Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

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Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby ceciliasp on Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:03 pm

Hi everyone!

I'm a newbie, yes... I admit it.
My first approach to Linux was Ubuntu (12.04 and 12.10), but it is giving me a hard time with it's bugs and errors and lack of performance so I started looking for something else. I read a lot about distros (specially followed distrowatch) and desktop reviews. I tried Opensuse and I really like it, but I had network and GRUB problems so I switched to Mint Nadia (Mate).
I'm still looking forward to try other distros and continue my research in this wonderfull linux world, but I have a simple question, which is:
I know te difference between distros (maybe Ubuntu is for beginners, Arch and Puppy for old machines, etc). And I know there are different desktops you can use (for example, you can Use Mint with Cinnamon, Mate or KDE).
The quiestions is: what would be the reason or explanation of switching desktops but not distros?. I mean: If I install Ubuntu (Unity) why would I switch desktop? What would be the benefit of it?
I know mainly it's because Linux is free and flexible and you just can, but I'm trying to understand what's the rationale of mixing distros and desktops.
Maybe and example could help me understand better.

Thanks for your comments, and greetings from Argentina!
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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby nomko on Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:21 am

Let's say you install Ubuntu 12.10 with unity and you dislike Unity, it's easy to install another desktop environment and use that. Basically there's not much of a reason to switch entirely from one distro to another just of the standard choice DE. An issue what might pop up is that you could get conflicts between packages. Or that, if you, let's say, install Cinnamon under Ubuntu that your Cinnamon menu will look totally screwed because some applications are putting their menu launcher in the Cinnamon menu on places where it shouldn't be.

To avoid any issues/problems, best to do is stick with 1 distro who provides you, as an end-user, with the most suitable DE for you. That's my opinion ofcourse.
Last edited by nomko on Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby ceciliasp on Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:02 pm

Ok, that's good information.
Now, if I want to switch DE under Mint, that wouldn't be a problem right? I mean, if I use any of the desktops that the distro offers (cinnamon, kde, gonme)
Thanks for clearuing that out!

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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby nomko on Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:05 am

ceciliasp wrote:Ok, that's good information.
Now, if I want to switch DE under Mint, that wouldn't be a problem right? I mean, if I use any of the desktops that the distro offers (cinnamon, kde, gonme)


If i was you i won't mix up KDE with GNOME. KDE uses a total different environment than GNOME.

MATE/Cinnamon are GNOME forks:
MATE is a fork of GNOME2
Cinnamon is a fork of GNOME3

So, there won't be much of an issue switching between MATE and Cinnamon beside the fact that some packages are renamed in order to get if function properly under MATE/Cinnamon.

If you have, let's say, MATE installed and you want KDE, my advice would be: create a dualboot or do a clean install just to avoid problems between GNOME and KDE. They still bite each other!
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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby xenopeek on Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:54 pm

You can install multiple desktop environments on the same Linux Mint installation, and that can work fine. But indeed you have to take care with what you are doing. If you install the full desktop environment, you also get all the basic applications that are part of that desktop environment. So suddenly, you will have two file managers in your menu, two text editors, two calculators, two terminals, and so on. Add a third desktop environment...

Most desktop environments get along fine. On Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce you are already also using KDE programs and libraries (e.g., VLC). And the reverse is also true (e.g., Firefox is also installed on KDE despite it being a Gnome based program and using Gnome libraries).

Probably the way with the fewest risks is to just install the Linux Mint edition with the other desktop environment that you want, alongside your current Linux Mint installation. However, I get bored having to reboot :D So I upgraded my computer to have some more RAM and use VirtualBox to run any other Linux Mint edition that I need (for helping on the forums; I need all) in a virtual machine. If I'm not sure about the impact of installing something, I also first try it out on VirtualBox. If I mess up a virtual machine, I can still use my computer as my Linux Mint installation isn't touched.
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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby ceciliasp on Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:53 am

Thanks guys! That was very instructing. I guess I should read more about desktop enviroments and it's genealogy... hehehe.
Another question pops out: if you can use several DE with one same distro, being the DE the most important part of it since it's the way the user interacts with de OS, what is the "added value" of each distro by itself.... I mean: If we could take away any DE available, wich would be the difference between Mint, Ubuntu, Arch, Suse, etc.?

Sorry if I'm getting anoying! But I like to learn hahaha.
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Re: Maybe too newbie a question, but stil...

Postby xenopeek on Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:45 am

That's a bit like asking why are there different car manufacturers, tea cup manufacturers, and so on. Some cars go very fast by are high maintenance, some cars don't go so fast and are low maintenance. Some tea cups are very pretty but burn your fingers, other tea cups are ugly lumps of glass but at least don't burn your fingers :wink: The same goes for distros. Some basics, like how many packages are available for installation, what package format is used, and whether it uses a graphical installer are shown here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... stallation. That page has more tables of comparison. Distros, like cars and tea cups, handle very different. They serve the same basic purpose (though some are targeted for servers, others for desktops) but how much they help you / hinder you depends on what you want.
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