• Some thoughts on Desktop Environments


    I’m not a developer neither an advanced Linux user and these are just my opinions at the moment, they might change in the future and might not make sense to everyone, this is from a user perspective:

    Cinnamon
    Easy to use, some nice features, it’s a bit heavy if your computer is old. Never used for enough time to see if there are many bugs or not, so I won’t comment.

    GNOME
    Very simple and easy to use, anyone that has used a smartphone before will know how to use it. You can even use with touchscreen, something that will be more common in the next years because of convertible laptops.

    Removing features(like task bar and desktop icons) and replacing them with extensions have the advantage of less things breaking(bugs) for the average user and focusing more in the rest of the DE. Most people will not bother installing extensions because they usually stick to defaults. Sadly a lot of extensions are not updated and some don’t work.

    Animations are still a bit slow and stutter for older computers, they will probably fix this in the next years. It’s a bit heavy(~1GB RAM) but in 5-10 years almost every computer will be able to run it with no problems because old hardware with 2 GB RAM or less and simple CPUs will break at some point.

    KDE
    Tons of features and customizations possible, not recommended for beginners, it’s not for everyone(some people like, some people don’t). It was heavy but now it uses something like 400 MB RAM idle, it has improved a lot.

    The main issues: bugs and GTK apps(KDE uses Qt). I was using 5.12.x recently and KDE has improved a lot, they are doing a great job. As more people use it, the bugs will become less frequent and less serious, more eyes = less bugs.

    LXDE/LXQt
    Very light but kinda ugly and not enough features. The whole discussion about RAM/CPU will be pointless in 10 years from now because almost all computers will have at least 4 GB, even a Raspberry Pi has 1 GB RAM now and almost 1,5 Ghz. I don’t see the point of using them right now, only if you have a very old computer with like 10 years old or want extreme performance on a new computer. In the future very lightweight systems will not make much sense.

    MATE
    Promising, but too new yet, I feel it’s not ready yet, but they are improving fast, it’s light and has interesting customization options. MATE Tweak makes it easy to emulate other Desktop Environments.

    Budgie/Pantheon/Deepin
    Too new(something like 5 years or less), I think they still need a few years of development and honestly I don’t see the point of using them right now.

    Xfce
    It’s light and it works, but doesn’t has lots of features and has a slow development. I hope I’m wrong(because I like Xfce) but I think the project will not be maintained in 10 years from now, I think maybe MATE will replace Xfce at some point as it gets better.

    So, the 3 best DEs in my opinion right now, for me and probably for most average users and beginners(alphabetical order):

    • Cinnamon
    • GNOME
    • KDE

    Important: if you want to test other Desktop Environments, the easiest way is to use a virtual machine with softwares like GNOME Boxes, VirtualBox and similar ones. Another good advice is to search and see some images(screenshots), videos, blogs and podcasts before installing them.

  • XFCE development is slow, but steady, they are planning to make the system wayland compatible in the future. So their noses are heading to the future.

  • I’m using Xfce on all of my machines because it is stable and light. And it has all the features that I need.

    Mostly I use applications, not the DE. And I use applications from other DEs, too, if they are better than Xfce counterpart.

  • Almost all the Linux talks around the web usually are: Desktop Environments, window managers and distros. Looks like there aren’t many good opensource apps, a few bad email clients, bad office apps, bad backup tools, few opensource games, maybe less than 10 are playable, I’ve tested tens of them and sadly almost all are really bad.

    Developers should focus more on apps, but instead they seem to prefer creating more distros and more DEs. Reinventing the wheel over and over… I don’t get it, this way Linux will remain a small club.

  • @ssspacez
    I feel that you just have a bad day today.
    Tomorrow everything probably looks much better. :)

  • I use Gnome because I like it. I wish it wasn’t such a RAM hog, but I like how it works. I’ve also used Xfce, and I can pretty much make it do what Gnome does, but try as I might I cannot get the video to keep from tearing. Compton was the best choice, but it still had some problems. I love the thinking behind Deepin (a lot!), but configuring it for me was a problem. I couldn’t get what I wanted, but maybe in the future? It’s a beautiful DE!!! I’ve tried MATE, and I’m not sold on it. It’s okay. I do like Cinnamon, but if I’m going to use the same amount of RAM, then I’ll stick with Gnome. I’ve tried the others, too. All have their strengths.

    The reason I have stuck with Gnome is due to application integration for one thing; they just look and seem to run right. And, even though I’ve spent most of the last five years forced to run Windows at work, I’m still a big Mac OS fan from way back (My first experience was with an Apple II, my last was Mac OS X about six year ago.) I like that kind of environment, and Gnome can give it to me. I’ll sacrifice a little more RAM to run it. I use Dash to Panel and TopIcons Plus, and I don’t use a dock. I don’t like dock’s. So what I use is a bit like a cross between Mac and Windows. I don’t use a Mac OS theme, either.

