Open Ballot: Desktop Wars


It's a really simple open ballot this fortnight: What's your favorite desktop environment for Linux? Are you using the latest Gnome 3 or a kustomised KDE? Do you like desktop bling or a black and white CLI? Do you use a mainstream choice or an esoteric option? Let us know your thoughts and we'll read them out in our upcoming podcast.

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Your comments



Enlightenment (E17)

Enlightenment (E17)

KDE: power to the people

KDE for the win! I've heard it said time and again that Gnome is for power users and in the same breath, KDE is too configurable. Cognitive dissonance you think? KDE lets you configure what you want and ignore all the rest. I have no personal experience with Gnome3 or Unity (why bother?) but from what I hear those DEs are pretty much "our way or the highway." I guess from the point of view of those developers choice is good only if you agree with the ones they made.

KDE of course

even fine on my old netbook!

KDE Plasma

KDE Plasma Desktop 4.10 is brillant! Performance is good even on a very limited Dell Mini (of course I've disabled Nepomuk and Akonadi).

Xfce is my latest discovery

After using Gnome2, then Unity (for a very short period) and then moving to LXDE for a longer time. I have recently discovered Xfce being a very good desktop enviroment.
It is more feature-richt than Lxde, but still very light.
Love it! (especially with Xfce4-panel + Dockbarx plugin)

Cinnamon FTW

Linux Mint with Cinnamon!


clean looking and great although i miss
that top left thingy desktop switcher in
mint cinnamon.


Fluxbox just because!


Its great!

Although, at the risk of a beating, Unity after a few months of use isn't too bad.


Lighter than GNOME and KDE. More features than LXDE.

Gnome Shell 3

I am in the minority who actually loves Gnome Shell and the latest version 3.8 is a continue improvement. I am just using the basic settings with a few extensions; media notification, drop down terminal, applications, places, and message grouping.


just keep it as it was :-)
... and it's actualy the only one i got working with all VirtualBox Integration options


I moved from Ubuntu to Mint and discovered Cinnamon. My next step is, probably, Arch but Cinnamon is here to stay, it feels like home)


I prefer Unity *hides behind rock*
I know most people dont like it but when ever I install a different desktop environment I find myself phasing back to unity.
Ive been using Gnome 3 on my desktop at home for over a month now but I dont really like the way it flows and it seems kinda slow. Im going to give KDE another go. Ive tried it before but it only lasted 2 or 3 days before getting blown away.

There is not my DE

I am lost, there is no such things as a favorite DE. I like XCFE4 but it lacks of a few features and does weird things or uses old UI concepts.

Gnome Shell is also great, but non-default applications do not integrate well.

OpenBox is nice but sometimes a bit to reserved.

I like all these three 92% but all are great but not perfect. I can't decide, i am trapped in a vortex of DE hopping. HELP ME!


Xfce is my preference on Ubuntu and openSUSE.

As a side note - after using Unity at work for over a year I tried to switch to KDE. "Tried".

A few in performance order based on device. :)

Unity for my Acer C7 Chromebook, KDE on Ubuntu 13.04 for my Dell Latitude 2100, XFCE for my Nexus 7 and HP Touchpad. :)

Hello my delectably accented

Hello my delectably accented penguin guardians!

I'm a big fan of GNOME 3, though not necessarily because it's any good. I like to think that the GNOME foundation is headed in the right direction, even if they're not, and I'm allowed to continue this belief against all the mounting evidence because Debian sid doesn't have the newest version from upstream. I've been stuck in 3.4 for ages now, since the freeze for wheezy, and because I'm too lazy to compile all of gnome 3.8 myself, I can dream that 3.8 is fantastic, leaps and bounds ahead of 3.4. :)

Keep up the good work!


Xfce. Sometimes LXDE. Usually Xfce, though.

Xfce of course!

Another vote for Xfce. Of course, I'm a proper Xfce fan, having used it for years -- way before everyone switched to it because of Gnome 3's shenanigans.


I use Fvwm2 - its lightweight and very customisable (although I admit its not for the faint hearted/beginner)

I believe that if you have processing power, memory, etc. most of it should be used for the applications you wish to run, not for the desktop environment. Therefore Fvwm2 fits this quite nicely.

