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An Introduction to the Xfce Desktop

The Xfce Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Like LXDE, Xfce is based on the standard X-Windows subsystem and is also designed for fast-response and low-resource usage. This allows it to run comfortably on old hardware (-for example, machines with Pentium II processors).

For this reason, some of the big distributions - such as Ubuntu and Fedora - provide an Xfce alternative to their standard Gnome distributions, allowing you to standardize your favourite Linux across all your PCs.

[..] Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint [..] all supply an Xfce alternative [..] to their default Gnome distributions

One way of minimizing the resources used by Xfce is by avoiding the temptation of using sophisticated 3D graphics rendering and animations: in this way, it can deliver a perfectly functional desktop that is not overly showy, unlike some of it's rivals.

Xfce Core Components

Central to the Xfce Desktop, is a number of core concepts, including (-but not limited to):

Application FinderProvides functionality for finding and launches application
CalendarThe standard Xfce calendar application is Orage
Desktop ManagerProvides functionality for the desktop background, icons and organizing windows
File ManagerProvides functionality for viewing, managing and editing files and directories. The standard File Manager is Thunar
PanelProvides functionality for invoking functions, activating windows, menus
Session ManagerProvides functionality for logging in/out and power on/off
Setting ManagerProvides functionality for customizing the desktop
TerminalThe standard Xfce Command Line is Terminal
Web BrowserThe standard Xfce Internet Browser is Midori
Window ManagerProvides functionality for windows/dialogues and workspaces
Xfce LibrariesProvides additional functionality

Xfce Minimum Requirements

Xfce normally comes bundled with a given Distro, so minimum requirements differ per implementation. As an example, here are the requirements for Xubuntu:

  • Processor: 300MHz and above
  • Memory: 256Mb (installation) and 192Mb (running)
  • Disc Space: 4.4Gb (standard) or 2Gb (-alternate install)

The Fedora Xfce Spin has similar requirements:

  • Processor: 300MHz Pentium II and above
  • Memory: 256Mb (installation) and 192Mb (running) [500Mb recommended]

If you have old (-but not ancient) or low-specification hardware, then, provided you can meet the minimum requirements above, then Xfce is an excellent desktop choice!

Can I run Gnome/KDE Applications unde Xfce?

As long as you download the respective Gnome or KDE libraries first - and you have the resources to run them - you can run Gnome or KDE-based software under Xfce.

Should I use Xfce or LXDE?

Both Xfce and LXDE share a common ethos: which one you choose will depend mainly on personal taste - and which one(s) your chosen Distro supports.

References and Further Reading:

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