User Poll - XFCE vs KDE - KDE Deprecation Considered!

Community Poll: Deprecate KDE in favor of XFCE in Non-Qubes-Whonix?

The Whonix team is interested in polling the community’s preferred desktop environment.

  • Whonix KDE
  • Whonix XFCE

0 voters

Why consider changing?

Whonix bundled with an XFCE desktop environment is in development. This raises some questions:

  • Do users generally prefer the KDE desktop environment over XFCE (or vice-versa)?
  • When a Whonix XFCE variant becomes available, will users continue using KDE in Whonix or make the shift?

Whonix developers are strongly considering making XFCE the default for future Non-Qubes-Whonix default version downloads.
If this decision is made, it is unclear whether Whonix with KDE will continue to be supported.

  • Until Whonix ports its base from Debian stretch to Debian buster, Whonix with KDE should remain available.
  • The decision whether to invest developer effort in Whonix KDE for Debian buster is dependent on the estimate of user demand.
  • It is expected users will be given an option to upgrade in place from Whonix KDE to Whonix XFCE.

Please vote for your preferred choice of desktop environment!

Non-Qubes-Whonix vs Qubes-Whonix

  • This announcement mostly concerns Non-Qubes-Whonix.
  • Qubes-Whonix is largely unaffected because Qubes’ desktop environment choice (XFCE vs KDE) relies on dom0. Qubes-Whonix default applications will most likely change from KDE to those associated with XFCE; to learn how Qubes-Whonix is affected see this mailing list thread.

What about Gnome, LXDE, Cinnamon, MATE, Unity, or others?


Why prefer XFCE over other options?


  • A contributor is available: Whonix XFCE (and Whonix CLI) was contributed by @Algernon.
  • Whonix lead developer @Patrick is familiar with XFCE since it is the default desktop environment of Qubes OS.
  • XFCE is fast and has low system resource (RAM) requirements, making it suitable for VMs.
  • No crashes have been experienced.

Whonix CLI (command line interface only)

This will become available in the future as an optional download, without a graphical user interface (GUI).

At present there is only a non-qubes-whonix-gateway-cli and non-qubes-whonix-workstation-cli meta package. Limited information is available, but search the forums / internet for further details and stay tuned for developments.

Now available:


@Algernon Thank you so much for working on XFCE! I used to run XFCE in older versions of Whonix (11 maybe?), but when I upgraded the documentation said that the terminal-only build that I had used before was not working anymore, so I had to use KDE. XFCE had run smooth as butter, but the KDE build is insanely slow (and KDE default apps are so much worse than XFCE ones). So happy to see progress on XFCE!


I am converted. I have seen the light - vote changed to XFCE.

Though KDE has some nice eye candy I am increasingly frustrated by resource use. The Workstation VM locks up if I open more than 3 tabs in Tor Browser. Tor Browser frequently crashes because it runs out of memory causing me to lose data.

A big thanks to @Algernon for working on this. I appreciate your many great contributions.


If one thing is true, Whonix developers are modest and don’t blow their own horn.

Algernon also busted his balls on Whonix Live, so that should be acknowledged.


I would love to see Whonix move to XFCE! The only reason I interact with KDE at all is because of Whonix’s current implementation of it – all my other Linux desktop environments are either XFCE, LXDE, or Mate. Totally agree with @HulaHoop on resource usage. Can’t stand Gnome either, for what it’s worth. Thanks for all your work Whonix team!


I’ve had considerably more time using Whonix KDE but for the better part of a week I’ve been on Whonix XFCE (using my same headless KDE Gateway) and have had zero issues with macOS and Manjaro hosts. At home I have a powerful i7 machine with 64GB RAM and the performance difference is negligible but at work on i3/4GB the difference is noticeable.

I suspect the vast majority of users wont dislike the change and the handful of KDE fanatics won’t be numerous enough to justify the effort involved to maintain a KDE version. I am biased though, since I started using Whonix I wondered to myself why KDE was chosen over a lighter weight environment when it is designed to be a VM.

Kudos on a job well done XFCE team.


I read that work and tests on xfce are still in progress when we can roughly expect a stable version ready for work? I wish you good luck in this project.

Faster if you help.

New XFCE testers-only version probably coming today. Stay tuned in
Whonix news forums.

1 Like

I think one should be enough for future Whonix versions. I was never in love with KDE. My preference though will be based on the following points, before visual considerations, resources consumed and applications:

  • Any difference in security considerations between the two? more chances for potential holes, frequency of updates etc?
  • When considering Whonix 15 (on Debian Buster?), is there a difference in expected release time between the KDE / XFCE?
  • Easier or harder testing and development for Whonix team on either?

@Patrick xfce already considered , better to close this subject+voting.

security holes not sure there is much of differences between the two , but its well known that KDE is always on the updating track and want to get things modernized and graphical which will consumes more resources + dependencies + updates.

no more KDE version for whonix virtualbox and qubes. but for KVM that depends on the progress of @HulaHoop.

as we have @Algernon whos the main maintainer and the inspiration of xfce to whonix + @Patrick for core development both agreed on xfce , and xfce has less dependencies so xfce is much easier.

security not much difference.

Misc fewer privacy and usability in XFCE issues.

Hard to predict but likely XFCE version will require less development time.
No more KDE version most likely.

XFCE far easier.

I support moving away from KDE, and that’s coming from a long-time KDE fan.

There’s a couple of reasons for this:

  • KDE includes a lot of overweight stuff that isn’t really relevant.
  • I think the shell for XFCE makes a lot more sense in a VM. (launcher at bottom etc)
  • I moved away from KDE some time ago and have been using i3wm for ages now on Qubes and have found it a lot more stable. I’m not suggesting to use i3wm in Whonix though you could easily install it if you wanted. Eyecandy is overrated and it gets old fast. Having something that works quick and with a lot of stability never gets old.
  • I borrow a lot of things from XFCE like Thunar. I agree it’s certainly a more mature environment something which would benefit Whonix because that isn’t the distribution’s focus.
  • The new version of XFCE (4.14) will have pretty much everything I want out of it, HiDPI GTK+ 3 etc.
  • I suspect the surface area of XFCE might be considerbly less.

what do you think of the Enlightenment Desktop? It was designed from the ground up for devices with low computing power and can function with all KDE/GNOME software.

Enlightenment has a lot of very special stuff EFL, ESD etc. I don’t really think it’s that much better on memory either. Yes that’s from 2014 but I doubt it uses less now than it did back then. A more current benchtest. It’s actually really hard to find any tests for Enlightenment because it’s not very popular (ie very few distributions have media that includes it.)

You are going to have problems with it you won’t have with XFCE :wink: due to the specialized nature of it.

I think XFCE makes more sense as ‘complete package’. It also helps that it doesn’t have releases all the time either. I think XFCE is also a better option as it’s officially supported by Debian’s live-cd project whereas Enlightenment is not. I also don’t think Cinnamon is nearly stable enough having tried that.

As for KDE, well it may look great, but that comes at the cost of resources and disk space 2.2GB for GNOME 2.4GB for KDE and 1.8 for XFCE. Both of these things are at odds with the aim of Whonix.


This was done. Ported from KDE to Xfce.
Whonix KDE was deprecated.

Quote Whonix 15 has been Released

So whonix used to run on KDE? I am surprised to hear this. Ive used KDE and its really the outlier when it comes to transitioning between various desktops. Its a heavier package overall with lots of fluff a far cry from whonix xfce - which is even slimed down from a typical debian xfce distro. Seems like whonix went from one extreme to the other. Much better where it is now IMO.

Yes, KDE was the default desktop environment of Whonix VMs. Nowadays Xfce.