to everyday wear and tear I guess.

Almost all forum posts on the topic of potentially switching to XFCE focus on how light it is as a DE. But then so many other people run XFCE on modern machines with 8gb RAM or higher. So, without focussing on the 'lightness' aspect, what are the other main attractions of the XFCE DE? Why do you use it despite being on a well-equipped computer? Even the little things like multiple wallpapers - the things that might not be so obvious to someone who's just played around with it for a while.

Particular features I've been impressed by so far are:

- multiple wallpapers
- transparent windows when moving
- easily customisable menu
- an easily to manipulate panel (with equal spaced applets!)
- variations on the panel clock (LCD,digital, fuzzy, etc.)

Is there something about Cinnamon that I'd likely really miss or feel is lacking?

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by BigEasy » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:54 am

deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am
Almost all forum posts on the topic of potentially switching to XFCE focus on how light it is as a DE. But then so many other people run XFCE on modern machines with 8gb RAM or higher. So, without focussing on the 'lightness' aspect, what are the other main attractions of the XFCE DE?
I do not always check how much RAM my DE takes.
But when I do I prefer to save 0.5Gb of RAM instead of spending it.
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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by bodhin » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:40 pm

i tried it a couple of times and the one time it did not seem much faster - but that was on my wife's old - now dead thinkpad r series. so that may have been it. I also do not like the look sor feel of it and seems rather limiting. just me - i do use and found it ok lxde. running debian 9.8 on an old macbook with minimal ram. i could get into it vs the xfce. you want fast and light try Bodhi 5. moksha/enlightenment. this is my favorite desktop. takes a bit getting used to but once you setit all up and get it working and find a lot of stuff in tthe various areas it is so nice. to me this is the pinnacle of linux re: desktops.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by rene » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:01 pm

deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am
Is there something about Cinnamon that I'd likely really miss or feel is lacking?
It being the best supported environment on Mint, if you are as I am here largely due to neverending Linux-mess in a majority of other distributions and with other environments being (even) worse.

I'd for example point to the Users & Groups tool in the Xfce and MATE editions being a generic GNOME tool with its own defaults for e.g. default additional groups, whereas the Cinnamon tool is configured as per the Mint-developers ideas. Or how GNOME Online Accounts is installed in the Xfce and MATE editions but not in fact configurable without manually installing the GNOME control center.

In the large picture the issues are quite minor though, meaning that if you're not already overly tired of all this especially the Xfce edition makes great sense.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by mediclaser » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:18 pm

deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am
... So, without focussing on the 'lightness' aspect, what are the other main attractions of the XFCE DE?
Familiarization with Xfce helps me when experimenting with other Linux distributions, because almost all popular Linux distros have Xfce version in their lineup.
deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am
Is there something about Cinnamon that I'd likely really miss or feel is lacking?
I personally like how Mint Cinnamon makes everything easy, especially (samba) sharing a folder. It is the only distro I know of which can share folders without touching the keyboard and without any fuzz (no messing with the smb.conf file). It can all be done with just the mouse.
If you're looking for a greener Linux pasture, you won't find any that is greener than Linux Mint. ;)

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by Reaccion Raul » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:34 am

Depends on your workflow.

Things i found great about Cinnamon:
- You don't need to install a Dock. The new "modern panel" can work like that.
- Great utilities to see all workspaces at once or windows opened on them a la expose style.
- A lot of Alt Tab possibilities.

About XFCE:
- Almost perfect settings UI. My favourite one.
- Lightning fast.
- Infinite customization.
- Everything has what it should have, nothing more to distract you.

Overall I like XFCE more, i use it at work everyday and never had any issue. I got Cinnamon on my laptop. I like Cinnamon better for small screen since it's management of workspaces it's nicer to me, then again.. by installing compiz on xfce i could get mostly the same.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by deanr72 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:04 am

Thanks for the comments so far. Each day I'm becoming more impressed with XFCE.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by JerryF » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:32 pm

deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:36 am
...

Particular features I've been impressed by so far are:

- multiple wallpapers
- transparent windows when moving
- easily customisable menu
- an easily to manipulate panel (with equal spaced applets!)
- variations on the panel clock (LCD,digital, fuzzy, etc.)

