I tried to use Xfce, but evertime I open most windows they immediatley close. One program that does not close is the text editor.
Are you launching the applications by clicking on icons or from the menu? Try executing them from the command line (if you can get a terminal emulator open) and see what errors are produced. There are a plethora of reasons an application may behave this way.
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I was tring to launch programs from the menu. I tried to do what you said but I could not open the command prompt. I could open the Application Finder, but most of the programs, including command prompt, that I tried to open from there did not work either. I did see an exception popup. It said Process ended with 1 child. I am going to try to use the setup disk to repair the problem.
I don't think this is your problem, but someone else who had this problem had placed a book beside them, and it pressed the ESC key down...
I used the CD to reinstall and now it works. Even the GUI log in.