Desktop Environments (peaceful please!)

I thought I’d start a new topic as our conversation on Desktop Environments was getting interesting.

There is always a lot of debate about which DE is better and why people should use particular ones but as is anything in Linux it is down to personal preference.

I have always used Gnome, it was the one I prefered when I first started using Linux. I have never really liked KDE for some unknown reason. Since the release of Gnome3 though I have had to have a change. I tried Gnome3 for a few weeks but couldn’t get use to it. I’ve since moved onto XFCE, as well as changing distros from Fedora to Arch.

Others I have dabbled in are Enlightenment, Unity and I’ve even gone ‘barebones’ and tried window managers such as Ratpoison, wmii and awesome. Great fun and makes everyone look at you like some sort of computer god :stuck_out_tongue:

So with that started…

What is your favourite DE and why?

What others have you tried and liked or disliked?

What would you recommend other people try that they might not of?

Again I would just like to say that everything is PERSONAL preference so please don’t go starting a pi**ing contest. >:(

Hard to say really. My favourite DE was Gnome 2, but when Ubuntu changed to Unity I really didn’t like it all too much. The launcher was too big, it wouldn’t hide when I wanted it too, etc, but of course it was very premature then and pretty unstable as well.

I was really thinking about changing to Gnome 3, but things on that side weren’t much better either so I decided to stick it out, and just see how development would grow over the coming weeks. I’m still on Natty, using Unity and I love it now. Ever since things like “My Unity” and Unity tweakers a like have been developed it’s just made Unity a lot easier to put my own personal touch on too.

I’ve tried other DE’s like LXDE, KDE, and Pantheon. I like LXDE a lot, and I’m going to make the move to Peppermint since I’m feeling that little bit braver from moving from full Ubuntu, to something a little more lighter, and challenging.

I really don’t like KDE, it’s to nostalgic to Windows for me, and the whole purpose of moving from Windows to Linux for me, was to break away from the whole kind of Windows feel.

Others, like beginners may find KDE to be a lot easier to use since it’s got the Windows feel to it.

It depends what you want it for …

For ease of use (read lots of GUI tools) and maturity, and the added benefit of a ton of file manager (Nautilus) plugins … Gnome (2.x or 3)

I Know what you mean about Gnome 3, it’s a major departure from Gnome 2.x as far as UI goes, and at first I slagged it off badly, but I figured (like KDE4) it wasn’t fully mature when it was released and would only get better once all the older Nautilus plugins were ported/rewritten, the bugs were removed, and they added some features that appeared to be missing … so I thought I’d give it a chance to grow on me, and IT HAS, I now love it … though it’s still not perfect, it’s slowly getting there.

Unity … what a god awful DE, not only is the layout all wrong (with the launcher sliding out when you accidentally move the cursor to the edge of the page amongst other things) … but it’s damn ugly too.

KDE4 … hate it … it’s pretty, but that’s about it … I also had bad experiences with 4.2 on openSUSE with a disappearing HPLIP toolbox icon (system tray) that I never managed to solve and left me unable to print. … Like Gnome 3 it has no doubt matured a lot since 4.2, but it put me off.

KDE 3 … great desktop, I just felt more at home in Gnome 2.x

Enlightenment … Hmm, don’t quite know what I thought of that … I didn’t give it long enough, but aybe that says something in it’s own right ???

XFCE … well it’s probably a very good DE, but the Xubuntu (11.10) implementation was terrible and I haven’t gotten round to trying it in anger on anything else … but I intend to at some point.

LXDE … love it, and consider it the best of the lighter DE’s in as far as I’ve tested the others, which probably isn’t enough.

So for me … for now … Gnome and LXDE :slight_smile:

I’ve only experienced a couple, first i’d like to say I didn’t realize that there were different desktops environments, i thought what came on the screen was dependent on the software. but i’m learning quickly.
I was on Linpus lite which i think was XFCE.
Now on peppermint two and LXDE which is lightening fast and does everything " I " require,
so I’m sticking with that for now,

Linpus lite (as installed one the Acer Aspire One netbook) does indeed use the XFCE desktop, but it a heavily customised version that has been “dumbed down” … though it IS possible to enable “advanced mode” which will give you a more “normal” XFCE user interface.

Not really worth it though, as Linpus Lite is based on Fedora core 8 which is very old and has reached “end of life”, so hasn’t been receiving any updates for some time.

You’re much better off (as you allude) with PeppermintOS and LXDE, which IMHO fits the AA1 like a glove :slight_smile:

I guess my point is … Linpus Lite doesn’t show the XFCE desktop at its best … but that’s a fault with Linpus Lite, not XFCE.

This thread could get quite popular.
Here is my take on this:
This is very subjective and would say horses for courses.


KDE4 (‘4.8’) 8)
It seems natural to use, everything is accessible, you can tweak to your heart’s content.
I use it on my lappy mainly for coding in QT.
Bit heavy on resources on start up, after that it is almost as quick as XFCE (desktop effects disabled)

Although I started out with Ubuntu Gnome2 (6.06), since then this DE has grown on me.
Shame that it is at the end of the road.

After the suprise attack of the Gnome3 upgrades I decided to try out XFCE and I am well impressed.
It is a fully functional replacement for Gnome2, does everything a DE should do
and with a lot less demand on the resources.
I use this on my desktop for general computing.

Tried couple of times, although pretty and functional it is not on top
of my low resource DE list.

