What makes Windows so popular? Some say it is so user friendly. What exactly makes it so user friendly? An answer to that question could be that is has an incredible desktop environment with which almost any user can sit down and interact. More choices are available because, Linux is coming into the arena with some desktop environments that are just as user friendly as Windows. These will offer as much versatility if not more to allow for some great customization and installation of separate applications.
Before discussing the different desktops, a definition of a desktop environment is in order. In the book, The Complete Guide to Linux Administration, Wells defines it by saying “the desktop interface is a graphical application that provides a comprehensive user interface, including menus, desktop icons, and usually several integrated applications” (2005). It can also include or provide drag and drop capabilities. Simply put, it is something that involves the windows manager, but then “kicks it up a notch with greater integration” (Hartley, 2011).
The window manager sits below the desktop environment and the graphical application or the X client sits above it. It should also be noted that the desktop environment is an optional component, but it is an excellent companion to run in conjunction with the command line. It gives the Linux operating system a little more visual depth and visual interaction among components. A good example where the desktop environment fits in the components of the X windows system is displayed table 1.
New Linux users may find themselves baffled over the different desktop environments offered in the world of Linux operating systems. How does one decide what to install. Moreover, what is important to know about the different choices? These are great questions that deserve some acknowledgement and exploration.
One of the best ways to approach the topic is by looking at the environments from two different perspectives. The first is this: the fully loaded desktop environment that offers something for everyone. Among desktops with this kind of environment is the KDE or Gnome. The second perspective is the lean or basic desktop environment that is lightweight and uses minimal resources such as Xfce and LXDE.
The commonly known and well used desktop environments are KDE and Gnome. KDE was the first desktop interface created and was developed in 1996 by Mathias Ettrich. The letters KDE means K Desktop Environment. The K stands for nothing in particular although there have been several suggestion of what the K could mean. KDE is widely used and favored among IT administrator and techies alike. In the article “KDE and Gnome”, Jason Brooks, comments that, depending on a user’s point of view, KDE is either considered slow and bloated or fully loaded and complete (2004). It is by far the largest of the desktop environments, with 210 MB, the programming language is C++, and use the Qt language toolkit.
KDE has several...