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Xfce logo.png
A typical Xfce 4.4 desktop. Various Xfwm effects are visible (drop shadows behind windows, alpha-blended windows and panel).
Developer(s) Multiple developers, enumerated here
Stable release 4.6.1 / April 19, 2009; 10 month(s) ago (2009-04-19)
Written in C (GTK+ 2)
Platform Unix-like
Development status Active
Type Desktop environment
License GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License and BSD License

Xfce (pronounced as four individual letters)[1] is a free software desktop environment for Unix and other Unix-like platforms, such as Linux, Solaris and BSD. It aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use.

The current version, 4.6, is modular and reusable. It consists of separately packaged components that together provide the full functionality of the desktop environment, but which can be selected in subsets to create the user's preferred personal working environment. Xfce is mainly used for its ability to run a modern desktop environment on relatively modest hardware.

It is based on the GTK+ 2 toolkit (the same as GNOME). It uses the Xfwm window manager, described below. Its configuration is entirely mouse-driven, and the configuration files are hidden from the casual user.

Xfce will be included with the upcoming Pandora handheld gaming system.[citation needed]



Olivier Fourdan started the project in 1996. The name "Xfce" originally stood for "XForms Common Environment", but since that time Xfce has been rewritten twice and no longer uses the XForms toolkit. The name survived, but it is no longer capitalized as "XFce", but rather as "Xfce". The developers' current stance is that the initialism no longer stands for anything specific.


First versions

Xfce began as a simple project created with XForms, meant to be a free Linux clone of CDE. Fourdan released the program, a simple toolbar, to ibiblio (then "SunSITE").[2]

Version 2

Fourdan continued developing the project, and in 1998, Xfce 2 was released with the first version of Xfce's window manager, Xfwm. He requested to have the project included in Red Hat Linux, but was refused because the project was based on XForms. Red Hat only accepted software that was open source and released under either a GPL compatible or BSD compatible license, but, at the time, XForms was closed source and free only for personal use.[2] For the same reason, Xfce was not in Debian before version 3. Xfce 2 was only distributed in Debian's contrib component.[3]

Version 3

In March 1999 Fourdan began a complete rewrite of the project based on GTK+, a non-proprietary toolkit whose popularity was increasing. The result was Xfce 3.0, which was licensed under the GNU GPL. Along with being based completely on free software, the project gained GTK+'s drag-and-drop support, native language support, and improved configurability. Xfce was uploaded to in February 2001, starting with version 3.8.1.[4]

Version 4

In version 4.0.0, Xfce was upgraded to use the GTK+ 2 libraries. Changes in 4.2.0 included a compositing manager for Xfwm which added built-in support for transparency and drop shadows, as well as a new default SVG icon set.[5] In January 2007, Xfce 4.4.0 was released. This included the Thunar file manager, a replacement for Xffm. Support for desktop icons was added. Also, various improvements were made to the panel to prevent buggy plugins from crashing the whole panel.[6]


Xfce provides a development framework for applications. Other than Xfce itself, there are third-party programs which use the Xfce libraries, most notably the Mousepad text editor, Xfmedia audio player, Orage Calendar and Terminal. One of the services provided to applications by the framework is a red banner across the top of the window when the application is running with root privileges warning the user that they could damage system files.

Other Xfce components include:

  • Xfmedia, a xine-based media player for Xfce (currently, unmaintained)
  • Xfprint, a print manager
  • Xfburn, a CD/DVD burner


Screenshot of Mousepad
Developer(s) Erik Harrison
Stable release 0.2.16
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Text editor
License GNU General Public License

Mousepad is a simple text editor written by Erik Harrison. It is the default text editor of the Xfce desktop environment. According to the Xfce website, Mousepad is based on an older text editor called Leafpad, and was developed in order to provide printing support.[7] Mousepad has had a handful of maintainers since its introduction. The next version of Mousepad, version 0.3.x, is a rewrite being conducted by Nick Schermer.


Starting with version 4.4, Xfcalendar was renamed to Orage and several features were added. Orage has alarms and uses the iCalendar format, making it compatible with many other calendar applications. It also includes a panel clock plugin and an international clock application capable of simultaneously showing clocks from several different time zones.


Parole is a media player that is based on the GStreamer framework. It is developed by Ali Abdallah and is part of the XFCE Goodies.[8] It originally was only playlist based, but now includes an option to replace the entire playlist when opening a file for playing.[9]


Thunar is the default file manager for Xfce, replacing Xffm. It resembles GNOME's Nautilus and is designed for speed and a low memory footprint[10] as well as being highly customizable through plugins. Xfce also has a lightweight archive manager called Xarchiver, but this is not part of the core Xfce 4.4.0.[11] More recently, Squeeze has been started as an archive manager designed to integrate better into the Xfce desktop.


Starting with version 4.2, Xfwm integrates its own compositing manager. At its inception, many users called it the most stable one available,[citation needed] though at the time, in late 2004, xcompmgr was the only other compositing manager available.

See also


External links


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