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Despite Rumors, Xfce Alive & Kicking

Rumors: They exist, for better or worse, and there’s not much you can do about them. In addition, rumors are the starting blocks for the old Churchill adage that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Three times this month, Xfce came up in conversation — online, of course, and in the realm of social media and in forum discussions — and the context in which each conversation came up had the desktop on the brink of closure, with one unwitting person saying that Xfce was dead.

Xfce logoNothing could be further from the truth, and several in the discussions rose to Xfce’s defense on the absurdity.

Xfce lead developer Olivier Fourdan “won’t really comment on the rumors,” he said, “but as long as there are users and developers, the project is not dead.”

Xfce is a desktop option on a wide range of Linux distros and BSD systems. According to DistroWatch, the list includes Linux Mint, Debian, Fedora, Arch, Manjaro, Korora, and Xubuntu among the nearly 100 distros and BSD systems which offer Xfce as a desktop.

While the last release of the Xfce, 4.10, was in April 2012, there has been a wide range of updates going forward since then. In fact, a testing repository of Xfce 4.11 has been set up in Fedora, and hence Korora, a Fedora remix, according to the Korora Project’s Jim Dean. Korora 21, which will be released soon, will have a Xfce 4.10 version available.

Dean, who is an Xfce user, admits that development of the desktop might appear to be lagging.

“To be fair, development is slow but it is happening,” Dean said. “[Xfce] 4.12 is coming, it’s just a bit late.

But despite the fact two years have passed since the release of version 4.10, Fourdan dismisses any criticism that things are going slowly.

“It’s a free time project,” Fourdan said. “Nobody (that I’m aware of) is being paid to
work on Xfce, so it has a different pace, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Good point, Olivier.

“My personal opinion is that Xfce is a great desktop with a great future, but like all FOSS it needs to interact more with the community,” Dean said. “It has strong support within Korora and will continue to be supported by Korora.”

As a Korora Xfce user, I’ll second Dean’s assessment.

So those who are saying that Xfce is no longer being maintained, or that Xfce is dead — stop it. You’re just plain wrong, with no evidence to back up your claim. Balou the mouse, and the desktop he represents, are both doing just fine.


  1. Abdel Abdel December 31, 2014

    Less known and less used DEs are not dead and won’t be dead, let alone XFCE.

  2. Roger Roger December 31, 2014

    Ok, but it would be good to see a roadmap – that would dispel some concerns

  3. Roland Roland December 31, 2014

    XFCE is the most flexible GUI, IMHO. I have seen it made to look like MacOS and like MS, among others. It empowers users. I’d like to see it transition to Qt and away from GTK.

  4. dv dv December 31, 2014

    While it’s nice that Xfce remains “a great desktop with a great future”, I’ve gotta say that the LXDE keeps chipping away at whatever lead Xfce still has among the lighter desktop environments. As a replacement for all those resource-heavier and popular KDEx and GNOMEx desktop environments, LXDE remains a big challenge to Xfce. Just off the top of my head, widely known distros such as Lubuntu, Debian, ZorinOS, and PCLinuxOS use LXDE instead of Xfce as their lightest weight desktop. If I’m not mistaken, I think even the older Knoppix liveCD/liveDVD distro still relies on LXDE instead of Xfce.

    ……At the same time, it’s also worthwhile mentioning that the very popular Linux Mint has kept Xfce instead of LXDE for its lightest weight desktop.

  5. John Kerr John Kerr December 31, 2014

    Lots of low power, low Ram laptops and netbooks that need XFCE.

  6. Fred Fred December 31, 2014

    I’ve always loved Xfce ever since first discovering it in 2006. At the time, I was a KDE user before switching to GNOME in early 2008 and then to Xfce in 2010 and really fell in love with it.

