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LXDE vs Xfce

Nowadays, unlike in the past major desktop environments for GNU/Linux such as Gnome, Qt/KDE and especially the recently introduced Ubuntu Unity desktop which is one of the most popular ones already thanks to Ubuntu's popularity, all demand powerful hardware features (especially your VGA/GPU) to run the graphical desktops and window managers.

For instance Unity 3D uses the Compiz OpenGL compositing manager, Gnome 3 uses "Mutter" and with the plasma KDE desktop introduction, it also requires you to have a powerful hardware features nonetheless.

But unlike with MS Windows in GNU/Linux, almost all of these desktops actually come with a fall-back mode which basically gives you a lower-end version of their original OpenGL rendering desktops (with a window manager that doesn't use a lot of your GPU), thus no one is left behind ;-) (I'm serious!).

But if have a slower or an older hardware in your PC or Laptop then I think most of the time you'll always be better off with a dedicated, lower hardware "aimed" lightweight desktops rather than those above mentioned "fall-back modes", because even in the fall-back mode (Unity 2D or Gnome 3 classic for instance) the only difference is in the Window manager rather than the individual applications thus if you have a lower-end hardware then it'll still "hurt", obviously.

In that sense if you're looking for such dedicated "lightweight" desktops, I'm pretty sure there are many but both Xfce and LXDE without a doubt are the most prominent ones.

The reason is simple, these are not "just desktops" but once installed you'll get a complete desktop suite with apps such as text editors, media player, control panel, file manager, Terminal emulator, even office suits, etc thus you don't have have to install any separate applications afterward!.

(please be aware that it's pretty hard to say "everything" using a just pictures and stuff, so I'll try my best).

LXDE vs Xfce

Let's have a look at the desktops...

Xfce desktop...



LXDE desktop...
Now as you can see the desktops look a lot similar. Although it has been few years that I have used Xfce to be honest (I came across it around early 2005 if I remember correctly).

Anyhow both these desktops actually come with a rich desktop right click which are totally better than in the Gnome classic desktop (the version 3 doesn't even have one!). But in comparison Xfce has a better (not necessarily since these are highly relative terms) right click than the LXDE version.

In the past all they had for a right click was nothing but big application menu if you remember, but it's quite extraordinary how they've evolved within such short period. So basically you can create a folder, new launcher, a text file and access other desktop related settings such as change background, etc.

So the desktop is well implemented, may not be perfect, but it's certainly more than enough for most of us.

Xfce desktop configuration...

LXDE: as you can see with  the above screenshot, Xfce has a better desktop configuration window, but it's really not a game changer, so to speak ;-)...
Xfce has few additional desktop features that lets you open a Terminal and few other options + most importantly it also has a feature that's only visible in KDE. Let me give you an example, in Xfce desktop whenever you move your mouse over a folder or a file on the desktop it displays a certain information such as it's size, full name and other attributes. Xfce also does that.

This means too much features and getting in the way of the users, from"Gnome's point of view", really is this too much to ask?...
This is something a lot of other desktops (including LXDE) lack. Even the Gnome doesn't have it!. Not because they can't but they just won't, because they just want their desktop to be newbie friendly and "simple", whatever!. Again this ain't something "big" but this resembles the developer's attitudes thus I think in the future we'll see more features like that nonetheless.


Other apps...

*. File Managers:

Xfce comes with a file manager called Thunar and LXDE's one is PCMan which is actually one of the founding applications of the LXDE desktop itself. As you can see they both a again look a lot similar in both GUI and functions.

From managing your folders/files (deleting, creating, editing, etc) they also have the ability to display mounted (both local and networked) partitions, zooming, sort files and folders + let you customize few settings such as enabling/disabling thumbnails, changing toolbar icon sizes, switch between views via the "preference" windows.

Thunar of Xfce...

PCMan in LXDE...
Although PCMan loads a bit faster than Thunar (it's so little that most of the time it's almost invincible!) but then again Thunar is a bit feature rich than PCMan. For instance PCman cannot generate thumbnails for video files. But Thunar has this features (which is enabled via a separate plug-in that uses ffmpeg). But in general terms, they're both good to go!.

*. Text editors:

This is another important thing. As said both Xfce and LXDE come with text editors of their own called Leafpad in Lxde and Mouspad in Xfce. But Mousepad is actually based on the Leafpad!, thus they both look a lot a-like.

