|Original author(s)||Olivier Fourdan|
|Developer(s)||Free software community|
4.18 / 15 December 2022
|Written in||C (GTK)|
|Middleware||X Window System, Xorg|
|Available in||At Least 31 Different Languages languages|
|License||GPL, LGPL, BSD|
Xfce aims to be fast and lightweight while still being visually appealing and easy to use. Xfce embodies the traditional Unix philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of separately packaged parts that together provide all functions of the desktop environment, but can be selected in subsets to suit user needs and preference. Another priority of Xfce is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org.
Like GNOME, Xfce is based on the GTK toolkit, but it is not a GNOME fork. It uses the Xfwm window manager, described below. Its configuration is entirely mouse-driven, with the configuration files hidden from the casual user. Xfce does not feature any desktop animations, but Xfwm supports compositing.
Olivier Fourdan started the project in late 1996 as a Linux version of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), a Unix desktop environment that was initially proprietary and later released as free software. The first release of Xfce was in early 1997. However, over time, Xfce diverged from CDE and now stands on its own.
The name Xfce originally stood for “XForms Common Environment”, but since then Xfce has been rewritten twice and doesn't use the XForms toolkit anymore. The name survived, but it is no longer capitalized as “XFCE” and is no longer an abbreviation for anything (although suggestions have been made, such as “X Freakin' Cool Environment”).— Frequently Asked Questions, Xfce Wiki
The Slackware Linux distribution has nicknamed Xfce the "Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment", a loose interpretation of the initialism.
Per the FAQ, the logo of Xfce is "a mouse, obviously, for all kinds of reasons like world domination and monsters and such." In the SuperTuxKart game, in which various open source mascots race against each other, the mouse is said to be a female named "Xue".
Fourdan continued developing the project and in 1998, Xfce 2 was released with the first version of Xfce's window manager, Xfwm. He requested to have the project included in Red Hat Linux, but was refused due to its XForms basis. Red Hat only accepted software that was open source and released under either a GPL or BSD compatible license, whereas, at the time, XForms was closed source and free only for personal use. For the same reason, Xfce was not in Debian before version 3, and Xfce 2 was only distributed in Debian's contrib repository.
In March 1999, Fourdan began a complete rewrite of the project based on GTK, a non-proprietary toolkit then rising in popularity. The result was Xfce 3.0, licensed under the GPL. Along with being based completely on free software, the project gained GTK drag-and-drop support, native language support, and improved configurability. Xfce was uploaded to SourceForge.net in February 2001, starting with version 3.8.1.
In version 4.0.0, released 25 September 2003, Xfce was upgraded to use the GTK 2 libraries. Changes in 4.2.0, released 16 January 2005, included a compositing manager for Xfwm which added built-in support for transparency and drop shadows, as well as a new default SVG icon set. In January 2007, Xfce 4.4.0 was released. This included the Thunar file manager, a replacement for Xffm. Support for desktop icons was added. Also, various improvements were made to the panel to prevent buggy plugins from crashing the whole panel. In February 2009, Xfce 4.6.0 was released. This version had a new configuration backend, a new settings manager and a new sound mixer, as well as several significant improvements to the session manager and the rest of Xfce's core components.
In January 2011, Xfce 4.8.0 was released. This version included changes such as the replacement of ThunarVFS and HAL with GIO, udev, ConsoleKit and PolicyKit, and new utilities for browsing remote network shares using several protocols including SFTP, SMB, and FTP. Window clutter was reduced by merging all Thunar file progress dialog boxes into a single dialog. The panel application was also rewritten for better positioning, transparency, and item and launcher management. 4.8 also introduced a new menu plugin to view directories. The 4.8 plugin framework remains compatible with 4.6 plugins. The display configuration dialog in 4.8 supports RandR 1.2, detecting screens automatically and allowing users to pick their preferred display resolution, refresh rate, and display rotation. Multiple displays can be configured to either work in clone mode, or be placed next to each other. Keyboard selection was revamped to be easier and more user-friendly. Also, the manual settings editor was updated to be more functional.
The 4.8 development cycle was the first to use the new release strategy formed after the "Xfce Release and Development Model" developed at the Ubuntu Desktop Summit in May 2009. A new web application was employed to make release management easier, and a dedicated Transifex server was set up for Xfce translators. The project's server and mirroring infrastructure was also upgraded, partly to cope with anticipated demand following the release announcement for 4.8.
