You guessed wrong, I tried Xfce on Debian.
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Are there any resources that actually back Xfce's claim of being "light" in comparison to GNOME?
I tried Xfce several years ago and while it was nice and easy and all, I had the feeling that with a bit more memory I could just as well run GNOME with obvious benefits (feature-wise).
Today the situation is still the same IMHO. Sure, Xfce has probably a lot more features nowadays, but so does GNOME. I see the benefit in the GNOME framework: it's mature and stable, and more or less customizable. I guess it would be possible to strip out some GNOME services (e.g. desktop search) if memory is of concern. CPU usage shouldn't be an issue with GNOME (unless some background service runs, which again could be turned off if not wanted).
With that in mind: how does Xfce compare to [a minimalistic] GNOME regarding resource usage?
Note that I'm not a GNOME fanboy (I use a plain window manager), but right now it's the desktop environment I'd recommend to others.