Currently trialling (Bodhi) on my AA1 and must say that I am quite impressed with it.
It is pretty and light. Come across some glitches though.

This is my favourite of the lightweight DE’s
(were running Crunchbang OB for 12 months without a hitch on my AA1)
At idle it was using only 56 Mib ram, awsome.


Tried it (as a live CD) and could not get my head around it at all.

Gnome3 Shell
Bit more promising, tried it with Fedora (as a live CD) and as a suprise update
with Mint LMDE. I can see that it has some potential, but it is not for me.
Holding out for Mint with Cinnamon pre-installed.

To watch out for
Had a little play with Razor-qt
and I like what it offers already. Waiting to mature a bit then will have a go.

@Sezo - That looks interesting, I will have to check it out at some point.

As I said at the start I’ve just started using Gnome3 for the second time on my laptop (Mint12). I can understand why some people like it but I’m still not convinced. The lack of customisation is one of the things I don’t like. The is probably a way around this I just haven’t looked for it yet.

I also am getting annoyed at the way the menu comes up when you move the mouse to the corner of the screen. I like the ‘Win’ button aspect but sometimes I might slide the mouse into the corner of the screen and get the menu. Again there is probably a way to turn this off but it’s still annoying.

I’ve also noticed that when you have mulitple desktops there is always an empty desktop. As soon as you go to it and open an application it creates another empty desktop. Is there a particular reason for that, or is it just a ‘new desktop’ button so to speak.

I am going to have to try LXDE at some point as a few people are recommending it. See how it stacks up against XFCE.

I quite like the top left corner thing in Gnome3, but maybe that’s just because it’s a huge improvement over Unity sliding out the “Launcher” whenever you go anywhere near the left of screen.

I always assumed the extra desktop was there as a “here’s another, just in case you decide you want one” affair … so yeh, could be considered a “new desktop” button … can’t say I’ve seen it as a problem.

Customisability … as with Gnome2.x this isn’t really a “function” of the desktop as such (at least in the devs eyes) and s left to third party plugins (gnome tweak) and themes, more of which are appearing all the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Gnome 3 is necessarily an improvement on Gnome 2.x … I’d say there’s actually little in it between the two … but it’s a HUGE improvement on Unity.

I don’t think Linux desktops are inherently more customisable (at least by design) than Windows or OSX … they “become” that way after plugins appear that then get absorbed into the DE … the difference is that in the Linux world, if these plugins are good and add something to the desktop, they start to get bundled as part of it … but that also means it takes time for that to happen, so DE’s “mature” … In Linux “mature” doesn’t just mean bug fixes :slight_smile:

It took me about 2 weeks of using Gnome 3 (shell) before I got to the point where I started to think “hmm, not sure I’d go back to Gnome 2 now” … and another 2 weeks before I added “definitely not going back” to that thought … it’s a slow process, but it does grow on you.

I suppose the choices are - see if you can embrace the changes, look for another DE that feels familiar, or try one of the forked projects like Cinnamon … I’m not convinced by the latter, didn’t someone fork KDE3 when everyone moaned about KDE4, yet IIRC it failed because people became “used to” KDE4, indeed most of the people that originally moaned now sing KDE4’s praises and wouldn’t go back.

OK, I’ll shut up now.

I am going to give Gnome3 the benefit of the doubt and try it for a few months. I understand it takes time to mature and when I get chance I will sit down and have a proper play with it.

It’s been said many times but the good thing with Linux is you can try something and if you don’t like it you can change! I’d hate to be one of those poor suckers using Win7 and not being able to change how it works… :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s what I found odd about KDE4 and Gnome3 …

Linux users tend to go through an 18 month “evangelist” period after swapping from Windows (me included) where they find it difficult to NOT extol the virtues of Linux … we all said things to our Windows using friends like “sure it’s different, and there’s a certain learning curve involved, but don’t be afraid of the change … you’ll be glad you did”.

(I’m guessing you can already see where I’m going with this :wink: )

Yet when KDE4 and Gnome3 appeared, those same people (again, me included) said “whoa, to big of a change, I don’t like that” and immediately went off in search of a more familiar DE … though they normally “come round” to the new versions (usually when the older versions have completely disappeared) then start singing their praises.

Seems even us Linux users are change averse … now I’m not saying “change for the sake of it” is a good thing, but there was good reason the code was re-written, it had become a tangled mess … they just included some changes that they would have “liked” to include in the earlier versions but couldn’t without tangling the code even more.
(I’m not a coder, but can see how all the things that got added to and patched in Gnome 2 or KDE3 would have left them patching patches to apply any new functionality)

The plugins/themes/bug fixes/third party utlls/etc. will follow … as I said it didn’t take long for KDE4 to become as loved as KDE3, the same will happen with Gnome3 … JUST GIVE IT A CHANCE, and a little time to mature.

Non of the above suggests you “have to” like KDE4 or Gnome3 … but too many Linux users seemed to slag them off just for changing … which kind of goes against the grain a little.

I’m a bit out of my depth here - as usual.
Like Banko; I had no idea that so many DEs were available to try.
I’m running Ubuntu V11.10 and the Unity DE came as a disappointment after 10.04. I like plain menus rather than icons, and Mark showed me how to install “Classic - no effects” in the log-in list of DEs. It’s perfect for me - very intuitive as the words say what they mean, unlike the increasingly bizarre icons.
As for the menus appearing when one hovers over “Applications”, for example: it doesn’t happen on my set-up.
Minimalism rules OK. For me, anyway.