Monday, 24 August 2009

Top 7 Xfce Applications

Over the years Xfce gained a reputation of being a lightweight alternative for the two major desktop environments on Linux, KDE and GNOME. This comes from the fact that Xfce usually uses less resources, comes with applications which offer basic functionality and clean, simple interfaces, and the general performance of Xfce is better, at least when it comes to memory cost, than both KDE or GNOME. Xubuntu uses Xfce and very often it is recommended for older hardware which can't handle the latest releases of Ubuntu or Kubuntu.

Xfce 4.6.1 desktop environment

In this article I will overview 7 essential applications for the Xfce desktop environment, including screenshots, most popular features, strong and weak points.

1. File manager: Thunar (full review here)
Thunar is the default file manager in Xfce. It comes with a simple interface (just like any other Xfce application), side panel, configurable location selector (if you want the typical location bar to appear in the toolbar), possibility to sort items, zoom in/out, three view modes (icons, detailed list, compact list), and image previews. Thunar is simpler than Nautilus, but in turn it will consume less resources. It offers basic configuration options but it will get the job done, especially if you only need to do basic file browsing and management.

Thunar 1.0.1

2. Web browser: Midori
I think trying Midori for the first time will give the exact same feeling as trying Epiphany. It features the usual interface of simple browser, offering enough options to make it a simple, yet useful web browser. Midori uses the powerful WebKit rendering engine, so it will successfully support any web page out there that WebKit supports. Midori comes with extension support, bookmarks, history, encodings, zooming web pages in or out, source viewer and fullscreen mode. It also supports tabs (a must have) and it includes a speed dial page by default when opening a new tab for fast access to your favourite web pages.

Midori 0.1.9

Regarding configurability, Midori is pretty rich in options: except for the usual ones like homepage or start-up routine, it allows spell-checking, enabling/disabling showing images, scripts, interface, external applications, proxy, privacy and even appearance settings.

3. CD/DVD burner: Xfburn
The burning application in Xfce offers quite the usual features basic GNOME burners have. It provides a drag and drop interface using a tree file viewer and a file browser, it supports burning CDs, DVDs, ISO images, creation of audio CDs and that's all there is to it. Very simple and easy-to-use, without any additional options. Xfburn is very well suited if you're looking for a minimal, less resource-hungry application for burning discs.

Xfburn 0.4.2

4. Audio & video player: Xfmedia
Xfmedia is the default media player which comes with Xfce, based on the Xine engine and capable of playing any audio or video format that Xine supports. Xfmedia offers a basic interface which is best fit for playing audio files, but Xine makes it possible to play videos and movies too.

5. Image viewer: Ristretto
Ristretto comes with one of the most simple interfaces an image viewer could have, dividing the interface into two places: a widget showing the image (in full size or zoomed in or out) and a thumbnail preview bar, which can be relocated or hidden on demand via the View -> Thumbnail Viewer menu entry. Preferences window allows the user to customise the slideshow options, image cache size, background colour and scaling. Fullscreen mode and rotating images is also available.

Ristretto 0.0.22

6. Text editor: Mousepad
In the same fashion as the other Xfce applications, Mousepad offers a basic text editor, stripped from advanced features like syntax highlighting, spell-checking or any of the features advanced text editors have. Mousepad, as the name suggests, is just a simple text editor, fast to edit configuration files or any other text file. The features it provides are font selection, line number, auto-indent and word wrap.

Mousepad 0.2.16

7. Terminal application: Xfce Terminal
Since any productive Linux user will need the terminal for making things faster, the Xfce Terminal will prove a good replacement for applications like xterm, Konsole or GNOME Terminal, especially if you strive for simplicity. The Xfce4 Terminal allows you to configure its appearance, background image, font, colours, shortcuts. It even supports tabs, which is very useful when you need more than one instance opened.

Xfce4 Terminal 0.4.0


Anonymous said...

this are not 'TOP 7' xfce applications
this are the DEFAULTS applications
this article was a worthless reading and a waste of time

zacory said...


Viale Fabrice said...

I was unaware that there are 7 xfce applications... My joke is better than the article...

blackbelt_jones said...

The joke isn't bad, but I'm having a hard time imagining what these guys expected. I guess maybe they were looking for some provocative and thoughtful opinions instead of a very straightforward introduction. As one who habitually uses the same KDE applications with XFCE that I use with fluxbox, twm, ice wm, and.. oh yeah, KDE, I found the article to be worth a look.

To avoid these complaints, I suggest that you put "for beginners" or "introduction to", etc. in the title.

David Smith said...

Apart from the 7 listed, there are hardly any other applications that are specific to xfce. So a better title might have been "Only 7 Xfce Applications".

Pretty much all GTK (Gnome) and QT (KDE) apps will run on xfce no problem IME, though installing and loading them kind of defeats the low-resource benefit of xfce.

Incidentally I like xfce, and have used it as my preferred desktop for over a year. It is especially advantageous on older, low-spec pcs. On new full-powered pcs, not so much. Though it does have a nice, minimalist UI.

OliBlogger said...

When reading about xfce I always hope to find an easy way to use samba shares. I never found it, yet.

OK, now I think I learned my lesson: don't read articles with 'top ..' or 'the best ...'.

mjjzf said...

I rather like the Xfce applications - except Mousepad; I fail to understand what good an editor without syntax coloring does and always replace it with Medit or Scite. I think that perhaps it is time to have a new look at Xfburn. When I used it a long time ago, it was extremely unreliable, but it looks nice now. Also, Midori is becoming a great browser.

likemindead said...

Great showcase!


tonyhb said...

I recently remastered an Xubuntu 8.04 CD with these:
File Manager - Thunar
Browser - Firefox
CD Player/Ripper - Goobox
Media Player - VLC
CD/DVD Burner - Brasero
Compression - Squeeze
Terminal - XFCE Terminal
Image Viewer - Mirage (can also crop)

Firefox is slowish starting, apart from that I am pleased with the 6 low end systems I have set up (started with minimal install disk to install only needed apps)

Christopher Baluyut said...


I think Gigolo might be your answer :)

Anonymous said...

1st comment says it all...

Vincent said...

+1 for Gigolo OliBlogger, that is the answer (it also comes with Xubuntu by default).

Also, xfmedia is abandoned. And it sucks. And it crashes all the time.

LinuxDruid said...

Trying to find a way to get in touch with the author of this blog. If your are reading this leave me a message or if anyone knows how I can get in touch with him let me know.

Anonymous said...

Any article purporting to list the "Top" or "Best" applications would benefit from being explicit about the selection criteria.

In this case, explicitly stating that the article was going to list the (most useful?) default XFCE apps would have gone a long way toward defusing most of the criticisms seen in the comments.

Anonymous said...

just because they are the default applications doesn't mean they're not qualified to be the best. Why would you put something in a distro you didn't think would not best fit in its theme? These applications are hard to replace with an alternative when it comes to lightweight arena in my opinion.

I didn't expect to be impressed with the wide range of "rare and unpopular" applications when I read this arcticle. Just an affirmation that these applications were still the top for xfce. of course that would be my opinion. I'm also half-waiting for other comments of what they think would best replace some of these.

I still use the following after quite a while:

ristretto - had to install it to replace the default picture viewer in ubuntu.

Never found a good replacement for these.

midori is still a bit buggy for me, so i'm using an alternative lightweight which is epiphany. i think epiphany will also use webkit as default in the future.

never tried xfburn, says they still have bugs. still using brasero.

I don't use xfmedia. I use MPD with gnome music player client. GMPC. also boasts of lightweightness.

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