Minty Cinnamon

I used to love KDE but it became cumbersome in it's efforts to be nifty and I had bad experiences with the development team's "write it yourself" attitude when I mentioned broken components.

Mint Cinnamon is like a breath of fresh air. It works and has friendly and approachable people behind it.

Cinnamon & XFCE

I find myself switching between the two.
Cannot stand Unity, vanilla Gnome 3 isn't so bad but Cinnamon is just so much better!


Unity got off to a slow start but is now genuinely useful and just gets out of the way.

I used to spend hours getting my desktop 'just so' but since you can't customise Unity to any great extent I've realised that the customisation was a big waste of my time, now I just run with Unity and it meets most of my needs without any fuss.

KDE on Mageia

The best desktop OS ever created by mankind.

Gnome shell

I am with Jimmt.
I've been using gnome shell from some time back when I had to compile it myself.

I really love it. It is simple, looks good, doesn't get in the way just does what I want. My wife also uses it and finds it pretty easy to get things done.

I commend the team for ignoring the community and just building something they think is right. There is a dedicated button on github for people who know better, it is called fork.

Openbox on Crunchbang

Because it's simple, fast, configurable and the default in #!


Have used XFCE since I unlocked the first 8mb SSD Acer Aspire One netbook, gone through Xubuntu, various Mints, Arch and now Manjaro.

They're all awesome! I'm in

They're all awesome!

I'm in the unfortunate position of rather enjoying all the Linux DE's (yes, even Gnome 3!) to one extent or another, and don't find any one of them especially limiting or problematic to use. Which has sadly resulted in a lot of OCD distro hopping in recent times. However, I seem to find myself always back on Cinnamon and Mint. I just love the combination of proper classic desktop with flash new effects and usability enhancements. I find with minimal tweaking (Cairo Dock!) you can get a seriously gorgeous desktop that to me bests all the others. Plus, the Mint and Cinnamon community is really amazing. You don't feel as though things are being taken away, but rather layers of awesomeness keep getting added and improved.

Enlightenment and KDE

Bodhi first (enlightenment), kubuntu follows (kde)

xfce... why would you use anything else ???

Mint-ubuntu + XFCE + compiz + fusion icon + gnomeDO + a few bits an pieces from gnome (system monitor and settings manager and alacarte)

because I want a desktop setup that will work everywhere and is fast and lightweight. And doesn't change or just go away !

Compiz is the ultimate compositor, not needed for very old machines or servers but vital to stop video tearing on everyday desktops. Super stable now, unlike in the past. Also it doesn't slow down fullscreen openGL games like it used to. The coverflow effect is by far the best alt-tab window switcher you can get.

fusion icon need to restart compiz if it crashes and to turn it off e.g. if you want to VNC into a machine. Also has a link to compiz settings.

gnomeDO is a great launcher, can open a bookmark or app with 4 key strokes

then just need a few bits and pieces from gnome to top things off e.g. easily change time, date and sound settings, edit the main menu etc ...

Choice is a good thing!

I use different DEs depending on what type of system I am using, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it! Just for being able to have a choice is what makes linux epic.

My personal favorite is Unity, I have never been a massive KDE fan (too many options) and I am not sold on Gnome 3 (not enough options), so for me Unity represents the perfect compromise offering enough personalisation to set things how I like without going overboard. Also, the more modern features such as the integrated dash searching and the HUD considerably speed up my work flow once you get used to the controls.

That being said, on my little netbook I prefer something extremely lightweight, since RAM is at a premium (I'm too cheap to upgrade it). For the reasons stated above (for crunchbang which is the distro I use), Enlightenment is my choice. Its fast, stable, small, and highly configurable.

Gnome 3

I know it gets almost as much hate as Unity, but I like it.


KDE works out fine for my needs on both my Slack 14 desktop and laptop. I do have the 'Desktop Effects' completely disabled though, I have no fondness for the flashy eye candy stuff.
I realize that many others find the extensive control options to be a minus for KDE but for me, after the initial install I like to fine tune, tweak, and most of all optimize my systems. Afterwards, I rarely bother with constantly changing any settings so it's such a non-issue to me.

Gnome 3 for World Domination!