 


You can do basic text editing such as changing font, colors, underline, bold, etc with them but for serious writers you'll have to either install LibreOffice or the more lightweight Abi-Word suit, etc which enables more advanced features (spell checking, etc) + a lot of file type support as well.


*. Window managers:

If you don't know what this is, then a window manager is one of the most basic and prominent apps that underlies on any graphical user interface (GUI). It's the one that "draws" and manage all those windows/titlesbars/buttons, message boxes, etc.

This is also one of the main applications that has the ability to speed-up things a bit unlike many others. By having a lightweight window manager means better performance and low on system resources but it'll also mean that you'd have to bear not having those fancy effects such as 3D cube, transparency or other whatnots we geeks are up to these days ;-).

LXDE uses a one called OpenBox which is old, quite robust and it's a separate application (not an original LXDE "project"). But most importantly it's known for its speed!. It's simple yet quite powerful + lets you configure a lot of its options by using a back-end called Obconf. Below is a screenshot of Obconf manager in LXDE desktop.


As you can see in comparison it lets you configure a scary amount of options for the good or the worse ;-). Although while I was using the LXDE in my Ubuntu 11.04 the responsive times were excellent but there were few occasions which it was a bit sluggish/clumsy (you know less responsive, etc) and the close/minimize buttons weren't that responsive either. But in general it's a hell lot faster than Gnome and KDE!.

Xfce desktop on the other hand uses a window manager of its own called Xfwm, 4.0 is the current version. As you can see with the below screenshot, it also is pretty rich in features (maybe slightly lesser than Openbox but) and is second to no one (although in the screenshot I've chose a tab with few options but once you choose other tabs there are reasonable amount of features).


Furthermore although I'm not entirely sure whether you can do this in LXDE but in Xfce it you want more control over your desktop just like with Gconf-editor in Gnome, but better in Xfce, you can access a lot of other desktop and applications (file manager, text editor, etc) related settings via a front-end called "Xfce-Settings-Editor/Xconf".

 
But if you're a bit new to GNU/Linux then most of these settings may not be necessary anyway.

*. Archive managers:

To manage archives of almost every kind you'll get an app called Xarchiver in LXDE and a more simpler one called Squeeze in Xfce. Although they both basically do the same thing but I prefer the Xarchiver since it's a bit rich in features and gives you better control.



My personal favorite, the Xarchiver! in LXDE...
Anyhow since the post is already a bit long (way out of my league :D) I'll summarize things a bit faster.

*. Music/Video players:

LXDE has a music player which called LXmusic that has a simple GUI and based on XMMS. It loads fast and does it jobs just fine. Although not as advanced as Rhythmbox , Banshee or nowhere near Amarok! (you KDE geek).

Yet for simpling listening to audio files I find it to be more than enough. And since it's job is to remain simple we can't ask for a lot of features either.

LXDE music player (audio only)...
Although this is only capable of playing audio only, if you want to play videos then you'd have install something similar in nature (you know light weight).

Xfce has both an audio player + a separate media player called Parole (based on Gstreamer) which has a very similar GUI as the Totem in Gnome. So when it comes to multimedia support by default I think Xfce do it a little bit better.

Parole media player...
*. CD/DVD burning:

Well, Xfce has an excellent one called Xfburn. It comes with reasonable amount of features + loads fast and does its job really well while I used it. LXDE does not have a CD/DVD burner of its own at the moment. So you'll have to install one separately.

*. Web Browsers:

Xfce's version is called Midori which is again quite fast and simple + uses lesser amount of system resources than other major browser such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Chromium

LXDE does not have a one of its own, yet. So again, you'll have to install one separately.

*. Image Viewers:

Xfce has a pretty simple one called Ristretto and LXDE has one of its own called GPicView. They're both excellent, simple and low on your system resources. 

Conclusion...

Although both these desktop do come with a lot of other apps such as terminal emulators, etc and lets you configure a lot of settings such as panels, file manages, window managers, etc but in comparison Xfce at the moment feels more likely a completed desktop but that's because it has been there for some time now in comparison with the relatively new LXDE.

And Xfce has some additional features and apps and it's certainly faster than a lot of other desktops but if you want a desktop that closely resembles Xfce still slightly faster (just a little bit :D) Xfce, then LXDE is an excellent choice!.

But that being said, LXDE, I think has to do some interface cleaning. I mean, just right click on your panel in LXDE and in my experience it takes me few seconds to find the option that I was looking for.

