Xfce 4.8.0 on Track for January Release
Xfce, the little desktop that could, is steadily progressing toward its January release with several developmental builds. Xfce 4.6.2 was released last May and since the project has been working hard on its next release branch which will incorporate major changes to the core as well as several new features. The latest snapshot was recently released featuring a long list of improvements.
The biggest change for coders has been the migration from ThunarVFS to GIO. GIO offers several advantages over ThunarVFS like application sharing of the remote connection, direct user level application accessibility, and less library bloat. But this change caused developers to have to work overtime to implement it without breaking some older version elements. For users, it means more convenience like not having to re-type their password for each application in a given session.
Another improvement for end users is the rewrite of the panel. This will provide better launcher management and improved multi-head support. The menu back-end has also been rewritten to allow edits by your favorite third-party editor. Other library streamlining will make a smaller footprint and more efficient resource usage which will translate to higher performance for users. Like other desktop environments, HAL has been replaced by udev in the 4.8 branch and support for ConsoleKit and PolicyKit have been included as well.
The latest snapshot brings lots of fixes and enhancements. The list is long but some highlights are a fix for the 12-hour clock format in the panel, dropping numlock on first login, and making setting dialogs smaller to fit better on netbook screens. For some, the new theme introduced for 4.8 might be the best part. Still missing is the handy installer. Since 4.6.1, one has to manually compile each of the dozen or so packages individually, or use their distribution package management. Xfce 4.8.0 is due January 16.