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#1 2011-02-01 20:11:36

neilgunton
Member
Registered: 2011-02-01
Posts: 4

Thanks for xfce

I just felt a desire to post here since I feel so relieved to have finally "found" xfce after all these years. I've been using Linux since around 1999, gone through Red Hat, Slackware and now Debian, and always liked to have a fairly simple desktop environment. I started off with Gnome, back when it was simple, but I noticed that as I upgraded between major versions of whatever distro I was using, things would always seem to look very different - more laden with cruft - and Gnome started to get annoying, so I switched to KDE about 5 years ago. That's been working fine, with Debian Lenny, but now with a new workstation build which Lenny won't work on, I needed to go with Squeeze. Yikes! The new KDE 4.whatever is HORRIFIC. There's this little gadget in the top right corner which you CANNOT get rid of, I have looked on the various KDE forums and there seems to be a somewhat defensive, cult-like atmosphere there - many people complaining about the "cashew" (I think they call it) but developers saying that they can't make an option to not display it for some reason, and KDE defenders getting all tetchy and telling people that they have no right to criticize free software if they're not contributing... whatever, I am out of there. I found the KDE version in Debian Squeeze so annoying that I just couldn't bring myself to use it. What the heck are Plasmoids and Activities, and why would I want to use them?!? Sorry, I'm a developer myself, and I think what happened here is that the KDE developers have gone right up their own asses. It's a common occurrence in the programming world, also known as "architecture astronauts", where people go waaaaay out into space with fancy abstractions and designs, without really considering first whether these are things that people will actually find USEFUL. So KDE used to be the nice, simple, cheap-and-cheerful, relatively lightweight desktop, but now it's got all this annoying plasma stuff going on that you can't get rid of. And they seem to have actually done a complete rewrite, in the process getting rid of many of the user-controllable aspects that made it a good place to be. So, hasta la vista KDE, it was nice knowing you.

So I tried going back to Gnome, but it seems (in Squeeze) to have its own annoying quirks: For example, by default it has the desktop menu bar at the top of the page, and the windows panel at the bottom, which I find distracting (I'm used to the application menu being the thing at the top, not the desktop menu bar). You can change this to be at the bottom, but then it's stacked in a weird way with the window panel, and they seem to be the wrong way around, and no way to change it that I can see.

So I looked around at some of the other desktop managers I had heard of, and decided to try xfce. It seemed surprisingly simple, yet it does pretty much everything I want, without getting in my way with eye candy and useless gimmicks. But it's not spartan - I now have a very nice little applet in the bottom right of my screen, showing me the CPU, motherboard and hard drive temperatures, and the RPMs of the CPU, and two chassis fans. This is really nice for my new build, since it allows me to tune how low I can go with the fans (which reduces noise) and also will alert me if anything stops working in there or starts heating up. I also have the current weather - small things, but nice.

Overall, I'm finding that xfce4 gives me everything I want in a desktop, with none of the annoying cruft that Gnome and KDE seem to be intent on forcing on their users. I really didn't come here to rag on KDE, but I do feel kinda betrayed - I really liked it for a number of years now, it's really irritating to find the new version is so uselessly heavy, and that the developers have such an arrogant attitude toward the users that they won't even give them the option to turn off crap like the "cashew".

I only have one question about xfce - I'd like to put some menu options that I use a lot like the Root Terminal on the panel as a quick-launch button, but I can't seem to find any easy way to do that. In KDE you could select something from the main menu and put it on the panel - any way to do that here? I know I could make a custom launcher, but there's no easy way to see exactly what the command is for any given main menu option. Any tips on how to do this would be much appreciated.

Anyway, that's a small thing - overall, I'm extremely happy that I've found an alternative to KDE and Gnome that strikes a happy medium between being simple, and yet still having the utilities that I like to use. Oh, and I love that KDE apps show up in the menu, that means I still have ready access to things like Amarok and K3B.

Thanks! And please keep it up.

Neil

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#2 2011-02-01 22:33:50

gnome_refugee
Member
Registered: 2010-01-15
Posts: 164

Re: Thanks for xfce

Hi, neilgunton.

Happy to hear you're finding Xfce has just the right balance. I'm not a developer, but I'm a heavy user and was really very happy when I found I could set up with Xfce a snappy, responsive desktop with *only* what I wanted and *exactly* where I wanted it. My OS is Debian Squeeze.

I have a quick launch to root terminal, too. On my panel is a launcher with a submenu of frequently used apps. The Xfce panel launcher is great: for each item in the submenu I get to pick its name, icon, command and position in the menu using a single, well laid-out dialog box. For root terminal I use the command 'gksudo xfce4-terminal', which brings up the authentication box before opening xfce4-terminal in root mode.

