Debian 10 XFCE Review

Debian 9 XFCE was my favorite XFCE distro. Does Debian 10 XFCE also stay in the first place? You will find out in this Debian 10 XFCE review.

Debian 10 XFCE


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XFCE and Debian follow a similar development concept

Debian never uses the latest versions of desktop environments. You will be losing many new features if you run Debian with GNOME, KDE, or Cinnamon. These desktop environments will be already obsolete at the time of Debian release. But in Debian XFCE, you get pretty much the same features as in any other distro with the XFCE desktop. XFCE is not updated often.

Also, you get stable and reliable XFCE on top of rock-solid Debian base.

XFCE 4.14 about screen

You probably would say “Wait a minute but there is XFCE 4.14 while both Debian 9 and 10 use XFCE 4.12”. Well…

Before testing Debian 10 XFCE, I thought I would argue the same. It seems like it is better to use some distro with the latest XFCE instead of Debian. And Manjaro XFCE was the first distro that came to my mind. But after looking at XFCE in Manjaro and Debian, I can conclude that XFCE has not changed massively. So, Debian 10 and XFCE 4.12 is still a great combo.

I would recommend XFCE 4.14 only:

  • if you have a HiDPI screen because XFCE 4.14 has window scaling settings.
  • if you have any problems with Nvidia graphic cards and old XFCE. The latest XFCE has improved graphic performance and has better comparability with Nvidia cards.
  • if you use several monitors.

The other changes of XFCE 4.14 including the transition to GTK3 are great but it is not something large to discard XFCE 4.12. You may also experience some glitches with XFCE 4.14. But glitches are unlikely to happen in XFCE 4.12.

Debian XFCE is great for old hardware

Both XFCE and Debian are lightweight. This makes Debian XFCE one of the best distro for old hardware.

XFCE resource usage

There are desktop environments that are lighter than XFCE but they compromise some functionality in my opinion.

Debian also doesn’t pre-install many packages in its XFCE flavor, unlike in Debian KDE, which I reviewed previously.

I use Debian XFCE on my now 8 years old laptop. It works as good as when I just bought it.

Also, as I mentioned in my Debian 10 GNOME review, Debian 10 is one of a few Linux distro that still supports 32-bit systems. So, in some cases, Debian 10 XFCE can be the only solution for old hardware.

XFCE is light and can look awesome.

Unfortunately, Debian XFCE looks ugly by default:

XFCE default theme

However, you can make XFCE look awesome:

Modern XFCE theme

XFCE may not be attractive at first glance but it is highly customizable.

You can change its menu to a more modern one:

Whisker menu in XFCE

You can also get Windows-like icons taskbar:

DockBarX in XFCE

You can transform the XFCE panel into a dock:

XFCE panel as a dock

You can even make XFCE terminal to drop-down on a keypress:

XFCE drop-down terminal

And all of these comes with almost no prices in terms of resources.


Both XFCE and Debian provide stability, reliability, and performance. Debian 10 XFCE is still my favorite Debian flavor and the best XFCE distro overall.

Among other flavors of Debian 10, I also liked the GNOME version, read my Debian 10 GNOME review if you have not yet.

Average Linux User
Average Linux User I am the founder of the Average Linux User project, which is a hobby I work on at night. During the day I am a scientist who uses computers to analyze genetic data.



which one should i choose mx or debian ? as part of studies i might be need to learn web and i would like to learn about linux, i’m a cs student . thanks in advance alu , your videos are awsome :)

Mohamed Mimon Asbai

Mohamed Mimon Asbai

Hello, ALU It is also a good time to know how Debian is on Cinnamon Desktop Enviroment. And I have reviewed everything much about Linux Mint 20 on MATE Desktop Enviroment. Go into the link in the description to Download Debian 10 with your Cinnamon Desktop Enviroment How to do that? 1) Follow the steps during the installation until you get to that Codecs, Desktop Enviroment, MS Fonts,etc. 2) On Desktop Enviroment Menu choose Cinnamon Desktop Enviroment Note! You can install KDE, XFCE, GNOME, Mate Desktop Enviroment XFCE on Debian 10 is still ugly. You can download various themes that Make XFCE Good. And also you cannot choose any default themes for KDE Plasma on Debian. Like the one who you putted on your Legacy Install of Arch Linux from that KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Enviroment. I am now reviewing GNOME Legacy Desktop Enviroment It is very good. So that is it for all of these. I explain about Windows, Mac OS X ,Linux ,Solaris and more… If you need to contact, use the e-mail that I provided here. Thanks.


I have an old laptop with 6 GiB RAM, Intel Core i3 (2nd generation) 2.3 GHz, 120 GiB SSD. What desktop version of Debian should I install? At the moment I am running MX Linux 19.2.

John dunes

Hi. I have a older PC like this: Intel DB75EN, 12 GB ram, and SSD of 240GB, it's an i5-2400 old generation at 3GHZ. It has integrated graphics. I'm really sick of Windows 10 high CPU usage and want a change. Do you think Debian could run fine in this PC? I like Cinnamon and Mate better than XFCE. Will they run?

Sarath N

Dear ALU, Your posts are very help full. I am using Debian 10 XFCE; and Debian 9 XFCE before that. I tried to upgrade from Debian 9 to Debian 10, but it was a failure. I wish there were good and simple guide on how to upgrade Debian.


… reinstall major versions of any fixed release distro….”

As a complete neophyte in such matters I ask: does this mean literally overwriting everything in the relevant partition(s) or even the entire drive, reinstalling the o/s, reinstalling applications, changing settings for printers, scanners, other devices, tweaks for file managers, Gimp and plugins, plugins for Office suite, configuration of and bookmarks for web browsers etc etc? I would be appalled if that were so, since it is the sort of thing I personally might be prepared to do with MS Windows say, once every ten years i.e. only after they have stopped putting out security releases and I am forced to change the o/s.
I'm still using Windows 7 and have updated my image backups in preparation for going dual boot with probably Xubuntu or Debian for internet access and keeping Windows 7 for work unless/until I get acclimatised, but the idea of having to re-create the system every couple of years is too appalling to contemplate - almost as bad as going to windows 10! Am I labouring under a misapprehension? Is a “reinstal” actually something less horrible to contemplate? Would a brief article explaining be worthwhile? ;)

Average Linux User

Average Linux User

Yes, I reinstall root partiton (/) but I do not touch the home partition (/home) where all the settings are. I also need to install all apps, but it can be easily done with one command because back up the list of installed programs before the backup. However, there is no need to reinstall if you are not willing to spend time doing so. Try to upgrade first and in most cases it works fine.

Luis Felipe Oliveira Ribeiro

Luis Felipe Oliveira Ribeiro


Toffee-gtk-theme is a flat Material Design theme for GTK 3, GTK 2 and Gnome-Shell etc.

GitHub: HomePage: —————————- Based on materia-theme: —————————– DOWNLOAD TIPS —————————– Toffee: —————————–Dark headerbar version Toffee-compact: —————Dark headerbar Laptop version Toffee-dark: ———————Full dark version Toffee-dark-compact: ——-Full dark Laptop version Toffee-light: ———————Full light version Toffee-light-compact: ——-Full light Laptop version —————————– INFO —————————– GTK2 ENGINES REQUIREMENT

  • GTK2 engine Murrine or later.
  • GTK2 pixbuf engine or the gtk(2)-engines package.

Fedora/RedHat distros: yum install gtk-murrine-engine gtk2-engines

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