The Xfce development team has announced the latest release of the Xfce desktop environment, version 4.18. The new version comes with a few changes to make the desktop more usable but leaves the overall experience the same as previous versions.
Xfce’s two-year effort bears fruit with 4.18
Xfce developers worked for almost two years to come up with 4.18, with the last major release being 4.16 in December 2020. The developers are taking their time polishing the new features.
Xfce’s announcement page said, “Our team added tons of cool new features, did a zillion bug fixes, and made tons of small improvements. Finally, it’s all being released for your pleasure.”
What’s new in Xfce 4.18?
Despite the developer’s promises of an overhaul, the Xfce interface remains at first glance very similar to the previous version. There are still some subtle twists.
The Settings menu and panel have been modified. Users now have a choice of analog, binary, “fuzzy,” LCD and digital clocks on the panel. They can also change the date format more easily.
Thunar File Manager has a new “highlight” feature that lets users change the color of file names to make them stand out in listings. Thunar can now undo and redo file operations.
Other tweaks have been added to bring Xfce in line with other modern desktops. Thunar can also now preview images in a side panel, similar to how other file managers on Linux, Windows, and macOS can.
What’s next for Xfce 4.18?
Very few users will break down doors for the chance to change the clock’s format or highlight files, but Xfce 4.18 is still a significant update.
The desktop is designed to use fewer resources than more intensive desktops like GNOME or KDE, so lightweight distributions like Xubuntu often choose Xfce as the default.
While some distros will take some time to package the new version, some, such as the rolling-release Arch Linux, is already available for download.
With the supply chain for PCs still constrained and rising interest rates making it more expensive to put new computers on a credit card, it’s likely that more people will turn to these distros to get more use out of their existing machines.
The Xfce developers believe that slow and steady wins the desktop race.
Xfce remains a competitive lightweight Linux desktop with 4.18
With version 4.18, Xfce is one of the leading options for those looking for a lightweight Linux desktop environment, but it’s not the only one.
Switching to a new Linux desktop is easy, and users can even opt for environments like LXDE and MATE. The choices can seem intimidating, but as with everything, it’s a matter of which features are most important to the user.
Sometimes you just need to get the most out of an old PC. Other times you have a high-performance system and you want to dedicate all that power to the task. Either way, keeping it as thin as possible is the key to better computing.
When you install Linux, there’s not much you can easily modify to cut down on the crud—except for one thing: your desktop environment. If you want a lightweight Linux desktop, you need to choose the right environment.
What is desktop environment?
A desktop environment is the interface you see on the screen, including the top and bottom panels as well as how you switch between apps and manage windows.
Some desktop environments come with niceties that require more system resources, such as animations and transparent windows. Others strive to provide a lightweight Linux desktop that has as little impact on system resources as possible.
Xfce is the oldest of the popular lightweight Linux desktop environments. It uses the GTK+ toolkit, just like the more popular GNOME interface that serves as the default for Ubuntu and Fedora.
Xfce is an environment that you can scale up or down to suit your taste. You won’t find animations here, but if you like transparent windows, shadows and such nuances, you have a choice.
This desktop environment hasn’t changed much over the years, so the increased system requirements are often due to the size of default apps compared to desktop environments. Web browsers like Mozilla Firefox may be more functional than they used to be, but they also take up more memory.