The first impression Xfe gave me was of a solid, full-featured, powerful and good-looking file manager. I have to admit, I was really impressed by this application, and I've never used it before. Since I'm a KDE guy, my file manager of choice was always Konqueror and I was never able to get used to Nautilus, Krusader, Thunar or ROX-Filer. But Xfe is a completely new and pleasant experience. Let me tell you what I've found so nice about it...
Xfe usual interface using the GNOME2 theme
First, it supports many themes and allows you to change the interface fonts from within the Preferences window. It looks very solid, and each item, menu or icon seems to be just in the right place, making it an intuitive and easy to use interface. Xfe is built using the FOX toolkit, which is a light toolkit for developing graphical interfaces written in C++. Basically, Xfe as default comes with a tree-view tab to the left and the browsing section in the rest of the area, making it easy to navigate throught the directory structure.
Xfe comes with several nice default themes
According to the official website, Xfe (which stands for X File Explorer) "aims to be the file manager of choice for all light thinking Unix addicts", it is also lighter than other 'heavier' file managers, and comes with an impressive amount of features, from which I'll only review a few here (read about the main features here).
You can hide toolbars which you don't want in order to make the interface even more simple, change the size of icons, sort files and directories by name, type (or even extension), size or modification time. Even thumbail previews for image files are available. I tried it for JPG and PNG, but it doesn't show previews for SVG files.
I must say, there is something about Xfe which just makes it feel right and logic. I'm not sure whether it's the fact that everything seems to be logically put in place, or the clean interface, or the way it handles file management, but it seems pretty nice to me. It has integrated 'Add to Archive' service menu, allows file filters, easy and intuitive 'Open with...' menu. You can find all the key bindings in the help file coming with the package.
The Properties dialogue
I wasn't able to find a shortcut for the location bar though (CTRL+L doesn't seem to work).
Xfe also comes with integrated text editor (Xfw - X File Write) text viewer (Xfv - X File View) and image viewer (Xfi - X File Image) and DEB/RPM package viewer, installer and uninstaller. Very useful for those who prefer to install packages in a graphical way.
Two panels mode - you can set different settings for each of them
It provides shortcuts for several view modes, like one panel mode, tree view and one panel, two panels, tree and two panels, but they didn't work in KDE (tested in KDE 3.5.9), probably because of the way KDE handles shortcuts. Also, Xfe is a little slow when thumbnail mode is on and there are many image files in the current directory.
In my opinion, Xfe is just awesome. If you never tried it until now, you really should take it for a spin, no matter what desktop environment you are using. Themes will make it fit well in any of them, it's fast, it provides powerful enough features, it has a great clean and intuitive interface, and in my opinion it's the simplest to learn from all the file managers I tried up to date. A great piece by all means, which can surprisingly become the file manager of choice after one single try.