Best Linux Desktop Environments
Some of the default applications in KDE environment are — Dolphin (file manager), Konsole (terminal), Kate (text editor), Gwenview (image viewer), Okular (document and PDF viewer), Digikam (photo editor and organizer), KMail (email client), Quassel (IRC client), K3b (DVD burning application), Krunner (launcher) and more…
- The most advanced and powerful Desktop Environment
- Highly customizable
- Looks modern and sleek
- Compatible with Slower/old hardware
- Some components like Kmail are way too complicated for an average user
- If you read our Top 4 Open Source Email Clients For Linux, I mentioned the advancement of Kmail configuration which is not easy for a newbie.
It also comes with many popular Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Mageia, Debian and many more. If you read my post on Release of Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1, there you read that Ubuntu MATE, the first time is an official release.
Welcome Ubuntu MATE official Release for the first time. Now it’ll be easier for the users to keep their software updated, as all of its components are now in Ubuntu repositories.
The applications packed with MATE are Caja (file manager), Pluma (text editor), Atril (document viewer), Eye of MATE (image viewer) and many more. It’s a simple and lightweight DE for users who don’t need all the bells and whistles of other feature-packed DEs.Pros:
- Works fine with old/slower computers
- Lightweight Desktop Environment
- I don’t know, If you know please comment below. MATE Just works fine.
The #3 DE on my list is Cinnamon. After MATE, Cinnamon is another Desktop Environment that was built by Linux Mint Team for unhappy users of Gnome. So does it make Cinnamon be in the best Linux desktop environment list? Cinnamon, unlike MATE, was built on Gnome 3 technologies. Cinnamon is new and so have been active in development. But being new does not make this amazing Desktop Environment featureless. Cinnamon has all the features that DEs like Gnome and Unity don’t have. Cinnamon is highly customizable DE and does not require any external plugin, widget and tweak tool to customize the desktop. It can even download and install themes from the settings manager itself, not even need to open up the Internet browser. With all the amazing and required features, Cinnamon can be very handy for any new user to Linux. Many users quit using Linux because they don’t understand the way Linux works but I highly recommend that a newbie must start off with Cinnamon.
Many popular Linux distributions offer their flavors in Cinnamon, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, Arch Linux, and Cinnamon is the default DE of Linux Mint.
- Extremely polished
- Familiar with New users could be buggy sometime
- Makes Gnome more usable by forking some core apps
- Highly customizable
- Could be buggy sometime
Gnome could be for those users who tend not to tweak the system a lot. That’s why Gnome does not even include some simple tweak options like changing themes and even font. For both of these basic tweaks, a user would need to install gnome-tweak-tool. So overall Gnome is not much customizable by default but through third-party applications/tools. Gnome is used as default DE in Fedora and is offered in several popular Linux distributions as flavors, such as Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE and many more.Pros:
- Simple, easy to use
- Extensions can extend its functionality
- Lacks many features found in other desktop environments
- Extension management is poor
Unity is a shell developed by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. It runs on top of Gnome Desktop Environment and uses all core Gnome applications. Initially, it was developed to run on netbooks to make better use of the screen real estate. But when Gnome decided to go its own way and supposedly didn’t accept some changes proposed by Ubuntu teams, Canonical went ahead and created its own shell, which suited its needs better. Unity first release came out in 2010 and since then Unity has got several improvements. Today one can install Unity like any other DE.
Unity has a different user interface. It has a launcher on the left side and on top of the launcher, the search icon ‘Dash’ exists. When a user searches a file on the dash, it gives results not only from Hard Disk but from online sources, such as Google Drive, Facebook, Picasa, Flicker and more.
It also gives options to hide the launcher and show it when touching the sidebar. A user can also increase/decrease sensitivities for showing up the launcher menu.
It is simple and faster but does not include much options under System Settings to customize the desktop. For installing themes and customizing different other options, such as System menu should be visible always or not or ‘One click minimize from launcher icon’, the user needs to install third-party tools. CCSM and Unity Tweak Tool are very popular customization tools for Unity Desktop Environment.
Unlike KDE, a user does not get the option to block/disable notifications in Unity. There are tons of searches on the Web for ‘How to disable Unity Notifications’. Although It’s possible but quite difficult for a new user.
Add to that auto-hiding menu and a lack of official support by any major distributions, and Unity becomes extremely counterproductive.
- New technologies like HUD
- Customizable by third-party applications
- Poor implementation of notifications
- Very little default tools for customization
- Inconsistent UI
Unity DE Screenshots
End of List “Best Linux Desktop”
Please do take the poll below telling us which one is your best Linux desktop and specify if you are using any other except these five.