February 21, 2019

.comment: XFce: The Little Desktop That Could - page 3

Installation and Configuration

  • June 7, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

One of the reasons XFce is so popular is that it stays out of the way. Its overhead is very low. If you have a machine that has more memory than the minimum required by your Linux distribution but less than the amount recommended, there are few other choices if you plan to do much more than look at your nice desktop and the pretty screensavers. Yes, you can run big apps under Linux on a fairly low-resource machine, but you'll spend a lot of time waiting for code to be swapped to disk. With XFce, everything runs just a little faster, because there's less memory already in use. And there's an argument to be made that desktops, while nice, exist primarily to launch applications, so anything that makes those applications run better is a plus. (I'm writing this in KWord, the KOffice word processor, started from a terminal emulator in XFce--okay, it's a little weird to do this kind of thing, but humor me--and it's running more quickly than it does under native KDE.)

XFce provides all the basics, very nicely, and makes it easy for you to populate it with whatever applications you use. The magnificent Xscreensavers work with XFce, which automatically adds them to your ~/.xinitrc if you have them installed. (If you don't, then get them. You will not be sorry.) I have not tried to run Xplanet as the XFce background, because a desktop background program seems terribly out of keeping with the whole philosophy of this perfectly minimalist desktop. With KWord, Word Perfect, XFTree, and its own configuration dialog open, it doesn't break a sweat, as seen in Figure 3.

The system administrator would find XFce a delight--with very low overhead and configurability in all the important places, it's a tiny-footprint way to keep an eye on the system (maybe running xfce_setup as root was a favor, after all!) and run monitoring applications.

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