It's a bit "cluttered" don't you think?, perhaps it's those icons... (or maybe I'm just nuts!)...
This is not because it has a huge list of options but I think they just gotta arrange them better. So if they can clear-out few of these minor issues and add those "missing" applications (which they will as time goes on, anyway) I think LXDE has the potential to become a replacement for Xfce.

But that's doesn't mean Xfce is bad or anything. It may be slightly slower (very little!), but then again that's because it has some additional features than LXDE and once installed it has the ability to act as a "full" desktop thanks to a separate dedicated window manager and applications of their own, etc (other than not having an office suite at the moment). So I certainly don't know which is better when considering LXDE vs Xfce, I'll let you do the "deciding" ;-).

Get More From: LXDE Home page | Xfce Home page.

What do you think ?

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for detailed comparison.

I love LXDE. But i think, XFCE is more complete than LXDE.

Don't try LXDE with Peppermint, it isn't resource friendly :P

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

You are welcome.

"Peppermint", got it, I'll remember that!:)

Anonymous said...

Use either with the Fluxbox WM and you've not only got that right-click menu, but lightning fast as well.

I must say, I do find your blog extremely informative. Many Thanks!

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

You are most welcome :D.

Anonymous said...

Butbutbut...

What about resource comparisons? When it comes to speed of operations, I've known Xfce to almost be a somewhere between LXDE and fullon KDE or Gnome.

However, that depends on the distro, their implementation, their included software... so I can't find a real resources-based comparison of the two when all other factors are equal.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous (AKA "Butbutbut" :D),

True I agree with you. Most of the time it heavily depends on the Distribution's "optimization" but still LXDE is more resource friendly than Xfce.

Then again, as said, Xfce has a few more additional useful features thus it is not as "light-weight" as LXDE is these days but if you're looking for a more balanced desktop (+ a more responsive WM), I think Xfce is slightly better.

I'm sorry that I forgot to measure the RAM/HDD usage but went with what I "felt" while using 'em instead :/...

Anonymous said...

If you like to try LXDE, try Linux Mint or Tuquito.

Anonymous said...

will the speed decrease if i install some gnome applications in xfce which i got used to?
And what about fedora xfce?

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Well if those apps don't have a lot of Gnome dependencies then I don't think it hurts to install one or two :).

About Fedora Xfce: last time I tried to install it (Fedora Xfce Spin 15) the installer "told" me that I've gotta have like 768MB of RAM or more! which I think is a bug (carried out from the original Fedora installer) since the sole purpose of installing Xfce is to use it with as less resources as possible.

But that could be fixed with the Fedora 16 release + even while I was using the Xfce spin 15 in LiveCD environment ... I was quite happy with it's speed nonetheless. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that XFCE is on the way to get as bloated as Gnome3. Search Google for a memory usage comparisation of XFCE and LXDE. XFCE's lightweight times are over.

DMcCunney said...

I run Ubuntu here, on my desktop and an ancient notebook. The desktop has the horsepower to run Gnome or KDE, but I don't. I looked at Unity and didn't care for it - the UI seems targeted at netbooks where screen real estate is the scarce resource, and falls down on a big screen. On the desktop, I run XFCE, because I'm familiar with it and can make it do what I want.

On the notebook, I'm running LXDE at the moment. It's an ancient (circa 2005) low resource Fujitsu Lifebook, with an 867mhz CPU, 265MB RAM (of which 16MB is grabbed off the top by the Transmeta CPU for code morphing), and an ATI Rage Pro Mobility graphics chip set with 8MB display RAM. The big limit is disk I/O - it won't do better than UDMA 4, so a premium is placed on small apps. Firefox, for example, takes about 45 seconds to load and initialize. Web access is also slow, so I don't do much browsing from it. (I multi-boot Win2K, Ubuntu, Puppy Linux, and FreeDOS, and surfing is just as slow in Puppy or Win2K, even with a hard wired connection.)

LXDE gets the nod on the notebook bexcause I need the lightest weight solution I can get that still has the minimum feature set I want.

One thing not mentioned in XFCE's favor are the growing assortment of plugins available. I make use of an assortment in XFCE, and wish LXDE had a comparable set.

Another issue is that LXDE and XFCE don't always play well together. I had both installed on the notebook under Ubuntu and switched between them from the Login screen, but XFCE recently fails to load. Googling for a solution offered several possible fixes, none of which worked here.

