Author Topic: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011  (Read 4960 times)

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Offline BillBoh1971

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Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« on: June 06, 2011, 11:26:37 PM »
After trying several distros and reading about even more, i'm still happy with my choice for Mint for my desktop. But even Mint comes in different flavors Ubuntu-based or Debian-based) and with different desktops. Since the desktop is what is used daily, i guess this is a very important thing.

Right now there's GNOME 3.0, KDE 4.6, LXDE 0.5 and XFCE 4.8

Tried any of these? So far, GNOME 3.0 seems to be terrible. KDE 4.6 more or less controversial, exotic and complicated. LXDE very fast and lightweight but lacking some features and still very (too?) young. XFCE 4.8 seems to be the winner.

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2011, 11:08:53 AM »
Old versions of LXDE and XFCE I have tried briefly, but not really used. They seemed to be OK.

I still use mostly Gnome 2.x - no reason to change.
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Offline BillBoh1971

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 11:57:20 AM »
I'm also still using Gnome 2.x. Soon there will be a reason to change (for some of us at least) as 2.x will not be supported/updated anymore.

Offline BillBoh1971

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 06:32:14 PM »
My HDD crashed once again! Western Digital, no good! Anyway, that gave me the idea to experiment with Live CD's. I focused more on desktop environments and window managers than on distributions.

First of all, there's Puppy Linux (with it's extremely lightweight JWM): a excellent distro for humble hardware and for running without HDD (from CD and/or USB stick). Bad point is the default programs on the 5.2.8 Lucid Puppy CD. Not even a browser on it (except for Dillo which is not a browser but just some kind of crappy "internet reader"). JWM is good in being lightweight but it's just too basic for me and lacks customization.

Peppermint with LXDE: Peppermint is a good distro if you keep all your files online. Instead of OOo, you get Google Docs and stuff running as an app. LXDE is better than i thought: still very lightweight but more comprehensive than JWM. You can customize it but not as much as XFCE (the king in customization). PCManFM is a good lightweight file manager, similar to XFCE's Thunar.

Ubuntu with Unity: well, as much as i hate to say it (cause i really sympathize with Ubuntu, until not so long ago the leading distro) .... it drives me nuts. Unity has some good ideas (like the left panel with icons) but i've spent hours in trying to find where everything is. Most annoying: if you wanna find an app, you need to type it in some kind of search box. I'd prefer a list with all apps somewhere, but i can't seem to find it. Maybe this is the "new way of thinking" (like Gnome, Windows 8...) with one desktop for all devices (smart-phones too) ... but hey ... i don't like it! Worse is the lack of customization: seriously, even adding or removing icons on that dreaded side bar is like a journey in hell. Right mouse button like in old Gnome 2 or XFCE? I don't think so!

Right nowi'm posting this with Ubuntu and Unity. Yes, i wanna give that crazy desktop a fair chance! To be continued...

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 08:54:37 AM »
My HDD crashed once again! Western Digital, no good!

Yes, there are problems with certain WD Green models.


Quote
..
Bad point is the default programs on the 5.2.8 Lucid Puppy CD.
...

There are already two newer versions: one compatible with Slackware and one with Ubuntu 12.04.



Quote
Ubuntu with Unity: well, as much as i hate to say it (cause i really sympathize with Ubuntu, until not so long ago the leading distro) .... it drives me nuts. Unity has some good ideas (like the left panel with icons) but i've spent hours in trying to find where everything is. Most annoying: if you wanna find an app, you need to type it in some kind of search box. I'd prefer a list with all apps somewhere, but i can't seem to find it. Maybe this is the "new way of thinking" (like Gnome, Windows 8...) with one desktop for all devices (smart-phones too) ... but hey ... i don't like it! Worse is the lack of customization: seriously, even adding or removing icons on that dreaded side bar is like a journey in hell. Right mouse button like in old Gnome 2 or XFCE? I don't think so!
...

I have used Unity now for a year or so and I dare say that it is functionally the best desktop I have used and Ubuntu 12.04 is the best OS. It has lesser bugs than 10.10/Gnome 2, which I thought was pretty good. Unity is also reasonably decent looking, because there isn't much else visible than your own background picture - which is just as a desktop should be.

Still, you don't need to like it.

Unity is NOT difficult. That has been proven over and over again, when Unity is given to a computer newbie - they have no problems using it. Unity is just very different. I am used to the computer world, which changes every year and all the concepts are totally different on different decades. I do not think that development in late 70s was a divine sign of a greater force and nothing should or could be changed after that - Windows XP and Gnome 2 are from there. I think there is always a place for improvements. What I have studied the hard-core Linux users - some of them are the most old-fashioned people in the world and do not like any changes. That is one reason for all that Unity writing - 95% of it is pure rubbish from the technology point of view.


As for your questions:

First, using an OS is NOT about starting programs that you have never used before. 99% of the use is something else, mostly it is working with programs and data that you know. In general, the number of mouse clicks or moves is smaller than in Gnome 2, by far.

