"This is the first in a series of articles looking at some
lightweight, but still fully-functional, desktop alternatives to
KDE or Gnome. First up: Xfce. Xfce is designed to be lightweight
and fully-functional, providing a full desktop environment whilst
using minimal system resources; and it's modular, so you can choose
exactly what you want to run.
"The current Xfce umbrella package in both Debian stable and
Ubuntu 9.10 is xfce4 (version 4.4 in Debian, and 4.6 in Ubuntu).
After you've installed it, log out of X. If you're running gdm or a
similar app as your login manager, check the bottom left of the
screen for a "Sessions" option, and you can choose Xfce for your
next session. When starting the session, you'll then be asked if
you want to make this your default window manager. First
"The first thing I noticed was how fast it started up compared
to Gnome. Admittedly my desktop is reasonably old, so the
difference might show up less on a newer, faster machine, but it
was a very pleasant surprise to be started up so quickly. I also
tried it out over VNC on my local network, and running inside a
virtual machine, and for speed alone, I'd rate it significantly
better than Gnome or KDE. Once running, the speed and usability
increase continued; things like the system menus and settings were
noticably faster to come up than on Gnome or KDE."