    However, back in February or March or so of this year, I left Xfce for LXDE due to Xfce’s plans to migrate to a GTK3 codebase. I had read about all the problems that GTK3 had created for GNOME, Unity, and Cinnamon users and wanted no part at all of any desktop based on GTK3. When I learned that Xfce was going to eventually go to a GTK3 base but that LXDE was instead planning a migration to a Qt base, I immediately switched to LXDE, which is my current desktop of choice. I too wish that Xfce would instead follow LXDE’s lead and migrate to a Qt base.

    I do, however, have to say that KDE has gotten quite good in recent years after the shaky start with version 4, which prompted me to dump it, and I may very well return to KDE on computers that have enough memory to run it smoothly, given that GTK3 and GNOME3 made a much worse blunder than KDE4 did when first introduced and still has yet to recover from.

  7. Eli Cummings Eli Cummings December 31, 2014

    Given the price of RAM an in comparison to many other software projects, a hundred megabytes difference between desktop environments is not a factor and if it is one should probably just be running a text only version of Linux.

    Second, I am usually skeptical about new projects where someone thinks they really have a better idea for improving a long lived code base. Rarely is it about greatly improved functionality using less resources. Mostly these days it is aesthetic and subjective. Everybody has their favorites.

    Third, it’s not a competition. Most popular does not equate with the best otherwise Windows would be considered the best desktop operating system on the planet.

    Free Software is about giving users rights. Too often the computer press is just like the main stream media covering politics; everything is turned into a horse race.

    Free software code is great. Unfortunately there are still too many people whose “ideological loyalty” seems to focus on some object of technology (whether hardware or software). I always thought it was so ridiculous when people used to have flame wars over Word Processors and Text Editors back in the day.

    Free software is an improvement. People however seem to still be the same.

  8. Jesse Bufton Jesse Bufton December 31, 2014

    XFCE moves slowly because it’s hardest to improve upon the near-perfect. Now that GNOME 2 is no more, XFCE is about as good as it gets when it comes to the traditional WIMP implementation. I like and have used Cinnamon and MATE, but they just aren’t quite as snappy in my experience.

  9. Maik Maik December 31, 2014

    To Roger: There’s no roadmap anymore. The Xfce stated that Xfce 4.12 will be released when ready right after the development started and they would step down from the roadmap.

    To dv: Since i have used PcLinuxOS for quite some time before and even have been involved in the now dead Phinx Desktop Project, i’m sure that PcLinuxOS couldn’t find anyone else suited to step in and revive the Xfce version.They simply replaced Xfce in favor of MATE at some point. Their LXDE version has been around for a long time next to the KDE and Xfce version back then.

  10. Fitzcarraldo Fitzcarraldo January 1, 2015

    Xfce is an excellent DE (I run it on two older laptops at the moment, as it requires less power than e.g. KDE), so it’s good news to read that development continues. In fact, if I were not running KDE on my main laptop, my next choice would be Xfce for that machine too.

  11. Lee Harvey Lee Harvey January 1, 2015

    Apart from a few missing features and a couple of rough edges, XFCE is pretty much “finished” β€” in a good sense. It’s light, fast, very configurable and rock solid. Maybe it lacks glamour, but I don’t care about that.

  12. Eddie G. Eddie G. January 1, 2015

    I’ve been using XFCE on an openSuSE desktop and a few Dell laptops (Debian/Ubuntu & Manjaro!) and I cannot find any flaws with it whatsoever. Mind you, it might not have the flash and gimmickry of some other desktops, but the people that use it? don’t NEED it to! As far as I’m concerned XFCE is the “perfecrt” desktop, not only for older hardware but for newer ones as well. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that when I fire up my 1TB / i7 / 16GB RAM desktop that I’ll be presented with a desktop that doesn’t “get in the way”. Or when I power on my HP Probook with 8GB of RAM / 500GB HDD / i5 processor, that I’ll not experience slowdowns with apps and programs and services running that drain my RAM or overwork my processor. The ones who are going around saying that XFCE is dead? aren’t well informed and to the developers of XFCE I’ll say: THANK YOU!…your work is not in vain, we users appreciate everything you guys (and gals!) do to make XFCE everything it is!….Happy New Year to all!!