1.
For getting regularly used programs to the menu.

It couldn't be simpler than that. Just open the program and then use right mouse button to lock it there.


2.
As for finding programs with Dash.

Like an example, when you try to remember the program that is for burning CD? What was its name and how I am supposed to remember its name in Unity? Well, in Gnome2 you have to, if it is not installed - there never was anything decent installed in the first place.

In Unity, the main principle: DON'T !

First of all: DON'T think about whether it is installed or not, Dash will tell you both: installed and available in different categories - easy to distinguish.

Secondly: DON'T think if you have used it earlier on your computer or not. Dash will remember that anyway and show recently used programs every time. This is a very fast way.

Thirdly: DON'T think about the program name. Think about what you want to do. Start writing, for instance, "burn" in Dash. If you have Ubuntu on different language you may be able to use your own language for the search AND always English as well. That is VERY user friendly, if you need something else than English.

In order to get ALL of that working fluently, you should start Dash with right mouse button and choose "applications". Otherwise, it will also try to located files and other things.

So, in the end, you will see all the choices for burning a CD.

There are many other aspects to Dash - for instance, I am searching my music library with that. You do not need to do ANYTHING for Dash to search from all the files on the second disk and locate in seconds.

3.
As for getting other menus

You can have a hierarchical view in Dash - Applications - Filters ... and there you have it.

You can also add Gnome 2 "menu panel" easily, so they say.

Personally, I think those are useless since with Dash and left side panel, you can do things better.


4.
Have a go with the icons and observe what they can do.

See what the options are when programs are running on many desktops. Gnome 2 desktop cannot even in theory have such a functionality behind a simple icon as Unity has.


Well, not much of the above, can be tested in a live boot - not in the same way anyway  :FU:

But anyway, if your computer runs Unity live-boot fluently, then 12.04 LTS with Unity is certainly one choice for you. I am running Unity on everything from a moped-laptop to high-end workstation at work.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 10:24:44 AM by Ganymedes »
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Offline BillBoh1971

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 04:12:58 PM »
Thanks for the explanations on Unity! Gonna test it more some time later.

Just tested a Live CD with Mandriva and KDE 4.3. Like i probably said before: KDE looks by far the most professional of all desktops. There seem to be ways to customize it that even XFCE can't. But ... it's slow. even when the everything is loaded into RAM, it's still incredibly SLOW. It also uses the Qt toolkit and given the fact most common apps (at least the ones i know and i use) are written for GTK+ (Gnome, XFCE, LXDE...), installing such programs brings dependencies that makes it run even slower (seen that on a friend's laptop). So, as much as i like at first sight, i start to hate it when i'm using it for a longer time. Now KDE4.3 is rather old and perhaps the newer versions are more responsive, i don't know about that.

As for Unity: well, i have to admit there are a few things i really like about it. the side panel and other kind of stuff gets out of the way when you don't need it. Best example i found was the Firefox menu, which at first i couldn't find ... until i found it by accident. I wonder if maybe i could use some of the good things of Unity on XFCE, cause honestly, i'm more and more convinced i made a good choice with XFCE. More about it later...

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 09:22:15 PM »
...
Just tested a Live CD with Mandriva and KDE 4.3

I cannot really say anything about Mandrive nor KDE. It may be slow or not - I have no experience or background information on that. See more later, why I do not want to comment on the supposed slowness ... even if I have heard about similar claims.

Quote
As for Unity: well, i have to admit there are a few things i really like about it. the side panel and other kind of stuff gets out of the way when you don't need it. Best example i found was the Firefox menu, which at first i couldn't find ... until i found it by accident. I wonder if maybe i could use some of the good things of Unity on XFCE, cause honestly, i'm more and more convinced i made a good choice with XFCE. More about it later...

Yes, ALL the application menus are on the top - in the empty space. That saves a lot of pixels vertically. With HD displays saving vertical pixels is the thing - I already regret when needing to work with, for instance with Win 7 for any longer time, where you have too little vertical space.

However, you CAN with a simple customization have the application menus back in application windows - they say. I do not have the details, because I do not want that change.

As an example of this Unity ranting - I am sure it is even worse on many English Forums. Some experienced Linux people claim that Unity makes the computer slow. That is simply not true and is a big mistake. Obviously, a regular user can say that and even believe that - no problem. But if somebody who  is supposed to be a Linux expert says that, he should probably stop supporting other people. I mean that if you get the cause and the effect the wrong way, your technical competence is not on a very good state - still those kinds of guys write a lot in forums of open software. Obviously, on market-driven forums those would be kicked out, but in Open Software Forums they can rant whatever they will. I am not sure, if standard users really understand that. That is a great weakness of the Open Software, because stupid writing is given a respect that it doesn't deserve.

The thing about slowness is that a (bad or unsuitable) computer makes Unity slow, not the other way round. To put this short, mostly this is about:

a) having a decent graphics adapter
b) having support in the Linux distro for that graphics adapter
c) these two things above are partly mixed with each other. I mean that if a graphics adapter is NOT considered to be good, then why would anybody in the open community bother writing good drivers for that adapter (for instance for some very strange Acer-specific display adapters).

