You’ve got your Linux distribution ready to go, and you know your way around the shell, but what about your user interface? While the shell is great for power users and system administrators, it might not be the best choice when it comes to day-to-day use. Here are 10 of the best desktop environments available, designed to make your day-to-day life on Linux and programming assignments easier and more enjoyable.
Linux distributions need a desktop environment to provide the usual GUI and native applications. This is where you’ll find the graphical user interface to work with programs – it can be used for any size or type of device. There are so many great features to point out with Linux, but the one I like best is how there are so many different desktop environments to choose from. And just like how there’s an abundance of choices with Linux distros, you also have different options for your desktop environment.
Choosing the right Linux desktop environment is crucial to your experience. Unlike Windows or macOS, you can customize every corner of the desktop environment to tailor it to your needs. You can avoid copyright infringement by forking the project to your personal GitHub account, changing the code to suit your purposes, and releasing it under a new name. For example, Cinnamon is a generically-purpose desktop based on GNOME 3.
It allows you to access your website without a DNS setup, increases speed when traffic is high, and increases security. In essence, you can connect through dedicated IP via VPN. A dedicated IP address is like having your own unique identifier on the Internet.
This article takes a look at some great desktop environments you can install on any Linux distro. We will also discuss the similarities and differences between the two desktop environments to help you decide which of them is more appropriate for you.
List of the Best Desktop Environments for Linux
We have sorted a list of Best Desktop Environments for Linux, literally, it is not the best list but we can say this list is based on its popularity and reviews.
GNOME, which stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment, is a project of free software designed to build network-independent applications on top of open-source software. The GNOME desktop has become so popular that many people think it’s part of Linux itself. That’s why I put it at number one on my list of best desktop environments.
The popular desktop environment, Gnome, is free & open-source software. The Lxde desktop environment is a little bit newer than KDE, but it is completely FOSS. Simplicity, accessibility & reliability are just some of the features that make this an attractive choice. You should try it out today! There are many factors that have contributed to GNOME’s ongoing popularity, not just its functionality but also its compatibility with other major platforms.
The GNOME Project specializes in providing software that is based on the GTK+ toolkit and focused on productivity, according to the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. This new desktop environment is pretty customizable and is based on X Window System. It also supports modern Wayland protocols.
- The mobile and tablet interfaces we provide offer a graphical user interface, which is incredibly user-friendly and interactive.
- GNOME shell extensions are supported
- Promising results have led to default usage by popular Linux distros
- Native GTK applications support
- This desktop environment is designed for higher end computers and might not work well with older models.
In addition to being one of the world’s most popular desktops, Cinnamon is undoubtedly among the best Linux desktops alongside GNOME and KDE. I’d like to take a moment to thank the Linux Mint community for all their efforts in developing GNOME shell. They have forked it and have developed it so much better than GNOME ever did!
Cinnamon provides a solid, stable desktop, and works on all major distributions. Cinnamon is also highly customizable, so you can make it your own without much effort. If you want a desktop that’s very user-friendly and reliable, Cinnamon is one of your best bets. It’s still being actively developed by its community and its developers; there are new features coming out regularly.
Cinnamon has been maturing ever since it was first released and has slowly developed into a complete desktop environment. Still, some believe Cinnamon is just a graphical shell. It is all about providing a great UX! Full of animations and effects, it will surely get the user’s attention. Cinnamon is a desktop environment for ease of use and familiarity to people transitioning from Windows.
- A user interface with the appearance of a simple, sleek design.
- Fast and snappy
- Easy designing and theming.
- The UI leaves a lot to be desired and isn’t that modern-looking or intuitive
With Xfce, you can run your computer with a fast, modern desktop while still being able to use all of your favorite older applications. While not as minimalist as LXDE and many other distros that are attempting to follow in its footsteps, Xfce focuses on practicality and performance over bells and whistles. It’s also a good place for users who have very specific needs – for example, photographers can take advantage of its extensive image-editing features.