Since I'm a Linux Newcomer, I did not know the classic Gnome 2 and was able to jump into the Linux desktop world without any prejudices.
I started off my life as a Linux user with KDE (mainly because it resembled the Windows- look and I wanted to have at least one familiar thing on Linux), but as versatile as it is, its size also brings some downsides. Bugs seem to be harder to find, as I found more KDE- related bugs in the first two weeks using it than Gnome- related ones ever on Gnome 3.
So, I looked beyond the borders and found Unity, which was hat at first sight to me, Cinnamon and Gnome 3. Wanting to try Cinnamon on OpenSUSE, I first had to install Gnome 3. What I immediately noticed when launching it, was (much to my delight) that the volume adjust buttons on my keyboard worked, something they had never done when I was on KDE, also many other things that I had never missed on KDE, but just because I did not know that they existed. While I did miss out some of the customisation options that KDE offers, I was entirely happy with a desktop that "just works", thus I stayed on Gnome 3.
Prejudice is a curse, as it makes people dislike things they do not even know of. If more people tried Gnome 3 (for longer than just 10 minutes), they would find out that it provides actually a more usable desktop than most other options, especially for less experienced users like me and other Linux Noobs. Also, one just has to admit that Gnome 3 is incredibly sexy.

PS: I noticed my post has grown quite large, but even if its to long to read out on the show, please try to pronounce my name. It means "tail of a squirrel" in styrian, and I think if there are any styrian listeners besides me, they would appreciate you pronouncing it on the show.

KDE 4.10

I am using KDE 4.10 currently and I love it. I have used KDE 4 full time for over a year after trying Mint KDE from the LXF DVD and getting completely addicted. I love being able to tweak just about anything I can think of. When I first used Linux it was Ubuntu Karmic with Gnome 2 which I was happy with. After they introduced Unity I stayed with Gnome 2 and was dismayed to find Gnome 2 no longer present in 11.10 so I tried to install the latest Gnome shell instead. Unfortunately this was Gnome 3 which, at the time as a part time Linuxer and pre LXF subscriber, I had not heard ofand found it even worse than Unity. I stuck with Unity for a while using three tools, not included, to try to get the DE to work for me. Amazon searches were the last straw so I looked at many other DEs and I can only say I wish I was aware of KDE 4 earlier.

P.S. I have not, do not and will never want a touchscreen monitor or touchscreen DE.


Love Unity, all the right ideas. Launcher and 'X' in top left, notifications top right, Rubbish out of the way bottom left, menus at the top, 'X' conveniently hidden to make room for a title at the top which changes to menus when hovered over. The HUD is completely unique to Unity and amazing. The Dash is like Windows Search on steroids (and without Bing, (cough) Windows 8.1 (cough)).

Unity is the bridge between GNOME and KDE. It is good for power-users (HUD), good for 'normal' users (descriptive launcher and search bar). It is constantly getting faster and will run on all form factors with suitable interfaces hopefully by April 2014 (less than a year!)

It will be FOSS on EVERYTHING.

Really don't understand why people can't change and accept it. Amazon 'ads' can be removed VERY easily and will be fixed in October 2013 with Smart Scopes (already fixed in Dev Branch?) and it makes Canonical money so they can spread Ubuntu more. I really don't care about my privacy and Canonical potentially has root to your computer anyway (as Mark Shuttleworth pointed out), if they have access to your entire computer, you can trust them with your Amazon searches, idk what you're doing that you want to keep hidden anyway!

Simplicity and efficiency

You hear funny names for different application launchers but they all end up by being just an icon or row of icons somewhere on the screen with some desktop picture behind them. You maybe will be able to hide them, bringing them to life by placing your pointing device at a "magic" area of the screen (with or without clicking). Perhaps we also need to display live information, be it about the insides of the computer, the time or the weather, etc.

For me a desktop environment should provide me easy access to those applications I'm always using, a relatively easy way to find and start those more specialist applications that are needed every now and then, plus allowing me to search for those files into which folders I just cant remember where I placed them; then manipulate them as required. There too should be a simple way to administer the different pieces of hardware attached to my computer and, obviously be able to work with the applications on the desktop(s).

The Desktop Environment should have minimal impact upon the resources of the computer and thereby not get in the way of the work (or play) I'm undertaking upon the system.

