Unlike other competing operating systems such as Windows, Linux users have a limited choice of desktop environments. Says who? Amateurs! who have recently migrated to the Linux World. Well, now that you have adopted Linux, next step is to look for a desktop environment that suits your business and computer needs.
True to its name, Desktop environment is composed of a bundle of programs that runs on an operating system.
Variety of components are packaged into a Desktop Environment (DE) to provide the regular Graphical User Interface (GUI) with elements such as icons, wallpapers, toolbars and widgets. Even several DE comes with a useful set of applications and utilities.
Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments
Curious to give your Linux interface a complete makeover? Here’s is the list of most popular and preferred Linux desktop environments. Download them now!
Cinnamon is a perfect combination of traditional & modern desktop layouts. Originally built for Linux Mint, it has now entered into other Linux distros as well like fedora, Debian etc. It is best for the users who loved older Linux desktop environments and users who preferred the traditional windows. It comes with a good-looking DE with great graphical effects and a rethought application menu.
- Crisp & clean look
- Offers multiple workspaces
- Very stable and just works
- Installation available for Ubuntu as well
- Does not support using a different window manager
- Minor bugs in dragging of windows
Want to try Linux with Cinnamon, click here!
Unity is Ubuntu’s default desktop environment, designed by Canonical and the Ayantana community. Replacing the traditional menu bar, it brings vertical launcher with drop-down heads-up display search screen. Though it’s very subtle feature to mention, but many people don’t notice it that Unity has chameleonic tendencies. Unity’s dashboard & notification bubbles changes hue, based on the color of the background.
- Modern dash
- Amazing search and filtering features
- Provides instant access to often used apps
- Comes with an informative list of keyboard shortcuts
- Lack of customization
- Moving the dock requires line of codes
- More tweaking requires additional software
You can have this desktop environment here!
KDE aka ‘K Desktop Environment’. KDE rather than only being a desktop environment, it’s a collection of several utilities and applications one of which is the desktop environment. The most flexible and customizable of all, it offers a fine collection of apps by default. Including, file manager, calculator, video editor, image viewer, RSS reader, web browser, text editor, messenger and much more. Has similar looks like Windows 7, coming with a single taskbar, quick launch buttons, notification area etc.
- Comes with lots of widgets
- Highly customizable graphical desktop environment
- Comes with a huge list of default apps
- Much familiar to people who are used to Windows OS
- Requires around 300 MB of memory usage
- Little complex to use
Try KDE here!
Budgie can be best defined as a fast, lightweight desktop environment with added functionalities. It can be configured to imitate the interface of GNOME 2 desktop. As far as usability is concerned, Budgie is simple to use, and user don’t have to spend a lot of time in order to understand how everything works. And best part for gamers, Budgie is supported by Steam platform, therefore more than thousands of games on your Linux.
- Simple and clean desktop
- Consumes fewer system resources
- No compatibility issues with even aging hardware
- Officially supported by Steam platform
- Not an interface you can tinker with much
- Not meant for people who have less technical knowledge
- No nice alt + tab functionality
- Screenshots captured are quite wide
LXDE refers to Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. One of the most configurable and powerful desktop environments available at the moment, LXDE features several handy features including a window manager, file manager, text editor, terminal emulator, calculator, task manager, theme switcher, screen manager, configuration toolkit, and easy-mode app launcher. Unlike other Linux desktop environments, LXDE doesn’t require more RAM, CPU time and graphics hardware to run smoothly.
- Very basic desktop environment
- Highly customizable
- Supports almost every Linux distros
- No fancy graphical effects
- Some elements might seem too complicated to use
- Occasionally buggy
The youngest of all, Pantheon is an independent DE based on GTK3. If you want to experience the feel of using Mac OS X desktop, then download Patheon. A default environment originally released for elementary OS distribution, Patheon features everything that defines simplicity and clean aesthetics. Similar to macOS, Patheon has a panel and dock placed at the top & bottom of the screen, respectively. This desktop environment follows the design that minimize the need for command line.
- Best for Linux newbies
- Straightforward and easy-to-use
- Seamless desktop experience
- Support multiple workspaces and grid-based Window tiling
- Not suitable for low-end system
Came in 1996 as a project for building a Window manager for X11. This desktop environment provides users with diverse & refreshing experience. Enlightenment is on its E17 version i.e. incredibly fast, even runs on low-end hardware and looks quite modern and stylish. Even it gives feel like it was created by some sort of ultra-classy alien race from a star system far off.
- Adaptable to old hardware as well
- Responsive and uncluttered interface
- Little fast than you might expect
- Too basic, but it’s how its intended to be
- Not as popular as other DE mentioned here
- The ‘click anywhere on desktop to bring menu options’ feature is quite annoying
An open-source DE, developed by Chinese company. Deepin is one of the most popular Linux desktop environment that most Ubuntu users must be familiar with. It offers a pop-out panel that allows easy configuration and personalization settings. The desktop docks come with three modes: Fashion, Efficient and Classic. Available for other Linux distros as well including Manjaro & Arch. Deepin is A solid desktop environment which is best suited for the people who wants lots of configuration options.
- Elegant, Polished & easy-to-use
- Popular Apps like WPS office, Skype, Spotify comes preinstalled
- Beautiful Blur & transparent control centres much like macOS
- Has its own custom app store
- Worth to mention, but slideshows are amazing in DE
- Boot problems
With the initiative to turn laptop screens into a fun & easy-to-use social experience that promotes learning. Sugar is a free and open-source learning environment, that can be installed on variety of operating systems. This DE is focused to help kids with learning. Even the UI is designed in a very simple & clear way, so that kids can easily use it. Compatible with number of Linux distros such as Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu etc. This DE simply modernize the use of computers for education purpose.
- Available in over 25 languages
- Fun and educative to use
- Downloaded all over the world
- Comes with lots of interactive applications, tutorials and guides
- Hardware limitations
A lightweight and beautiful environment among all, Trinity has a fresh, modern and stylish user interface. A fork of K Desktop Environment (KDE) that aims to keep KDE 3.5 alive, Trinity comes with several improvisations and making it available for variety of operating systems in a lighter weight version. Also, it’s the default & only graphical desktop environment in various Linux distros at the moment.
- Quite polished and stable for everyday use
- Comes with an impressive list of applications
- Traditional and responsive design
- Has wide range of useful apps
- Build on Qt3, so not compatible with distros that depend on newer software
Bottom Line: Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments
These were some of the best choices for Linux Desktop Environments in 2019, none of these are better than another as every DE has different aesthetics, features, and functionalities. Yeah, the performance may differ but that depends on different hardware. Consequently, you have to pick the ideal one according to your needs!
So, which suits you the best? Share your desktop screenshots in the comment section.