XFCE’s Revenge | LAS | s21e10

XFCE’s Revenge | LAS | s21e10

We review the XFCE desktop and compare its lean features with the bloated competition!

PLUS: The dirty tricks Microsoft and Apple are playing, and a new kickstarter game project committed to Linux!

And our tips for parents to protect their Linux using kids when online.

All this week on, The Linux Action Show!

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Matt’s How-to:

Having established why Gnome Nanny fails (not updated and incompatible), I have found over the years the only reliable method for offering parental controls on Ubuntu is to use either parental controls through a router or on a specific PC via OpenDNS.

Note: if you want this only block content on a single PC, only use OpenDNS on that computer.

  1. Browse opendns.com and create an account. Then login, this will bring you to your dashboard.
  2. Since we’re only adding the single computer in this example, look the right of the page and add Add a network. Click that button.
  3. This will fill in your ISP assigned IP address for you. Click on Add this network.
  4. A new popup will appear asking you to assign a “friendly” name to this network. Do so, then make sure you’ve checked off “yes, it is dynamic” (as most people have dynamic IP addresses).
  5. Ignoring the option to install anything, close this window by clicking Done.
  6. Now click on the IP address in the main screen area, this brings you to the parental control area.
  7. Select the level of content filtering you wish to use on this computer. Click apply. (I recommend checking the customize option for each section before choosing)
  8. Now you need to install a client that will keep your dynamic IP address, in tune with OpenDNS. From a terminal:

sudo apt-get install ddclient

  1. Once the configuration window appears, use your keyboard to select Other, then tab to Ok.
  2. The next step from this same terminal dialog is to type, then tab to Ok:


  1. In the next window, select dyndns2, tab to Ok.
  2. And in the next dialog, type in the username for your OpenDNS account; ie, your email used.
  3. Still with me? Good. Now you need to enter the network interface used. If it’s a wired network, it might be eth0 or if it’s wifi, perhaps wlan0 or wlan1. Open a separate terminal and do a ifconfig if you’re unsure.
  4. Remember that “Friendly” network name we created previously in the OpenDNS dashboard? Enter it when prompted for your dyndns qualified domain name(s). Then tab to Ok.
  5. With this finished, you will want to revisit the terminal again and type:

sudo gedit /etc/ddclient.conf

  1. With this conf file open, we’re going to make sure the settings took correctly. Check for the following: username, password, ssl set to yes, etc. Save, then close.
    17) The next step is to make sure OpenDNS is to be used exclusively for DNS on this machine.

sudo gedit /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf

  1. Ignore all of the text listed, scroll down the to the bottom and paste in the following:

supersede domain-name-servers,;

  1. Save the file and close the editor.
  2. Rather than merely restarting networking to let the settings take effect, be extra safe and just reboot. And you should be good to go. The ddclient and OpenDNS will now do the content filtering you need, to keep your kids safe. You’re all set!

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23 Responses to “XFCE’s Revenge | LAS | s21e10”

  1. Tor Inge Røttum Says:

    Just a little heads up Chris, the Vote link is missing “http://”, so it’s just going to http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/x.co/VOTEHERE

  2. ChrisLAS Says:


  3. Gentoo4Life Says:

    XFCE has that same old, tired Gnome 2-style desktop feel.  Cinnamon that you recently reviewed had that same old, tired desktop.  What will review next week?  MATE?  Heck, may well review Trinity (the KDE 3.5 fork) or Windows 3.1.

  4. Shu Says:

    Mobile version cuts out on Matt’s segment

  5. georgezilla Says:

    And this is just some more of that tired old whining, about the same old desktop feel. You haven’t got anything new to whine about? Or is whining your favorite sport?

    Want something new? Then get off you ass, stop whining and write it. But do everyone a favor, while we wait for this EXCITING, NEW desktop you’re going to write. STFU!


  6. Matt Hartley Says:

    I think the mobile goblins are trying to tell me something…hmm. 

    Thanks for the heads up. :)

  7. Jbabb1269 Says:

    I enjoyed your review of Xfce. One thing that was mentioned in the review was how slow Thunar
    was when its first run. I had the same problem but there is a fix. Thunar tries to automatically
    link with network support. to fix this problem go to:


    and change the automount variable to false. This will fix the problem.

    I also like Xfe as a more powerful lightweight alternative to Thunar.

    I’ve been using Xfce since Gnome3 came out and have definitely enjoyed the
    experience. I find Xfce desktop just enough without being too much. Its simple
    fast and elegant. 

