XFCE 4.12 Review – The Good, The Bad And The Better

Updated Mar 18, 2016Reviews
XFCE 4.12 about

Shortcomings (The Bad)

  • One of the most important problems Xfce is suffering from for the past few years is the Sync to Vblank property which was completely missing up until 4.12. And now that it has been incorporated into the DE it still isn’t working properly.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, sync to Vblank is meant to make screen tearing go away – for many, that feature is considered a “deal-breaker”. One way to deal with the issue though is by installing Compton.

  • Sync to Vblnak issue

    Sync to Vblnak not working properly.

    Too small thumbnail previews. If the previews can barely be seen – then what use are they?

  • Too small thumbnail previews

    Thumbnail previews are too small.

    Thunar still can’t “remember” configuration per directory, i.e. make one directory show “detailed list” while another show “icons view” or make one folder items arranged by name while another by modification date (without switching every time).

Improved Since Previous Version (The Better)

  • Finally, borders are being automatically removed on maximize, this may sound like a minor issue though from a design perspective it’s actually a very large one. If you’ve read my article: Exploring the Ultimate Desktop Design then you know why.

In favor of those who didn’t read it, I’ll just say that there’s a design convention called Fitts’s law and it basically saying that it’s much easier to click on a window-(close)-button when it’s found at the very screen edge.

  • The default theme is more compatible with GTK 3 apps which are now dominating the third-party GTK+ apps.

Final Thoughts

Although it’s not free of drawbacks, Xfce 4.12 does bring many advantages onto the table.

I really enjoyed seeing its wide range of improvements, though for its shortcomings I’d probably still won’t be making it my default DE.

If there’s one thing worth mentioning about Xfce and this 4.12 release in particular is that the developers did / do a great job at keeping it heading forward.

It seems that the typical Linuxisms users often complain about – the ups and downs of the development – are spared by the Xfce project and that’s probably due to a clear goal and a long period of development before releasing a stable version.