When comparing Xfce vs KDE Plasma, the Slant community recommends Xfce for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux desktop environments?” Xfce is ranked 1st while KDE Plasma is ranked 19th. The most important reason people chose Xfce is:
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](http://xfce-look.org/).
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
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 Low system resource consumption
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 Has a file manager that provides a good balance between power and simplicity
Included file manager provides several icon, list and detail views to choose from along with features such as tabs, bookmarks, tagging, previews and metadata, network file access, bluetooth file transfers to/from devices and excellent removable storage integration while remaining fast and easy to use.
Pro Looks beautiful
The design of the three built-in desktop themes; Air, Breeze, and Oxygen, are very beautiful to some.
Pro KDE is an evolution on the classic desktop model
KDE 4 is a great evolution on the classic Win95/Gnome/XFCE approach. It's moving in innovative directions while respecting the classic metaphors.
Pro Adheres to standards
Standards adherence allows for interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops, with similar Wayland support being worked on. Applications not written with Plasma in mind work very well in Plasma as a result. The development team has also been instrumental in standard creation and adoption such as NETWM, X11 clipboard, icon themes, mimetype handling, application menu standardization, system tray protocols and notifications and more.
Pro Comes with a suite of powerful applications
Plasma Desktop generally comes packaged with a full set of applications to get users started, including a file manager (Dolphin), advanced file manager and browser (Konqueror), image and document viewers (Gwenview, Okular), the Calligra office suite, CD and DVD authoring (K3b) and dozens more. The desktop can be installed and used without these applications, but they add significant value for many people.
Pro Highly flexible
There are many customization options and possibilities to tweak the desktop, including widgets.
Pro Integrated advanced search
Plasma Desktop comes with an integration search system that makes it easy to find local files, emails, contacts, events and more. The file manager supports tagging and rating files as well as full-content searching and the KRunner command window and the Milou desktop widget makes searching for files, emails, applications and other content by name, subject, category, tag, fulltext, etc. very simple. It does this with essentially no noticeable interference with day-to-day usage of the computer, thanks to the scheduling built into the backend system (Baloo).
Pro Bunch of coherent applications
What make plasma so nice is the galaxy of apps, sharing same look and feel, configuration and behaviour.
Pro Keyboard friendly
Nearly all actions can be driven with keyboard commands. Window management, including effects such as desktop overviews, can be triggered with a keyboard control (or mouse gesture) and some even support filtering results (such as windows shown) by typing. The KRunner tool (default keybinding: Alt+F2 or Alt+Space) provides searching local files, online sources, unit conversions, math and more all from a keyboard driven interface.
Pro Multi-device "convergence"
Plasma Desktop provides seamless "zero config" integration of your Android device with your laptop and desktop machines via KDE Connect. Phone calls, SMS messages, cross-device copy and paste, media remote control, cursor control and more are supported.
The technology that Plasma Desktop is built on, simply called "Plasma", also provides interfaces for phones, tablets, netbooks, and media centers in addition to the desktop. These additional interfaces use the same underlying frameworks and therefore work well together and have a unified feel to them. They also support a common set of applications across them which adapt to the input methods and screen sizes.
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 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 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 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 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 Lack of useful tools
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 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 Gtk 2
Con HiDPI support is spotty
The log in screen as well as some other components of the OS do not scale properly under HIDPI. Everything in the log in screen will be displayed too small, as well as some areas of the OS.
Con Stability problems
Under certain conditions, most of KDE's components can be highly sensitive to race conditions, which leads to KDE applications frequently crashing, and, on rare occasion, kdeinit itself locking up.
Con Perceived clunkyness and slowness
Compared to other options, KDE is still perceived slow. Especially, the desktop takes a few seconds to login.
Mouse pointer can feel sluggish, or laggy, on older systems