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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Review of XFCE

First Impression:- XFCE

My experience of using Linux on my Desktop goes back 6 years with kde v 1.0 at that time it was considered quiet revolutionary because it was a mojor upgrade to the FVWM or other window managers that were usually shipped with Linux distro's at that time. Though it was still lacking some of the usefull features of kde as in today's KDE 3.5 but it was at least usable and quiet zippy even at those days 166 Mhz 32 Mb ram Pentium computers. But with releases as KDE has matured it's functionality has increased ,it's User Interface has become more trendy and a lot of features have been added but all this has made it quiet slow ,sluggish at times even on descent quality hardware it takes upto 30 seconds to start the older hardware arequiet out of the equation.
So my search begain for a good Window Manager for my old Celeron 1.4 Ghz 256 MB RAM IBM laptop,running on fedora core 4 . One of my friends recommended the XFCE window manager. I visited the site what i found was a very good neatly organized page there was a option for graphical installer , I had not seen a lot of graphical installer for Linux applications so i was quiet eager to try it as installing applications on linux have always been a problem for linux newbies.The installer was about 18 megabytes in size ,I fired the console and executed the installer ,the installers bin file's attributs werent set to executable so i changed it's attribute to executable with chmod command,executed the installer to my pleasant
surprise the installer worked quiet flawlessly showing welcome screen . On pressing next button the installation started the entire installation took about 40 minutes to complete . The installer probably did not ship with precompiled binaries but instead compiled it for the system on the spot , a pretty good approach indeed from normal make,confiure install routine.

After completeing the installation i started the XFCE . As soon as XFCE started thing that struck me was absence of any desktop icons and a relatively clean and uncluttered desktop it looked quiet similar to old CDE desktop though quiet nippy , and supporting anti-aliasing and other fine visual effects. There was a small panel at bottom which housed all the installed applications.The menu was relatively clean. The best feature about the panel was that it's functionality could be extended by using myriad of plugins available for a variety of purpose. Also the panel could be oriented in diffrernt parts of the screen. There was another bar at top which kept all the instances of running applications and different workspaces ,and a nice little button at the top edge to show,hide all the windows and desktop.

Two screen shot showing the XFCE desktop

Plugin Adding tool to the Panel
Clicking the right mouse button anywhere on the desktop opens the menu ,whereby any application can be launched,all my applications were housed in the menu.The XFCE included a number of it's own application the most important of which was the File Manager(Thunar),which was a relatively clean and compact file manager . I had used nautilus,konqueror earlier i found thunar equally good and quiet fast though it lacked HTML viewing abilities of the Konqueror but was equally usefull.Thunar's main strike point was it's compactness and clean interface with all the basic functionalities that one need in a file manager.

A Screen shot of Thunar A Screen Shot of Mousepad

The XFCE has a basic text editor Mousepad which is quiet similar to notepad found in Windows.Plain and Simple Also since XFCE works on GTK 2 it supports a large number of themes available for Gnome.So visually it might not as good looking as kde or gnome but is is pretty descent. Also all GTK based apps of gnome work quiet flawlessly with same speed on XFCE being both based on GTK+.

Orage ( Basic Calendar Tool)

The XFCE settings manager is also a relatively good configuration tool to tweak your systems settings. It houses all the common applets for configuring different system settings.It is equivalent to control panel of windows.
From the Control panel one can change Themes,Icon Themese from User Interface,Even the opening Splash screen can be changed quiet easily
XFCE Settings Manager (Control panel) XFCETheme preference Box XFCE manager to change splash screen

XFCE at last besides being very fast and occupying very small memory is quiet usable and I see no reason why XFCE cannot be used as only windows manager in place of KDE or GNOME.
Some Distributions like
XUBUNTU ( A 3rd Party Derivative of Popular Ubuntu Linux)
MiniSlack(Now i think called ZenWalk)
are already using XFCE as default Window Manager and i can for see a lot of distribution using XFCE as their default window manager.

At last i would say XFCE is a perfectly suited Window Manager for Old aging systems and is quiet usable on latest hardware's also . With releases as it matures further i can see it competing with likes of gnome and Kde for desktop space on desktop Linux.

Usefull Link: XFCE Homepage
Article: Author: Ambuj Varshney
(C) 2006 Ambuj Varshney


Swapneel said...

I havent gone through your article completely but posting images as thumbnails would have helped imo.:)

Anonymous said...

"MiniSlack(Now i think called ZenWalk)"

it has not only changed the name but also the domain:
can you adjust the link to please, thnx in advance...

Anonymous said...

"MiniSlack(Now i think called ZenWalk)"

it has not only changed the name but also the domain:
can you adjust the link to please, thnx in advance...

AMBUJ said...

Ok sure will update it

Sriram Murali said...

try leafpad dude, still more sleeker than mousepad..

Anonymous said...

Well... actually mousepad is based on leafpad. The only real difference being mousepad's ability to print documents using xfprint.

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