Why two desktop environments?

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jameskga
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Why two desktop environments?

Post by jameskga » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:13 pm

Hello! Thank you all for being such a wonderful community and especially thank you, to the development team, for creating and sharpening the most competitive distribution of Linux in the industry.

I have heard the question raised before but no clear answer why the Mint team develops two similar desktop environments when Cinnamon is already doing so well?

To me, Mate seems so similar to Cinnamon, and the differences between the recommended hardware specifications are so narrow, that I don't understand why there are two. I do not believe there should only be one, but I do wonder why - since there are two - they are so similar in behavior and appearance (since they are also not far apart on recommended system specs, too).

I know literally nothing about developing operating systems, so this is a stupid question, OK. But: If you are going to devote resources to creating two desktop environments, why shouldn't they be radically different from one another? I have a relatively new low-end laptop that Mate really sucks with. I use Xfce and it works a little better, and it's highly customizable and can look rich with a few theme and interface changes. But then the other day I tested Cinnamon 18.3 on the same hardware and it ran as smoothly as Xfce, so now I am really starting to wonder if I'm not seeing some larger piece of the overall picture.
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MintBean
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by MintBean » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:38 pm

I agree with you to an extent and I think Mate and Cinnamon have grown more similar over time although that may just be a perception as I don't use Mate. Here's the thing though- I wouldn't want to switch to Mate as Cinnamon just feels better to me and I'm sure there are plenty of people who prefer Mate also. Choices...

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Schultz » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:59 pm

MintBean wrote:
. . . I'm sure there are plenty of people who prefer Mate also.
Like me. I've tried Cinnamon twice and I just didn't like it. It seemed a bit complicated. Or perhaps I'm just a tad bit too dumb? :) (As the "real" Schultz says: I know nothing . . . nothing!)

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by administrollaattori » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:04 am

Mate bases on old and good Gnome 2 and Cinnamon is a new desktop environment who has its own children's diseases. I prefer Mate, because it is more handy and it works out of box almost in every hardware.

Anyway I use sometimes Cinnamon also, and I have installed both of the environments under same linux.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by all41 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:23 am

I chose MATE because eye candy is not important.
There is something nice and unique to be found in all the desktop choices though,
and I find likable attributes in each--
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by jimallyn » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:18 am

Actually, there are 4 different desktop environments available in Mint. Besides MATE and Cinnamon, XFCE and KDE are available. Linux is all about choice. I don't particularly care for MATE. I use Cinnamon on my desktop, and XFCE on my older laptop. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by jameskga » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:45 pm

I prefer Xfce myself, and I find that after some customization with built-in options, it readily adapts to look rich and modern.

Mint is the best because it offers something for everybody. But I was thinking also about the problem Xfce solves for Mate, in the way that it efficiently fills a demand for fast, lightweight desktop environment. But you're right, choice is good. And why not have a competitor in that area, too? They do look quite different from each other, indeed.
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Petermint » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:36 pm

There is a comment somewhere that Cinnamon depends on 3D hardware assist and MATE is designed for non 3D hardware. MATE has that annoying capitalisation. I, recent versions, I have not found an advantage of MATE over Cinnamon. Cinnamon has received some improvements months ahead of MATE. If you hardware favours Cinnamon, Cinnamon is faster.

I do not have any machines where MATE is faster than Cinnamon. XFCE has never worked for me as the included applications often lack important options. I do have machines, Raspberry Pi, where Lxde is many times faster than anything else.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by all41 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:44 pm

MATE has that annoying capitalisation
This is a strange statement--what are you referring to?
edit: oh, you mean like KDE and LMDE I suppose
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Petermint » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:37 am

KDE is supposed to be initials, K Desktop Environment. MATE is an artificial twist on Mate, the tea. Someone left caps lock on.

Both have lost their reason to exist as far as I can see. KDE and MATE have no advantages I can find on any hardware. MATE is no longer lighter than Cinnamon. The KDE bloat does nothing extra.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by kc1di » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:10 am

I have used both Cinnamon and Mate and currently have them both installed on Different machines. The one with Cinnamon is newer and runs great the one with mate an older machine and Cinnamon does not play well with it's hardware. They are both excellent Desktops. Mate is a bit more comfortable for those who had been using the old gnome2 (like I did for many years. ) When Gnome quit supporting gnome2 , mate was a fork to keep it going and Mate is the most stable of the the two but lacks much of the eye candy of Cinnamon which was originally based on Gnome 3. They both have a good place in the Linux environment. Many have mentioned XFCE and that is also a great DE, specially if your looking for stability in the DE. It changes very slowly and the changes are not usually very drastic so it can be depended upon to act much in the same way over long periods of time.
KDE allows a lot of customization but it will be dropped from the Mint development lineup in Mint 19.x. You can find the reasons for that on The Mint Blog for October I believe. See here: https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=3418

As someone has already pointed out Linux is about Choices. You Have them :)
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Joe2Shoe » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:10 pm

Just last week I removed LM18.3 Cinnamon Sonya 64-bit from one of my 12 year old laptops and installed LM18.3 MATE Sonya 64-bit
Cinnamon worked fine, but there were numberous "lock-ups", "freezing", etc. Now on MATE, everything is good. So, I'll try MATE on this laptop for a month or so and see how it goes. MATE's desktop is fine and simple. It takes a while to get used to the Menu (just like a pair of new shoes), but it's all there.
I have LM18.3 Cinnamon Sonya 64-bit on 3 other old laptops: 2 built in 2007 and 1 built in 2006. If I prefer MATE over Cinnamon, I will put MATE on all of them, but only if MATE is going to still be supported beyond 2020.
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by rickNS » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:28 pm

