The final release of the Xfce 4.6 desktop environment was supposed to come this month, but instead the first alpha release has finally come about. Xfce 4.4 was originally released in January of 2007, so it has been quite a while since this lightweight desktop environment has received a major update. This release though does introduce a fair number of changes, which we have covered in this article.
Xfce 4.6 introduces a new configuration system that is called xfconf and serves as a replacement to their MCS system. Xfconf is driven by D-Bus and was designed with GConf in mind but to be much simpler and easier to work with, according to the Xfce documentation. This xfconf configuration system brings an xfconfd daemon, xfsettingsd, libxfconf library, and xfconf-query. xfconf-query is similar to gconftool in that it's a command-line solution for querying and setting values with this configuration system. The GUI-based editor for the xfconf system is xfce4-settings-editor and is similar to gconf-editor.
In Xfce 4.6 there is also a replacement for mcs-manager. Xfce4-settings is the named replacement and it comes with several new settings dialogs and is compliant with the xfconf system. The new settings dialogs include xfce4-mouse-settings, xfce4-keyboard-settings, xfce4-appearance-settings, xfce4-accessibility-settings, and xfce4-display-settings. Also new is the xfce4-settings-manager and xfce4-settings-helper. Also new is xfce4-mixer, which is their new volume control application. Within Xfce 4.6 users can now support different sound systems simultaneously (such as ALSA, OSS, and PulseAudio) as well as manage multiple sound cards. The xfce4-mixer has been rewritten around the GStreamer 0.10 interface.