Difference resp. advantages gnome vs. xfce

Every once in a while I login to gnome. Just to play around with it. I like it, but I am always coming back to XFCE because gnome is missing two important features out of the box which are mandatory for me:

  • window tiling
  • panel with application launcher

I installed two extensions in gnome to close that gap:

  • tilling-assistant
  • dash-to-panel

With these two extensions the gnome desktop offers very similar functionality to XFCE. And because I use the same gtk theme for gnome and XFCE, there are no visual differences.

Now I am wondering what would be the reason to use gnome if it looks like XFCE? Is there any technical advantage of using gnome?

One disadvantage (at least on rolling distros like Arch/EndeavourOS) is that when a new version of Gnome is released, it can take a while for extensions to catch up. So if your workflow is reliant on these two extensions, there may be an interruption.

Gnome 41 is about to hit the Arch repos and, at the time of typing, Tiling Assistant has a version for Gnome 41, but Dash To Panel has not been updated.


I used to use Gnome, and then I switched to Xfce sometime. I find the latter more stable and configurable. Gnome is more spectacular, while the current Xfce has a low-cost look, but it’s all more customizable. Interestingly, after a long time, however, I like KDE Plasma lately, even though it’s more like Gnome in terms of configurability. Haven’t you tried Cinnamon?

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read this point


Of course I have. But this thread is about gnome and XFCE and why someone wants to use gnome+ extensions if it actually has the same look&feel as XFCE.


Having the overview mode, appgrid mode, touchpad gestures is not something I remember from Xfce out of the box.

Ok lets see how that compares to XFCE technically.

Overview Mode is similar to Alt-TAB. Alt-TAB in XFCE gives me a preview of all open windows. Not sure if the gnome overview mode is doing more than that.

appgrid mode is similar to opening the whisker menu in XFCE and start typing the name of an application. It will also show all the hits as you continue typing.

touchpad gestures is probably nice for a laptop but because I am at a desktop PC it is not relevant for me.

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It was quite a while ago I used Xfce but will that give you an overview of all the workspaces as well and the possibility to switch between them?

This is more using the search function in Gnome by pressing the “windows” key and typing away.

I don’t remember Xfce having visually something like:

and two fingers swipe right or left to switch between multiple app grids. But for a desktop user maybe these features are irrelevant.

Again it was long time ago I used Xfce. Perhaps there are similar functionalities there as well.

but more search functions also mean a desktop is also searching for that as indexing everytime


Yes. It is configurable in XFCE if you want to cycle through all apps or just apps on the current workspace.

Well, this gnome overview screen is very similar to what a start menu is supposed to do. In fact, whisker is doing even more because it is grouping the apps for you:

And it also has an “Alle Anwendungen” = “All Apps” function which shows you all apps in alphabetical order. But I do not see the benefit of showing all applications instead of grouping them.

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you can setup also searchig the web or anything else on the disk or on the web or even with some knowhow the endeavouros forum. is all configurable too :slight_smile:

there is also https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/xfdashboard/

Perhaps it’s time for me to revisit Xfce again :wink:

Well, if you get those functionalities in Xfce, then there is perhaps no reason for you to switch. If you don’t find some “under the hood” technical difference that can persuade you otherwise.

You could do that with Gnome search function as well. Out of the box :wink:

Yes, thanks. This was exactly the purpose of this thread. In fact, as I see it now XFCE is the better gnome. Unless somebody points me to the compelling gnome killer feature.


Come on! You knew that all along :wink:
Just kidding! :innocent:

One could use the same argument with any desktop environment they all have their plus points and minus points.
For me its simple not even windows has a more polished desktop than Gnome,Xfce also lacks with file manager, editor, well basically the whole DE is lacking
That is not saying its bad its not a bad desktop its just to lacking in charm
Example with nautilus I can copy paste 2tb of mixed files flawlessly, as i do with Mac and Windows no other Linux default de will do that without crashing or loss of data.
That is my case argument

but i would call gnome not a desktop evironment anymore :slight_smile:

Tablet Environment :slight_smile:


It’s a universal platform! :wink:

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That is interesting. I am giving it a try on XFCE with thunar. I started to copy 253.880 files with total size of 2284.81 GB. This will take a long time …

To me the following keeps me from using xfce:

From a technical point of view gnome deals much much better with multiscreen setups and scaling of high dpi system wide. Could be due to wayland but also in general I had a better experience even with Xorg

I can’t stand workspaces in xfce with the lower right widget, I just accidentally drag my apps on another screen. I also don’t get it. Gnome workspaces are clear where they are and how they work and its organization.

Thunar still doesnt have a search function. Yes there are some workarounds, but I never figured them out and they are not there out of the box. Nautilus is just better at that.

Looking and feel of window borders and apps. Xfce is hard to resize windows, and visually they are not appealing. Also compare system setting functions and organization with gnome settings.

Gnome 40 has swipe gestures which definitely is a plus for laptops

Gnome has a lot of its own software by default

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