Desktop Environment Preferences

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Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby ArminasAnarchy on Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:41 pm

Hi all!

I've been using Linux solidly now for around two years. The first distribution I tried was Linux Mint (as a user familiar with Windows, it "just worked", with no need to change anything - barely even the need to use the terminal), before migrating over to Ubuntu (I figured since I now had a little more experience, and knew Mint was based on Ubuntu, it would be sensible to try Ubuntu - and move "closer" to the source).

Coming from Mint, which never had the unusual Unity/Dash interface, Ubuntu was something of an uphill struggle to learn to use - I hated it. Eventually though, I discovered KDE, and I'm now a confirmed fan, running Kubuntu 12.10 - this has reaffirmed my love of Linux . The whole having a menu that you can browse through and doesn't randomly disappear, and is at the bottom, where I expect it to be by default, is comforting. The ability to customise everything is also nice - I've read stuff suggesting that there is no where near the same level of this in GNOME/Unity? I'm thinking of a blog post by one Mr L Torvalds in particular...

Originally, I was dual booting. A few months back, I scrubbed my PC clean of Windows completely though, and haven't looked back. However, I do still feel a lingering sense that I'm using KDE not because it is best, but because I've been sort of..."socialised"? by Microsoft. And I really resent that, having left Windows, wanting to get rid of any kind of software coercion!

So, my question to the forum is: what do people use? How popular is each desktop environment, and what makes it so? For instance, "I use Unity because that's what's installed in vanilla Ubuntu" doesn't really strike me as a "fair" reason, not when I'm trying to get to the bottom of what is the best DE.

Also, before it comes up in a reply, I do understand that objectively trying to find the best DE is a little bit of a wild goose chase - obviously personal preference is a major player here. I still think it'd be useful to canvass opinion, however, to weigh up and conclude for myself where I should be heading, and if I'm right sticking with KDE.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby Matt267 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:03 pm

This Poll might be of interest to you: viewtopic.php?f=57&t=100787

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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby xenopeek on Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:31 pm

As this wasn't support request for a problem with Linux Mint, moving it here.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby bimsebasse on Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:36 pm

ArminasAnarchy wrote:Originally, I was dual booting. A few months back, I scrubbed my PC clean of Windows completely though, and haven't looked back. However, I do still feel a lingering sense that I'm using KDE not because it is best, but because I've been sort of..."socialised"? by Microsoft. And I really resent that, having left Windows, wanting to get rid of any kind of software coercion!


I don't think you need to worry about that - the Windows desktop paradigm (pre Wndows 8 ) was so successful because it was easy to use and understand. The Linux community is at least half full of - often very verbal - users who in no way can be made to feel comfortable outside the Windows 95 paradigm (taskbar, start menu, window tabs, close/minimize/ maximize window buttons), so you're not alone or a rare case. If Kubuntu works for you, that's the winner for you.

I use Gnome with Cinnamon (Mint 14), it has pretty much everything I look for and I can live with its teething issues. Used to consider myself mainly a gnome-shell user but I very rarely boot into a gnome-shell session these days - it feels more and more like the stiff-legged grandpa of Cinnamon.
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: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby exploder on Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:23 pm

I looked at a lot of desktop environments recently because I have a laptop with hybrid graphics and compositing was an issue with many of the new DE's. I finally went with Mint 14 KDE x64, very similar to Kubuntu. I can honestly say that I have not had a single problem with KDE. I did upgrade KDE to 4.9.4 and I added a ppa repo to fix the scratchy sound in VLC.

I originally was interested in the newer desktop environments but the more I looked the more I liked the classic desktop. When I saw Mint KDE had all of the right click options in Dolphin I was pretty happy! Compositing seemed to work well in KDE too and having the ability to fine tune it to my liking was a nice plus too. Plymouth works like it should too on the laptop and the desktop and it makes for a better demonstration when showing someone that has never seen Linux before my systems.

KDE does resemble Windows but finding things and the system of organization is much better in my opinion. KDE is nice and easy to change themes and icons too, many of the newer environments take some work to get things looking the way you want them.

Cinnamon ran well on my desktop and it was a tough choice deciding weather I wanted to go with it or KDE. I decided to go with KDE because it was so easy to customize. KDE 4 has had a long time to mature and the developers have really refined things. I like how the hot corner only is active when multiple applications are running for example. The alt, tab feature not only looks good but is very handy. The maintainer of the KDE edition went with the original KDE folder icons rather than the newer icon set, I love this attention to detail because I personally do not care for the newer icons.

