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Which desktop environment, and why?

patarapolw profile image Pacharapol Withayasakpunt ・1 min read

I also asked about distro LINEAGE in another post.

Discussion (25)

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ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

XFCE. It’s simple, configurable, and most importantly, efficient. The only other desktop environment I ever liked enough to actually use is Cinnamon, but I can’t get that on Gentoo anymore (it got dropped from Portage due to a general lack of maintainership).

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt Author

What was your review of Gentoo Linux?

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ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

I’m personally rather fond of Gentoo for a couple of very specific reasons:

  • The performance gains from using code optimized for the specific CPU micro-architecture of the local system, while not huge (usually not more than single digit percent improvements over generic builds of the same code), are somewhat significant for my typical usage.
  • The customizability that Gentoo allows for is huge for me, both because it lets me keep attack surface as minimal as possible by not enabling functionality I don’t need, and because it allows me to make use of features which are not readily available in more mainstream distros because the distro maintainers either don’t see them as worth worrying about, or don0t feel that they’re stable enough to let users use them.
  • I find Portage a lot easier to work with when dealing with custom packages (which I do work with on a semi-regular basis) than most other options. Building a custom DEB or RPM is tedious, a custom APK for Alpine is a serious pain in the arse, and while Arch is not horrible it’s still not great. On Gentoo though, a custom package amounts to maybe a dozen lines of shell script in the right directory layout.
  • Gentoo is also one of the few distros that gives you near complete flexibility with the storage stack. This is big for me because I’m a bit obsessive about reliability and maintainability of persistent storage in my systems (to the point of ensuring I can do live, online storage device replacements without any downtime and without any need to boot into a separate OS).

The downsides are a lot more general though:

  • Installation is pretty much entirely DIY. For most people this is a major hurdle because they’re used to dealing with much more actively guided installation processes, but it can also, ironically, be a good thing, because it means that you can put together a Gentoo system without needing to actually do it on the system you are putting together without much difficulty compared to Fedora or Debian (this is wonderful when working with VMs or systems that need to use a network filesystem for their root filesystem).
  • Regular day-to-day management of Gentoo systems is a bit more involved and a lot more technical than most other Linux distros. You pretty much have to understand how each part of your system works, at least at a conceptual level, to be able to manage it, unlike distros like Ubuntu or Mint which try to hide all of this from the user as much as possible.
  • Updates can take a very long time, especially if you only do them infrequently, and tend to use a lot of system resources compared to most other distros. Gentoo builds almost everything locally unless you go out of your way to set up a binary package host (but even then you have to build everything somewhere), so you have to deal with compile times and the overhead associated with building software (which can be quite bad at times, WebKit for example takes about 45 minutes to build even on a very fast system, and LibreOffice and LLVM are even worse). This in particular is the primary reason I don’t use Gentoo literally everywhere, as I have some systems that either lack the processing power to support this or need to have minimal system impact from updates.
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Daniel Ziltener

Plasma all the way! It is customizable, sleek, fast, and has a great community behind it. It also doesn't throw stones in your way when you try to do something that doesn't strictly adhere to the developers' ideology (GNOME does this).

If I may also recommend a distribution, openSUSE is still the definite edition of a KDE Plasma distribution :) There's the Argon and Krypton live CDs with the latest releases.

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Mike Bybee • Edited

KDE Plasma, hands down, for its infinite configurability, low RAM consumption, and beautiful appearance with little effort (none, actually, it looks great out of the box even if copying the Windows paradigm way too much). Also, no stupid CSD titlebars. And the ability to "Add new [stuff]" to pretty much every aspect of the desktop is unparalleled on any other DE on any OS.

GNOME 3/40 takes the macOS approach of "you're to stupid to decide for yourself," then tries to make up for it with perhaps the hackiest extension ecosystem ever created (they're like bandaids, if bandaids performed life-threatening surgery every time you put them on; surgery all but guaranteed to kill you if you aren't the right age, blood type, and eye color). Deepin is gorgeous, but good luck if it's not exactly the way you want it already.

Cinnamon, Budgie, Pantheon, and every other Mutter-based/GNOME 3 fork DE are pretty much do the same, just with different desktop paradigms, because GNOME 3 made it such a hacky pain to extend.

Mate and XFCE are lightweight, performant, and fairly customizable, but both still have quite a few bugs and/or lots of ugly little paper cuts, especially with panels and widgets (and XFCE's Orage "calendar" widget is a crime against humanity).

I may not be as "leet" as the "haxors" using one of the trendy tiling managers (though there are about 27 different KWin scripts for tiling windows if I want that sort of thing in Plasma), and may not be consuming as little RAM as those using LXDE/LXQT, [WHATEVER]Box, etc, but at least my desktop doesn't require hacking a config file for simple settings changes and doesn't look reminiscent of Windows 98 or older.

