LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Pantheon Desktop Environment

Pantheon is the default desktop environment originally created for the elementary OS distribution. It has won a lot of plaudits for its simplicity and clean aesthetics. It has some similarities with GNOME Shell and MacOS in particular. Pantheon is written from scratch using Vala and the GTK3 toolkit.  

The Desktop

  The Pantheon desktop is very simple and easy to learn. It consists of basically two elements, the panel and the dock. By default, you cannot put icons on the desktop and right-clicking on the desktop is inactivated, so in order change the wallpaper, you have to navigate to System Settings → Desktop → Wallpaper.  

The Panel

At the top of the screen, you see the Panel. On the left is the Applications menu, in the center are the time and date, and on the right are the Indicators. The indicators tell you of the current status of your sessions, such as your network connections, battery power, chat and email accounts and system notifications. Clicking an indicator exposes more information and related actions as you can see with the Do not disturb mode under notifications.

  Clicking on the Date and Time will open up a quick calendar.

  Depending on the appearance of your wallpaper, the Panel may have a dark shade background to improve the visibility of text and icons.

Applications Menu

​On the left side of the panel is the Applications item. Clicking Applications brings up a launcher with all of your installed apps. You can view multiple pages of apps using the pagers at the bottom or by scrolling.

  You can also use the view switcher at the top to switch between a grid view and a category view.

  You can also search for apps or system settings by name or by keyword and perform actions associated with them such as terminal commands, compose new messages from the Mail app, shutdown and restart.

    Also Read – 50 Essential Linux Applications

The Dock

At the bottom of the screen is the clean and beautiful dock. It works just as you’d expect any modern dock available for Linux. It contains your favorite apps and any apps that are currently open. You can easily add an app by dragging and dropping from the Applications Menu or right-clicking an open app’s icon and choosing Keep in Dock. To remove an app from the dock, drag it off and drop it in an empty space on your desktop or right-click the icon and uncheck Keep in Dock. You may also simply drag and drop icons around to rearrange them. Nothing new but it works quite well. The dock comes in a few themes that you can choose from. By default, the dock hides off the bottom of the screen when an app is maximized. Simply move your mouse to the bottom center of the screen to reveal the dock. You can tweak this behavior to allow the dock to be visible all times or hidden only when the focused window overlaps it.

App Window buttons

Pantheon chooses a rather different approach to the position of the window buttons. The close button is on the left whiles the maximize button is on the right. And there is no minimize button. You have to click on the app icon on the dock in order to minimize and restore the app.


Pantheon employs workspaces to organize your open applications and your workflow. By default, all app windows open on one workspace. To see an overview of your workspaces, click on on the multitasking icon on the dock or by pressing super + S.  Switching between workspaces is smooth.

  ​You can also easily navigate workspaces by moving left or right through your workspaces with press super + left or super+ right. You can cycle through your workspaces, press super+ Tab.
You can jump straight to a specific workspace by pressing super + 1 through super + 9. You can always jump to a new workspace with super + 0.

You can also drag app windows between workspaces by dragging their icons in the workspace overview, or move them left and right between workspaces using super + Alt + left or right respectively. To see an overview of app windows across all workspaces, press super+ A.

  ​You can customize these shortcuts through System Settings → Keyboard → Shortcuts → Workspaces.  

Hot Corners

  With hot corners, you can move the mouse cursor to one of the four corners of your desktop to activate shortcuts. The shortcuts include things such as multitasking view, show applications menu, show all windows and a few others. You can customize hot corners by going through System Settings → Desktop → Hot Corners.  


  Pantheon also ships with its own set of default applications. While some of these are forks of other Gnome-based apps, others are designed from scratch to fit in with the Pantheon desktop.The apps include maya (calendar), noise (music player), pantheon files, scratch (text editor), pantheon terminal, audience (video player) and  Switchboard – pluggable settings manager similar to gnome-control center amongst many others.  


Pantheon is beautiful, lightweight, fast, simple and brings something new to Linux desktops. For Linux newbies, Pantheon is pretty straightforward and easy to use. For advanced users who prefer to tinker with their desktop, Pantheon is a no go as there is little to do in terms of customizations. Changing wallpapers and switching workspace could surely do with some simplification Nonetheless, I believe everyone who used Pantheon is going to be impressed with how beautiful this desktop environment is.​The Pantheon desktop is definitely among the very best desktop environments. Currently, there are efforts to bring the Pantheon desktop to some major distributions such as Fedora and Arch. There is even a community version of Manjaro that comes with Pantheon. But if you really want to use this desktop go with elementary OS.