Is it just me, or does xfdesktop - or at least its handling of the actual desktop space itself - seem a little sparse, even for xfce? The lack of ability to define the size of the snap-to grid is the biggest beef I have with it, but in general it seems to be the weakest point of xfce, which I otherwise love. I can't seem to drag-select icons, for example, nor can I find anywhere to even script in customisations. It seems if I want to change anything I have to do it at the source-code level.
Am I missing something? Can anyone offer advice, or an alternate desktop software?
xfdesktop is sparse in functionality, I guess in line with the frugal mindset that led to Xfce. Minimal backdrop changing (no effects, no scripting), displaying some icons (standard folders and optionally open programs) and displaying a menu. The good news is that Xfce has been designed in true Unix style, i.e. very modular. Thus, you can run Xfce without xfdesktop and replace it by something else such as rox or nautilus. There may be others.
Thanks, I actually didn't even need to disable xfdesktop, just its desktop management feature ("allow xfce to manage the desktop"). I didn't realise before that doing so would allow me to set up an alternate desktop manager; I thought xfdesktop still continued to overlay a desktop pane even when desktop management was disabled (a mistake caused by my background image persisting after I unchecked that option). Now that I see how easy it is to replace I withdraw most of my criticisms about xfdesktop, though I do wish xfce came packaged with a more functional desktop feature.
For anyone with similar complaints, I recommend pcmanfm as an alternate manager until Thunar is set up to handle it. It's very xfce-ish, in that it is sparse and simple, but unlike xfdesktop it allows some functions one might consider basic essentials for desktop icons (particular drag-to-select); unlike Rox it doesn't use a very unusual interface, and unlike Nautilus it is compact and fast - the package was a few hundred kb and it loads instantly. Mileage may vary of course.
I had some issue with it myself, namely the unability to re-order the icons on the desktop...