Let's talk about desktop environments.

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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby exploder on Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:56 pm

I had a really tough time choosing what I wanted to run. I looked at a lot of desktop environments and a lot of different distributions. I could find things I liked and did not like about all of the environments I tried. Out of everything I tried I liked, Cinnamon and KDE were the best for me. Seeing all of the right click options in Dolphin installed by default in Mint 14 KDE really got me to take a closer look at it. The way compositing worked in KDE was also a deciding factor for me. I really liked how I could configure compositing exactly how I wanted. The Mint KDE edition did not seem cartoonish like Linus described either. Fedora had a cartoonish look but the Mint release used a nicer set of default icons and in my opinion it gave it a more professional look.

Memory use really surprised me too, I expected to see much higher memory use but I have been reading that the KDE developers have been working to reduce the memory footprint to get KDE working on other devices. Memory use in KDE is no worse than Gnome Shell or Unity, Cinnamon used less system resources tough. There were lots of little conveniences built in to the Mint KDE edition by default, it does make things very pleasant to me.

With KDE I always seemed to have some odd errors and quirks but I am not finding any with KDE 4.9.4, it just works. This release has really changed my views on KDE. Some of this might be because KDE 4 has had a lot of time to mature where many of the other desktop environments are still a work in progress. Cinnamon has matured faster than any of the other newer desktop environments in my opinion, it is very quickly becoming feature rich and complete.

Unity is not bad but I worry that it is getting too commercial. I am seeing too many things in Unity that I want to turn off and the interface gets boring after a while because of the lack of customization it has. Light DM used to be nice but now there are so many things hard coded into it that it has become a real pain to work with. Now you have to use configuration tools to make changes to Unity or use tweak tools and it is getting too much like editing the registry in Windows. Gnome Shell is configurable but it takes time to get and set all of the extensions to make things the way you want them in the first place.

After seeing peoples reactions to Windows 8 and the newer desktop environments in Linux I have to wonder if a traditional desktop with more modern features isn't a better idea. Why take away the things that people really want and use? Cinnamon and KDE have all of the things that people seem to really want out of the box and have the modern look that many of us enjoy. I never imagined that choosing the right desktop environment could be so challenging!
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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby xenopeek on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:17 am

I've been experimenting with different desktop environments and window managers for a while now. I've been a long time GNOME user. Earlier this year when I decided it was time to upgrade my main installation from Linux Mint 11, I was in a bit of a pickle as to which desktop to run. I tried Linux Mint 13 Xfce first but that gave me some problems (probably from me doing stupid things) that I switched to Linux Mint 13 MATE instead. A safe choice for a long time GNOME user :) I had been considering KDE as well, and though I like KDE I don't like the amount of configuration I have to do to make it meet my expectations and it is a bit slow to boot on my system. Other desktop environments and window managers that I tried mostly didn't click for me usability wise.

MATE is very stable, but it continues to have some annoyances carried over from GNOME. Most noticeable when opening files as root, or when opening links from my feed reader in my web browser. For both actions you get this entry in your window list that it is opening the file / link you requested. That entry takes multiple seconds to go away on my machine, while the file / link has been opened and in some cases already closed :? So while I was happy to use MATE from stability perspective, it had some annoyances (to me) that made me continue to look for another desktop environment.

Last week my music player stopped being able to output sound, so after a brief struggle (upgrading/downgrading packages) I decided to just upgrade to Linux Mint 14 MATE and be done with it--figure out which desktop environment to switch to later. That didn't go as planned. MATE on Linux Mint 14 had some graphical glitches--probably due to my hardware (I have a bit of a problematic motherboard with more recent kernels)--which I didn't manage to solve easily. So I tried Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon instead. What a change of pace :mrgreen: It is much faster than MATE, and everything just works!