Is there something about Cinnamon that I'd likely really miss or feel is lacking?
I used to use Cinnamon and now use Xfce. I prefer the Whisker menu, as you stated, easy to manipulate the panel.

For myself, I don't find that I miss or is lacking going from Cinnamon to Xfce.

I have 8 GB RAM with a 250 GB SSD. I could easily run Cinnamon, but prefer Xfce.
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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by old_noob » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:39 pm

Not much to add, except that I love XFCE. So fast & efficient. This morning I had a Windows 7 box and a Mint XFCE laptop open on the same desk. At rest (booted up for a few minutes but no apps open) W7 was consuming 1.75GB of RAM and Mint XFCE was at 400MB. Mint opens Firefox roughly twice as fast as W7 (SSD's in both devices but the Windows box actually has a faster CPU). Admittedly splitting hairs but the difference is visible.

And XFCE on MX Linux is even a little leaner and faster than Mint.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by zcot » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:11 pm

I think the workspace margins function is a cool feature I haven't seen elsewhere... -saw someone call it a desktop gutter. If you maximize a window it won't overtake the margin so you have your stock ticker, eyeballs, or some people like some screen applets, or conky stuff there.

I'm guessing it just works pretty well because, well, the development cycle has been around for many years longer than most of the desktops. And I like that the whole integration of parts are coming from the same code base, as opposed to many of the desktops relying on not-especially-related pieces having to be integrated together to create the whole picture.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by Shadow in Fire » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:13 am

In my experience, Xfce is just better than every other DE that I've used (e.g. Cinnamon, MATE, LXDE, LXQt, KDE Plasma). In fact, it's the only DE that bridges the gap between nostalgia coming from Windows XP (or older) and giving it a modern twist with an up-to-date GNU/Linux distro. I like that Salix OS, based on Slackware, comes with Xfce by default. It's a distro I'd been meaning to switch to from Linux Mint, depending on how things look once support for 18.3 ends.

Anyway, I just prefer Xfce for being simpler and more robust, as I've had countless problems getting certain things to work with the likes of Cinnamon and MATE. It's not a dig at either of those, because they are rightfully noteworthy DEs for a modern desktop experience, but the sheer customizing capabilities of an Xfce install can keep me going for years down the road without worrying about a possible alternative. I do acknowledge that Xfce has its issues. For one, there are issues with window management that can be cosmetic or lead to Xorg conflicts. It's all about editing config files for the most part, but there are issues, as always, that need to be patched up as soon as possible.

For a file manager, I also really like Thunar. Nemo and Caja never gave me much satisfaction, and even spiffy ones such as SpaceFM has problems (e.g. multiple tabs that persist on restart).

Compiz, which is often bundled with Xfwm4 for managing windows, sucks. Replacing it with Compton eliminated most of my video problems, such as screen tearing.

By the way, one thing I wish would get implemented (if not already done on a recent build) is a volume applet for ALSA and/or OSS. There's the one for PulseAudio, but if you take a firm stance against the Poettering plague (despite it being near-impossible at this point in recent Ubuntu or Debian versions, as it will still exist in some shape or form, such as Systemd still existing as a service manager, even if replaced as an init), then you'd want an alternative to that. I did post a thread asking how to do this, and I was stuck for a while. What I actually did was take it to an Arch Linux build I had, installed it from the AUR, and then I could manually copy a few files of the plugin for my Linux Mint installs. Worked like a charm.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by BigEasy » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:15 am

Better DE is those DE that is better for your grandmother. It is MATE. Don't believe me? Try to install XFCE for her and wait.
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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by H.Remedy » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:02 pm

In addition to everything else that has been said, here are a couple more cool things in Xfce:
  • Custom actions in Thunar (Edit > Configure customs actions)
  • Search Actions in Whisker Menu (Right Click > Properties > Search Actions)
  • Bonus: Open Thunar, click on a drop-down menu (like File or Edit), hover the mouse cursor over the shortcut command for one of the items (like Ctrl+N for New Window), and just type a new shortcut on your keyboard. Watch as the old shortcut is replaced with the new one!

