Best Linux Desktop Environments: 12 Suggestions

Right after you have chosen your Linux distribution, the next question that comes to your mind is, what desktop environment will I use? It was not a problem if you used windows or mac; you had no choice! Linux gives you the freedom and the sweet trouble of which one to choose from many Linux Desktop Environments. Let’s see if we can help you here.

Top 12 Linux Desktop Environments: Finding the Best One

Before proceeding, we must clarify that not all desktop environments will work out of the box in all distributions. Why?? Because sometimes, developers do not target all distributions and skip testing on distros other than their selected few. For example, Cinnamon is only supported on Linux Mint. That does not mean you can not make that DE work on your non-mint system. You probably can, but you may need to go through additional pain to fix things if any trouble arises.

Okay, enough talking. Let’s go to the central business. 

1. Gnome: Linux Desktop Environment

This environment does not have the most extensive features as one of the Linux Desktop Environments, but that’s not its goal. Gnome wants to keep it partly set small but stable. This Desktop Environment is most widely chosen as the primary DE among distributions because of this. It has a massive flock of developers supporting it.

linux desktop environments Gnome

Its features can be extended easily by thousands of extensions. It’s easy for developers to write these extensions with the help of the great API & documentation Gnome provides. You can’t go wrong with Gnome.

Good Sides

  • Stable, robust, rock-solid
  • Thousands of extensions
  • Official support from distros
  • Large developer base
  • Minimal, unobtrusive design
  • Wayland Support

Negative Sides

  • Fewer features, less customizability
  • The extensions are not of good quality. They fail too often.
  • Poor workspace management
  • Resource-hungry

2. KDE: Linux Desktop Environment

KDE has tons of features. Not only does it provide the DE, but it also offers much software which best suits only KDE (for example, KDE connect). While it has its pros in customizability and feature set, it’s not as stable as many others. The code base is old and hard to maintain, as complained by many, and it is also a bit heavier than most others.

Good Sides

  • HUGE feature-set
  • Large developer base
  • KDE software
  • More Customizable
  • Wayland Support

Negative Sides

  • Not so robust
  • Ancient codes still exist in many areas
  • It may seem cluttered and distracting to many
  • Resource-hungry

3. XFCE: Linux Desktop Environment

It looks old and boring, honestly. Fortunately, it’s only when you first unpack it. You can customize it to your heart’s desire: the look, the feel & the behavior. XFCE is very efficient in using resources. You can expect reliable, robust performance, although only a handful of developers maintain it. If you have a low-spec system, XFCE can be your friend. I have seen many high-spec folks using XFCE because they like the efficiency and no-bullshit principle of XFCE.

Linux Desktop Environments xfce

Good Sides

  • Fast, Efficient on resources
  • Customizability
  • Good workspace management

Negative Sides

  • The old-school default design
  • Slow development
  • No real sign of Wayland’s support

4. Mate: Linux Desktop Environment

Gnome made radical decisions when they upgraded from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3. Many gnome developers and fans did not like the move, so they decided to take the existing codes of Gnome 2 and keep making it excellent in their way. Mate is the result. It does not have that many extensions like Gnome 3. But it’s fast, simple, customizable, and robust.

Good Sides

  • Many active developers
  • Very easy to customize
  • Simple, lightweight, fast
  • Robust and stable experience

Negative Sides

  • Slow to pick up new technologies
  • Conservative principles to hold on to Gnome-2-like experience
  • It looks and feels old by default
  • No Wayland support yet

5. Cinnamon

There are many windows refugees out there in Linux world. Many prefer windows to look and feel in their desktop environment, and Cinnamon can be the way to go. It’s also a child of the mighty Gnome DE. Unlike MATE, it is born from Gnome 3 (MATE is a fork of Gnome-2).

Good Sides

  • Windows look & feel
  • Nice UI, theming
  • More modern fork of the Gnome
  • Fairly Customizable
  • Rich in features

Negative Sides

  • Not that robust
  • Only supported on Linux Mint
  • Sometimes buggy
  • Customization is not always possible with some features.
  • The use of memory is high.

6. I3

A Desktop environment mainly consists of the window manager, panels, menu, system tray, launcher, etc. I3 is not a complete desktop environment; it is a window manager with some panel support. Unlike the DEs we discussed, this one does not have a floating window manager. It is a tiling window manager that can provide a speedy workflow for power users. Many former DE users moved to such a tiling window manager, and you can try one too!

