Since a thread came up on Facebook’s Linux group for discussing GNOME vs KDE vs whatever, I think now is as good a time as any to state my current preferences in desktop enviroments.
Personally, I don’t usually use entire Desktop Enviroments, and prefer putting together a lightweight window manager with various light-ish applications. It can end up looking pretty nice. I have, however, used several in my time; here are my thoughts on each — somewhat faded with time since last usage, anyway.
I like it — it’s a very complete enviroment, with everything from a web browser, a word processor, and an email client to multimedia applications, a rather famous image editor and simple games. There’s a list on Wikipedia.
The default look isn’t anything to get excited about, in my opinion, but there are many themes you can install, and enough ways to configure it without driving you slightly insane. Which is good, because that’s my job. 😈 🙂
I have no complaints against GNOME overall, except how programs frequently have dependencies that drag in large chunks of the GNOME infrastructure — which is very annoying on OLD systems.
If I’m going to use a DE (desktop enviroment), and the computer can handle GNOME easily, I’d prefer to use this. It uses much more memory to begin with, but once it’s up it’s pretty snappy and the memory usage doesn’t increase outrageously. (I should probably post actual numbers here sometime on that…. 😐 ) I like the look, I love K3b, and Konqueror is very handy for most internet browsing. I don’t have to lock each applet/widget to the taskbar individually.
There’s a list of the major KDE apps here on Wikipedia.
I haven’t used the new 4.3 version yet, as until a moment ago I didn’t know there is one. 😆
The last time I used KDE 4 was on Kubuntu, and it had stabilized a GREAT deal since the first time I had used it. I.e., I was actaully able to use it. I didn’t like how flashy everything is by default, and I REALLY don’t like Dolphin. Too weaksauce for me, sorry.
As I understand it, the KDE 4 series uses the new QT 4 framework, which is supposedly more efficent and less memory-tasking, but I personally didn’t see a noticable difference.
I’ve used the 3.99.2 and 4.42 versions, thanks to Debian’s Etch and Lenny versions — don’t remember any real differences, so I discuss them together. There are far fewer full applications developed for XFCE than for GNOME or KDE, but the framework itself is designed to be modular and lightweight — appropriate for the older systems I like to use, I suppose. Xubuntu uses a rather… GNOME-ified version of it. 😐
Mousepad, XFCE’s equivalent of MS Lose-dows Notepad, was supposedly developed because Leafpad, a similar program, didn’t have printing support and would be difficult to implement. Now Leafpad has printing support. 🙂 I haven’t compared them in-depth, but they appear to be about the same.
I really like XFCE’s philosophy and “feel”, overall. I like the “Control Panel” concept too…although it does feel a little too familar. 😉
Why don’t I use it? One of the stupidest possible reasons: I despise the default “Rodent” icon theme. 👿 Also, XFCE’s Terminal doesn’t impress me much, Thunar by default only has generic icons, I have to go through two different places to configure how things look, and and and….well, really, that’s all I have bad to say about it. Thunar can display differing image icons for different pictures, it’s just an add-on with most binary distros I’ve investigated.
Wow, if those are my only reasons to not use it, I really should try it again. 😀 Just not Xubuntu’s setup. 😕
My Usual Working Setup
Most of what I do only involves web browsing, blogging :), and word processing. When I need to do word processing, though, I simply *must* be able to open Word documents, so that generally locks me into either OpenOffice’s latest version or into using someone else’s computer. 😦
I usually construct my working enviroment out of:
- Either Openbox, IceWM, or JWM. Occasionally I’ll use the full LXDE enviroment, but I don’t like how it plays with Openbox’s menu.
- Iceweasel/Icecat/Swiftweasel/Swiftfox w/Greasemonkey and some scripts that replace YouTube videos with the option to play MP4 with MPlayer or VLC. (or download the MP4 video…) Still have to have a Flash player installed, so go ahead and install swfdec-mozilla while you’re at it.
- OpenOffice 3.x
- mrxvt or lxterminal
- feh, to set wallpapers (when I use them)
- PCManFM or Midnight Commander (a console-based Norton Commaner “clone — more like major successor 🙂 )
- Alsaplayer, alsamixer/alsamixergui
- K3b or XCDRoast
- Epdfview for, well, reading PDF files. Xpdf is good in a pinch too.
- Leafpad for when I need a Notepad-like program with copy’n’paste functionality. When I don’t need that function, I stick with Nano. 🙂
There might be a couple other programs I’m forgetting about, but that’s the main list. I’m a minimalist, remeber? I don’t like desktop enviroments, especially on really old laptops like the Thinkpad.