My biggest wish list item for LXDE is better control of the placement of desktop icons, so I can do the sort of arrangement I do in XFCE, but that will apparently require changes to PCManFM, and I don't expect to see it soon. (And I'd like to see PCManFM fix sorting: it does things like ignore leading @s in file/directory names, so I'll see such things sorted by the first alpha char rather than the first char, period. Sorting fail...)

It's possible to get even lower resource, like JWM (which Puppy uses by default), but that runs into "minimum desired feature set" limitations.

LXDE is an acceptable solution (and quicker than XCFE when that still ran), but I look forward to further development of it.

Gayan said...

@DMcCunney,

I agree with you on lot of things and also quite fond of XFce's way of managing the desktop too. True Xfce has some decent plugin support but I'd hope that LXDE would eventually get it as well.

Thanks for sharing your experince, 45 secs for FF, dude you must have a lot of patience ;-)...

ingothomas said...

I have to completely disagree with the first anonymous poster. I run #Peppermint on all my systems, netbooks to 256MB Pentium, to AMD Quadcore, it is the perfect configured Lubuntu spin-off, small and lightning fast.
It focuses on cloudbased applications, but still allows heavy applications like LibreOffice and Inkscape to run smoothly, BECAUSE it doesn't eat the whole memory. I didn't get to run XFCE (Xuuntu) smoothly on the 256MB machine. Looks like the few improvements were using too much memory already. But both systems have one issue: The heavy applications we are used to (e.g. Firefox with loads of extensions), are not suitable for small memories, no matter how small the OS is. That's where the cloud comes in. I recommend/use Peppermint, Chrome or Opera, and for old hardware, the pre-linked Google and graphics apps.
Word of caution, though almost a must-have, the included Dropbox is probably the cited resource hog! It's very heavy. Only use it if necessary, it can be used by web interface too. And there is Wuala (wuala.com), also better used by web interface. Finally, on the quadcore I use other OS in virtual machines. Best of all worlds.

Gayan said...

@ingothomas,

Thanks mate! and if you read the comment by "DMcCunney" above he says a similar thing about Firefox in old hardware.

However Chrome also uses a reasonable amount of resourced once you open few taps... but I too agree that Firefox perhaps uses a bit more :).

Anonymous said...

The grammar in this article is so bad I can barely understand what you're trying to say.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Well, I did my best.

Anonymous said...

Just installed Arch, was trying to choose between LXDE and XFCE. You've helped clear things up a bit, thanks :)

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Thank you! :D.

Steve said...

Please disregard the "anonymous" @sshole's comment above. Excellent article! Thanks for putting your time into it. It really helped!

Gayan said...

@Steve,

Thanks Steve!, I'm glad that you found it helpful (oh man learning a foreign language isn't exactly fun, yikes! :D).

jeffreyC said...

Xfce is not much slower than LXDE, it has been badly implemented in Xubuntu for years, and also LMDE Xfce version, with too many Gnome applications and bloat.
To see what it can really do run it in Debian or Arch with lighter applications.
Take a look at Debian Live, CrunchBang or Liquid Lemur.

Anonymous said...

Useful post!

I would say that Abiword is not really more complete than Leafpad, but a different kind of app. One pobably needs an office suite and also a text editor like leafpad. A more complete text editor that I like is Geany. I still use leafpad for quick notes anyway (Mousepad has apparently been removed from Gentoo).

Thanks for the post, I was considering switching to LXDE but now I see that is not big difference.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

You are welcome! :D.

Anonymous said...

Hi I am running Xfce on an old Sager 866 cpu with ATI mobil graphics. the only way I could get the vidio to work properly and have Debian repositories was to load
antiX desktop first which uses Mepis loader files that fool my system with its old bios and hardware to load properly. Then load gdm and Xfce. I use iceape browser,
kaffiene, gimp, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I was looking at using either Xubuntu or Lubuntu on my new Samsung NP900X3A. Why would I look for a minimalistic OS on new hardware? Because I need 11.10 to recognize the video hardware and I hate Unity. I've tried switching back to Gnome from Unity but I've not been happy with the results so I am going with Xubuntu. I tried both via live USB and like the author mentioned here, Xfce seems to have a slight edge over LXDE in that it is come "complete" or "polished". FYI, I'm a minimalist. =) Gnome-do and a good file manager (Nautilus) are my main tools.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

You are welcome!.

