XFCE 4.6: lean, usable, appealing.

It’s been quite a while… Apart from some short-term distractions (like playing with KDE2 for a short amount of time), I have been using the XFCE desktop pretty much ever since the early days of its 3.x incarnation, these days mainly looking at it as the thing it initially was intended to be: a fully-fledged open-source clone of the CDE desktop for use with operating systems like GNU/Linux. Given I had some of my first Unix experiences ever on an old HP-UX and Solaris later on, this desktop felt like home immediately. A lot of work has been done ever since, and at the very least in its default configuration, most of the CDE look-and-feel (most notable in terms of the panel appearance) has obviously vanished from the XFCE environment, and a lot of new features, components and applications have made their way into the environment. Even though eventually not being that much “lightweight” anymore, XFCE still feels a little more an everyday power tool, less filled with toys and gimmicks and eye candy to be found in the “other two major Linux/Unix desktops” these days, more than ever being a work horse to just be there, to not get into your way, to not waste resources all too much on your system (yes, even in days of multi-core processors and high-performance consumer machines, as soon as you start doing serious Java development on a notebook, resources still do matter… 😉 ), just letting you do what you’re up to. Today, following a couple of release candidates, XFCE 4.6 has finally made it to a broader public, ending quite a long development cycle, surely once again worth taking a closer look. And I am looking forward to things to come.

So… Congratulations folks, good job once more… Waiting for it to make its way into Xubuntu and, perhaps, also into OpenSolaris repositories one day – the latter one would be rather nice indeed, not just as a reminiscence of old CDE days (which also is not around anymore in OpenSolaris…). While waiting, the official release note is here, and the visual tour also is quite a good starting point for having a closer look.

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