My latest GNOME 3 experiment lasted about a week.
And I fully recognize that I pretty much wrote this same post last month.
I'm back again. GNOME wasn't really offering me anything I don't get in Xfce, and when I had to dip into my Citrix apps yesterday, GNOME was giving me trouble.
Between Xfce's Whisker menu, Catfish file finder and the fact that I can run the Nautilus or Dolphin file managers whenever I feel the need (which won't be very often), the comfort, consistency, performance and usability of Xfce drew me back.
Just like the last time.
I didn't feel more productive in GNOME. At times I felt less productive. So why keep going with it?
After a couple of weeks trying to make GNOME 3 and then KDE/Plasma 5 work for me, I'm back in Xfce 4.12 full time.
GNOME for sure doesn't work for me, and while I really liked KDE's Plasma desktop, it created more problems than it solved.
So I'm back to Xfce, which works like a champ and doesn't get in the way.
In terms of GNOME apps, I've been using Gedit less and less since Geany is so good and allows me to compile code that needs it and run all code without leaving the editor (and without jumping through any hoops at all to make it happen).
One thing I picked up from KDE was that I can still tap the Dolphin file manager when I need it (which won't be very often, but the split-screen mode is something that every file manager should have).
I also revisited digiKam, the photo organizing/editing software from KDE. It is much better than the last time I used it, and I am thinking about continuing to use the app even though I'm not in KDE.
Otherwise GNOME is still a problem for me. I am required to jump through a lot of configuration hoops just to get the desktop I want.
KDE is better. I like the animations (which are minimal). I like the "KDE menu." But it's just not all that stable. And KDE Wallet was continually screwing with my Google Chrome cookies and saved passwords. I didn't need that headache to continue. I mostly used Firefox just to keep from wrecking my Chrome setup more.
One problem I had with KDE: It wasn't all that stable. I killed it more than a few times. However, I love the attention to detail when it comes to configuration.
I had problems with screen-grabbing in both GNOME and KDE. It was worse in GNOME. I couldn't get the
print-screen key to actually do the screen-grab. I had to settle for mapping alt-P. And then I couldn't get the format I wanted (JPG, not PNG) or the proper location. If I called the screen-capture utility from a terminal, it would work like it was supposed to. But with alt-P, it didn't.
kscreenshot was pretty good, though it also didn't work with the
print-screen. I had to call it from the menu and leave it running.
The fact that the Xfce screen-shot utility just works -- and well -- is huge for me.
And as I say above, Xfce stays out of the way and runs like a champ.
So I'm back.
The lovely people at Xfce and downstream at Fedora moved a new version of the Thunar file manager to fix a bug causing crashes when files are cut from one folder and pasted into another -- something I tend to do quite often.
The crash didn't happen every time but did often enough to be a little annoying.
Thanks to all who were involved, from reporting the bug to making the fix and then pushing new code.
I'm running Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 21, and there's nothing in 4.12 I can't wait for, so I'll probably be sticking with what I've got until the next Fedora (or other) release I upgrade to or install.
But it's nice to see development continuing for Xfce, which had quite a dry spell between 4.10 and 4.12.
A nice note at the bottom of the Xfce.org tour:
A note on Xfce's portability
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.
This is a screenshot of the xfdashboard, which is billed as a GNOME Shell-like interface for Xfce
I saw on the Fedora Xfce mailing list today that it looks like
xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin are coming to the Fedora Xfce spin's ISO, if not as default choices at least as things you can add to your desktop after the fact.
I'm a fan of the Whisker Menu, which I already have installed, but I've never heard of xfdashboard, which brings a GNOME Shell-like desktop experience to the world of Xfce. I don't particularly want that, but it's an interesting idea.
I support bringing both of these packages, which are already in the Fedora repositories, to the Fedora Xfce Spin ISO (and therefore the default install), and I encourage you to try them out.
I was looking through the Fedora packages for Xfce applications I hadn't yet installed, and the Xfce Theme Manager came up.
I installed it. Then I ran it.
It screwed up my desktop. Not all the themes in my system were in the Theme Manager, and I was switched over to one of the few themes that were in there. My icons all grew larger in size. (Thank you very much. I'll be here all week. Please be sure to tip your waitress.)
So I had to re-select the Adiwata theme and manually shrink my icons.
But something good came out of it. For some reason Xfce themes have been "losing" the borders on the left and right sides of windows, and I have no idea now to restore them.
The Xfce Theme Manager has managed to do this for me, and I wouldn't want to reverse this change even if I knew how.
But otherwise the Xfce Theme Manager is trouble. I already removed it.
However, it did get me borders on the left and right sides of windows. And for that it was worth it.
I already had the standard Xfce Application Finder bound to my alt-F2, alt-F3 and Super (aka "Windows") keys, though I didn't use it that much. What I was going for with the Application Finder being bound to the Super key was Unity/GNOME 3-like functionality in terms of finding and launching applications while retaining the speed and stability of Xfce.
I haven't even used the Whisker Menu for a full day, yet I just used the Xfce Keyboard settings' Application Shortcuts to bind the Whisker Menu to the Super key.
Aside from the Whisker Menu actually working, since it saves me a keystroke/mouse click over the standard Application Finder when searching for and launching an application, I'm pretty much sold on the Whisker Menu.
I'm sold enough that if I find it really working out, I'll remove my application-icon-filled panel on the left side of my screen.
The point: I like the Whisker Menu.
While I'm happy with my panel on the left and the traditional Xfce Application Finder, I thought the Whisker Menu would be worth a try.
Once installed, the menu itself can be added as a panel item (that's a step that took me a second or two or 10 to figure out). After you do that, you're ready to go.
Not only does the Whisker Menu provide an alternative to the stock Xfce Applications Menu, you can access your 10 most-recently used applications, create favorites for their own portion of the menu, or easily plop an application launcher onto the desktop or into the panel.
It's a nice little application that Xfce users might very well want to check out.
It sounds screwy, but I'm taking some of the elements I like in GNOME 3 and Unity and implementing them in Xfce.
First of all, I really like the idea of having a panel on the left side of the screen for my application launchers. Given that laptops are now widescreen and there is not enough vertical space but plenty of horizontal space, it makes sense to have the application launchers consume as little horizontal real estate as possible.
So in Xfce, I moved the lower panel to the left. That was an easy one.
The other thing I like about both GNOME 3 and Unity is the ability to click the "Windows" or Super key and then type in the first few letters of an application to launch it.
Xfce already has a great application finder that does this. On Fedora with Xfce, it's configured to open with alt-F2 and alt-F3. I went into the Xfce keyboard configuration and set the Windows/Super key to open this same application finder. Now I can click Super/Windows, type in a few letters and have my desired app open without going through the menu. Just like in GNOME and Unity.
Of course my favorite apps are already in my panel on the left. But for those that are not, this is a nice feature to borrow/steal from GNOME 3 and Unity.
That Xfce can replicate this behavior says a lot about what you can do with this lightweight, stable and very configurable desktop environment.
Some readers might have seen this post appear and disappear, appear and disappear again. That's because my first "fix" for this annonying Xfce problem didn't really work.
Neither did my second attempt. Nor my third.
Screw proverbs. The
third fourth time now seems to be "the charm." That finally fortunate circumstance allows me to resurrect this entry yet again with my now-new onetwo-line script to keep the screen from blanking on its own -- without xscreensaver's help -- with a fix that has worked for me over the past couple of days. And this time I'm sure of it:
Here's a quick fix for Xfce users whose screens are blanking even though they have a much-longer screen-saving interval set in xscreensaver. This includes me.