I'm pretty sure you've already heard of this. But if you're looking for a GNU/Linux distro that only uses LXDE and comes pre-installed with codecs and other things by default then there is this distro called "Dream Linux".

I've tried it in past (like 5-6 years ago) and even at that time (since it was a bit new back then) it was really impressive.

I don't know how they're doing these days but perhaps it might be worth trying.

Here's the link

http://www.dreamlinux.info/ good luck.

Anonymous said...

"lightweight" is what old windows OS and Macos 8 was. You could boot the system on 8mb ram on Macos8, still be able to open folders and run a program or two. 8mb!!!

there is nothing lightweight about any of these desktops

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Oh well, I suppose that's the price for the so called "social advancements" ;-)

Anonymous said...

Raymond_Linux:

I've tried both XFCE and LXDE. They are both great if you're not doing anything too fancy. Now, I'm a trasparency freak, and I use the combination of xcompmgr, devilspie, and transset-df. XFCE works great, but LXDE refuses to cooperate with devilspie when there are undecorate windows. I believe the reason lies with Openbox in LXDE. I love how LXDE looks and feels (kind of high tech). There are threads teaching how to modify Openbox XML files to achieve transparency but since I've already have scripts written in devilspie language, I don't want to kind of "re-invent my own wheel".

I used KDE on my host and XFCE and LXDE in guests. I do have overlapped windows between them so transparency is no longer an option but a requirement for me. Hence, XFCE is a win. I'll reinstall Linux on my host and I might drop KDE altogether and install XFCE instead.

This is a good post, nice work, and keep it up~

Gayan said...

Thank you and good luck with XFCE.

Melfice said...

Hi, Gayan, I found this very useful, thanks.
I'm trying to build a Debian with a WM that mix functionality, customization and speed.
With so many flavors, didn't knew what to choose... but I think XFCE would be good for the cause.
First time reader, I'll be back for more. Hehe.

Gayan said...

@Melfice,

You are welcome.

Although I'll always be around this blog but I've moved to a new one, so you'd better come there if you want up-to-date stuff ;-).

Here's the link.

http://www.hecticgeek.com/

Lalo.AntiRomeo said...

I love LXDE more than Xfce, more than Gnome 3, more than Unity.

Gayan said...

@Lalo,

lol

Anonymous said...

LXDE and Lubuntu (and Xfce) are such a breath of fresh air after looking at Unity, the Gnome situatuion, and KDE! Having an environment that lets you feel your hardware fly (as it should with billions of ops per second processors!) is just wonderful. After all, these are tools to get work done, not ends in themselves, right?

Rich

Gayan said...

@Rich,

Well, I suppose.

But for others (such as Geeks like me ;-) and developers etc), the software itself is part of our identity, so it's a bit more important :).

But I do agree with you, at the end, they're are tools though.

Christian Jabasa said...

I have 2 gig of RAM but my GPU is blacklisted in Ubuntu recent release. So I'm here using Ubuntu 10.10 instead.

Gayan said...

@Christian Jabasa,

Dude that sucks :/..., btw, what is your GPU?

Stein said...

LXDE is considerably faster than Xfce on this machine, Fujitsu Lifebook 1.6 ghz 768 mb ram running Debian Squeeze Xfce edition but changed to LXDE because the interface was a bit sluggish.
as fast as Icewm or Windowmaker and loads nm-applet without any tinkering.
I do have a few gnome apps and deps. Use Softmaker office, free 2008 version for writing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for article. I use LMDE with Gnome 2 but since Gnome has now exploded into at least 4 versions, I'm looking to keep my head down with a lighter DE, and your article helps me choose Xfce -- but not to forget about LXDE either.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

You are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the in-depth comparison. One thing though, would I be able to run Gnome dependent apps in a LXDE/XFCE environment if I install Gnome3 for dependency purposes but don't use Gnome as my UI?

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Yes, you should be able to do that!. BTW, you're welcome too :D.

Anonymous said...

I have Xubuntu 12.04. For the strangest of reasons, LXDE is slower on it. These are my 2 favourite DE's. Personally I'd prefer LXDE if it had been as fast as I used to remember it, but Xfce is just snappier on my system, and my most used apps perform better under it. For Ubuntu users, Xfce seems to be the only alternative left for those who preferred Gnome 2. LXDE is just a modernized Windows 98 interface, which will appeal to minimalists. Though many of LXDE's customization methods are still stuck in the primitive DOS era.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Interesting observations ;-)...