Joe2Shoe wrote: Cinnamon worked fine, but there were numberous "lock-ups", "freezing", etc. Now on MATE, everything is good.
10 years + on mint mate, not one single freeze. currently mint mate 18.0.
Mint 18 mate on 2 identical Thinkpad T420's

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Petermint » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:57 pm

LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) is the lightest usable desktop when used in the Raspbian version. The original LXDE team dropped LXDE and are now wasting time with a Qt version. I wonder if the Raspberry Pi foundation will have to support LXDE the way Linux Mint supports Mate.

Xfce 4.14 and 4.16 sound interesting. The last time I used Xfce was 4.10 with all sorts of limitations in the GUI and utilities. Then there was the speculation that Xfce was dead then the conversion from GTK 2 to 3. 4.16 sounds like it will be the next stable version.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by ud6 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:51 pm

Petermint wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:37 am
KDE is supposed to be initials, K Desktop Environment. MATE is an artificial twist on Mate, the tea. Someone left caps lock on.

Both have lost their reason to exist as far as I can see. KDE and MATE have no advantages I can find on any hardware. MATE is no longer lighter than Cinnamon. The KDE bloat does nothing extra.
MATE was capitalised because other DEs were, it's Cinnamon that is odd one out. Then they invented the cheesy recursive acronym "MATE Advanced Traditional Environment" :roll:

I guess people have there preference, but the stability of MATE over cinnamon is what eventually got me into always using MATE, and Cinnamon offers nothing extra that I need. Surely MATE is faster and more lightweight than Cinnamon? I really don't understand the benefits of Cinnamon and wonder why it is the 'flagship' of mint, when mint aims predominantly for useability and stability. Well, at least they're keeping us both happy as we still have the choice.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Petermint » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:25 pm

I found LXDE is the only desktop light enough to make a noticeable difference in my little old notebook.LXDE can run on a Raspberry Pi with 0.25 bytes of RAM. LXDE is so lightweight, it actually charges your notebook battery instead of draining it.

Cinnamon worked best last time I tested side by side. Things like configuring an unfriendly application in the menu were easier. A clean default install of Cinnamon produces the closest to what I want. The timeshift backup is the only thing I would replace.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by lsemmens » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:58 pm

It begs the question, Is there an exhaustive list that compares each DE. e.g. networking functionality differences - Naming conventions - hardware support - and so forth?

I came to Cinnamon and found it so good that I did not need to look elsewhere, so I don't know what I'm missing. I installed XFCE on a small Atom powered laptop, and found that networking required a bit of massaging to allow file sharing - apart from that it seems almost identical to Cinnamon. It begs the question why?
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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by Petermint » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:28 pm

One difference is Cinnamon uses GTK3 and MATE uses GTK2. GTK3 was a problem during the early stages of development.

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by AZgl1500 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:00 pm

jimallyn wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:18 am
Actually, there are 4 different desktop environments available in Mint. Besides MATE and Cinnamon, XFCE and KDE are available. Linux is all about choice. I don't particularly care for MATE. I use Cinnamon on my desktop, and XFCE on my older laptop. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
ditto

I use 18.3 Cinnamon as my daily driver.

I use 18.3 Xcfe on my old, and slow, backup laptop which is a fallback if something bad happens to my Daily Driver....

for me, Cinnamon runs rings around Mate..... Mate is not even close to Cinnamon in being user friendly right out of the box, for someone who has 30 years of Windows IT support behind them.....

Mate can be forced to work like Cinnamon, but why bother?
in all of my testing with the different desktops, I found myself trying to make them work like a Windows desktop, and Cinnamon has already that job, and quite well.

were it not for Cinnamon, I don't know if I would ever have left the MS Windows arena.... ( yes I would, I just cannot stomach Win10 )

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Re: Why two desktop environments?

Post by smurphos » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:09 am

Petermint wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:28 pm
One difference is Cinnamon uses GTK3 and MATE uses GTK2. GTK3 was a problem during the early stages of development.
Not anymore - Mate migrated to full GTK3 from version 1.18 for the desktop elements. http://mate-desktop.org/blog/2017-03-13 ... -released/

Simple reason for currently offering 3 desktops - user choice and Mate/XFCE will work well on some hardware that doesn't support Cinnamon well. Cinnamon needs 3D acceleration. Mate and XFCE are also relatively 'cheap' for the Mint devs to offer as alternative desktops as other than applying some Mint specific tweaks/applets and making sure the Mint themes work well in those environments the respective Mate and XFCE development teams do all the hard work. Plus the lead Mint/Cinnamon developer is also I understand a member of the Mate development team.

Reason for KDE being dropped - being QT based it needed more work to Mintified and a lot of the other Mint specific stuff used in the other desktops (XAPPS) doesn't and couldn't be used in KDE.

Family History

MATE is a direct descendent of Gnome 2
Cinnamon is a Gnome 3 fork retaining a Gnome 2 desktop paradigm
XFCE is XFCE - it was one of the originals (born in 1996 along with KDE, Gnome started life a year or two later). It doesn't do rapid change.

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