With that said, if Mate ever got the old GNOME 2 (formerly the most configurable desktop, from which Mate was forked) style up to date with desktop computing in this decade AND squashed bugs which have persisted since GNOME 2 AND made it easy to select KWin as the window manager, I'd be on board. For all the ridicule it received, Ubuntu's (still GNOME 2 based) pre-Unity Netbook Edition is probably the best DE that ever existed (at the very least, its full-screen menu was the best of the sort that ever existed - please stop trying to imitate macOS's Launchpad, it's really not that good).

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Pacharapol Withayasakpunt Author

Clean install of desktop environment (on Arch linux) seems to be best at the get go for KDE / Plasma, and not that good for Xfce.

However, both Xubuntu and Manjaro Xfce (and perhaps Mint Xfce, IIRC) had Xfce well done at the very start.

I find GNOME 3 less customizable; however, Ubuntu MATE and my memories of old Ubuntu GNOME 2 are fairly customizable.

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octowaddle

I use GNOME. It is very simple and minimalistic, has an amazing and intuitive workflow with a keyboard-centric design, making it very fast and easy to work with. Flathub provides a nice ecosystem of apps that fit perfectly into the GNOME experience. And with the release of GNOME 40, we finally have great touchpad gestures on Linux (which was long overdue).

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Uelber Henrique

I use gnome. Actually, I haven't found my Linux yet, but currently gnome serves me well.Having a terminal already makes me very happy. I am just having problems with some updates, that I am having to reinstall several (apps) instead of just updating.I like a nice design, but I also don't give up high customization power. For now I am very satisfied.

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sayantjm

I have dual boot with KDE and GNOME because I like both of them and I’m not able to take a final decision. I’m waiting to try GNOME 40 and see if having the horizontal virtual desktops (like KDE) helps me to decide which one is for me.

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Chittoji Murali Sree Krishna

I use i3wm bcz it's a window manager, and lightweight and customisable, and I can almost add shortcuts for everything, and it's a manual tailer, so I can choose where and how the next window be, finally it's configuration is completely understandable and simple

Probably this is the only window manager, that can add or remove keybindings on the move,
Ex:

modes

  1. Normal mode have default keys
  2. Resize mode will have the resize keys to increase or decrease the window sizes,
  3. Gap mode will have gap keys to increase the gaps or decrease the gaps,
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Heiker

LXDE. I switched to debian but I found out too late they don't have qtile in their official repositories, so I went with LXDE because I know they use openbox as the window manager. Now, qtile and openbox are very different but for my specific workflow that doesn't have a big impact.

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Jesse Phillips

I used xfce for years, it is solid and good workspace control. I took a short period with i3, workspaces take on a new meaning and core to its function. Today I am using Gnome, the new approach to task management is interesting.

I found i3 was very primative on its application launch. Not having a menu to launch applications is a problem for me, I don't always know everything. I also had to change out the default launcher so I could launch applications with names I knew. It just can't find apps as well as gnome-do.

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Jean-Michel Plourde

I used GNOME for the last 3-4 years because it's the default desktop env. Recently, I dove into i3wm because I wanted my stuff always at the same place and have more customization.

I couldn't be more pleased by a desktop env than with i3wm. When I log in my browser, IDE, Slack and Spotify all open in their seperate workspace and I can retrieve them with Mod+ so I can finally ditch the ****** alt+tab. I also like how you can rearrange the windows of a workspace: you can put them stacked on top of each others, side by side dividing your spaces how you want, etc.

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Markel Tuzynskyi

i3wm. Because I love it

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Alex Lohr

I use XFCE, because it is simple and unobtrusive. I considered switching to Enlightenment or LXQT at some point, but never really got around to do so.

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Kaarthik Suryanarayanan

XFCE

  1. It's light.
  2. It's customizable. With a good theme it looks stunning.
  3. It's light!
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Daniel Ziltener

XFCE being light is an urban legend. It's fatter than Plasma and afaik even GNOME are.

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Kaarthik Suryanarayanan

My experience is predominantly with Gnome and XFCE, and of it, I am sure XFCE is lighter. I searched a bit about 'XFCE being fatter than plasma'.
Would you mind sharing some references for stats regarding that claim?

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

XFCE is lighter than GNOME 3 (and any other Mutter-based DE), but Plasma has consumed less RAM than XFCE since at least v5.17 (it's currently at v.5.21, with 5.22 on the way).

Important caveat: Latte Dock nearly doubles RAM usage on KDE. Until Latte Dock slims down, starts up faster, and sheds many bugs, I'll be sticking to the default (and extremely capable, just not nearly as featureful or pretty) Plasma panel(s).

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Pacharapol Withayasakpunt Author

Thanks for sharing.

Albeit not really lightweight, its default looks looks better than GNOME3 and KDE IMO.

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trollmannen8

I use GNOME. I love that it's keyboard-centric and has pretty good shortcuts.

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Jonathan Boudreau

Gnome with a few extensions. Its productive enough and doesn't require a lot of time investment. Most of my development flow is in the terminal anyways since I use tmux + neovim.

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Roman

i3wm + polybar
Incredibly comfortable to manage windows and jump between workspaces

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Kalil de Lima

XFCE.
It's like plasma but lighter and equally personalizable

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Daniel Ziltener

Plasma is objectively lighter than XFCE