Anonymous said...

offbeat topic.....
what about mate?
did anyone try it out?

Brian L. said...

This is bringing up some questions for me, and please pardon my ignorance of the subject matter...

I get why a stacking WM would be faster and use less resources than a compositing WM. Hence Openbox would out-perform xfwm4. But can any WM be a drop-in for the one shipped? ie. Can I switch , say, xfwm4 to use Openbox in Xfce? Or use Gnome with a stacking WM to speed things up? Or am I not considering other dependencies inherent in the desktop/WM relationship (ie. am I over-simplifying things?)

While we're talking about lightweight, I happily remember the days when, after several attempts and crashes, I managed to run OS/2 2.1 on a 486sx 25Mhz, with 4 MB RAM. How' that for light? ;)

Gayan said...

@Brian L,

Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I think the reason why compositing WM is a bit heavy on your system's resources is because it has the ability to generate "fancy" effects (drop shadows, transparency etc).

You certainly can use Openbox in Xfce as the window manager. And Gnome-Shell uses a brand new WM called 'Mutter', so I'm not sure about its compatibility over other desktops :).

BTW, running an OS on 4MB of RAM, that's impressive! :D.

Anonymous said...

Nice article.
With GNOME 3 and Unity proving a step of n00bification too far for a lot of users, XFCE & LXDE are becoming real alternatives even for users with powerful PC's.
Of course there's KDE, but some of us want to stay in a C language environment.

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

I'm glad it was useful to you.

P.S: Have you tried the latest 4.10 of Xfce?, looks really neat! :D.

mad hatter said...

Yes, thank you for this article, well done! Noob trying to understand how linux is put together so I can make hopefully intelligent decision from start. Am shocked at how many linux trying to act like Windoz...when I want to get away from it, groan!

Gayan said...

@mad hatter,

You are welcome!.

Jim Habegger said...

Thank you, Gayan. I'm getting ready to install Debian on a usb stick with LinuxLive, and I was trying to decide between LXDE and Xfce. It looks like a toss-up for me. I've never used either one. It feels better to me to learn Xfce first, then maybe try LXDE.

I'm still using Windows (XP), but I'm trying to switch to more civilized software and systems as much as possible. I have Debian on another partition, and I'm experimenting with ways to access my Debian filesystem from Windows. I've already installed ext2fsd, but I'm thinking there might be some advantages to using LinuxLive with VirtualBox on a USB stick for that purpose.

Gayan said...

@Jim,

You're most welcome.

I cannot say much about 'VirtualBox' etc because I've actually never tried it! :).

Never liked the idea an entire OS running on top of another, freaks me out ;-). 'ext2fsd' is a pretty decent tool though.

Anyway, good luck!.

Anonymous said...

"it's so little that most of the time it's almost invincible!"

... invincible :)

PCManFM is pretty solid, although invincible might be a bit too much credit, ha!

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

lol, I got a bit excited! ;-).

Anonymous said...

Don't use xfce, there terminal consume 10.02GB on my computer.

Unknown said...

I would love to see an analysis utility. Run in on your workstation and get a "report" -- both human (text) and machine (XML?) readable -- that details your workstations feature set. One might then use this "report" to decide which desktop environment and which features have the best chance of working at an acceptable level.