If the graphics adapter is suitable for Unity, is very easily tested - just run the live CD. If it doesn't work properly then you need to a) study more, or b) use something else, like Ubuntu + XCFE = Xubuntu, which is also LTS (supported for 5 years). It is very easy to decide.

Another wrong statement has been that a large number of files (tens of thousands of files) make Dash slow. That is rubbish as well. I have tested with 160 000 file extra library and 40 000 regular files, and DASH is NOT slow. Files where on a regular SATA 2 disk. That test is with a couple of slow-dual-core AMD computers.

Some of the experienced Linux "experts" seem to have made very big mistakes when installing new Ubuntu.They have copied "/home" partition from the old system on top of the newly installed new Ubuntu. They of course do not admit that to have caused anything. To do a thing like that is a VERY big mistake, if you are not absolutely sure what you are doing. Well, how could anybody be absolutely sure about the new version before trying it? That is most likely a reason for many problems that those guys state that they have with Unity - like the slowness of Dash.

As a summary, it seems that many of the old Linux users are really all thumbs with Unity. I am slightly pissed off with those guys since I used to rely on their Linux experience and now with Unity I have read about their writings where the reasoning is just rubbish. They were misleading also me for quite some time - until I tried Unity myself and found out how it REALLY works.

I mean you can like whatever you want to and use whatever you want to, but why write about technology something which is just not true. Technology is not about opinions, it is about facts.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 09:35:34 PM by Ganymedes »
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Offline BillBoh1971

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2012, 12:58:39 AM »
Technology is not about opinions, it is about facts.
This of course needs a reply. It's indeed about facts, but i can't seem to find facts. "Slow" or "fast" are still - subjective - opinions. What i'm looking for are objective facts, benchmarks, numbers. On this page i can find a few numbers about RAM consumption (http://www.renewablepcs.com/about-linux/kde-gnome-or-xfce), but the author admits (which i think is admirable) the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt given the fact we're comparing things that are not easy to compare.

[Writing this with Peppermint with LXDE/Openbox. More in a few, when i switch to Ubuntu with Unity.]

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2012, 08:23:55 AM »
This of course needs a reply. It's indeed about facts, but i can't seem to find facts. "Slow" or "fast" are still - subjective - opinions.
...

Yes of course if you put it like that, but in those writings opinions were, well I suppose they still are, disguised as technological facts, for instance:

- opening Dash takes 5-10 seconds if you have many files. Not true, in a average computer it takes less than 1s even with 200 000 files
- Unity is not suitable for anything else than a fast, new computer. Not true. It is not slow even on Asus eeePC 901 moped laptop with 1 GB of RAM. It is not about computer being fast, it is about computer being decent for Linux and having a decent display adapter. These are complete different things given as support answers.
- Unity has bad ergonomy because it requires a lot of mouse clicking and movement. Not true. It is very easy to count the clicks and find out that this is not true. As such ergonomy is not about opinions - it is an university course and more.

So, if term "slow" is used as such, it should mean real slowness, seconds. If slowness is meant as feeling-of-the-user-experience, then it should be stated like that and then it can be a subjective matter. I am now talking about official support on Ubuntu forums.

RAM consumption doesn't mean a thing on 64-bit computers, if you just have enough RAM. Why wouldn't you have since it is cheap and every motherboard can support enough RAM. Requirement of RAM is a feature of OS and programs - you need to configure your computer to face that requirement. If you cannot, then you just simply have to use something else. Comparing RAM consumption is only relevant on older computers (like AMD 1.4 GHz - level), but most likely they are not up to a modern, fully equipped,  distro anyway.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 08:30:30 AM by Ganymedes »
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Offline BillBoh1971

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2012, 06:48:05 PM »
Comparing RAM consumption is only relevant on older computers (like AMD 1.4 GHz - level), but most likely they are not up to a modern, fully equipped,  distro anyway.
I still have 2 old machines of that generation (a desktop and a laptop) so it matters to me.

But since you insist on speed: my impression is that Unity is rather fast, even ultra fast compared to KDE (on my 1.5yo machine that is). In terms of speed you can compare it with Gnome2/Mate. XFCE is still faster. All of that is, on my machine.

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Choosing a Linux desktop environment 2011
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2012, 07:12:21 PM »
...
But since you insist on speed: my impression is that Unity is rather fast, even ultra fast compared to KDE (on my 1.5yo machine that is). In terms of speed you can compare it with Gnome2/Mate. XFCE is still faster. All of that is, on my machine.

Yep, that might be a very correct comment technology-wise (I say "might" because I do not know KDE).

But I was referring to writings of this nature: "Unity is very slow, almost unusable compared to Gnome 2". That is simply not true on any system, where Unity should even be tried to be used. Trying to run Unity with a system with too little memory or bad graphics adapter, is just insane ... technology-wise, I mean.
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