I thought that I could be this awesome Linux reviewer since I used to love trying every new distro that came out then two things happened. The first is that I found the perfect distro, in my opinion, in Zorin. The second was that the quality of desktops has recently degraded. So instead of reviewing distros, I thought I would give my opinions on the various desktops out there.
My problem with a lot of the desktops recently is that a lot of the developers want to reinvent the wheel. And when I say wheel I mean the iPad because it seems that a lot of the new desktops are what I refer to as appified. Instead of having traditional desktops it seems that the developers are looking to tablets as the future. But not all so let’s take a look at the desktops out there.
GNOME 3: (Used with Linux Mint 12) When Gnome 3 first came out it was not very customizable. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t at all. However recently it’s become a little better with the addition of the Gnome Shell Extensions. Still not as customizable as I would prefer and it’s obviously being geared toward touchscreens. Not everyone wants to use a tablet as their main device.
MATE: (Also with Linux Mint 12) MATE is a fork of Gnome 2 which to me is the best desktop but will probably soon be phased out. While it is very customizable it’s missing my favorite gadget from Gnome 2 which is the disk mounter. Since I usually dual-boot all my computers, that gadget is very handy. If I had to choose between Gnome 3 and MATE I’d go with MATE.
Cinnamon: (Again with Linux Mint 12) Very slick. It’s like they took Gnome 3 and cut out all the unnecessary crap and made a usable desktop. Not enough gadgets though since it’s still pretty new. No disk mounting gadget either.
KDE: (Used on Linux Mint 12 KDE edition) KDE can either be a blessing or a curse depending on the distro. With LM 12 it was a godsend. Traditional desktop while still looking modern and crisp. On some other distros though it can be an appified mess but is highly customizable and can be configured into something more simple. Plenty of gadgets but again I was unable to find a disk mounting gadget that worked.
XFCE: (Used Xubuntu 11.10) XFCE is actually Linus Torvalds desktop of choice, He’s the guy who basically invented Linux by the way. XFCE can be compared to a loafer. It does what it’s supposed to but it’s kind of just there. While it has a ton of gadgets including disk mounters it’s not very good-looking.
LXDE: (Used with Zorin OS 5 Lite) I love LXDE. I use only LXDE with my Asus EeePC 701. It’s a great lightweight desktop and does pretty much everything you need it to in those situations. Lots of gadgets but again no disk mounter. looks crisp and clean.
Enlightenment: (Used with Bodhi Linux) While Enlightenment is a very customizable desktop it seems to be all about the eye candy especially with the Mac-like taskbar. However, it’s very customizable and again a great selection of gadgets but still no disk mounter. I was amazed that the desktop didn’t hog up a lot of memory.
Winners: KDE, LXDE, XFCE
Losers: Gnome 3, Unity