The Xfce open source desktop is out with its first major update in two years this week. Xfce 4.8 brings the low-resource desktop into the modern era and provides usability improvements across the board.

“Xfce 4.8 is our attempt to update the Xfce code base to all the new desktop frameworks that were introduced in the past few years,” The Xfce development team wrote in a statement. “We hope that our efforts to drop pieces like ThunarVFS and HAL with GIO, udev, ConsoleKit and PolicyKit will help bringing the Xfce desktop to modern distributions.”

Remote file share access has been dramatically improved, which has long been a sticking point for me. Additionally, the new release promised to reduce window clutter as well.

A rewritten panel application is a big help improving the launcher experience and developers are also claiming the settings dialogs have also been improved. Yup, that means that Xfce just might be able to work on your monitor now too (am I the only one that struggled with that in the past?).

Xfce has long been the third leg among the major open source desktops, trailing GNOME and KDE in terms of adoption and mind share. Xfce has historically been there to serve as an alternative to the resource intensive (some might say bloated) GNOME and KDE desktops of recent years.

Moving forward, Xfce developers are looking to start an Xfce non-profit foundation to help push the desktop forward, which is a step that is long overdue. In any event a good start to the year for Xfce in a year that will bring big changes to Linux desktops with GNOME 3.

As is always the case when there is a major change in tech, there will be users who won’t be happy with GNOME 3 (Unity, GNOME Shell or otherwise) and I suspect that will result in a possible opportunity for Xfce too.