Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The various desktop environments and window managers.

One of my friend, a recent linux user asked me while installing openSuse, which one of KDE and GNOME to install and what are their advantages? I didn't know how to answer it in simple terms as the question itself is so complex.I can't really expect a newbie to understand the concept behind having several desktop environments and window managers. As if the choice of a distro was not enough to start with, but then these are the true charms of Linux for me. :)

Each of these DE and WM is made by people who tried to be different and were inspired by the open source philosophy. For me, KDE is quite professional looking and has generally better quality apps, although it is most certainly not suitable for older machines. GNOME, on the other hand, has a nice blend of ease-of-use and not-resource-hungry. XFCE, different from both of these, offers a solution for the ones who want to squeeze out that extra bit of performance from their machines without having to compromise a great deal on the ease-of-use. The *boxes are a different issue altogether.

FLuxbox eats up even less resource than XFCE and its quite natural since it adopts a minimalistic approach to window managing. No fancy panels or icons. One can have them if needed (fbpanel and idesk). Its also compatible with most Blackbox things, since its a derivative of it. Openbox, FVWM, and the rest of the box category are for the real minimalists who insists on having a set up just the way they want. No real issue of applications in these *boxes though, since these are just window managers which can be used either with a DE or without it.

Compiz and Beryl are composite managers, since they need a window manager or desktop environment. Its great if one seeks eyecandy, although most certainly its more of a bloat for me than functionality, but we all love tranparencies and things like that. Don't we?

So, if you are still asking which one to use, I can only say that try out all and eventually you will like one better than the rest. Just for information though, I use GNOME with compiz (transparencies are real cool) in Ubuntu most of the time, while I also made myself a Gentoo installation with fluxbox.