Xfce, a minimalist desktop environment, reduces memory consumption and offers better performance compared to other desktop Linux environments. This is all possible due to the fact that Xfce is a modular computer desktop system that is built upon GTK+ and one of its advantages over other similar desktop Linux distros such as KDE and GNOME (Xfce vs. KDE vs. GNOME).
- Simple and easy to use
- Best suitedable for old hardware
- Several UNIX-like platforms support
- User experience is not very good, it could be better. Oly few animations it felt very plain to use.
Mate is a fork of GNOME 2, so it shares many of its design concepts. The desktop environment doesn’t have much in way of bells and whistles, which makes it easy to use on older hardware. As far as design and user-friendliness go, Mate is nearly identical to GNOME 2—and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it just might be one of your best options for running Gnome apps under Linux on older systems.
MATE also has its own version of the Core Applications, including many developed-from-scratch applications. The forks of GNOME packages have been renamed to avoid any potential confusion with the naming conventions of GNOME 3.
MATE Linux is a user-friendly operating system that’s a great alternative to other platforms. The open-source MATE environment makes your computer work well and it looks great, too. Unlike GNOME, you can run it on any computer – even if your machine lacks the hardware.
- Very simple and very easy to use
- Conventional applications
- The UI is not very modern looking
Short and sweet, LXQt is a lightweight desktop environment designed to be both visually appealing and resource-efficient. Based on Qt technologies, it’s known for its configurability and adherence to standards. If you’re new to Linux and want an easy transition from Windows or Mac OS X, you might consider LXQt.
Sprung out as a Linux distro in 2014, LXQt is a derivative of the lightweight desktop environment LXDE which is designed to run on Linux OSes.
KDE Frameworks are an open framework for cross-platform, software component libraries. Qt is a C++ library used to create user interfaces either on the desktop or mobile device. This desktop environment relies on these libraries. The goal of LXQT is to create a high-performance desktop environment. The developers optimized the low-level things (i.e., kernel, drivers, libraries) rather than focusing on user interface design which usually comes with costs in the form of large disk and memory footprint. That said, if that’s what you’re looking for then you might be out of luck. However, it would need to run on older machines with lower resolution & limited hardware.
- Its fast and lightweight
- Nice user interface
- Less resource consumption
- The user interface may not be for everyone.A user interface with a unique design can sometimes be a confusing experience for most people.
Budgie is a desktop environment built by developers at Solus and influenced by GNOME 2. Budgie natively utilizes GTK3+ toolkits but also has support for Qt5 applications via a QtWebEngine plugin. This integration makes it possible to run classic GNOME applications alongside other types of software on Budgie. The project also offers users a choice in how they want to experience their desktop environment, as there are multiple styles to choose from when setting up their desktop.
Solus is not just one desktop environment, but the face of an entire family of standards created by the Solus project. I’ve covered this distro in numerous distros lists before, and it is one of the best non-Ubuntu distributions for beginners.
What makes Budgie different from other desktop environments is Raven – a single place for notifications, widgets and more. Easily access the calendar and all the options you need, such as volume, audio playback, or power. Other than Cinnamon, Budgie is one more of my favorite desktop environments of Linux.
- Our cutting-edge desktop PC is built with modern technology for your personal use.
- Modern operating systems have a unified home for notifications from any apps.
- Beautiful user interface
- The app does not have a lot of visibility because it is not available through mainstream channels. You have to install it manually to use it.
7) KDE Plasma
KDE Plasma is a desktop environment, like GNOME and Unity. It has been designed to work well on any type of device, from laptops to desktop systems to netbooks to mobile devices. KDE Plasma is modern, making use of a global menu bar and an innovative task manager that’s based on virtual workspaces. By default, it uses Oxygen icons with an attractive look that mimics real-life objects.
The KDE Plasma desktop environment includes a comprehensive set of tools and utilities that cover most needs. These, in turn, form what we call KDE Applications. It has several notable software such as default and most advanced file manager Dolphin, Okular document viewer.
