My desktop environment of choice for a while now has been Xfce, and I’ve been very happy with it. It follows the familiar desktop paradigms we’ve known for years, its goal to be comfortable for long-time computers, rather than innovate and try to capture new audiences. It is the default desktop environment for Debian, and the desktop environment of choice for Linus Torvalds.
Xfce’s only problem is that its technology is a bit old: GTK+2 rather than GTK+3. This causes some (minor) conflicts with newer applications, and divergent themes. You basically need to use themes that come with identical GTK+2 and GTK+3 versions. Sticking with Greybird is thus a good idea. The Xfce project is working on migrating to GTK+3, but it will take a while, and they’re not in any hurry. That’s OK, neither am I.
I recommend tweaking Xfce with the following:
- Replace Xfce’s app menu with Whisker Menu. It’s hands down my favorite app menu ever! It fits perfectly with Xfce’s straightforward design principles, and is very keyboard-friendly.
- Replace Xfce’s window switcher with DockbarX. It even supports Unity quicklists, which many apps use. My favorite theme is “Brit”, and my favorite window list style is “Deep”.
- Replace Xfce’s compositor with Compton. It allows for a butter-smooth GPU-accelerated desktop. It’s a bit complex to configure, but you can go ahead and use my suggested configuration file.
- Recoll is an excellent file searching tool.
To install all of my recommendations in one go:
sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:gottcode/gcppa sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:dockbar-main/ppa sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:richardgv/compton sudo apt-get install -y xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin xfce4-dockbarx-plugin compton recoll