In the world of GNU/Linux computing, there are a lot of different ways that a user might access their library of software. They could use a window manager, such as i3, Awesome, or Sway, which tend to be directed at developers wanting to gain the most control of their computer using their keyboard.
By far the most popular way of accessing Linux is by making use of a desktop environment, which comes pre-installed with all the software one would need to get a working desktop out of the box. Here we will look at some of the most popular ones right now.
The KDE desktop environment has been around for some time now, and has quickly become a special favourite among its followers. Boasting almost unparalleled customisation options, it’s possible to make KDE look like just about everything.
Its development schedule is incredibly fast, and there’s always an emphasis on giving users everything they need to not just have a functioning desktop, but one that is sleek, easy-to-use, and has unlimited theming potential. Unfortunately, because KDE is developed faster than other DE’s, it’s known to some irritating bugs that pop up every now and again. But for the most part, a user would be hard-pressed to find something better right now.
GNOME originally made a name for itself in the Linux world for providing a simple desktop interface that came with sane defaults. Despite the fiasco surrounding GNOME 3, it has been the main focus of some of the more well-known distros, including Ubuntu and Fedora. Aimed to be more like MacOS rather than the traditional offering of something like Windows 10, the latest iteration of GNOME is incredibly simple to use, and has a limited number of customisation options when compared to something like KDE.
While some lament the lack of settings and the ability to use the desktop for storing files, GNOME remains increasingly popular, and it generally used by those that just want to install a desktop environment that’s good to go from the moment it starts up. GNOME users are currently anticipating the release of GNOME 42, which will bring new features, as well as an overhaul to the visuals.
For those users that want an experience that’s both extremely stable but also allows for tons of customisation, Xfce might be for them. Many are quick to be put off by the defaults of Xfce once it’s installed; with the themes looking more akin to an early version of Windows. But by adding a few icon packs and other themes, it’s possible to make Xfce truly unique. Combined with its renown for being perhaps the most stable desktop environment around as well as its low resource usage, Xfce is great for lower end machines, and for having a system that will always turn on, perfect for work, gaming, or even a spot of sports betting NZ action. MX Linux, Linux Mint, and EndeavourOS are just some of the distros known for having Xfce as their flagship DE.