A full desktop environment is the lazy man’s approach to Linux. Most popular Linux distributions today employ a full desktop environment, while hand selecting each component for specific purposes.
A Linux desktop environment will usually include a session manager, a login or display manager, a window manager, a settings manager, a panel, and several great applications to get you started.
About Linux Desktop Environments
Basically a full Linux desktop environment will contain everything you need to switch from Windows or any other operating system. Most projects start out as simple Linux window managers, if the team grows and the project develops more components are often added. When a project assembles a window manager, a desktop manager, a panel, and some convenient settings windows, you then have a desktop environment.
Finding The Right Desktop
Some desktop environments are intentionally designed to maximize speed, and others are created to deliver as many options as possible to the user. So be sure to find the desktop environment that reflects your needs, whatever they may be.
Many users are not familiar with the inner workings of a Linux system. If users are using Ubuntu such as, they are using the Gnome desktop environment, with whatever spin Ubuntu has decided to put on it. Which is currently the Unity shell. But users can install the Xfce 4 desktop or the KDE desktop on Ubuntu in a very simple way. Because of this there is no reason to switch between Kubuntu or Xubuntu if you want a change. Simply install the desktop that you are interested in.
The Cinnamon desktop user interface was created by the Linux Mint team. Cinnamon was derived from the Gnome Shell desktop, with a few significant changes of course.
New Window Manager
The Mutter window manager for Linux has been redisigned as the Muffin window manager, I had to pause and contemplate this. Is there even a reason, or did they just want their own name? This may have been done simply to avoid naming conflicts.
More Cinnamon Details
I was rather shocked by the rapid development of the Cinnamon desktop. This project is meant to replace and improve upon the Linux Mint Gnome Shell Extensions concept.
Here is another excellent Linux window manager that is becoming very popular. Enlightenment is extremely scalable and very unique. With Enlightenment you get all the advanced graphics with minimal use of system resources. Enlightenment uses a highly optimised code base.
This project started out as a simple alternative Linux window manager and grew into a full suite of libraries. I find that this project resembles Xfce in performance, and maybe KDE in it’s aesthetically pleasing nature.
Gnome Classic is a very popular Linux desktop environment, though it is no longer in active development. With the release of Gnome 3 Shell Gnome 2 is going the way of the dinosaurs. However there are still several distributions which have not yet been updated, more information is available for everyone who is still interested. Gnome has also been one of the most popular choices for Linux newcomers in recent years.
Gnome offers a fantastic suite of applications that can help get you through all of your day-to-day tasks. Gnome has applications for everything, from text editors, to system monitors, Gnome comes well equipped.
The new Linux Gnome 3 shell interface offers a truly unique experience for users familiar to Gnome classic. There is a new Gnome Shell dash that you can use to store and launch all of your favorite applications. More applications can be found inside the Gnome Shell activities menu. The new activities menu functionality is quite different from Gnome classic, but Gnome Shell can also be enhanced using extensions to add the functionality you prefer.
About Gnome 3
The compositing manager used for Gnome Shell is Mutter which is based on Metacity. The Gnome Shell uses a completely enhanced user interface with a new dock, window switcher, and messaging tray.
KDE is a well-known linux desktop environment dedicated to delivering a beautiful workspace, and many fantastic tools for your desktop. KDE is also a decent choice for new Linux users, the setup is easy and KDE is very stable. KDE also has a large development team which means updates come often and things are always up to date. KDE is designed to offer a maximum level of configuration ability for the user.
You can use all the amazing visual effects KDE has to offer to create a shocking Linux work environment. The KDE desktop looks fantastic by default, but it was created to be highly customizable and easy to use. You can also use the massive list of available widgets to add even more functionality to your desktop. You can also use many of the cool themes that KDE has to offer to change the look of your desktop even more.
LXDE is also known as the Lightweight X11 desktop environment for Linux, and as implied speed can be expected. LXDE is composed of several highly optimized components. LXDE is a fantastic choice for systems with limited resources or for anyone who wants to maximize efficiency.
OpenBox Window Manager
This Linux desktop environment also uses the popular OpenBox window manager which is highly configurable and easy to use.
The MATE desktop is another creation by the Linux Mint team. This project is meant to continue support for GTK+ 2, but plans stand to incorporate GTK+3 as well.
Many of the poplar Gnome applications have been redesigned for the MATE desktop as well. Many of these applications have received new names, but you can expect all of the same functionality.
The Unity desktop is a new introduction to the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. Unity has several convenient features which make it a great choice for inexperienced users. Unity offers a user-friendly environment that differs from the traditional desktop approach. Some users have expressed concerns over the lack of customization abilities. This project is improving and new features are being added all the time.
The Unity desktop for Linux provides a new dash that you can use to search for files and applications. You can also use the new launcher to store and run all of your favorite applications. Lenses will also help your search for files with improved speed and accuracy.
This is another free desktop environment for Linux operating systems. Xfce 4 is light weight and very fast. All applications are hand selected to ensure users are delivered a high-speed work environment. Xfce 4 is designed to offer a very efficient work environment, perfect for users that want to get the most out of their limited hardware.
Xfce is more than just another Linux desktop, Xfce 4 also provides a list of lightweight software that is available for free. With Xfce 4 you still get many of the features offered with the heavy weight desktop environment, but everything has been considerably optimised.
The Xfce 4 desktop environment uses the popular Xfwm window manager for Linux which also had a built-in compositor. That means you get many cool effects for your desktop, like transparency. This window manager also supports themes, virtual workspaces, and all the standard window actions.
Xfce 4 Panels
Like many other popular Linux desktop environments Xfce 4 also uses a modular system for your desktop panels. That means you can switch panels if you are not happy with the existing one, but it is getting better every day. Lots of cool panel plugins are included and more can easily be installed. If compositing is turned on you can even use semi-transparent panels.
Xfce 4 Settings Manager
Xfce 4 offers an extremely convenient graphical user interface for handling all of your system settings. All of your settings are divided into separate preferences dialogs, each containing similar settings.