One of the most popular lightweight alternatives to other Linux desktop environments, Xfce, reached
, after more than two years of hard work, version 4.6.0. Given the delay between releases, this is, of course, a major overhaul bringing many new features and improving on the existing ones.
The revamped Xfdesktop finally gives users the ability to select and handle multiple icons by drawing a rubber band selection rectangle around them. The new desktop also has a contextual menu similar to that in Thunar filemanager and offers quick access to applications, session termination or help. The panel, another improved element, got many bugfixes, most for multi-screen desktops, and a new set of plugins. The clock will now consume fewer resources and has an option to display the time in binary. In the notification area, users can choose what notifications to be shown in order to maintain an uncluttered desktop.
The sound mixer was rebuilt to use Gstreamer and received a better looking interface. The new mixer can support multiple sound systems and is able to manage several different sound cards. The Session Manager's main improvement is the ability to automatically restart crashed applications. Also "suspend" and "hibernate" are supported by default and offered as options in the logout box.
The window manager, Xfwm4, that now supports multiple displays, performs much better, as many bugs were fixed. Four new features are also part of the new WM experience:
· Xfwm4 can detect unresponsive windows and pop up an offer to kill them;
· A new title-bar actions menu allows moving windows through workspaces, minimize and resize them or change their order;
· The "fill window" option resizes the active window to the maximum available desktop space, without covering other windows;
· Window Manager Tweaks allows users to tinker with many window-related options.
Another improved component is Thunar File Manager, which now supports forward and backward mouse buttons for easier folder navigation. Also, devices that are available and are not mounted will differentiate themselves from the mounted ones by having a higher transparency value. Support for encrypted devices is also new in this release. The Application Finder, which monitors installed applications in real time, got redesigned for a cleaner look.
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