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I'm somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to my computers. Generally 3 our of 4 windows open are xterm. As long as the few big application I run, runs well, I feel no need to have a cluttered environment. That being said, occasionally my wife will use my computer, or someone will look over my shoulder and say, what the hell is that? For that reason I like to keep my desktop relatively easy to use and well, good looking, both which generally contradict a nimble os.
I just build my lean mean gentoo laptop and it runs amazingly fast and still looks quite elegant with openbox, slim and tint2. I don't necessarily even use file managers all that much, so even if it's not quite as nimble as the rest of the system, I guess I could deal. I would prefer something that doesn't have a billion dependancies, something that integrates well with dropbox, and something that is not thunar. Yes I know it't very light. I just don't like it.
Thunar is in no way light, neither is anything from XFCE. It's only lighter than the heavy weights.
If you want something like Thunar, then pcmanfm is what you want. I however, prefer ROX-Filer. It's not like Thunar at all, but I much prefer it. It has few dependencies itself, but if you are going to use some of the python-based scripts for it, you will need Rox-lib2. I don't use any of the python add-ons as I have replaced them with much more efficient shell scripts. So I run just ROX-Filer which is written in C and is very fast.
Since someone said this isn't over yet... I find it hard to beat rox-filer. While it takes a little practice to get familiar with it, once you do so it's great because it is lightweight, fast, and simple to use. Next in line for me would be pcmanfm.