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#3 2011-02-01 23:08:55

Rolinh
Member
From: Switzerland
Registered: 2011-01-20
Posts: 20
Website

Re: Thanks for xfce

Hi,

I think you're a bit harsh with the KDE developers. KDE SC have a lot of great apps, such as K3B, Okular or Kile. Maybe it is not the kind of desktop YOU want but a lot of users actually do want it even though it's not lightweight nor easy to use.
So, there is a lot of variety in DE so... I'm glad you found the one you like smile

Which version of XFCE do you use? Because since version 4.8, you can just drag and drop the applications you want from the menu to the panel and it automatically creates a launcher wink

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#4 2011-02-01 23:30:37

neilgunton
Member
Registered: 2011-02-01
Posts: 4

Re: Thanks for xfce

Rolinh wrote:

I think you're a bit harsh with the KDE developers. KDE SC have a lot of great apps, such as K3B, Okular or Kile. Maybe it is not the kind of desktop YOU want but a lot of users actually do want it even though it's not lightweight nor easy to use.
So, there is a lot of variety in DE so... I'm glad you found the one you like smile

Yes, I'm aware that I sounded a bit harsh, but all I can do is relay how I feel about the situation, having been a KDE user for a number of years now, and being irritated that something I was quite comfortable with has been turned on end into a bloat-ridden, slow, inflexible monstrosity. It is always frustrating when developers completely rewrite something you know and love, so that it's not really that thing any more, but something different. I wrote an article some years back regarding this, titled "Rewrites considered harmful?":

http://www.neilgunton.com/doc/rewrites_harmful

The specific examples look a little dated now, obviously, but I still stand by the general thrust of the argument.

It's a trend which I find seems to satisfy the developers to work on their new and cool stuff, but not the users, who just want to continue using the stuff they know and love. I know the response to this is "But what about progress", the thing about this is that I know it's much easier (and more enjoyable) for a developer to work on a completely new version than to spend time fixing what is already out there. So I really do think this is more about what the developers want than what is good for the users, and I think frankly  that this is the wrong motivation for writing software (at least, software that is intended for use by the public). It's also a bit hypocritical - these people want all the benefits of reputation gained by lots of people using their code, but they don't seem to want any of the responsibility that goes along with that - namely that once people have spent a lot of time using a piece of software that they like, they don't really appreciate being forced to relearn it all with a buggy, "new and improved" version that has reduced features, less flexibility, more bloat, less performance, and doesn't even address any of the real (and relatively minor) issues that the previous, working version had. So my harshness comes from quite a lot of thought on the subject - fair enough if some disagree with my stance, of course, that's to be expected.

Which version of XFCE do you use? Because since version 4.8, you can just drag and drop the applications you want from the menu to the panel and it automatically creates a launcher wink

Debian Squeeze seems to have 4.6.2:

http://packages.debian.org/testing/xfce/xfce4

Nice to hear that 4.8 has drag and drop capability, but even Sid seems to only have 4.6.2 at the moment.

Thanks,

Neil

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#5 2011-02-02 00:21:56

neilgunton
Member
Registered: 2011-02-01
Posts: 4

Re: Thanks for xfce

I think I just found out an answer to my question about adding menu options to the panel:

http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=480380

So I just tried this out, and it seems to work:

0. Start Application Finder, select 'Accessories', scroll down so that my 'Root terminal' is in view.
1. Right click on panel, select 'Add new items'
2. Select 'Launcher',  click 'Add'
3. Drag the 'Root terminal' icon from Application Finder to the left hand list of the Launcher window
4. Select the 'New item' icon in the list, click '-' (minus) button to remove it
5. Click 'Ok' to finish.

I found that if I didn't do step (4) then I would get a popup menu with the Root Terminal as an option, which is cool since presumably it means you could have a little submenu of things all together. But it does also allow you to just have the one, fast-access icon right there on the panel, and it's all done via the mouse - no digging to find out what the command line was for a particular menu option etc. Looks good.

Neil

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#6 2011-02-02 02:02:33

gnome_refugee
Member
Registered: 2010-01-15
Posts: 164

Re: Thanks for xfce

Yes, that works, too. I just prefer xfce4-terminal, myself.

The New Item item is actually a blessing in disguise. When you build multi-item menus in a single Launcher, as I do, you need an item in the list which is a 'dummy': it sits on the panel but all that happens when you click on it is that a menu appears. Suppose, for example, I had a Launcher with a menu full of terminals, including the root terminal. I could then pick a 'terminal-ish' icon for New Item and simply leave the command for New Item blank. The New Item = dummy default is IMHO a very nice design feature of the Xfce4 panel.

I agree with you about software 'improvements', and 4.6.2 is pretty damn good as is. The 'improvement' trend in FOSS parallels the same thing in commercial software, where the reason for the improvements are to keep ahead of the competition and to extract more money from the customer. Particularly fine examples can be found in GIS software.

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#7 2011-03-21 00:37:06

factor-h
Member
Registered: 2011-03-20
Posts: 9

Re: Thanks for xfce

I understand the feeling, as I was hooked by a good version of Zenwalk, 3 or 4, do not remember. Those days where days of searching for a reasonable distro, and XFCE  was the sweet of the Pie. I needed Linux because I was extremely disappointed with the only M$windows I allowed: under 98liteMe.

Tryed for some time XP... morte problems no matter how well the beast was "protected"... well maybe because of protection, as they were a bit conflicting those days. Tried Zenwalk... and got hooked. Will try Salix one of these days, because Ubuntu XFCE is becoming bloated.

For that reason I advocate, again, Linux + E-Libs + XFCE as a winning "fit all" solution.
Hopping XFCE is the first, though I fear the worst... that because XFCE is a "full" solution it may be the last on a race I'm expecting. Hope not, so I advocate this winning solution so XFCE team may have a lead.

Naive? May be.
We'll see, with some hope.
___
P.S.: I've tried Enlightenment UI... Felt like a fish out of the water.
Though the efficiency was sublime due to E-Libs (in beta by then).
Now they are finished (after a decade work) the game is a different one.
I bet on XFCE as you may have noticed, powered by E-Libs (like Gnome may be by Open-Box).

Last edited by factor-h (2011-03-21 00:42:21)

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