Xfce 4.10, released 28 April 2012, introduced a vertical display mode for the panel and moved much of the documentation to an online wiki. The main focus of this release was on improving the user experience.
Xfce 4.12 was released on 28 February 2015, two years and ten months later, contrary to mass Internet speculation about the project being "dead". The target of 4.12 was to improve user experience and take advantage of technologies introduced in the interim. New window manager features include an Alt+Tab dialog, and smart multi-monitor handling. Also, a new power management plugin for the panel's notification area was introduced, as well as a re-written text editor and an enhanced file manager. Xfce 4.12 also started the transition to GTK 3 by porting application and supporting plugins and bookmarks. With 4.12, the project reiterated its commitment to Unix-like platforms other than Linux by featuring OpenBSD screenshots.
The planned release of Xfce 4.14 was announced in April 2016 and was officially released on 12 August 2019. The main goals of the release included porting the remaining core components from GTK 2 to GTK 3; replacing the dependency on dbus-glib with GDBus, GNOME's implementation of the D-Bus specification; and removing deprecated widgets. Major features were postponed for a later 4.16 release. The minimum GTK 3 version was bumped from 3.14 to 3.22.
Xfce 4.16 was released on 22 December 2020. Some notable changes in this release include new icons with a more consistent color palette; improved interfaces for changing system settings; various panel improvements like animations for hiding, a new notification plugin with support for both legacy SysTray and modern StatusNotifier items, and better support for dark themes; and more information included in the About dialog.
Xfce 4.18 was released on 15 December 2022. This release mainly focused on new features and improvements to the Thunar file manager including an image preview sidebar, split view, recursive file searching, better mime type handling, per-file color highlighting, undoing up to 10 actions, a recently opened files location, restoring open tabs on startup, and a customizable toolbar. Other changes include a keyboard shortcut editor and merging the date and time plugins.
Xfce provides a development framework which contains the following components:
- exo, an application library for the Xfce desktop environment
- garcon, a Freedesktop.org compliant menu library
- libxfce4ui, a widgets library for the Xfce desktop environment
- libxfce4util, an extension library for Xfce
One of the services provided to applications by the framework is a red banner across the top of the window when the application is running with root privileges, warning the user that they could damage system files.
Many aspects of the panel and its plug-ins can be configured easily through graphical dialogs, but also by GTK style properties and hidden Xfconf settings.
A terminal emulator is provided as part of the Xfce project, but it can be used in other X Window System environments as well. It supports tabs, customizable key bindings, colors, and window sizes. It was designed to replace GNOME Terminal, which depends on the GNOME libraries. Like GNOME Terminal, though, it is based on the VTE library. Xfce Terminal can be configured to offer a varying background color for each tab. It can also be used as a drop-down terminal emulator, similar to Guake or Tilda.
Thunar is the default file manager for Xfce, replacing Xffm. It resembles GNOME's Nautilus, and is designed for speed and a low memory footprint, as well as being highly customizable through plugins. Xfce also has a lightweight archive manager called Xarchiver, but this is not part of the core Xfce 4.4.0. More recently, Squeeze has been started as an archive manager designed to integrate better into the Xfce desktop, and though no releases have been made since 2008, the git repository of squeeze has been active and this version is more feature-rich than the last stable release.
Starting with version 4.4, Xfcalendar was renamed to Orage (French for "thunderstorm") and several features were added. Orage has alarms and uses the iCalendar format, making it compatible with many other calendar applications, e.g. vdirsyncer to sync via CalDAV. It also includes a panel clock plugin and an international clock application capable of simultaneously showing clocks from several different time zones. With Xfce 4.16, and the dropping of GTK2 support for panel plugins, orage was replaced with DateTime plugin.
Mousepad is the default text editor for Xfce in some Linux distributions, including Xubuntu. Mousepad aims to be an easy-to-use and fast editor, meant for quickly editing text files, not a software development environment or an editor with a large plugin ecosystem. It does offer tabbed files, syntax highlighting, parentheses matching and indentation features commonly found in software editors. It closely follows the GTK-system release cycle. It originated as a fork of Leafpad, was developed by Erik Harrison and Nick Schermer, but has since been rewritten from scratch.
Parole is a simple media player based on the GStreamer framework. It is designed with simplicity, speed and resource usage in mind, and is part of the Xfce Goodies and uses at least three libraries from the Xfce project (libxfce4ui, libxfce4util, and libxfconf).
