Loss of Installer Dampens Xfce 4.8 Release

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 17, 2011

Xfce is a wonderful mid-sized desktop environment for those that want some customization without excessive system overhead. Xfce began life in 1996 as a simple clone of CDE, but has since progressed along side contemporaries such as KDE and GNOME. Some might even think of Xfce as a compromise between the highly customizable KDE and the higher performing GNOME. It was very popular in lighter Linux distributions for a time, and is still commonly included as an alternative choice. For a while an easy one- (or two-) click installer was available that downloaded the individual packages, compiled them, and installed Xfce for you. But no more. Today the developers released version 4.8 with some new goodies and a bit of an updated look, but with no convenient installer.

After an extensive developmental cycle, Xfce 4.8 was released for the Linux and BSD operating systems. One of the first discoveries reading the annoucement is the loss of features for BSD users. Lack of BSD support in the wider Linux development community was cited for the loss.

Another major change, as discussed in an earlier post, ThunarVFS and HAL have been booted for GIO and udev. GIO allows users and applications to reuse open connections and avoid retyping passwords over and over again in a given session. udev allows for more real-time updates and adjustments to changing hardware or hot-plugging and improved device sharing by applications.

Xfce 4.8 also makes use of ConsoleKit and PolicyKit. ConsoleKit does roughly the same for users. PolicyKit allows users' processes and applications to interact more freely with root privileged processes and hardware. In essence, all these things bring more convenience to desktop users.

But it's not all boring ole geeky stuff. New little touches make Xfce more attractive such as the single file moving and downloading progress boxes, new eject buttons for removable media in the file manager, transparent panel backgrounds, and redesigned launcher settings. You can even just drag 'n drop item into the menu to create launchers. A directory menu has been added.

Multiple display support has improved and can now be configured directory through Xfce. Hot-plugging of additional displays is supported as well. Unfortunately, NVIDIA users are left out of the fun.

In fact, perhaps its the NVIDIA drivers that has erased the transparent panel options here. Or perhaps it's just the distribution provided packages that somehow broke transparent panels here.

Which leads back to the original complaint: where has the Xfce installer gone? Interested users are forced to compile 16 individual packages manually, which is a bit of a hassle these days and times and not achievable for some, or resort to using their distribution's packages if they are lucky enough to use a distro that provides them. In the latter case, one might get one or more features that are broken, left out, or inadvertently not installed. The lack of an installer could exclude prospective users or create disappointed users.

Download Xfce 4.8