The only negative thing I can say about KDE 4.9.4 is that it is boring. :) Nothing is broken, everything works like it should so there is nothing to fix or tinker with. :D :) :D
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby MALsPa on Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:44 pm

I like them all. Every one has something about it that I think is better than the others. On a given day, I might be using GNOME Shell (which is what I'm typing from at the moment), Unity, KDE, or Xfce. Or I might be using Openbox or Fluxbox instead. I'm looking forward to seeing the latest E17 in distros' main repos. I don't think I could ever be happy looking at the same DE every day.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby exploder on Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:09 pm

I thought I would get bored looking at KDE everyday but after trying some themes and window decorations I am not bored at all. :D I just installed the Elementary Luna window decorations and am loving the great looking drop shadows, I love how it gives more depth to windows. :D I had always wanted to play around with different themes and it is really easy to customize KDE. Right now I have Slim Glow for the desktop theme and Elementary Luna as the window decoration, with my winter background it looks really cool! :D
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby abnvolk on Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:23 pm

My two favorite desktop environments are Cinnamon and KDE.
Well, I like Cinnamon because it's got the best of both worlds: the familiarity of GNOME 2 and new features of GNOME Shell. It is very fast and responsive on my laptop, but still looks beautiful. Cinnamon also develops rapidly, and I get excited whenever I see a cool feature being integrated into it. Now I'm running Cinnamon on Bridge Linux (an Arch derivative) :)
KDE is a different thing - it's very customizable and extensible. Plasma is elegant, it looks better than Windows Aero, and faster at the same time. KDE applications also tend to be more feature-rich than GNOME ones. On my Mint 14 I've got global menu and menu search (HUD) - I don't think other DEs have that. The only downsides of KDE are System Settings, which is quite confusing, and themes that looks good both under GTK+ and Qt apps. :)
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby GoustiFruit on Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:44 am

I'm also running KDE and Cinnamon editions of Mint.
KDE is the best DE I think but I don't like how some applications don't integrate very well (Firefox and Opera for example). The Cinnamon version doesn't have that problem but customization is very limited and it still has some glitches, for example no startup sound and flaky management of multiple screens.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby eric k on Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:19 am

I started with Ubuntu back in '07, and would consider myself a "GNOME guy", but years of distro-hopping has made me competent and comfortable running just about anything from KDE to Openbox. I don't get hung up on "best this or that" comparisons because the different DEs are usually designed with different use-cases in mind, and of course what works well for me may not work well for you.

When it comes to Mint, I use Cinnamon, as it is (Mint's support for MATE aside) the distro's flagship project, and it's development and refinement is what interests me most; I think Cinnamon has been a great boon to Mint, it's given it the chance to truly differentiate itself from the Ubuntu-base and put to rest the old "it's just Ubuntu with codecs and green paint" cliche, which I always thought did a disservice to the amount of work Clem and the other team members did in providing a solid, entry-level Linux experience.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby cwsnyder on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:30 am

I think one of the reasons I eventually tried Linux in '07 was because I had used UNIX in college 30 years prior. I also looked at BSD first, but the desktop I was using with Windows XP did not have hardware supported by BSD, so I drifted to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. Having used CP/M-80, MS-DOS 2.11 on, Novell Netware 2.x & 3.x before using Windows 3.0 on my personal computer and upgrading from there through Windows XP, I think I am fairly DE agnostic.

KDE for me is too fussy, and the controls seem harder to find (although there), than simply finding the proper CLI tools. Like Linus Torvalds did, I settled mostly on Xfce for my desktop, with possibly a few ventures in other distros to LXDE, OpenBox, or a simple Window Manager in place of a DE.

I mostly want a computer which mostly works, which is why I use LMDE with a backup install of Debian stable, although I keep 'bleeding edge' Xubuntu 13.04 and others in VirtualBox machines so that I can answer questions.
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Re: Desktop Environment Preferences

Postby MALsPa on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:49 am

eric k wrote:I don't get hung up on "best this or that" comparisons because the different DEs are usually designed with different use-cases in mind, and of course what works well for me may not work well for you.


eric k wrote:I think Cinnamon has been a great boon to Mint, it's given it the chance to truly differentiate itself from the Ubuntu-base and put to rest the old "it's just Ubuntu with codecs and green paint" cliche, which I always thought did a disservice to the amount of work Clem and the other team members did in providing a solid, entry-level Linux experience.


Yep, I agree.
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