Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

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cecilieaux
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Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

Post by cecilieaux » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:04 am

In a Facebook forum, someone talked about being upset with Ubuntu, a distribution, and deciding to change to Cinnamon, a desktop environment. As a service to all newbies, I would like to make clear in the simpler terms of a relative newbie and less-than-geek user an important difference.

A distribution (often called distro) is a kind of Linux operating system: Fedora, Ubuntu, Linux Mint are examples. They encompass all of Linux, in particular the basic kernel, and differ only in how they emphasize certain software packages and ways of operating.

A desktop environment (DE) has to do with the graphic user interface (GUI), such as menus, file managers, terminal and other very basic system tools -- in particular how they look and how much hardware they require. Examples are Cinnamon, Mate, Unity, KDE, XFCE, etc.

In theory, I think, a distro can accept almost any DE -- although most distros don't do that out of the box, so to speak.

I hope this helps someone.
Last edited by cecilieaux on Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Every time I think I'm past newbiedom something like this happens.
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o-l-d
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Re: Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

Post by o-l-d » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:19 am

Since the people at KDE neon claim it is NOT a distro in which category would it be placed ? They claim it is "KDE Plasma5 built upon an Ubuntu LTS base to showcase the latest version and development of KDE Plasma 5". No one there will say it fits into any of the "distro" classes. They offer "versions" (LTS, User Edition, and Developers). But yet it ranks higher than some of the older and better known "distros" at DistroWatch.com.
Even more confusion for those new to the world of linux. :shock:

cecilieaux
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Re: Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

Post by cecilieaux » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:02 pm

o-l-d wrote:Since the people at KDE neon claim it is NOT a distro in which category would it be placed ?
To my mind, it is a DE (can even see DE in the name, in full: K Desktop Environment).
Every time I think I'm past newbiedom something like this happens.
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dcrowder
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Re: Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

Post by dcrowder » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:00 pm

I would call it a Distro. There are many, many distros based on Ubuntu. Most of those do not change much from the base distro. If you download an installer ISO image from their website rather than the base distro website, it is it's own distro.
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hagey
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Re: Distribution vs. Desktop Environment

Post by hagey » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:43 pm

cecilieaux wrote:In a Facebook forum, someone talked about being upset with Ubuntu, a distribution, and deciding to change to Cinnamon, a desktop environment. As a service to all newbies, I would like to make clear in the simpler terms of a relative newbie and less-than-geek user an important difference.

A distribution (often called distro) is a kind of Linux operating system: Fedora, Ubuntu, Linux Mint are examples. They encompass all of Linux, particular the basic kernel, and differ only in how they emphasize certain software packages and ways of operating.

A desktop environment (DE) has to do with the graphic user interface (GUI), such as menus, file managers, terminal and other very basic system tools -- in particular how they look and how much hardware they require. Examples are Cinnamon, Mate, Unity, KDE, XFCE, etc.

In theory, I think, a distro can accept almost any DE -- although most distros don't do that out of the box, so to speak.

I hope this helps someone.
I think that's some good advice and splitting hairs over what you have said will only confuse people more. Fundamentally, it is a good, basic explanation.

Thanks,

hagey.
Linux Mint 17.1 Xfce - Rebecca. Kernel: 3.13.0-37-generic i686 (32 bit) Desktop: Xfce 4.11.8 : Mobo: Gigabyte 945GCM-S2L Bios: Award version: F5 date: 12/27/2007 : Dual core Intel Core2 Duo CPU E4500 : Graphics Card: NVIDIA G86 [GeForce 8400 GS]

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