Xfce 4.18 Review: Desktop for Performance and Style

4 min

Is Xfce 4.18 the best release in its history? We review its features, performance and user feedback.

In today’s world, where gesture-based and flat user interfaces are becoming increasingly favoured, it’s refreshing to see that the Xfce desktop continues to carry the torch of time-tested user interfaces.

With its classic yet modern design, Xfce delivers users with a friendly and efficient experience that has stood the test of time. The design with an icon-based menu and desktop icons is easy to use and makes you productive without needing to “learn” the interface.

A few weeks back, Xfce 4.18 is released after almost two years of the development cycle. Yes, considering the leading desktops and distro, it’s a slow cycle, but sometimes it brings solid stability to your workflow.

Let’s find out how the desktop performed.

MX Linux 21.3 running Xfce 4.18
MX Linux 21.3 running Xfce 4.18

Xfce 4.18 Desktop Review

When you use the new Xfce 4.18 desktop, you won’t find much difference from the earlier versions. The looks are the same as the traditional top panel, desktop icons, basic system tray and application menu.

It’s a good thing.

You don’t need to learn new stuff or look for settings. The icons in the panel stay where they were before, ensuring a seamless transition to the new version.

However, a few new features, such as modifying the clock’s font in a panel alongside four new clock settings, will help you customize your Xfce desktop.

One of the key advantages of the Xfce desktop is its highlight customizable interface while being lightweight and easy to use. You can change the look and feel of the desktop with a wide range of themes, icons and wallpapers. Xfce 4.18 is no exception.

The heart of Xfce 4.18 updates which stands out is the Thunar enhancements. The list is enormous, and some of the features were long due. And they were already present in modern file managers such as Dolphin or Nautilus (GNOME Files).

Thunar 4.18 changes

The split view in Thunar finally arrived, adding much more productivity to your workflow. You can now compare, drag-n-drop and do more in two panes. Furthermore, Thunar also adds an image preview on its left pane and in the right section. For those working with thousands of images, it’s a great feature.

Thunar split view and image preview
Thunar split view and image preview

Thunar 4.18 also allows a new feature enabling background colour change to your folders. It works in both list and icon mode. For example, you can mark some important folders as red during in-progress work items as orange and completed items as green. A new colour picker can customize the colours.

Thunar introduces folder highlight colour
Thunar introduces folder highlight colour

While reviewing the feedback of Xfce 4.18 in various social media posts and forums, one thing became clear. Many users were waiting for these Thunar features, and now they are planning to migrate to Xfce thanks to these improvements.

Xfce has been designed with speed and efficiency in mind. It uses minimal system resources and loads quickly, making it a fantastic choice for older computers or those with limited resources. Xfce also features a lightweight window manager with less memory and CPU than other window managers, further improving the desktop’s overall performance.

Performance, display and Wayland

The overall performance of Xfce is excellent, as always.

Xfce 4.18 also gives solid performance from the desktop standpoint. However, the underlying Linux distribution plays a part. Xfce window manager (xfm4) and desktop session performed well in all the distros I tried. No crash or weird behaviour.

A few items I tried, such as connecting to multiple displays and disconnecting them, connecting to wifi, notifications, etc. Xfce desktop adapts well between two different screen sizes and other said use-cases. No weird behaviour so far.

In my opinion, the Xfce 4.18 performed better under Arch Linux (and derivatives) than Ubuntu-based ones.

Xfce 4.18 uses only 500 MB memory in a base Arch Linux
Xfce 4.18 uses only 500 MB of memory in a base Arch Linux

Quality of the Xfce 4.18 release

I flipped through the official Xfce forum, Reddit, and other forums about the number of bugs or issues reported by the users post-Xfce 4.18 release. There are very few of them. Some minor issues were reported to the window manager, and that’s it.

Overall this release is solid in quality, thanks to more than a year-long development and point releases via dev version 4.17.

Because of its performance, many leading distributions have already updated their offerings with the latest Xfce 4.18 without waiting for the next stable release.

Linux Mint is planning to offer this version Linux Mint 21.2 “Victoria” version on June 2023. Endeavour OS has already been updated to this version. Fedora Xfce and Xubuntu 23.04 Lunar Lobster will get this in March or April-2023. And popular distro MX Linux already added this version as their stable release.

Future roadmap

The next major release will be Xfce 4.20. I can safely assume the basic Wayland framework will be ready by then. But it won’t be complete because of the complexity and several Xfce components, which are entirely different from other desktops.

For instance, an unofficial Wayland development work for Xfce window manager (xfwm4) has already started. Although the official roadmap is still in the WIP state, we can assume that Wayland is the only missing piece in Xfce’s dominance in the desktop space.

However, it would definitely take a couple of years to complete Xfce’s transition to Wayland. My guess is by 2025.


Xfce 4.18 is fast, efficient and brings a lot of goodies. Whether you’re a seasoned user or new to the Linux world, Xfce is worth considering. Xfce’s classic interface, drop-down menus, configurable panels, and desktop icons make it a perfect choice for those who want the best of both worlds.

Despite the trend of flat UI design, larger headers, and mobile-type menus on desktops – the Xfce 4.18 release proves that sticking to the tried and tested methods are way to go for several use cases.



Creator and author of debugpoint.com. Connect with me via Telegram, 𝕏 (Twitter), or send us an email.
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