I run older hardware because I cannot afford the chase after new parts twice each year. I'm tired of loading a distro only to learn -- often after hours or days of trial and error -- that it does not play well on my hardware.
~~~ 8d;-/ Dan

foxhead128 said...

This is a good article; it sums up the difference between Xfce and LXDE quite nicely. It's not much use to me, though, since the two of them are already my desktop environments of choice. From personal experience, I've found that Xfce is a bit sluggish on Ubuntu, and just as bad on Fedora. It flies on Debian, though, so I don't think it's Xfce's fault. As many people have already mentioned, Xfce's main advantage over LXDE is that it's a more fully-featured DE, but since I mostly use Ubuntu, I prefer LXDE, since it seems to be better-implemented.

Anonymous said...

I run both xfce and lxde. I prefer lxde on a flash drive useage and xfce on hard drive installed. But something the original post could not comment on was the update of PCmamFM. I use 1.0 and will try to update to 1.01. It's a big update in my opinion. xfce has also gotten better with 4.10. Still love them both! (Thanks developers!)

If you want a really good look at the updates I suggest trying the live ones with knoppix. If you install realize it uses another formatting. resizer I think its called. But I have no problem with my home directory being in 4fs. (if you have to learned to put your home in a separate partition I urge you to!)

Debian seems to be behind (or my lack of know how) in the PCmanFM update. Knoppix developer seems to know how to get around this.

Loyal
Thanks again to developers and testors who help us non-geeks survive in the world of Linux! If I could get my homesite 4.2 to work in Linux I'd trash windows! Even though my wife would be mad)

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I too agree, Xfce 4.10 looks very nice indeed.

Mufeed said...

Try Lubuntu! You should have compared XFCE with it!

Anonymous said...

I have 256 mb of ram on an old hp pavilion laptop and have tried all these your talking about but my machine runs faster and more fluidly especially YouTube videos using chrome and I am running puppy Linux with open box and it has all the bells and whistles I would ever need. Excellent blog btw!

Gayan said...

@Anonymous,

Why thank you! :D.

Innocent Bystander said...

Hi,

Would you be OK to update your article with latest version of LXDE and XFCE. Were are now in Dec 2012 and your article is +1 year old.

I discovered LXDE recently. Fixing an old computer for a friend, I figured Lubuntu 12.10 would do OK. I wondered why I never tried LXDE seriously before. I am amazed how good LXDE is. There is a menu on each Window (no global menu), the scrollbar is visible (no overlay scrollbar). The window stay at the same size when dragged around (no Aerosnap). The Desktop doesn't require a powerful graphic card. LXDE lacks customization but its advantages far outweight the ridiculous useless gimmicks of "modern" (read "stupid") desktop effects like Unity or even Cinnamon.

Gayan said...

@Innocent Bystander,

Thanks for the suggestion.

I've been too thinking about coming up with an up-to-date article, but it's just hard to find the time these days.

But I will come up with one in my other (active) blog (hecticgeek.com).

Anonymous said...

I use LXDE with xfwm4 and everything works fine, but i cannot set custom shortcuts..

Anonymous said...

I prefer WindowMaker for uber lightweight.

destroyedlolo said...

I'm using only dead slow oldies up to now, and LXDE was an obvious choice.
I like its philosophy and its weightlessness but it's exhibit some nasty limitations. Most noticeable are :

* when navigating thru a collection of images some of them are forgot. It's visible in PCManFM where some icons are not generated, but also in image viewer (I think the problem is in the support library).

* I feel limited by PCManFM : it's bad I can't create my own userscripts as I did in Nautilus.

* PCManFM is crashing time to time ...

So all in all, if I'm very happy with LXDE on my limited hardware (I got a fully working environment even on a 256M systems), I think I will got XFCE try on my brand new i5 w/ 8 GB :)

Gayan said...

@destroyedlolo,

Oh wow, running XFCE on a 8GB machine, you must be addicted to it ;-) ...

Dave Park said...

Great article, good comments, and really appreciated :) I was plannning on installing LXDE on my netbook (Asus EEE PC 1005HA), which I do PHP & Java development on, but now I'm leaning towards trying XFCE.

Gayan said...

@Dave Park,

Thank you!.

Mark said...

I have to update my ubuntu 12.04 with an old pc (7 years old) reading this article I think LXDE can be the best option. Thanks for this article.

Gayan said...

@Mark,

You're welcome :).

Otto said...

@Gayan

Hey! I'm a Linux newbie and have one ancient piece of hardware. Since I have to forget about winxp (at last...) and start a close relationship with, well, The Linux, I really need posts, pieces of advice and other helpful stuff like the article you've published. Surprisingly, although couple years have passed and few things have changed, it's still actual and very useful.
So, thanks a lot man, I think I'll visit your page again from time to time. Thanks to you too, fellow commenters! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Great article! Thanks, it made things clear for me.
I could not get you tube and skype to work on lxde, but on xfce it worked fine, so my choice is clear. Using Peppermint. Love it. Greetings, Edward

Gayan said...

@Otto & Anonymous,

You're both welcome.

@ Otto,

Make sure to visit my WordPress blog (hecticgeek.com) as I don't update this one anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

i have just installed Linux mint 15 XFCE version. its lightning fast. but my problem is that when i play any video it does not play smoothly as it played in Mate desktop or Ubuntu. what exactly should be the problem. kindly guilde me as i dont want to uninstall xfce. thanx.

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