Fleshing out XFCE in Ubuntu

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

A long time ago I mentioned the list of suggested applications that appears on the XFCE wiki. As you might have noticed from some screenshots, I’ve been sporting a fresh copy of XFCE on Ubuntu lately, and tinkering with the suggestions they give there.

Some of them are quite nice, while others seem like a step down from what I’m accustomed to. Just as an example, this is Ristretto.

It does the fundamental job pretty well, and so I can’t complain. Mirage seems more to my liking if I must be honest, and even something like feh can do the job equally well. Unless it does something snazzy that I haven’t seen yet, I think I’ll stick with my favorites.

On the other hand, I use Osmo a lot just for the task management features, but one program off that list is quite useful to me — tasks, which is exactly what it says it is.

No nonsense, to-do-list manager that has all the expected features — categories, prioritizing, Web links and due dates as options. Very useful, and very minimal.

One sad part: It requires libecal1.2 to compile, which seems to include a huge knot of Gnome garbage, with no readily visible option to exclude it. If you install it in Ubuntu, you’ll see the clot listed as dependencies.

What that means is, if you want a truly lightweight task manager, you’re probably still better off with Osmo. Sad, but unless the Pimlico crew decides to eliminate that (or at least give the option to avoid it), it’s probably not going anywhere with me. I’ll try an earlier version sometime and see what happens. Maybe it’s a recent addition.

Rather than drag this out much longer, here’s a personal selection of the stuff I’ve been using with XFCE, culled from the list on the aforementioned wiki page. Add and subtract as you desire. I’ve omitted the stuff that I already listed on my software page. ;)

  • xfce4-terminal, which just seems to fit right
  • gmrun, which I’ve mentioned before
  • HardInfo, which I’ve mentioned before
  • Deluge, even if rtorrent is better
  • gFTP, which seems to have improved over the past few years
  • grsync, which to me is a huge improvement over the dozen command-line options needed to get the job done
  • XChat, which I acknowledge is necessary at times
  • xfburn, even if it occasionally refuses to burn a disc for me :|
  • Consonance and EasyTag, which are gold standards for music management in my book (Consonance is not in the Hardy repos, but it’s worth compiling)
  • GImageView, if you decide not to use Mirage
  • Geany, if you need more than just Mousepad
  • Mousepad, if you don’t need as much as Geany
  • Galculator and gColor2, for theming and … adding

Links are on the wiki page. And I know you’re going to ask, so I’ll answer in advance: I avoid both Abiword and Gnumeric because of the need for Gnome packages, even if it is to handle printing. :( You see, I don’t print. …

And in action, the entire suite looks like this.

Kind of like the good old days, huh?

All that being said, I don’t think I’ll stick with XFCE much longer. It has too many slight quirks that vaguely irritate me — like the way the GTK theme determines the color of the window manager bars. I really want to be able to control those independently. Weird, but honest.

And I find Thunar less and less attractive these days. It’s becoming too much like Nautilus, which may or may not be the original intention. I like a two-pane arrangement anyway, but Thunar’s slowly morphing into its fat cousin. To me, at least.

And so … Openbox, anyone? :roll:

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3 Responses to “Fleshing out XFCE in Ubuntu”


  1. 1 Cosay Nold 2008/09/19 at 8:51 PM

    The other day, because of its built in compositing support, I installed Xfwm4 as a standalone window manager and it worked pretty well. The only issue that I had was that with compositing turned on, I couldn’t set a wallpaper (unless I was willing to install Thunar to manage the desktop). Too bad, as it seemed pretty nice.

  2. 2 jbullfrog 2008/09/19 at 10:45 PM

    if you’re just looking for task management, I’d highly suggest todo.txt:
    http://todotxt.com/
    all it does is task management through a very simple, commandline interface. After setting up the tab-completion features, getting a list of your tasks from a shell is as easy as typing `t ls`. Adding a task is as simple as typing `t a This is a task`.

    It also handles grouping of tasks and setting tasks priorities very well.

  3. 3 Guitar John 2008/09/20 at 5:04 AM

    Is that Firefox I see in the screenshot? :yikes:


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