Xfce: the Third Man
Thunar provides extra customization possibilities, allowing you to define personal commands. Click Edit→Configure custom actions, and you can create an action of your own. To test it, I added a “Count Words and Lines” feature (Figure 3). I set Name to Count words and lines, and Command to:
zenity --info --text="`wc -l -w %N`
And, in the second tab, Appearance, I checked that this command should be applied to Text Files. Zenity shows a dialog box. If you don't use zenity, the output of the wc command won't be shown. If you right-click on a text file and select the Count Words and Lines action, you will get a dialog box showing the result of the wc command.
If you want to play music, Xfce includes Xfmedia (Figure 7). It provides basic playlist functions and is easy to configure. You can randomize the playlist, set diverse “repeat” options as well as provide “visualizations” to accompany the music (not fully developed yet). Xfmedia also is touted as a video player, because of its Xine usage.
However, for DVD playback, it's seriously lacking in command options, such as menu navigation, choosing subtitles and the like, so you're better off sticking with Totem (Figure 8), which is the default application for DVDs.
Xfburn provides CD and DVD creation with a simple interface (Figure 9). Xfburn still is in the early stages of development, but you can burn ISO images or data to CDs or DVDs. The ability to create audio CDs is currently lacking, but it's promised for a future release.
Instead of more resource-hungry office suites like OpenOffice.org or KOffice, Xfce provides GNOME's Abiword and Gnumeric. Of course, you can use the other suites if you prefer. For simpler text-editing tasks, Mousepad is the standard editor. It offers basic functionality, and in fact, I used it to write this article.
For messaging purposes, Pidgin also is provided. Pidgin is a good choice, because it can work with multiple protocols (AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo and more), and it integrates well with the desktop.
Finally, as an agenda and calendar, Orage (previously known as Xfcalendar) provides a system-tray clock (right-click on the panel to make it appear) and a personal agenda. You can store events and get alarms. You can schedule repeating, periodic events and full-day events (like birthdays or holidays). Orage even can work across different time zones (Figure 10).
In the movie, finding the third man proved to be a disappointment to the main character, but with Xfce, that won't be the case. With low requirements, high performance and an easy interface, you can be productive in little time. Although it's not quite as packed as KDE and not as simplified as GNOME, it's a balanced desktop environment in terms of power and ease of use. No matter what kind of machine you use, you'll find it worthwhile.
Xfce Official Web Site: www.xfce.org
Xfce Documentation Wiki: wiki.xfce.org
Installation Packages: www.xfce.org/download
Eye Candy for Xfce: www.xfce-look.org
Distributions with XFCE:
Debian Xfce Group: pkg-xfce.alioth.debian.org
Fedora Xfce Spin: www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-announce-list/2008-February/msg00005.html
Linux Mint Xfce Community Edition: www.linuxmint.com/edition.php?id=27
Mandriva Xfce Live: wiki.mandriva.com/en/XfceLive
OpenSUSE Xfce: en.opensuse.org/Xfce
Federico Kereki is an Uruguayan Systems Engineer, with more than 20 years' experience teaching at universities, doing development and consulting work, and writing articles and course material. He has been using Linux for many years now, having installed it at several different companies. He is particularly interested in the better security and performance of Linux boxes.
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