Xfce vs Gnome DE

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.

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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.

Until then, you can’t join our ultra-cool Xfce-clique. Hah! I’m finally cool,…I think.

Are you posting using your phone, or have you beaten that new Xfce Lite install to accept your forum password?
I hope that is just an expereiment and that I am not going to be the only one left to answer Core and Gnomish questions going forward. :crazy_face:

Nope. Still on phone. I’ll answer where i can - I should still remember some about gnome. And there is always Aravisian who remembers everything about every Linux distro and/or DE ever created.

They would be installed, but not all running at the same time. It can handle it, because it would not be handling anything different.
On the old notebook, I had installed at one point all at the same time:

  • Kodi
  • Zorin OS Lite Desktop
  • Mate
  • Cinnamon
  • Enlightenment
  • Awesome
  • Fluxbox

You praise me with faint damns. Sadly, utterly untrue and I spend more time stumped or lost trying to help others on the forum than I do actually knowing anything.

It isn’t CPU or RAM that is constrained, it is the minimal HDD root partition I have. Every app and update etc has to justify its existence.

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I'm an idiot - why am I even a mod on here? Oh that's right, Aravisian recommended me. You guys sure you want to be taking advice from him?

Turns out I had changed my password at some point to add two more characters - I don't recall why or when. My phone password list showed it. So, now I'm back on with my computer. God, I hate phones - I don't know how people use them for long-term typing.

Anyway, I took the extra time to install Ultimate Lite and now I'm on Xfce. I like it except:

  1. Dragging is not as friendly as Gnome DE.
  2. Thunar has no "expandable folders" option (where you click a little arrow next to the folder and it shows all the contents within the same window) - at least I'm not aware of one.
  3. I have to use the keyboard assigned function keys to adjust brightness - Gnome had the option in the system tray.
    Other than those 3, Xfce has better optionality presentability. And of course, now I have a gazillion programs installed that I have to sift through but that's a feature of Ultimate rather than of Xfce.

I haven't played any taxing games yet, so I can't opine on that. Maybe down the line.

PS - Still interesting though that the forum refused to send me a password reset email since it did recognize my registered email. Oh well. Don't ever lose your password.