I have been a Linux user for a few years using Gnome/Ubuntu. I use virtual machines a lot and I have been working on a new host system.
My plan was to have almost nothing installed on the host. All my applications are provided by a guest OS. This way I never really have to mess with the host, it just runs. I installed xfce4 on a very minimal debian build just to see if it would be a candidate.
I am not sure what I was expecting but I guess I was thinking there were things I would have to live without to gain speed and simplicity on my host. Now I can't go back because xfce4 has everything I want plus I now know what Gnome/KDE were missing.
I was also worried about some of the apps I wanted to run. VMWare Player even says to get Unity mode working it needs KDE or Metacity, however that is not true. There is only one thing different that I have noticed about any apps in xfce vs gnome... they run so much faster.
I used to need an external hard drive to backup my host machine. My new host can be completely backed up without compression to a 4gb thumb drive using rsync. i can even boot from the thumb drive if my hard disk dies. And honestly I wasn't even trying to do that or being that careful about disk space.
I am about to start converting linux desktop guest machines and I converted my kids PC last night.
What a wonderful desktop environment and windows manager!
Nice to hear that Xfce is still getting that reaction from new users!
Agreed . . . I have been an Xfce fanatic, almost since day one in GNU/Linux.
You need to find a 'distro' that uses Xfce as a 'stand-alone' desktop environment and not installed over a Gnome-base, the way Ubuntu/Xubuntu does it.
Xfce, by itself is noticeably faster and more configurable.
I am still amazed. Now, using #!Crunchbang-Statler (based on DebianSqueeze) with Xfce.
Last edited by vrkalak (2010-12-09 07:02:16)
I guess I can make this my first post.
Please excuse my ignorance. More than a year since I've used MSWin, yet I still haven't gotten my head around all of these different OS/distro components (e.g. desktop environment, file manager, window manager, etc., etc.) (or even the distiction between different OS vs. different distro). Are you saying that Xubuntu is actually running Gnome underneath Xfce?!?! What's the point of that??? Xubuntu is about to make me swear off Xfce for good. (I've already repartitioned the storage where I had the Xubuntu installation.) I didn't notice a shread of difference in the performance of my applications when comparing Xubuntu to Ubuntu. and I ran into so many problems ... I would love to hear that there is a better (more pure) implementation that will exhibit the improvements offered by Xfce over Gnome. (KDE is absolutely horrid IMO, from my attempt at Slax, so I don't bother to make a comparison.)
Last edited by MichaelBurns (2010-12-10 20:02:14)
Think of a distro as a stack of software. The bottom is the Linux kernel. On top of that (also provided by Linux) is a set of tools and utilities and drivers. All this is more or less common to more or less all distros. Next layer is the desktop environment. Each DE comes with an associated set of basic applications, like a file manager, disc burner, text editor, terminal, etc. Finally, there's a top layer of everyday applications, like a browser.
That's a simplified picture, but the distro, then, is the whole shebang, the whole stack. It's put together and tested by distro-makers using ready-made components like the kernel and the desktop environment. Nearly all of these components are separate FOSS projects whose goal is to make that one component excellent. Some distros throw in everything they can think of, some are minimalist. The choice is huge, and as a user you can, of course, add and subtract components, thus customising your distro. Most users do this, I suspect, which means that only a minority of Linux users take the distro as it comes and use it as though it were an alternative Windows.
Performance is another issue entirely, because that depends not only on your distro, but also on the hardware it runs on. Xfce is faster than Gnome or KDE on the same machine, but Xfce on a 10-year-old laptop might be a lot slower than Xfce on a new one.
Over the past 2 years I moved from Ubuntu to Xubuntu to Mint Xfce, each time seeing a boost in performance. The biggest improvement, though, was when I moved from Mint 9 Xfce to Debian Squeeze Xfce (much like vrkalak's CrunchBang Statler. Same machine, same set of applications, same Xfce settings, but a substantial boost in speed. But speed isn't what I like about Xfce, it's the simplicity and great configurability.
Are you saying that Xubuntu is actually running Gnome underneath Xfce?!?! What's the point of that???
Xubuntu is not running Gnome underneath, but it is using some Gnome components that they think make life easier for the beginners. There's nothing wrong about that - every distro adds something to Xfce, otherwise they where all the same. Many people don't find Xubuntu significantly faster than Ubuntu, and it is reasonable to assume that the Gnome components slow it down. But I suspect that this is not the full story, because Ubuntu itself is slower than Debian with Gnome. If you need a faster system use a distro based on Debian (Debian Xfce, Crunchbang Xfce) or Slackware (Zenwalk, Salix).
keep on rockin' in the free world
Everyone gave some good answers . . . thanks, guys. Teamwork in the Xfce community helps us all.
What Ubuntu has done is taken the main Ubuntu (Gnome) and added the Xfce Meta Package over the existing Gnome desktop.
Same as if, you went in to the Synaptic Package Manager and did that yourself.
So that Xubuntu is just that, Xfce over Gnome (except the part where you can select which desktop you want at Log-in)
LinuxMint has taken Ubuntu and added Mint specific stuff and re-tweaked everything, to make it faster and more efficient -- so to speak.
However, they do the same with Mint/Xfce, it's based on Xubuntu and re-tweaked. They do not change the Xubuntu (Xfce over Gnome) configuration.
Don't get me wrong, of the Xfce variations with Xfce over either Gnome or KDE ... LinuxMint Xfce is the best.
But, Xfce was designed to be a stand-alone desktop environment . . . Xfce does not 'need' components from Gnome to work, at it's optimal.
Xfce on it's own -- is a light-weight, very fast and easily configurable full-featured desktop.
Damn, you would think that I was an Xfce Dev or Maintainer . . . I just like to support 'my' chosen desktop environment, in any way I can.