Xfce vs Gnome DE

All flavours of Zorin OS 15 stem from Ubuntu 18.04. The main difference between Lite and Core is the Desktop Environment. XFCE v Gnome, where XFCE is a more lightweight DE.

I sometimes think “Lite” is maybe not a good label for Zorin OS XFCE, as can give the wrong impression that the XFCE version is sub-equipped or substandard.


Have definitely noticed this as well. Several forum members have asked about comparing “lite” to the “full version” of Zorin OS on here recently. Zorin Core is not a “Full” version compared to Lite.
Others have the impression that Lite is only for older computers, too.

Interestingly, Both Azorin and Linus Torvalds have commented before that they use XFCE on their own Rig. Torvalds also expressed KDE as a favorite Desktop Environment, recently after changes made to XFCE. Torvalds does not speak as disparagingly of Gnome as I do, of course, but in interviews has mentioned preferring to avoid Gnome, often.
The guy heading writing the kernel is unlikely to undertake this task on an SubStandard system…

Zorin Lite used to use LXDE, not XFCE. These days, XFCE and LXDE are listed as popular lightweight desktop environments, as well as openbox, fluxbox, awesome, many others…I am not sure what label Zorin Team could give Zorin Lite other than Lite that gets the idea across, given that across Linux as a whole, the Lighter weight desktops are described in the same way. The difference may be less in the “light” nomenclature as it is in the line:
“For Older Computers.”

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Yes I was left with the same impressions as well. While it is true a lite version can be literally, lighter on hardware, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s so trimmed down that’s it’s got nothing.

Zorin comes with lots of apps, ULTIMATE comes with many more apps. Gnome is the real distinguishing factor here in regards to how it’s heavier on hardware. XFCE Is lighter on hardware.

If a gamer or production studio knows the differences between Gnome and XFCE, I guarantee you, their going to run XFCE version. The more power you get from your hardware the better.

So, even if you had a modern super fast computer, your going to get more performance out of LITE. I guess the Zorin team could clarify this better on their homepage, instead of trying to find a new name for LITE lol.

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Somewhere back in the past, I did suggest that XFCE version could be called “Zorin Pro” to distinguish it from the Gnome version. I still think it would be a better name than “Lite”.


Then people would ask whether Zorin Core can do what the “full” Zorin Pro can do…

The catch-22 of communicating with many different minds, when different minds can have amazing variety in perceptions and thought-paths:
Let’s say Zorin Team renames it to
Zorin Gnome and Zorin XFCE
As an OS described as aimed toward those coming from Windows, those fresh to Linux may not be so readily familiar with what XFCE or Gnome even means. I even come across people that have used Linux for years that do not actually know what Gnome is. No idea how, but they were talented enough to pull it off, I guess.
The trouble here is that many people may install Zorin Gnome on a machine better suited for Lite, then complain that Zorin OS Bogs down or runs too slowly.

Having a Descriptive Name helps a lot.
But once you describe it with a word, others may have their own meanings in that word.


That would be a reasonable question, as I believe XFCE is a better system than Gnome. Most of the distros described as fast and efficient seem to be based on XFCE. Of course we all have personal preferences, and if newcomers were better informed they would possibly/probably choose “Lite”.


I started on Linux on Zorin Gnome, because I did not know any better. At the time, it was difficult. I ended up on the Zorin Group Forum constantly asking questions on how to get just about everything to work.
When I picked up an old Panasonic Toughbook, I had some bit of experience under my belt. It was an older little Tablet PC, so I opted, as per the description, to install Zorin XFCE Lite on it.
Which resulted in me switching to Zorin Lite on Everything.
No longer was I constantly stumped as to the most Basic Settings. No longer did I have to cope with ugly Nautilus, resisting all efforts to figure out how to customize it in any way or make it work for me, instead of working for Gnome Developers ideas of how I should work.
How often was it that Gnome Devs removed a feature and when asked, responded with, “Because we don’t want the users using Gnome this way.”

I think a lot of people are introduced to Linux through Gnome and conditioned by Microsoft already to being pushed around, they are kind of already used to Gnome at that point. Their biggest struggle is learning where everything is. They feel less restricted on Gnome since they did not go into it familiar with how much control and power they actually have over the system.
Those that start out on Linux on XFCE or Cinnamon or KDE develop much faster, in my opinion, in taking control of their desktop. Whereas those who start out on Gnome tend to stay less interested in controlling their desktop and prefer it to do more of the thinking for them.
I do not have a good scientific study to back this up.

EDIT: We have totally hijacked poor Turans thread.
Sorry Turan… Hey… How ya doin?

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Then, maybe, the OS versions should just be Zorin - (DE name), e.g. Zorin XFCE, Zorin Gnome etc. Or just a single installer where you choose the DE you wish to install.

With the options of base, education, office and everything but the kitchen sink. These options are just there to define how much comes pre-installed.


I like your idea Jgordon! Infact, that’s how POP OS does it. I downloaded their XFCE version. I like that a lot actually. Zorin Gnome, Zorin XFCE. :grinning:


My bad. This thread is probably best to be split as the Gnome v Lite labelling debate has certainly taken over after my initial comment.

As much as I like the idea of Zorin Gnome and Zorin XFCE labels, that may confuse a Windows refugee just wanting Zorin OS without worrying about choice of DE. I think the current labelling, whilst not perfect, serves that purpose. As Lite is described as requiring less hardware resource.