It is similar to GNOME Videos, but it has some advantages and disadvantages compared to it:
- It has (X11/XShm/Xv) video output that provides a much higher frame rate than Clutter-based video output of GNOME Videos which relies upon OpenGL or OpenGL ES for rendering
- Traditional text-based playlist on the main window for both audio and video files which provides an easy and fast switch between the files and show their time
- Audio visualization
- Showing a banner upon the videos that have multiple audio or subtitle files
- Lacks a mechanism to speed up or slow down the media playback
- Lacks many advanced features of GNOME Videos
- As of version 1.0.5 (2019–11) it cannot run under Wayland
A CD/DVD optical disc authoring software. Starting with the 4.12 release of Xfce, Xfburn is also able to burn Blu-ray discs.
A screen saver and session-locking program first packaged with the 4.14 release of Xfce. It uses screensaver themes compatible with Xscreensaver. Although forked from MATE Screensaver, it depends only on Xfce libraries.
Table of Xfce 4 components
|Orage||Graphical calendar||With XFCE 4.16 Orage was replaced by new DateTime plugin|
|Parole||A front-end for the GStreamer framework|
|Xfburn||Optical disc authoring supports CD/DVD/BRD|
|Xfce4-appfinder||Application finder for Xfce4|
|Xfce4-mixer||A volume control plugin for the Xfce Panel and a standalone sound mixer application||Uses GStreamer as a backend|
|xfce4-notifyd||A simple, visually-appealing notification daemon for Xfce that implements the Freedesktop.org Desktop Notifications Specification|
|Xfce4-power-manager||PC power management program|
|Xfce4-session||Xfce4 Session Manager|
|Xfwm||X window manager||With optional compositing|
Products and distributions using Xfce
This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2022)
It is the default desktop environment in the following Linux distributions:
- Black Lab Linux
- Dragora GNU/Linux-libre
- Kali Linux
- The Linux Schools Project
- Linux Lite
- MX Linux
- Peppermint OS
- Salix OS
- SolydXK (SolydX)
- Ubuntu Studio (until 20.04)
- Void Linux
It is also included as a standard desktop option on FreeBSD and derivatives such as GhostBSD, and in many other Linux distributions not listed above, including Arch Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, Kali, Linux Mint, Slackware, Mageia, OpenMandriva, Void Linux and Zorin OS. Kali Linux also uses Xfce as the desktop environment when running on the ARM platform. Debian makes a separate netinstall CD available that installs Xfce as the default desktop environment. In 2013, Debian briefly made it the default environment, replacing GNOME.
- "Credits". Xfce. 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "News – Xfce 4.18 released – Xfce".
- "About – general information about the Xfce desktop". Xfce. Archived from the original on 3 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
- Fosdick, Howard (7 June 2014). "Xfce 4.10: Simple, Fast, Reliable". OSNews. Archived from the original on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Xfwm - ArchWiki". Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
- Then, Ewdison (6 February 2009). "Xfce creator talks Linux, Moblin, netbooks and open-source". SlashGear. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
- Kereki, Federico (March 2009). "Xfce: the third man". Linux Journal (179). Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022 – via ACM Digital Library.
- Holwerda, Thom (6 August 2012). "CDE released as open source". OSNews. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
- "Linux – Desktops - Window Managers". Archived from the original on 5 September 2022.
- "May I create a toolbar like CDE ?". Archived from the original on 10 April 2022.
- "GitHub - jmontleon/xfce-historical". GitHub. Archived from the original on 7 September 2022. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
- "FAQ". wiki.xfce.org. 11 March 2017. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- SuperTuxKart Team (15 March 2017). "Discover - SuperTuxKart". supertuxkart.net. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- Jacobowitz, Norman (1 July 1999). "Interview with Olivier Fourdan". Linux Gazette. No. 43. Archived from the original on 16 January 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
- Debian xfce source package 18.104.22.16800513-1 changelog
- "Project Page". SourceForge.net. Archived from the original on 11 February 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
- "XFce 4.0 release". UNIX Resources Network. 25 September 2003. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- "Xfce 4.2.0 released!". 16 January 2005. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
- "Xfce 4.2.0 Changelog". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
- Meurer, Benedikt (21 January 2007). "A Visual Tour of Xfce 4.4.0". foo-projects.org. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
- Xfce Development Team. "Xfce 4.6.0 Changelog". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
- Xfce Development Team. "Xfce 4.6.0 Changelog". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
- "The little mouse told me…". Blog.xfce.org. 16 January 2011. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Xfce 4.10 released". xfce.org. 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- "Xfce 4.12 released". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 8 March 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "Is XFCe still in development? (Page 1)". Xfce Forums. Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "Xfce 4.12 tour". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
All but one of those screenshots were taken on machines running OpenBSD -current, a good proof that Xfce is still portable and friendly to all Unix systems.