  13. woolie woolie January 1, 2015

    hey, chill off people, XFCE is perfect as is today, why would one add stuff that is not necessary? just to prove to some insecure, unstable person, that it is “still in development”?… preposterous!

  14. Larry Cafiero Larry Cafiero Post author | January 2, 2015

    Eli Cummings said:

    “Third, it’s not a competition. Most popular does not equate with the best otherwise Windows would be considered the best desktop operating system on the planet.”

    “Free software is an improvement. People however seem to still be the same.”


  15. logoff logoff January 4, 2015

    I love XFCE and it is my default desktop, as I use Xubuntu. but I’m not plenty happy with current version and I would be happy if some improvements are added, minor improvements, but there are some.

  16. Albin Albin January 4, 2015

    Very puzzling article, since the Mint 17.1 XFCE Release Candidate just came out mid-December, and Mint is one of the largest desktop OSs.

    Mint Blog post outlines what’s changed – might answer some of the questions above.

  17. Larry Cafiero Larry Cafiero Post author | January 4, 2015

    What’s puzzling, Albin, is why people are purposely maligning Xfce, an outstanding desktop environment, with rumors of its demise. Hence, the article. It’s great that Linux Mint has it as an option, along with the nearly 100 other Linux distros and *BSD systems that offer it as a desktop option.

  18. nicu nicu January 5, 2015

    I lost interest in Xfce and didn’t check it in the last couple of years as I found it too underfeatured for my needs and evolving at very slow pace, but from your article, it do looks more as on live support than kicking

  19. dhinds dhinds January 5, 2015

    What a confused opinion (that xfce is anything but alive and well), which may be the result of a failure to understand that xfce is a modular system and is often used on rolling releases (which are all I use personally). So version numbers may not apply.

    In fact, xfce is one of the two MAJOR desktop environments on the principle distros I use:

    Manjaro and Calculate (which I) am using to post this) and also on Sparky (Arch, Gentoo and Debian Testing-based, respectively.

    Furthermore, I used the xfce4 panel and many of i9t’s plugin on Openbox (used in place of a DE on Manjarobox and Sparky);

    And xfce is now my main DE on openSUSE also (which can be upgraded via zypper).

    In fact, all of those distros have been upgraded recently and the xfce apps installed were also.

    As I said, xfce is alive and well.

  20. Har Har January 6, 2015

    XFCE and Mate are Great!

    Unity, Win 8 (metro), Gnome 3 are NOT….

  21. Ben Ben January 8, 2015

    I wish that it wasn’t true. I really liked Xfce… but there is a difference between live, dead and well maintained… so this article is to relate, via a 3rd or 4th party, that Xfce is not dead… but it is certainly not well maintained… One need only look at Xfce’s website to see that the last update posted was to say that the next version will be out years ago and it didn’t happen… So if they don’t have enough time to update their news and coming soon aspects… well?!

  22. Larry Cafiero Larry Cafiero Post author | January 8, 2015

    Ben – To say that Xfce “is certainly not well maintained” is fundamentally wrong. As a long-time Xfce user, I have seen regular Xfce updates over the last couple of years. That, to me, is the mark of a well maintained desktop environment.

    On the issue of the site being updated: Just because you don’t wash your car on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t run well if you take care of the mechanical side of things.

  23. nicu nicu January 9, 2015

    Around here, if you drive around with a very unclean car you may get fined by the police… (the lights, signals, license plate must be in goood condition an visible) car comparisons don’t work πŸ™‚
    You may have a point: ideally the people in charge of the website are not the same with those developing the code, who better spend their time doing what they know best. In an ideal world, if the website is not up to date, some users would step-up and take care of the problem, when this doesn’t happen at Xfce is a sign for a not very healthy community.

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