    These are the reasons I absolutely love LInux! You have a choice in what you can use. You can try, remove and start with something new, and if you don’t like it go back to what you used before. It doesn’t take all day to reinstall and add updates (Windows!!!), and the software is very much up-to-date if you use a distro like Antergos.

    Sorry about being long-winded about this. I’m kind of particular about what I like, as most people are.
    0_1521907397024_Screenshot from 2018-03-24 11-00-36.png

  • @adam-worth

    I like GNOME, if they fix a few things it will be great. Some people are saying now that GNOME has a memory leak bug… now that makes sense. I was using it the other day and decided to check the system monitor and it was using 2.5 GB of RAM already and I wasn’t doing anything special, just watching some videos, checking websites, files, music, regular stuff.
    The workaround: restarting the shell with Alt+F2, type ‘r’ letter and Enter, it seems that this workaround only works with Xorg, if you are using Wayland it won’t work. But even just after boot GNOME uses a lot of resources, it’s very strange, apparently KDE manages CPU/RAM better.

    Bugs related to the memory leak:

  • I read that too and as an experiment I installed KDE and I was surprised how much less KDE uses on CPU/RAM in comparison with Gnome. I’ve used KDE before, but I was always under the impression that KDE was heavy on resources.
    I will use it for the next two weeks, before I decide if I’m going to keep it on my workmachine or return to Gnome.

  • Hi @bryanpwo. I’ve read that report as well. As much as I liked KDE when I tried it, the whole KDE/GTK thing was a mess for my liking. I prefer the close/max/min buttons on the left for all apps. I like the apps to all pretty much appear the same way. I’ve tried the work-arounds to get GTK to look good in KDE, and they look better, but then I boot up the next day and everything’s weird. KDE title bars on top of GTK title bars.

    Other than that, KDE is sexy!

  • That is a point I also don’t like in KDE, but my machine feels snappier and recently in Gnome multi tasking was a bit laggy from time to time. I really have to take KDE on a serious spin next week, before I give my final conclusion.

  • @bryanpwo, I’ll be interested in hearing your results.

  • I’ll give an update over here.

  • @adam-worth

    I prefer the close/max/min buttons on the left for all apps.

    Go to configurations > applications style > windows decorations > buttons tab > drag and drop each button from the right side to the left

    0_1521920338126_kde.png

    It might be a bit tricky to do this, but it works.

  • @ssspacez

    Thanks. I’ve seen this, but how to get Gnome apps to follow the same behavior, and more importantly; how to get them to stick? ;-)

  • @Adam-Worth
    To be honest, I didn’t run into that problem with gtk apps. It doesn’t take any other KDE skin better than Breeze, so I sticked with that and everything looks and stays the same every time I boot up. But I think you refer to Pamac, because that one is the odd one that doesn’t take change well.

  • @bryanpwo True, Pacman was one, but so does Geary Email. I use that all the time.

  • By the way, I just installed KDE dual-boot to work on this. Luckily, I have the time today. :-)

  • Good luck, try to download the Arc Dark theme (desktop and windowbars), if your into the dark the themes. I lve that one, but it doesn’t combine with the gtk look.

  • Okey-Doke. Here’s some information for GTK integration with KDE.

    1st, use the following to install some helpers to give GTK apps a shadow and a “look” that will go along with KDE better:

    yaourt -S aur/gtk3-nocsd-git aur/lib32-libgtk3-nocsd-git

    Log out, and then log back in.

    2nd, you’ll also need to go into Settings->Application Style->Window Decorations and click on the little settings icon in the lower left of the decorations you’re using (in my case, Breeze). When the new window opens, click on the last tab, Window-Specific Overrides. Have the app you want to change (like Pacman) open. Click the +Add button and a new window opens (hope I’m not losing anyone, yet). Click on the “Detect Window Properties” and your cursor turns into a “+”. Click it on Pacman. In the Decorator Options panel at the bottom, click the first box Border Size: and in the drop down menu to the right select “No Border”. Also, click the “Hide window title bar” selection. Click OK which closes that window, and click “Apply” followed by “OK” in the previous window. Close Pacman. Make sure you have Gnome Application Style (GTK) set to the theme you want, and start Pacman back up again. Your windows should look like KDE styles, now. I’m not going to care about moving the buttons to the left for just a couple of apps as KDE moves every other close/max/min buttons over to where I want them.

    And, O M G!!! Nearly a whole GB less RAM being used in KDE?!?!?

    I hope everything else works!

    HTH

  • Thank you for that instruction, it was very clear! (Well what else could you expect from a writer)
    A little side-note: This only works with the default decorations, with downloaded themes you don’t have that option.

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