I had tried Cinnamon before on Linux Mint 13 (both 1.4 and 1.6 release), but at the time wasn't happy with it yet. I can't believe how much it has advanced--stability, usability, performance, and feature wise--in just 6 months. I'm exploring right now, as I've had it on my system just since Friday, but I can already say I've found my new home :)
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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby bimsebasse on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:34 am

Welcome aboard, Vincent :D

The best thing about Cinnamon is that the Mint dev crew is completely in control of it, which means transparent and easy-to-contribute development process, focus on current userbase and configuration options, nothing leftfield happening or innovation for the sake of innovation. Nemo is also growing and improving fast. I think Cinnamon is still in transition and a bit unfinished but by Mint Cinnamon 16, maybe 15, we should have a pretty awesome and polished OS.
Thank you for this thread. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this forum into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases. Thanks!
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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby exploder on Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:01 pm

@ Vincent

I like what you wrote, you gave a nice real world type of experience. :D

@ bimsebasse

I completely agree with you about Cinnamon. Improvements for both Nemo and Cinnamon are already in the works. I would expect both of these to be feature complete in the very near future.



I finally went with KDE because my laptop had issues with the ATI drivers and Muffin, compositing just was not working very well. Through trial and error I discovered things worked fine with Compiz and the proprietary drivers. My choices then narrowed down to Unity and KDE. KDE was the most feature complete and the Mint 14 KDE edition was so nicely done that I decided to go with it. I also installed the KDE edition on my main computer because I wanted all of the right click functionally that has been built into Dolphin. The Mint KDE edition seemed to have the highest level of functionality and the maintainer really payed a lot of attention to details.

I really had to think a lot about what I wanted on my main computer, both Cinnamon and KDE ran fine on it. Both Cinnamon and KDE look fantastic but KDE was easier to change themes and because of my eyesight problems I wanted the ability to easily change themes. The root functions in Dolphin made cleaning up the system after upgrading a little more convenient too. It really was tough deciding what environment I wanted on my main computer and I gave it quite a bit of thought.

I am going to keep a close eye on Cinnamon's development because I really like the elegant look Clem gives it in Mint. I see other people asking about how to change the theme in Cinnamon because doing it right now is not very straightforward. I have seen some good instructions on changing themes and maybe something like this could be added to the user guide to make things easier. For now, the Mint 14 KDE edition is the ideal choice for me and I love the attention to detail that this edition has. Plymouth works perfectly on both machines, the folder icons are the ones I have always liked, compositing is easy to customize and the default applications are just right for me. I am finding that I like the traditional desktop a lot more than I had realized. Aside from Cinnamon most of the new desktop environments are just not very feature complete.
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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby Adelante on Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:40 pm

I completely agree. This is the best Cinnamon yet. And speedy, too.

Vincent Vermeulen wrote:I had tried Cinnamon before on Linux Mint 13 (both 1.4 and 1.6 release), but at the time wasn't happy with it yet. I can't believe how much it has advanced--stability, usability, performance, and feature wise--in just 6 months. I'm exploring right now, as I've had it on my system just since Friday, but I can already say I've found my new home :)
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Re: Let's talk about desktop environments.

Postby MALsPa on Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:35 pm

I feel comfortable using just about anything. Right now, with various distros, I'm using KDE, Xfce, GNOME Shell, Unity, Openbox, or Fluxbox. I like them all. In the past, I've used E17, Cinnamon, and AwesomeWM, but currently have none of those installed here.

I'll probably take another look at E17 and Cinnamon later. Seems to me that Cinnamon is for people who don't like Unity or GNOME Shell, and since I think both of those are great, I feel like I'm outside of Cinnamon's "target audience." But I thought Cinnamon was nice; I just want to try it again after it has been around a bit longer -- matured a little more.

Haven't bothered to look at MATE because I don't miss GNOME 2.

I don't think it matters to me anymore which DE or WM I'm using in Linux. Spend a little time with it, learn how it works, get used to it, whatever. No big deal. Regardless of the DE or WM, I'm still gonna be using the command line, a text editor, a file manager, a web browser, etc.
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