Linux Desktop Environments i3

Good Sides

  • Crazy fast workflow
  • No need for a mouse 90% of the time
  • Extremely customizable
  • Configuration (aka rice) can be replicated easily

Negative Sides

  • Difficult for beginners
  • Hard to set up as a full DE
  • Panels, menu, and system tray setup can be hard

7. Pantheon

Pantheon is one of the Linux Desktop Environments designed for elementary OS with a macOS look. The design languages for the core applications are written in Vala and C, and most of the design languages are from GNOME as this Desktop Environment is found in GNOME. Pantheon was designed for command-line minimization.

This lightweight and modular-based environment has come with multiple workspaces with intelligent behavior. The environment has a minimal way of customization and Extension. However, after all these, the look of the desktop was highly maintained.

Good Sides

  • The Desktop Environment is lightweight without losing looking value.
  • User-friendly with smooth animations.
  • Multiple Workspaces with intelligent behavior.

Negative Sides

  • We have limited customization and Extension.
  • The availability of options for configuration is significantly less.
  • He has nasty comments about being buggy about

8. Budgie

Budgie is one of the youngest Desktop Environments, a mirror of Solus OS. A small Solus development team, along with others from different places, contributes to this desktop environment. It mostly looks like Chrome OS and uses GTK technologies used by the GNOME desktop environment. However, the atmosphere is user-friendly and flexible.

LInux Desktop Environments budgie

Good Sides

  • It is lightweight and looks outstanding.
  • It is very stable due to the better use of technologies.
  • Many large distros support it.
  • An increase in memory usage is negligible.
  • It has a modern look.

Negative Sides

  • It has a complaint about being buggy.
  • The nonavailability of some basic features.
  • The installation process is robust.
  • Multi-monitor support is not at a satisfactory level.

9. Unity: Linux Desktop Environment

AgreementUnity, the default Desktop Environment for Ubuntu, which Canonical Ltd developed, has a modern look. It provides effortless access to favorite applications. This was designed for smaller screens with a space-saving Launcher and Horizontal top menu features. It is straightforward to navigate and has powerful search and filtering features. However, it is a less customizable comparison to other environments. 

Good Sides

  • It looks modern.
  • Apps for Multimedia are incorporated into the desktop.
  • It has easy navigation due to a wide range of keyboard shortcuts.
  • It has powerful search and Filtering features.

Negative Sides

  • Fewer customization scopes.
  • Memory consumption is high.
  • Not suitable for giant screens.
  • Poor notification system.
  • The interface is not stable.

10. LXDE: Linux Desktop Environment

LXDE is one of the lightweight, user-friendly, and energy-efficient Linux Desktop Environments. It can perform on older computers using meager resources. This modular desktop environment is based on GTK+, and its components can be independently operated, making it supported by almost all distros. With all these customizable abilities, it is one of the best Linux Desktop Environments.

Good Sides

  • Lightweight and user-friendly.
  • It consumes very little memory.
  • Energy-efficient.
  • Variety of configuration tools.
  • Almost all distros support this Desktop Environment.
  • Highly customizable.

Negative Sides

  • The user interface is not attractive.
  • Shortage in default applications.
  • The look has become older.
  • The default apps could not reach a satisfactory level like other available ones. 

11. Trinity: Linux Desktop Environment

If you are looking for an environment that looks like KDE 3 and is lighter, Trinity is the best choice. Trinity is lightweight, modern, and stylish looking and one of the best Linux desktop environments. Maintaining its lighter weight, this Trinity is available for many OS. It was designed as a forked desktop environment like KDE 3.

Good Sides

  • An extensive collection of applications.
  • Many apps with excellent features.
  • Modern and stylish design.
  • Stable to use.

Negative Sides

  • Not compatible with all the distros, especially the new distros.

12. Enlightenment

Enlightenment started its journey long ago with complete components set and management system. This efficient system is high-speed, covers all modern devices, and works on older hardware. 

Good Sides

  • Goes with both older and newer devices.
  • Fast and light.
  • It contains a lot of themes.
  • Configuration of the environment can be done without having experience in programming.
  • User-friendly and easy navigation. 

Negative Sides

  • Default themes are not of an excellent standard.’
  • Beginners won’t feel easy to use it.
  • It could not earn much popularity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.