Things To Do After Installing Xubuntu or XFCE

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One: set up Dropbox and, as it syncs your files from the cloud, go outside and mow your lawn or rake your leaves.

Two: Start using your computer.

Three: Cancel the order for the new laptop because your old laptop is faster now.

You may have been expecting one of those posts that tell you the “ten things to do after installing [Linux Distribution]” but this ain’t it. In fact, for the most part, those posts have become fairly useless. Consider these “things to do”:

Update your system.

Turn on “install third party yadada”

Install the software you like

For the most part, anyone installing some version of Linux knows about updating, the part about “third party drivers” is in the install sequence as a checkbox in every distribution known to humankind, and why does anyone have to be told to install the software they like?

But, now that I’ve got your attention, I want to put in a plug for XFCE, and for your trouble, I’ll give you a really cool tip or two.

You’ve heard of the “Linux and the Unix Philosophy“. Let me tell you my Linux Philosophy. Use any updated Linux system you want, to get an efficient, reliable, and secure operating system. But, at the local, “desktop” level here is what I want: I want workspaces (usually four) with a workspace pager that shows me a thumbnail of the workspace, and ctrl-alt arrow switching between workspaces and alt-tab switching between apps on a desktop.

That is how all the original Linux desktops worked in the old days, or mostly anyway. But Ubuntu with its strange ways and Unity desktop gave permission for other desktops, including Gnome, to destroy these features. Mate (pronounced “Matt eh”) has it, and it can be configured with a little work in KDE. Gnome 3.X not only does not have these features, but trying to simulate them is impossible even with the gazillion enhancements you can get for Gnome, and if you find some way to do it in Gnome, there is an 80% chance that way will break before long because Gnome Extensions generally disappear or become so badly maintained that they become bugs and have to be turned off.

I stopped using Mate when I found out that the maintainers are unmitigated assholes, and have no real interest in making sure their desktop works. KDE is nice, and I used it for a long time, but then I discovered that it is a little too cute for its pants in relation to, possibly, how Java works with some of it, and the moment the KDE experts suggested that I fix a certain problem by re-installing the OS (one of the reasons I left Windows … that need NEVER be an option) I got rid of KDE as well. (I still recommend it, and frankly, I still recommend Mate, I just feel personally bad about it.)

Several years ago, I used Xfce on several computers, and often on older laptops. But it was a distribution that couldn’t always be trusted to be installed without a lot of tweaking. Last time I installed it on a laptop, about three or four years ago, the installation would not recognize my network, and in order to get the network going, I needed to install something from the network. A true Linux expert could have worked around that, but I’m one of those dilettantes who has to look up half the cli commands I use every time. That was about the time I switched to Matt-eh.

But then, Xfce released its latest desktop, the first major revision in, literally, years.

Replacing KDE on my old laptop cut boot time from just over three minutes to just over two minutes. Replacing Gnome 3.5 on my desktop made me stop throwing my shoes at the computer. It sings, and it acts like a good Linux desktop is supposed to act.

So, I recommend you give Xfce a try. Simple, no frills, highly efficient, works.

I recommend the Greybird theme because it handles mouse dragging better than the other themes and is not dark. If you like a dark theme, I’m sure you’ll find what you need out there, bring a flashlight.

Here’s a trick: Put a picture in a folder and name it folder.jpg. That picture will become the picture used as the icon for the folder. (These all work: folder.jpg, cover.jpg, albumart.jpg, or fanart.jpg.)

Find and discover Catfish, the Xfce file finding program. It is pretty good.

Finally, I should mention this. Xfce as a desktop uses less in the way of computer resources than KDE as a desktop. But, Xubutnu (the Ubuntu flavor that has Xfce as its desktop) does not necessarily do so. They use about the same in that comparison. Putting SFCE or KDE on top of an efficient distro uses fewer resources than the same desktops on any Ubuntu base, since Ubuntu is inherently less efficient for reasons that I can’t explain. For the most efficient desktop, maybe install Debian with Xfce. But, you will need to tweak, most likely.

Here is where you get xubuntu.

The main web page for Xfce is here.

The name “Xfce” comes from “Common Desktop Environment:” an ancient Linux concept dating to 1996. CDE was proprietary and for use with early Unix systems. Xfce forked off and was originally for “XForms COmmon Environment” (XForms was an early GUI toolkit for X window systems.) Now, Xfcd does not stand for anything formally, but unofficially means “X Freakin’ Cool Environment” or Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment, which makes, obviously, no sense.

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1 thought on “Things To Do After Installing Xubuntu or XFCE

  1. I’ve used XFCE for years – I switched to XFCE when Gnome made it’s radical shift away from being an industrial strength desktop. I’ve been happily using it ever since. I especially like the simple way it implements launch panels. And that I can clone its user directory to other OS instances and all my settings, panel configurations etc. remain intact.

    It’s as useful on an ancient Toshiba laptop I use for playing music in my bedroom as it is on my Intel NUC – a fast, clean, intuitive interface to everything I need, with a suite of useful integrated software.

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