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by handsomegenius » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:49 am

One small but definitely very nice thing I miss about xfce now that I'm on Cinnamon was the little quick start buttons to open your most used apps with a single click.

Cinnamon sort of does a similar thing - if you pin apps to the taskbar, you can open them with one click as well - so long as you don't have one of those apps open already. Otherwise, it's two clicks.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by deanr72 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:34 pm

I discovered MX Linux has a cool feature: right click on the notifications area, go to properties - you can hide ALL icons. You then just get a cool little arrow which opens or closes the notification area.

One thing that has really bugged me about every distro I've tried is the inconsistent spacing and sizing of these icons. Now I can just tuck them all away and only look at them when I need to. Mint XFCE allows you to hide some but not all so the spacing and sizing issue remains. Still, another great feature that I've not seen on other distros!

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by smurphos » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:25 am

handsomegenius wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:49 am
One small but definitely very nice thing I miss about xfce now that I'm on Cinnamon was the little quick start buttons to open your most used apps with a single click.

Cinnamon sort of does a similar thing - if you pin apps to the taskbar, you can open them with one click as well - so long as you don't have one of those apps open already. Otherwise, it's two clicks.
Cinnamon still has single click launchers - you need to add a panel-launcher applet to your panel in 19.1 or switch to the traditional layout. Or with the 19.1 default grouped-window-list applet you can configure middle click to open multiple instances.
H.Remedy wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:02 pm
In addition to everything else that has been said, here are a couple more cool things in Xfce:
  • Custom actions in Thunar (Edit > Configure customs actions)
  • Search Actions in Whisker Menu (Right Click > Properties > Search Actions)
Nemo and Caja both support custom actions.
in Cinnamon albeit it's a feature very much hidden away you can add search-providers to the menu.
deanr72 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:34 pm
I discovered MX Linux has a cool feature: right click on the notifications area, go to properties - you can hide ALL icons. You then just get a cool little arrow which opens or closes the notification area.

One thing that has really bugged me about every distro I've tried is the inconsistent spacing and sizing of these icons. Now I can just tuck them all away and only look at them when I need to. Mint XFCE allows you to hide some but not all so the spacing and sizing issue remains. Still, another great feature that I've not seen on other distros!
Cinnamon - collapsible systray applet.....
I don't have any issue hiding all the icons in the notification applet on Mint XFCE?

One thing XFCE does better than either Mate or Cinnamon is workspace customisation.
For custom Nemo actions, useful scripts for the Cinnamon desktop, and Cinnamox themes visit my Github pages.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by [rua] » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:06 am

I don't know. I installed 19 xfce as a change from Mate. They strike me as similar, but I prefer Mate. It seems just that bit more polished, and having used it for years, and Gnome 2 before it, I guess I'm more familiar with it.

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by deanr72 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:23 pm

smurphos wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:25 am

Cinnamon - collapsible systray applet.....
I don't have any issue hiding all the icons in the notification applet on Mint XFCE?

One thing XFCE does better than either Mate or Cinnamon is workspace customisation.
Can you tell me how to hide all the notifications in XFCE Mint? There are no options in the Notification Area > Properties to hide the Notifications bell, the Power manager or the Volume icon.
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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by handsomegenius » Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:33 am

smurphos wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:25 am

Cinnamon still has single click launchers - you need to add a panel-launcher applet to your panel in 19.1 or switch to the traditional layout. Or with the 19.1 default grouped-window-list applet you can configure middle click to open multiple instances.
nifty :)

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Re: The pros of XFCE DE?

Post by smurphos » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:34 am

deanr72 wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:23 pm
Can you tell me how to hide all the notifications in XFCE Mint? There are no options in the Notification Area > Properties to hide the Notifications bell, the Power manager or the Volume icon.
On Mint XFCE those aren't part of the Notification Area, they are separate panel items. having a quick peek at the MX Linux manual I guess they ship with applications that replicate those functions and also create a Notification area icon. If you know what those applications are then I guess it would be possible to install them in XFCE Mint (assuming thy are not MX Linux exclusives)
For custom Nemo actions, useful scripts for the Cinnamon desktop, and Cinnamox themes visit my Github pages.

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