Once they come on here and hear more about the differences between Gnome and XFCE and that Lite has same features and more cf Core, then it is not too late to switch. I came to Zorin via 12.1 Core, sharing a small HD on an old laptop, so wanted minimal apps pre-loaded. Whether Lite would have been a better choice for me, is something I think about. But then with Z15.3 Core working well, I have no need to switch. If it ain’t broke…

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its ok

I wanted a bit more opining and so I’m taking zab’s advice to split the thread from Does Ubuntu drivers work on Zorin OS Lite?

I saw some measurements:


To me, the difference between the two didn’t seem that much in terms of resource usage but I’d like to hear what you guys think.

In fairness, I quote the pclosmag article you linked to:
“Of the most recent desktop environments, my favorite is the newly-released Xfce 4.8.” - It is a bit of an old article. The author mentions his favorite being Gnome2 which at that time was slowly being phased out by Gnome 3. Today, even the gnome2-like environments like Mint, Mate, XFCE have all transitioned fully to gtk 3.
It quotes the required RAM for XFCE at 192 Megs.
In the years since that article was written, there have been many changes to Gnome3 ; Gnome 4 is just around the corner. And XFCE has become a lighter weight Gnome-Clone (IMO).

The other article is about a year old. Much closer to the present. He makes an interesting note that XFCE used More Resources when he opened Steam than Gnome did. While interesting, that is hardly informative.
The reason why that happened is because XFCE and Gnome handle things a bit differently. Gnome keeps more processes running enabling Fast Loading - but this also means More Overall Processing.
XFCE shuts more processes down when they are not being used. So opening a new process will require greater initialization. Yes, you will see a Higher Spike, just as the author noted. But that is not a sufficient scientific test. A proper test would have performed a series of initializations, then performance testing afterward, then compare the averages.
While Gnome is like running an engine at peak levels, XFCE is more like stop and go. You will see a spike in XFCE when a resource intensive piece like Steam is started, then it will settle down and level off as the system shuts down the no-longer-needed initialization.
I would encourage any curious reader to run their own tests and examine their own results as your mileage may vary. A simple and straightforward conky can be used to monitor in real time, watching RAM, CPU and GPU performance, over a period of time and actions. This way, the user can make their own determination based on their own average usage.

I agree, that is how you do proper science. This is why I like Gamers Nexus, they do proper testing on hardware. If you see the system they use to test computer’s, it would amaze you the detail they go to, to get real hard data. Their even starting to talk about testing case fans, using real airflow test tools soon, hope to see that.

Thanks, guys.

This helps. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find more than those two articles as tests - I was a bit surprised at the dearth of empirical analysis between the DEs.

@StarTreker your comment on using Xfce if gaming, is what made me think of giving Xfce another chance, down the line. My games aren’t as intensive as yours but I could still use resource efficiency. But I would like to see some empirical support before I make that decision. Like @zabadabadoo , I’m of the belief that since Gnome is working, don’t switch to Xfce until Gnome breaks. Unless I find the empirical support and then I may switch before then.

If something is working for you, that is a fine thing. But something can be replaced by a better performer, without the replaced breaking.

I have provided my personal account of my experiences. And reading more pop-articles will only be more of the same.

Installing XFCE on your build of Zorin Core is a perfectly viable method of Testing By You. You can just switch to the XFCE desktop and try it out, compare them on Your Machine with Your specs and Your games.
If it does work better for you, you can just log in to XFCE session to hit the games and log in to Core for other stuff. No wipe and reload needed.
Why wait for an article to come down the pipe when you have the power at your fingertips to examine firsthand safely…
And if you do not notice any real difference, you can just remove XFCE.

Thanks, I saw your posts on replacing DEs but I don’t know if those steps would provide a clean comparison of Xfce vs Gnome. Would they? If I don’t notice any difference would it be accurate to interpret that Gnome is not influencing the speed since I’ve installed and switched to Xfce?

I would say, “Clean enough.” Thanks to systemd, there would be some services that would run regardless, simply because they are installed. You would be adding an environment you can use alongside the existing one.
But over-all, Gnome D.E. would not load if you log in to XFCE. I would say it is very similar to if you installed Zorin Lite, then installed some particular add-ons to XFCE, so not enough to really make a difference you can notice.

Yes, I would say so. Let’s say there is a speed increase in using XFCE, but you don’t even notice it. Then… does it matter?
Maybe you will notice a slight increase in speed, but dislike the desktop environment and decide it’s not worth using.
Maybe you will notice no difference in speed, but end up liking and preferring XFCE.
There are many possibilities. And you won’t really know until you roll up your sleeves and test it.
There is an advantage to you having XFCE on your computer that you can familiarize yourself with and play around with: Answering forum questions on Zorin Lite.

One of the best ways that I’ve been able to tell if a DE Is improving speed in my computer, is by benchmarking it. Another way that’s easier, is to load up a game, note my FPS. Then switch distro, and load up same game, same area, same settings, note FPS. If the number is higher all the sudden, chances are, it’s the DE’s doing, especially if I’m running same video drivers.

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I’m no gamer these days, so it would be differences in look and feel of the DE that would be of interest to me. When Z16 comes out :thinking:, I may convert my dedicated Win10 laptop to dual boot. I doubt if my old dual boot laptop, has resources to cope with 2 DE’s loaded.