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Xfce desktop environment sees a 4.16pre1 release, better fractional scaling

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Lightweight classic desktop environment Xfce continues advancing, with a new pre-release update available for testing pulling in some great features.

Their current plan is to have a second pre-release at the end of September and if needed a third in October. With the aim to have the final Xfce 4.16 release in by November. It's shaping up to be a pretty exciting release, with lots of working going into all areas.

One of the big addition is support for display fractional scaling, giving you better options to get your desktop exactly how you want it to be on whatever resolution that may be.

There's plenty more coming like a fancy set of new icons (shown below), they dropped lots of older GTK2 code to improve maintainability, the "About Xfce" dialog has been revamped, they added client-side decorations for settings dialogs, tons of bug fixes and more.

It's not just icons and application adjustments, they've also tweaked and upgraded the main panel user interface of Xfce too. There's a new "Status Tray" plugin, with unifies the system tray and the status notifier plugin to make life easier and more streamlined for users. If you set your panel to autohide, there's also now an animation to make it clear that's what it's doing.

Pictured: autohide animation.

Plenty more tweaks elsewhere to improve the flow. These tweaks include having launcher now show the desktop file action when right clicking (like being able to open a private window with Firefox), the application window list now supports "launching a new instance" in the right click menu, the panel can have a dark mode depending on theme support and the list goes on. Sounds like a real quality upgrade coming.

See the full post here. More about Xfce on the official site.

I have to admit Xfce is a wonderful Linux desktop environment. Especially if you like your classic style. If I wasn't so happy with MATE, Xfce would be my next choice.

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soulsource Sep 15, 2020
Quoting: GuestI love XFCE too. Do they plan on fixing the tearing issue ?

Are you talking about video tearing in Firefox on AMD graphics cards?
There's a workaround that gets rid of it: Desktop Compositing. It can be enabled in the "Advanced window manager tweaks" settings.
However it comes at a price, namely drastically increased memory consumption (resolution dependent - on 1920x1080 it's about 200 MB more) and slightly higher GPU load. Normally I don't use compositing, because the trade-off between eye-candy and memory usage just isn't worth it imho... Switching it on is just a checkbox, so I only enable it when I want to watch a longer video in the browser.

(I don't really know what causes the tearing, but I've noticed that it only happens to me in Firefox. Neither VLC nor mplayer have any tearing on my machine, so it might be the video output API used. I've set VLC and mplayer both to use VDPAU.)
tmtvl Sep 15, 2020
Quoting: dibzI tracked down a bug report/request for this once and it turns out it was intentional due to some standard (FreeDesktop maybe? I don't recall) XFCE follows.

If something in a DE is terrible by design and it's part of a standard it's almost guaranteed to be EWMH. It's what KDE cites as a reason to keep multiscreen horribly annoying.
Nanobang Sep 15, 2020
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I'm looking forward to improved fractional scaling, and I like the look of the new icons too. The hiding-panel animation feels like so much fluff to me. I prefer the snappy "there/not-there" quality it has now. (Maybe they can be talked into making that optional.)

I tried Mate for a minute a few releases back, and I quite liked it, especially the way, like, "dark mode" settings worked for everything (it's pretty hit-or-miss in xfce currently). Mate's a really nice alternative to xfce ... except no notepad plugin. Turns out that was the ultimate deal-breaker for me.

I tried to convince the Mate devs to adapt xfce's notes plugin for Mate, like they have for some other xfce goodies, but they couldn't be bothered. "There's other apps that do that already," they said, incorrectly. There is simply nothing out there as straightforward and simple as xfce's "notes" panel plugin.

That and xfce's weather-plugin. Like everything in xfce, it's simple on the surface but presents increasing complexity the deeper you go. Current conditions on display in the panel with a simple forecast if one clicks on it. Hover over any part of the forecast, however, and one is given dreamily detailed weather info.

Oh and the timer plugin! That just went off to remind me I have a meeting soon. Again, super simple.

And finally, xfce's mascot is a mouse. The most lovable, adorable 'nix mascot since the penguin. :)
CFWhitman Sep 17, 2020
Quoting: GuestI love XFCE too. Do they plan on fixing the tearing issue ?

It seems that they made the built in compositing hardware accelerated with version 4.14, and I haven't seen a tearing issue when running with compositing since then. Before that (or alternatively) you could use an external compositor, like Compton (or a window manager with compositing, i.e., Compiz), to eliminate tearing issues.

(Edit: I intended to mention that I have heard that with certain Nvidia cards tearing can still be an issue even when using compositing.)

I've used Xfce at least some of the time since back in the 3.x series. It strikes a nice balance between features and resource usage for me. I have also used Fluxbox, IceWM, and LXDE each a fair amount in the last twenty years. Right now, most of my Linux boxes are defaulted to Xfce. Even the servers that I administer at work which have a GUI installed (some don't) have Xfce on them.

Last edited by CFWhitman on 17 September 2020 at 1:00 pm UTC
foobrew Sep 17, 2020
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Quoting: Purple Library Guy. . . OK, never really forgave Gnome 3 for being what it was rather than an improved Gnome 2 . . .

This. This is when I switched to Xfce and have I've lived happily ever after.
dibz Sep 22, 2020
Quoting: foobrew
Quoting: Purple Library Guy. . . OK, never really forgave Gnome 3 for being what it was rather than an improved Gnome 2 . . .

This. This is when I switched to Xfce and have I've lived happily ever after.


Gnome3 is literally why I decided to try Xfce after generally being happy with Gnome2 for years, and I haven't looked back. At the time I chose XFCE over Cinnamon over some teething issues re: multi screen support, and I simply preferred XFCE over MATE. I remember describing my impressions of Xfce to myself as "A better Gnome2 then Gnome2 ever was."
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