Xfce is moving from IRC to Matrix

  • April 23, 2024
  • Alexander Schwinn

Apr 23,2024

Xfce is moving from IRC to Matrix

After a 6-month trial period, as of April 1, 2024, Xfce moved its official communication channels from IRC to Matrix.

The old IRC channels will remain open, so you can still hang out there. However, the 'official' channels linked in the Xfce Wiki now will be the Matrix channels.

This change affects the following channels:


In the past, it was possible to connect and idle on libera IRC channels via Matrix.org bridge. Using Matrix to connect is very convenient for several reasons:

  • When accessing IRC channels via Matrix bridge, it's not necessary to manage an IRC bouncer. Bridged Matrix channels retain messages that arrive while you are offline.
  • Chat history is synchronised across multiple devices by default. No special BNC setup is required.
  • Based on personal experience, the entry barrier for Matrix seems to be lower than for IRC.
  • On IRC, after answering a support question, you might realize that the person asking it went offline hours ago (no BNC used) and as such you wasted your time. Won't happen if the question was raised by a Matrix user.

As such, several people started connecting to the Xfce IRC channels via Matrix (including myself). However, on July 2023, the party was over. Libera.Chat decided to disable Matrix bridging and suggested to use so-called "channel plumbing" until further notice. I'm not sure about the technical details here, but in the end, "plumbing" did not work out for some reason. By November 2023 it became clear that bridging would not come back either.

Meanwhile, Xfce communication became fragmented. Some people dusted off their IRC bouncers and used them again, some used a private Matrix server setup (Heisenbridge was still functional) and some just stayed on the Matrix channels, which were no longer interconnected to the IRC channels.

In order to end that fragmentation and because of the above mentioned Matrix advantages, after 6 months of testing and adding some Matrix bots (real nice job Brian!), the Xfce team decided to prefer Matrix over IRC in the future and settle down there.

So, even if you are a hardcore Xfce IRC user, please install the Matrix client of your choice and give the shiny new (cough) possibilities offered by Matrix a try. Looking forward to see you in the Xfce Matrix channels!

An Estimate on the Total Number of Xfce Users

  • April 7, 2024
  • Alexander Schwinn

Apr 06,2024

An Estimate on the Total Number of Xfce Users

Recently, my wife asked me how many people in total actually use the software I develop in my free time (mostly thunar).

I never thought about that question, so I just made a wild guess. Based on the number of people I believed are active on the Xfce Matrix / IRC channels, I answered: "... maybe between 2000 and 10.000 people do use Xfce".

I know nobody can give exact numbers. It's all about package downloads, OS types reported by browsers, and other more or less biased data harvesting.

However, the question nagged me, so I searched for some more reliable numbers.

Ubuntu came to my mind. Since it collects some user-data, I thought it might be a good starting point for my investigation.

Via web search, I found out that there seem to be about 40 Million Ubuntu users.

According to this post, 15% of them use Xubuntu.

--> 6 million Xubuntu users (holy crap)

Further digging revealed that aproximately 33% of Linux desktop users use a Ubuntu based distro.

--> Approximately 120 million Linux desktop users in total

--> Considering a rather conservative estimate of 10% Xfce users on non-Ubuntu systems --> another 8 million installs

That would be approximately 14 million Xfce users. So many people do use the software I tinker with? /o\

Considered that estimate is more or less accurate, than why are the Xfce communication channels rather calm?

For example, we currently have around 6000 non-blocked accounts at gitlab.xfce.org. That would be roughly one in every 2000 users (0,043%) who create an account. Can that be true?

Since I was not sure if my numbers are reasonable, I asked for feedback in the Xfce forums.

The estimate seems to be mostly fine. On the question about the rather low percentage of people who get in contact via official Xfce communication channels, there are several guesses:

  • If users are looking for answers to Xfce related problems, most of them search/ask on Reddit, Stack Exchange, ChatGPT, etc., or in distro specific channels.
  • Xfce is a very stable DE. Many Xfce users probably don't try to get in contact because things just work fine for them.
  • Many people might just use software "as is" and don't even bother to ask for any advice.

I wanted to share this estimate with you, since for me, it was a surprise to see that such a huge number of people actually seem to use Xfce. Knowing so gives me even more motivation to further improve Xfce.