For all you KDE users, with the latest 5.19 update of Plasma, your default terminal will be able to preview any image without storing it in the system permanent storage. This user-friendly desktop environment is packed with customization options and stylish desktop widgets. Working on a laptop all day can be stressful. In recognition of the modern workplace, this software offers flexibility to multi-task.
- A modern, user-friendly interface with an attractive, polished design.
- Highly customizable
- Good native applications
- This app is not a good option for old computers with low processing power.
- Sometimes too many customization options can get overwhelming for new users.
8) Deepin DE
A desktop environment is a graphical user interface that runs on top of an operating system. It’s often used to show information and provide access to different functions on a computer. One of our favorites is Deepin DE (desktop environment). This provides an intuitive, easy-to-use GUI that you can customize to your liking. You can change themes, icons, and even set wallpapers for any mood or occasion! Many of its features are similar to Windows 7 or Mac OS X, but it does have some unique attributes as well: you can choose from up to 20 languages! It also has a desktop management feature called multi-desktop switching which allows you to have multiple virtual desktops where each desktop contains different applications.
The Deepin Linux desktop environment has become one of the most popular due to its aesthetic appeal. It also looks like the macOS, which many people find attractive. The UI may seem a bit daunting at first, but there are also other lighter alternatives. It is the most beautiful desktop developed by our company and it has such a luxurious interface. Because it has such a smooth and gorgeous design, we only use this as our default desktop.
The app also has elegant animations and a slick interface that make it look good. UbuntuDDE is a new Linux distribution that merges the best of the Ubuntu and Deepin desktop environments. However, you can also install it on other Linux distributions like Arch or Fedora.
- Very beautiful user interface like macOS-like
- Deepin GUI Toolkit is used to develop applications.
- The Deepin dock is easy to access at any time.
- The program takes up too many system resources and is not compatible with older computers.
Pantheon is a desktop environment built around a lightweight and modern technology. The desktop environment maintains its own software repositories, which allows it to stay up-to-date. If you like using Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment but are tired of not being able to customize it, Pantheon might be worth checking out.
Its core applications are written in Vala and C. They either find their inspiration in the software of the GNOME desktop environment or they are designed from the ground up. Pantheon has a philosophy of minimizing the need for command-line input.
Actually, Pantheon is another interesting desktop on the market. It has a very elegant and macOS-like user interface, while also supporting some of the newest technologies. The bottom of the desktop screen features a dock that looks very similar to macOS. Favorite apps can be easily accessed by clicking & dragging them in there.
- Clean and attractive UI
- macOS resemblance
- Minimal and lightweight
- There is nothing much to talk about, but getting used to the Apps’ Windows and styles could take some time.
Enlightenment is one of those desktop environments that everyone either loves or hates. Fortunately, it’s also highly configurable, so if you don’t like its default appearance, you can customize it to your heart’s content. Enlightenment also uses very little RAM compared to other environments and was even used as a lightweight alternative to GNOME during its development stages. The downside is that there isn’t much in terms of support available; Ubuntu was one exception, but nowadays only Debian testing and unstable officially support it. Still, if you want a sleek desktop with a futuristic design look no further than enlightenment!
Started in 1996 as a project to build a window manager for X11, E is an operating system that provides a graphical interface that can be used along with desktop environments like KDE and GNOME.
This Linux desktop environment project recently upgraded its technology stack to the latest version of Enlightenment Foundation Libraries. With Wayland support now complete, this open-source desktop environment intends to eventually transition away from X11.
- Simple user interface
- Lightweight and fast
- Fewer options
This blog post was meant to be a little bit of fun and a little bit of a look at the direction Linux desktop environments could be heading in the future. We know that desktop environments like Gnome and Unity are working towards making their desktop environments more touch-friendly, but what about the future of Linux desktop environments? That’s what we wanted to explore with this article and we hope you enjoyed it!
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