From a users point of view, most of Desktop Environments these days, with a few notable exceptions, use much more of our computer's power to achieve effects no better than Gnome 2 with Compiz did in Linux Mint 10 a number of years ago. If you want to discover just how bad your system is try moving say 36,000 files from one folder to another using the terminal mv command, timing the duration the command takes then, put them back using a nice GUI File Manager. (Have a cup of tea ready for the second phase!)

Without doubt, most of the DEs available to us in the Linux World are too inefficient, wasting precious computing power on peripheral computer activities.

Me, I'm waiting for Ikey Doherty to finish building SolusOS 2, from the ground up and, the Consort DE.

PS Why do we have to keep re-entering the CAPTCHA phrase every time we want to preview the comments we make, then do it again for the posting!!


i hope every distribution comes with a lollipop.

It doesn't matter!

I've tried pretty much all the DE's, but since others have described most of them I'll skip over my experience with each in favour of my main point. No matter what DE you start with, its going to end up (hopefully) exactly as you like it. And the great thing about linux is that you can get to your preferred setup from just about any desktop environment. Personally, I use Unity with cairo-dock and conky system monitor, because my laptop has enough grunt that it all looks very slick and beautiful before hiding away so that i can get down to serious business with no distractions. For someone else with a different preferred setup it might be easier to start with cinnamon or code their own DE from scratch! We should all be gratefull that we have so many lovely choices and not just one rubbish tablety touch-screen-optimised monstrosity shoved down our throats ;) Go Linux !!

Favorite asked you.

Got to be gnome2 but alas no more.

Currently running LXDE on Ubuntu 12:04 with my desktop, functional but not 100% stable.

Laptop - OpenSUSE 12.3 with KDE 4.10, very happy with it, will probably rebuild the desktop with it.

Server still running OpenSUSE 11.0 with KDE 3.5, due a rebuild.

So with the latest offerings KDE, so gone full circle!

A sort of Unity inspired KDE

Yes, I use KDE! I find it simply being the most polished and stable DE out there. I find Unity being somewhat unstable and crashing now and then. Can't tab out several games etcetera (mostly WINE games though), because they freezes. I'm sure if the Ubuntu team just rebranded KDE to look like Unity they would do better, heck, they would maybe even have time to fix some bugs and quirks with the rest of the system too! Also, I've noticed KDE detects the most unconventional input hardware out there. (That being uncommon keyboard buttons etc)

P.S I know it sounds pretty thick headed when I only compare KDE to Unity, but I'm a veteran distro hopper. My statement about thinking KDE is the most stable DE stands.

coninued last post


I'm also a config monkey.


Ubuntu and Unity because it just works.
I am in IT and do the window$ thing at work. (although I do have a few Linux PC around for monitoring)

At home it is all Ubuntu and Debian.
Debian for servers and old hardware. Old laptops have a mix of LXDE and XFCE
(Puppy for one really really old laptop)
Ubuntu/Unity for everything else.

Over the last couple of months I have given away 2 x 4 year old PCs from work with Ubuntu/Unity (one came back because he then bought bought a new i7 for Ubuntu (WIN!!)).

Always with LTS on my main PCs.
I find Unity quicker to find things and get things done than the good ol Gnome 2.

I guess this goes without saying . . . I find Unity is much better than Win7

Depends on the hardware...

I've used KDE since 2006, and on my main desktop "tower", a lovely Linux Mint KDE installation can be seen.

On my old laptop and low-powered netbook, I've opted recently for Lubuntu with LXDE, which suits me down to the ground.


And I'm not ashamed to say so. I have enjoyed Unity since it was first released. It works well for me and I am able to get things done the way that I like to.

Please forgive me but Unity

I'm positively surprised, I am not the only one loving Unity. It is simple, elegant, minimalistic, keyboard (NOT TOUCH) centric, and coherent DE.

As for other DE's. I can't get to understand app switching concept of Gnome 3 and all XFCE implementations I used weren't polished enough. As for KDE... well it is KDE:P

I only use Awesome

I use Awesome WM - the screen is for apps!

Tux Machines

Tux Machines had a poll on this very subject last month entitled "My Fav Desktop 2013"

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