  8. eXmel Says:

    Have you ever covered Lib-Ray?
    It is a non-drm open-source media format, similar to blu-ray, including features like menus, multiple audio tracks etc. using open standards such as HTML and WebKit.
    If not, please cover it on the show, it will be amazing! 

  9. Grant McWilliams Says:

    Concerning Mandriva and Mageia… http://blog.mageia.org/en/2012/05/21/mageia-comes-full-circle/

  10. Rob Williams Says:

    For some reason, the download cuts out at 51MB for me. It shows the entire 200MB or so while downloading, but once it reaches 51MB it just stops (happened twice).

  11. jgm Says:

     I thought his point was that we already have exciting, advanced desktops and it seems strange to devote coverage to desktops that want to go backwards rather than forwards (hence the Trinity and MATE references)?

  12. King Says:

    I am glad you guys finally did the Xfce review. I myself switched to it full time many years ago and have been very happy with it. It has a perfect balance between speed and usability. Good review guys!

    The built in compositor to Xfwm (Xfce Window manager) is quite good. Sure it does not have all the fancy effects that Compiz has, but it does offer nice transparency effects and is super fast. This combined with a nice theme and a Dock (if you use one) and Xfce can look just as good as the other DEs out there, while still being simple and fast.

    I myself don’t have the issue with Thunar starting slow, so not sure what is going on there. 

  13. Rewarp Says:

    I am going to get myself an Internet-transaction compatible debit card today just so I can donate to this show. Thanks for producing stuff that used to make me watch television.

    By the way, the end credits show Copyright 2011, and I am not sure if that is a joke. You may want to consider a Creative Commons License.

  14. Korlus Says:

     I don’t think that change for change’s sake is a good thing. Tried and true might be boring but it works – and there are a lot of people who just want something that works. Do you need more than XFCE? Would you rather flashy menus or programs opening faster? In the same way that light-weight distributions (like Bodhi et al) exist, so do lightweight DEs (or just WMs).

    Improving upon a more traditional look (which is what XFCE is constantly doing) is not going backwards, it’s more going forwards in a straight line, as opposed to the newer tracks that DEs like GNOME 3 and KDE 4.x are taking. Regardless of how similar it might look on the surface, they have added many features over the last few years, and continue to do so; but with an emphasis on speed and efficiency rather than appearance (and arguably extra functionality?)

    I would be very interested in seeing a review of Enlightenment, for instance. I have a feeling many wouldn’t?

  15. Dzontra Says:

    C’mon guys , Linus is on MATE since January this year and if you want to test Xfce than try 4.10.

  16. DF Says:

    Rather than another review, I’d be interested in seeing more a vs between LXDE with Xfce.

    Been using Mint 10, but since they no longer support it, I’ve been looking at what to move to.  Don’t want to wait for Mint 13 (LTS) and don’t mind Unity, but since my main machine is older, it runs sluggishly sitting at around 25-30% CPU usage.

    So I’m looking at either LXDE (Lubuntu) or Xfce.  I installed both on the same machine and LXDE runs a little lighter, hovers around 3-5%, where as Xfce runs at around 10-15% CPU usage.

    So I’m leaning towards LXDE. 8)

    I know that Xfce has larger following, but I’d be interested in seeing what you guys think.

    Great show, keep up the excellent work.

  17. King Says:

    Although LXDE is technically a little lighter than Xfce, I personally don’t see much of a difference in every day use (even on my crappy netbook). LXDE is a good DE, but Xfce just feels more polished and easier to configure, without sacrificing much speed.

  18. Spanielvsrock Says:

    Great show, also enjoyed Matts part at the end(not something i need but very handly to know)  

  19. Christoph Says:

    Woohoo Bryan’s back!!!!!!

  20. telchar16y Says:

    I have actually messed around with installing Debian on my droid, and it is pretty cool. I had a webserver running fairly nicely.

  21. mail unwanted Says:

    in Chrome each extension & tab takes up it’s own memory space thats why there’s several even if only one thing is open, it’s annoying but true.

  22. mail unwanted Says:

    as for OpenDNS they could also try VPN’s which offer you the ability to connect as if you were connected to a server in any part of the world, also has the benefit of if a video for instance has a region lock you can still watch them. but the main benefit is your ISP address is completely anonymous to everyone but and your ISP.

    and thus safer and far less chance of getting anything you don’t want coming through and there are also parental controls for blocking access to sites based on adult material for instance.

    the downside of anonymousers like Open DNS and VPN is the internet will generally be alot slower since it’s not using your speed but the speed of the server you are connecting to..

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