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I have an older Pentium 3 desktop (933 MHz and 384MB RAM) and I'm looking to install a fast lightweight DE, either LXDE or XFCE. I don't know much about either of them and need some of your opinions and experiences using them on a daily basis.
I want to hear the pros and cons of each, whether one is lacking some important feature the other has, which is smoother, faster, etc.
I'm going to test drive them myself soon but it's nice to get your opinions beforehand!
Xfce and LXDE are simply desktop environments or "skins." Whichever you choose, it will be the same "core" operating system underneath, and you will use the same applications for work/school/play. In fact you can install both Xfce and LXDE if you like, and switch between them each day based on your mood.
I have been using fluxbox with some sort of panel for the last 10 years or so, since 0.9x anyway and it will run fine on a machine like that and is very configurable. Fbpanel if you want to use it will keep track of windows, has a pager and can be configured with shortcut icons. Otoh fluxbox comes with its own panel, which it calls a tool bar, for keeping track of windows. I currently have a dual core 3.4 gig chip and 4 gigs of ram and fluxbox is my window manger of choice, over xfce and kde etc just because its fast configurable and lets you make choices that the previously mentioned take away from you. Im running fluxbox as im typing this and looked at top to see how much resources it was using and couldnt find it in the list, but with a couple of terms and firefox open X is currently using only 24 M of resident memory.
EDIT: File managers are great resource wasters and in the environment you mentioned above, rox or pcmanfm would be good choices, both are light and fast.
I installed a friend's copy of PCLinuxOS LXDE over the weekend and was impressed with its speed and its overall looks. It will be a great replacement for my dad's original winXP machine which surprise surprise became painfully slow. Now I'm waiting to download Fedora 17 LXDE spin this week. I prefer RPM-based distro which I'm used to so it rules out the AntiX suggestion. I'm also interested in a full DE not just a WM like fluxbox.
I found 2 great resources: www.lxde.org and www.xfce.org and now I plan to install BOTH on Fedora 17 but concentrate on learning/configuring LXDE first. I like the fact it uses ~ 40MB with nothing open, the PCManFM (now I know about PCMan!), its light lean philosophy for each component, the recommended applications, and that it will be faster than Xfce. It's so great that we have so many choices with Linux. I hope to eventually install one of these lighter alternatives on my faster machines.
I would suggest antiX as craigevil did but, would suggest another IceWM based distro called ConnochaetOS - this is based on Arch Linux and I have a personal liking for the xxxterm webbrowser which it uses. The Fedora LXDE respin i tried a release or two ago was a disappointment for me as it used far more resources than most other LXDE distros out there at the time - perhaps it's lighter now.
Distribution: Fedora14,Scientific 6.1?, Mandriva 2010 ;GO MAGEIA!!!Next up Gentoo
Xfce is more configurable and Lxde uses less hardware resources. Xfce has a simple appearance which fosters the stereotype that it's meager when it is really as full featured as Gnome2 was. Lxde is on the simplistic side but it's always worked very well for me. I have had severe problems with Xfce on two installs (desktops) but on a third it works fine (a notebook). If I install it on another Desktop and I have problems it will be the last time.