Choose Your Desktop

One of the great things about Linux is that you have a range of Desktop Environments to choose  from. There is the new age Gnome 3, the unique KDE, the more traditional Xfce or the basic provided by any of the *box options and many others. Over the years I have been using Linux I’ve tried several of them including Gnome 2 and Enlightment.

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a fan of KDE. I run the latest 4.7.4 on Kororaa on a couple of machines. What many people may not know is that I also have Xfce 4.8 installed on both of those systems. These are 2 very different environments but I find both work well for me.


This is my Xfce desktop (larger size click here)and despite its performance advantages it clearly can be a good looking desktop.

So which one do I prefer? If you asked I would answer KDE without hesitation. It is the easier to configure, has more powerful options and some fancy effects. However if you asked which one I use the most I would have to say it differs from time to time but lately it has been Xfce. Why? Well it does have a performance advantage especially on my older laptop. It also feels more stable. For all KDE’s attractions it does have the occasional glitch, rarely the same one though. It locks up occasionally but there is no pattern to it so nothing I can report a bug on.

Xfce doesn’t lose much in appearance. It does have a little inconsistency on some screens. It is a little more difficult to configure, more editing of text files. E.g. there is no menu editor. But it has improved a lot over the last few versions. And it is very stable, probably an advantage of the slower update timetable.

I still use the same applications, mainly KDE, on both desktops and KDE apps run well perhaps even better than on KDE. It doesn’t affect my workflow at all as I have similar keyboard shortcuts set up.

Occasionally I try other environments but I always come back to these 2.


Author: Jim

A sixty something living in the Hawkesbury Valley on the edge of Sydney Australia.

8 thoughts on “Choose Your Desktop”

  1. That’s a nice XFCE desktop you have there. I just started my adventure with this desktop environment after a not so nice experience with KDE. Can you tell me what’s that widget bar you have on the right?

    1. That’s Conky on the right. It is also Conky on the lower left with the Amarok ‘what’s playing’. If you are interested I’ll post my .conkyrc.

  2. Thanks. It’s one of mine. It is available as a wallpaper for Kororaa, on the Kororaa forum, along with several of my photos.
    It is part of a slideshow I have as my wallpaper. Not a standard feature of Xfce but it can be done.

  3. You have done a good job there Jim, I was moving around a lot the last couple of years and bought a netbook as it was easy to cart around and did most of what I wanted, including graphics, which slowed it down a lot sometimes. I has always been a KDE fan because the sorts of reasons you list above but had to try something lighter than KDE 4 as it nearly stalled the netbook.

    I tried a lot of desktops, including XFCE, and settled on Gnome and LXDE as the two favourites, until Gnome 3 came along and turned gnome into a beginners platform with bugs, and not that great for productivity, personally I don’t feel that offerings like Gnome 3 and the early KDE 4 should not be the default desktop for a distro until they are less buggy.

    The previous version should be the default so that beginners have a mature and stable desktop environment, whilst having the new version in the main repos for those who want to try it and help with bug reporting, this is not a role for people who are new to Linux and nothing will drive them back to their commercial operating system quicker than the sorts of issues that the new KDE and Gnome have dished out, KDE is great now, a couple of years after its’ release, and so will Gnome be. I have had a look at the new Ubuntu desktop too, and that is a bit scary!

    I still use LXDE a lot as I found it just as good as XFCE, but lighter on resources and downloads, I had to use mobile broadband for those two years and really watch the data I used and the heavier desktops can cause some large updates.

    I am using a grunty desktop machine now and the netbook has been retired until the next time it is needed but I still have LXDE loaded as an option with KDE and I will not look at Gnome until it is easier to use with a mouse, sure you can alt/tab and alt/F2, etc. but a newcomer would not know that.

    1. Thanks Bruce

      I’ve never used LXDE though I’ve heard a lot of good about it. Must give it try one day.

      Just because it is a light desktop doesn’t mean it can only be used on a lower spec machine. I know many people run Xfce and other light environments on up to date hardware and enjoy the performance, especially if it is used for resource intensive things like video editing.


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