A first look at Xfce 4.8
Posted Dec 26, 2010 9:05 UTC (Sun) by djao
Parent article: A first look at Xfce 4.8
I'm very much interested in using lightweight desktop environments, but in my experience neither Xfce nor LXDE provide a useful terminal program.
Last I checked, xfce4-terminal has a rather bad race condition wherein keystrokes sent to the terminal can and often do get lost if the system is swapping heavily. Disappointingly, LXtermial (from LXDE, the "other" lightweight desktop environment) also has the same problem. Lost keystrokes represent a showstopper bug under any circumstances (keystroke buffering is fine, keystroke lossage is not); however, particularly for desktop environments advertised as "lightweight," I would think and hope that low-memory performance would be an area of priority.
Other terminal programs, such as xterm, rxvt, and even gnome-terminal, do not have this particular flaw (or at least it is nowhere near as bad), despite using the same or even greater amounts of memory. Under memory pressure, xterm and other "good" terminal programs will buffer keystrokes, and may under dire straits crash entirely, but as long as they are running, all keystrokes sent to the program will eventually arrive and arrive in the correct order. Whenever I am forced to use Xfce or LXDE, I always use one of these reliable terminal programs instead of the terminal program that comes with the desktop environment, but such a solution is neither satisfying nor ideal.
In order to make this comment somewhat relevant to the article: I surmise (without proof, please correct me if I'm wrong) that this review of Xfce was carried out on a high end machine with plenty of RAM. One cannot extrapolate, based on Xfce's performance on a high end machine, that it would be suitable for a low-resource environment; simply put, it's not, unless you don't care about the terminal, but a good fraction of Linux users consider the terminal indispensible. Readers would be better served if the reviewers made an attempt to match their review platform with the intended use case of the software in question. In this case, the problem with the terminal program is only apparent when the desktop environment is run on a low-memory machine.
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