Xfce 4.6 Released, Features New Settings and Session Management Enhancements

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 27, 2009

Xfce is one of the hidden gems of the free desktop. It has managed -- quite successfully -- to capture the familiar feel of a desktop environment while maintaining the speed and responsiveness of the pure window manager. Its small footprint and minimalist approach makes it great for older, less powerful hardware -- but it is full-bodied and functional enough that many choose to use it on machines that can easily handle other desktop environments. The desktop aims to be functional, attractive, light on system resources, and adhere to the specifications proposed by Freedesktop participants to maximize interoperability.

Today, after two years of development, Xfce has officially released the 4.6.0 version of the desktop environment. Some notable new features include "out of the box" hibernate and suspend functions, a newly re-written sound mixer that leverages gstreamer to support multiple sound cards and configurations, and improvements and enhancements to the Thunar file manager.

Xfce 4.6.0 features what has to be one of the most overlooked, but genuinely needed functions in its improved session manager. If an application that's "session specific" (such as the xfce4-panel, or the Xfwm4 window manager, as well as programs that auto-start or are saved over sessions) crashes during the course of a session, the session manager recognizes this and relaunches the crashed application.

The Thunar file manager now supports encrypted devices. It sports some cosmetic changes that make it easier to distinguish mounted volumes from unmounted ones, and now uses the XDG user directory specification, to help applications read and work with common local user directories.

Xfce has traditionally extended the lifespan of older, less powerful hardware. The enhancements and improvements in 4.6.0 might well make that hardware feel young again.