When comparing Xfce vs Pantheon, the Slant community recommends Xfce for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux desktop environments?” Xfce is ranked 1st while Pantheon is ranked 8th. The most important reason people chose Xfce is:
Not just helpful for older computers where few system resources are available, but also simply for those who want to get the most out of their systems.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Low system resource consumption
Pro Highly customizable
Xfce offers plenty of settings, and even things like theming XFWM is a simple task (it's just a handful of images.)
Many possible permutations of window colors, borders, fonts, etc. Compositing can make it look downright sexy.
Pro Works on a wide variety of platforms
Xfce can be installed on several UNIX platforms. It is known to compile on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc, and Alpha.
Pro Classic and familiar
Xfce works very much like the classic Gnome & Windows desktops, taskbars (panels) and desktop icons, letting you get your work done without being frustrated.
Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.
Pro Designed for productivity
It loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources.
Pro Rock solid stability
Xfce will never be the cause of your crash.
Pro A true UNIX Desktop Environment
Xfce adheres to the UNIX philosophy, which means it strives for being modular, minimal and expandable. This makes it very much customizable. You can make it as minimal as you want and as heavyweight as you want depending on the features and modules/plugins you use.
Pro Adheres to standards
A priority of Xfce is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org allowing for interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops. This interoperability is particularly significant for users looking to, e.g., run alternative window managers.
Pro Does what it's meant to do easily and efficiently
XFCE is a desktop environment first and foremost, it does not waste time being overly flashy or by being bloated with features.
Pro Best for newcomers
Any one new to Linux feels comfortable using it.
Pro Low resource usage combined with flexible configuration
Pro Window manager (XFWM) is a compositing WM by default
By having a compositing WM as the default WM makes way for a lot of visual tweaks and tricks that can and do make Xfce look great. You can adjust the transparency, shadows, borders, etc. and many other advanced tweaks are also available.
Pro Well defined Session Manager
Pro Easy to export or import configurations
Pro Simple, clean aesthetic
Nonintrusive and easy to overview workspace.
Pro Smooth, subtle animations
Nearly everything is animated, but it's not over the top.
Pantheon is light on system resources, giving it the advantage of being able run well on a multitude of setups.
Pro Splitting and animations
Switching between workspaces is fluid, pulling up the workspace preview bumps up the rest of the desktop, open windows show up on the switcher along with larger icons, and everything is subtly animated. You have two windows taking each half the screen by dragging to corners.
Pro Looks amazing
Looks absolutely amazing. Very nice to use. Amazing UX.
Pro Highly Modular
While built to be integrated, Pantheon is also highly modular. Shell components like the Panel, Dock, and app launcher can be swapped out with limited repercussions.
Pro Perfect for chromebook
It's light and easy.
Pro Slick, smooth desktop environment
Easy to use and easy to configure, there is almost nothing that the developers did not think of to creat a top-notch user experience.
Con No HiDPI support
Since Xfce is still based on GTK2 there is no HiDPI support (scaling UI elements).
Con Terrible project infrastructure
The whole project is split across various sites so contributing is really hard. You also need to register on every site separately.
Con Lacks modern design and effects
No support for transparency, effects in opening or closing a file browser, or other effects like cube or cylinder, unlike, say, KDE.
Con Screen tearing issues
The built-in compositor for Xfce does not handle VSync, meaning that it does not address screen tearing for those with Intel integrated graphics. A third party solution will have to be used for those that do want VSync such as using Nvidia proprietary drivers to handle VSync or installing a third party compositor such as Compton.
Con Looks dated
It just looks like a 20 year old desktop in its stock form. However, it is possible for you to to give it a more elegant look using themes, icons and other customizations.
Con Missing some basic functionality for a desktop environment
Xfce is missing essential functionality like a file-archiver or a polkit-client, so you have to find alternatives for those applications (eg: by stealing them from MATE or GNOME, however this adds additional dependencies that will bloat Xfce).
Con Looks ugly out of the box
Out of the box, Xfce is the one of the ugliest if not the ugliest DE out there. It definitely can become the most beautiful and gorgeous DE after a bit of tinkering and theming, but the default theme is not that good.
Con One pixel wide window borders
The non-configurable, one pixel wide window borders make resizing difficult. Work-arounds exist but those are clunky at best.
Con Lack of useful tools
Con Not a full DE
With a pure Xfce environment you cannot do as much as with Gnome or KDE.
Con Not good for different users' locales on one system
When you have users with different personal locales, XfcE has problems using the right locale for the right user.
Con Sessions cannot be disabled
There is a known bug where sessions keep getting saved involuntarily. So even when you try to clean your saved session it will be reproduced the next time you login.
Con Few configuration options
It is pretty bare-bones on a stock install, but further configuration options can be added through various official tweak tools.
Con Not ideal for enterprise environments
As it has no set release date, and no set support and/or EOL dates, that makes it a not so good choice for enterprises managing a number of machines where such dates are important to know before hand.
Con Too simple
Good for people who want a plug and play simple Desktop Environment. But for a multitasking / entertainment / cutting edge or Gaming Rig this is not the answer.
Con Not available for major Linux distributions
Con Slow maintenance
Any significant updates come with new release, which usually takes 2-3 years. Hence gets obsolete with current software.
Con Looks and feels like a Mac
Which may turn quite a few people off with the aesthetics, of course for some people, this is a pro.