Xfce Desktop: Less Lard, Less Bling, More Usability - page 2
Fast and User-Friendly
The native Xfce file manager is Thunar. It's multi-panel (with a navigation screen at the left and the current directory at the right) – I particularly liked the left-hand navigation panel. It's also, again, seriously fast, although no faster than starting Nautilus (the Gnome file manager) from within a Gnome session. However, when I tried firing up Nautilus from within the Xfce session, it took a couple of seconds to get going, as did Konqueror when I tried that.
This is presumably because both rely on various Gnome or KDE background processes that won't already be running in an Xfce session. This will probably also apply to some other applications, so if you're particularly devoted to a Gnome- or KDE-specific application, be aware that whilst it will run in an Xfce session, it may well be slower to start and possibly a little slower to run. However, there are a whole stack of other applications which are part of the Xfce project, for example, the text editor Mousepad, and the image viewer Ristretto, so you may be happy with the Xfce-native replacements for your Gnome or KDE applications.
Conclusion: Fast if Visually Basic
Xfce is fast, functional, and easily customisable; but it's not going to set your eyeballs alight, so if you have a non-standard Gnome or KDE graphical setup, you might miss that. As far as everything else goes, it does the job; and of course you can launch any of your favourite KDE or Gnome apps from Xfce without any problems. If you're running an older or slower machine, or frequently connect to your desktop remotely (or if you just don't want your desktop to chew up your system resources), it's an excellent choice.