Linux can be customized to a great extent. It offers a desktop environment for every user. GNOME, Unity, KDE, MATE DE’s are suitable for the users who are using Linux for everyday tasks such as web-browsing, listening to music, watching videos, etc. XFCE, LXQT don’t offer fancy animations and icons but they’re popular among developers.

I’ve used GNOME and XFCE on a laptop with quad-core AMD processor and 8GB RAM. I’m a programmer. I don’t play games or use media player applications. Here, I’ve shared my experience with the two desktop environments.



Both DEs provide tons of customizable themes. You are allowed to change the icon library and fonts in Gnome and XFCE.


Gnome, by default, doesn’t display desktop icons. Also, it doesn’t allow you to drag and drop icons to the desktop. To see application icons, you must create a .desktop file in the Desktop folder. If you’re not comfortable with this, install the Gnome Tweak Tool and run it. Now, locate the “Desktop icons” option and select it.

When you switch to XFCE, you’ll find icons of disks, and apps on the desktop. XFCE displays a background color for the icon labels. To make the icon text transparent, refer this answer on StackExchange. Gnome and XFCE allow users to create new panels. They also allow you to custom them.

XFCE provides an application finder utility which according to me is a great alternative to the start menu. I’m using this application as a start menu. Gnome offers a similar utility called “Applications Menu”. To use this feature, you should enable GNOME classic mode.

File manager

Default file manager in Gnome is Nautilus and Thunar in XFCE. Both applications enable you to sort files by name, size and modification date. Thunar supports the following two location selector styles:

  • Path.
  • Toolbar.

Nautilus doesn’t provide an option to change the location style. However, it displays the full path to the file/folder in a popup box when you press the CTRL and L keys on the keyboard at the same time


Gnome and XFCE provide a window manager utility through which you can customize the appearance of the window and its title bar.

Resource consumption and stability

XFCE Is a lightweight DE. Gnome consumes more system resources as compared to XFCE. GNOME crashed several times on my laptop. This is the reason why I switch to XFCE.

What software was I using when GNOME crashed?

  • Eclipse IDE.
  • Chrome/Firefox browser.
  • Terminal.


Gnome is updated every six months/year. An update hasn’t been rolled out for XFCE since the year 2015.

Who should avoid XFCE?

Lazy people who take the look and feel of the OS into consideration before using it should avoid XFCE. If you can spend some time in customizing XFCE, give it a try. You’ll love XFCE.

How can you switch from Gnome to XFCE or vice versa?

1) In the Linux distro website’s download section, you’ll find ISO files having a name in the following format:


debian linux distro iso

The distro name can be Debian, Fedora, Mint, Manjaro, etc. The desktop environment should be one of the following:

  • KDE, Gnome.
  • XFCE, Cinnamon,
  • Mate, LXDE.

Download XFCE iso file. Create a LIVE USB/CD/DVD and install the OS.


Open terminal, log in as a sudo user, enter the following command in the terminal and hit the enter key:

yum groupinstall distro_name

apt-get insatall distro_name

How to free up disk space by removing a desktop environment you aren’t using?

dnf remove distro_name

apt-get remove distro_name

Conclusion: XFCE isn’t ugly nor it is outdated. It a beautiful Linux desktop environment. Gnome isn’t bad but it crashes when you use RAM hogging IDEs. It may also crash when you start the laptop/PC and log in to your Linux account.


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