- "The first Gtk+3 release of xfce4-panel is out! – Simon's Secret". shimmerproject.org. 24 May 2017. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
- "Xfce Settings 4.13.0 Released". smdavis.us. 9 November 2016. Archived from the original on 20 November 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "News - Xfce 4.14 released". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
- "Road to Xfce 4.14". alteroot.org. 12 April 2016. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- "Road to Xfce 4.14, part 2". blog.alteroot.org. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
- "News – Xfce 4.16 released – Xfce". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 23 December 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
- "Xfce 4.18 released". xfce.org. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
- "Projects:applications:start [Xfce Goodies]". Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
- "panel-plugins [Xfce Goodies]". Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
- "xfce:xfce4-panel:preferences [Xfce Docs]". Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
- "xfce4-terminal - A modern terminal emulator". Git.xfce.org. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "apps:xfce4-terminal:preferences [Xfce Docs]". Xfce.org. 26 February 2021. Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
- "apps:xfce4-terminal:dropdown [Xfce Docs]". Xfce.org. 13 April 2022. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
- "howto:xfwm4_theme [Xfce Wiki]". wiki.xfce.org. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "Xfce window manager now includes its own compositing manager". Xfce Blog. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "apps:catfish:start [Xfce Docs]". docs.xfce.org. Archived from the original on 24 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "Thunar in comparison to Nautilus, ROX, Konqueror and Xffm". ThunarWiki. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "4.4.0 release status so far". foo-projects.org. 20 January 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
- "Squeeze - news". xfce.org. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "pimutils/vdirsyncer". GitHub. 28 October 2021. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
- "Xfce 4.16 Released! / Announcements / Xfce Forums". Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
- "[SOLVED] Please, where is Orage Panel Clock? / Desktop / Xfce Forums". Archived from the original on 16 January 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
- "Xubuntu 14.10 Documentation". xubuntu.org. 29 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- Nestor, Marius (2 May 2022). "Roundup of Xfce's Apps Update for April 2022: New Releases of Mousepad, Xfce Terminal, and Thunar". Linux Today. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
- Wallen, Jack (5 May 2010). "Mousepad: A variation on the Leafpad theme". Ghacks. Archived from the original on 24 August 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
- "mousepad/News". Xfce. Archived from the original on 9 January 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
- "ANNOUNCE: parole 1.0.5 released". Mail.xfce.org. 15 November 2019. Archived from the original on 14 August 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
- "apps:parole:start [Xfce Docs]". docs.xfce.org. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "Debian -- Details of package parole in bullseye". Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- "13550 – No way to speed up or slow down video playback". Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Nesbitt, Scott. "4 lightweight image viewers for the Linux desktop". Opensource.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
- "apps:screensaver:start". Xfce.org. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- "Operating System - Devuan GNU+Linux Free Operating System". Devuan.org. Archived from the original on 3 May 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
- "[Dragora-users] Dragora 3.0-beta1 released". lists.nongnu.org. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
- "A propos – Emmabuntüs". emmabuntus.org. Archived from the original on 30 October 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
- "About us". EndeavourOS. 18 August 2019. Archived from the original on 1 January 2023. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
- "GalliumOS – A fast and lightweight Linux distro for ChromeOS devices". galliumos.org. Archived from the original on 23 December 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
- muts (13 March 2013). "Whats New in Kali Linux? December 12, 2012". kali.org. Offensive Security. Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
- Watson, J.A. "Hands-On: Kali Linux Light (Xfce) and Mini distributions, January 25, 2016". zdnet.com. ZDNet CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
- Zwetsloot, Rob (5 November 2013). "Debian changes to xfce desktop". linuxuser.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 November 2013.
- Hoffman, Chris (2 October 2014). "How GNOME 3.14 is winning back disillusioned Linux users". PCWorld.com. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.