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Top desktop enviroments

Mate

This environment came into being as a direct fork of Gnome 2. When the Gnome developers dropped Gnome 2 and pushed forward the radically different Gnome 3, there was a revolt from the community wanting to hold onto the constant which was Gnome 2.

It was officially forked when Gnome 3 started dropping its fall back session which was reminiscent of Gnome 2. Now Mate continues the development and rather than adding features, they are refining what was the stable of linux environments. It works well on older machines and holds the traditional working approach.

By default it has 2 task bars / panels. One at the top with Menu’s, Clock and notifications and one at the bottom with open windows. This can be changed rather easily so you can make it more windows or mac like fairly easily.

I tried mate shortly after it was forked, but used Gnome 2 for many years. It’s true to being a direct fork of the original. It’s a proven and stable environment but is starting to age.

Rating: 3/5 – Based upon it being a great and stable environment but showing its age.

XFCE

A very lightweight environment and ideal for older machines. It focuses on having a small footprint on resources whilst retaining usability.

I have used this on and off as a fallback distribution, and is my go to environment on an initially headless server.

In general if feels a lot like Mate, just lighter. It is also quite open to customisation.

As for a learning curve, it may be because I have used a lot of environments, but I found none what so ever. Older machine? then this is the one I would say to use.

Rating: 5/5 – Best for daily use on older computers or where you want to keep resources free.

KDE

It used to be a case, that you were ever a KDE fan or a Gnome fan. Although I never put KDE through its paces, I feel that it is a good environment itself. It is resource heavy like Unity and benefits from all the bells and whistles you would expect from a modern environment.

My impression of this, is it looks like an ex window users best friend, but I never liked the Windows UI so i never gave KDE a real chance.

I will not give a rating for this as it would not be fair, but give it a try and make you own opinion.

Now, that’s pretty much the staple environments. Yes, this is not all the environments out there, and there’s a lot of ones which are particularly interesting. but I will blog about these when I use them.

Some I am interested in trying though are;
Budgie – Seems inspired by Chrome OS
Pantheon – Seems inspired by Mac OSX

Feel free to add your own comments or views about any of the listed or non listed environments.