Different Desktop Environments on Linux
All computers are nothing without Operating Systems, much the same as the principle that power is nothing without control. Lamborghini could make the fastest car in the world next year, nothing coming even relatively close to it. However if they weld the doors closed and fill the whole cabin with cement, so there is no way to ever drive or operate the car, the whole entire thing is worthless. Think of this as a computer without an operating system, it’s a wild beast, waiting to be tamed. When you choose an OS not only are you establishing a whole “front-end” from which you can operate the computer, your pouring a little bit of yourself in it as well. Changing the color of the car, from my earlier metaphor if you will.
There are a TON of things that happen when you install an OS, but you only see the graphical parts of it, the “graphical user interface” or GUI. Obviously, if that's the main thing your seeing, its fairly important to you on every level. Linux however, took this whole concept a step further, and established several “flavors” of GUI for your desktop on your Linux OS. Wikipedia describes a desktop environment as just that: A Desktop Environment (DE) commonly refers to a style of graphical user interface (GUI) derived from the desktop metaphor that is seen on most modern personal computers.
This is very important, because if you’ve ever used Linux AT ALL, you know that choice is everything. It’s not about just using “what works” or “whats provided”, its about carving your own path based on precisely what YOU want. If you don’t like the way the taskbar functions on one particular distribution or “distro” of Linux, and you think that the support is poor and you could never see yourself using it, just choose a different one! It’s about having absolutely everything as close to tailor-made to your specific liking as you can, hence why desktop environments are so important.
It’s the GUI, it’s what you will be looking at and toying with directly for hours and hours and hours, lets spend some time finding out what you want, and let’s do it right. The problem being that I really can’t just choose one for you, it’s not that easy. It’s purely aesthetics, it really is, however things like that do in fact matter when your spending that much time dealing with it. Listed below is a number of screenshots of different DE’s, or desktop environments, notice that the differences are minimal, but there is certainly is still a difference between each of them.
Gnome, KDE, XFCE, and LXDE are just a few of Linux distro’s most popular DE’s, mostly just because they are the main ones. There is a direct correlation between the name of the DE and the distro of Linux that your using. If you look up things regarding Ubuntu, you will notice that it comes standard with the GNOME DE. However, if you look at Xubuntu, a different branch or “flavor” of Ubuntu, you might wonder what the difference between the two is. Sure enough, the X stands for the XFCE type DE that Xubuntu uses, meaning that you can deduce that Xubuntu is the same as Ubuntu, except with an XFCE DE, without even researching if you’d seriously want to try the distro or not you already know what DE it uses.
This is valuable knowledge, you can further custom-fit your distro to your exact personal liking, and thats a big deal. You already jumped on the Linux train, so your definitely okay with some drastic change here and there, why not take it a step further? Definitely experiment around with at least a few DE’s, recommend them, recommend some changes to the ones you don’t like perhaps, just do whatever. Whatever you decide to do, it all starts with you.