Choosing the Best Linux Desktop: KDE, Unity, GNOME : Page 4

Pros and cons of the KDE, Unity, GNOME 2, and GNOME 3 Linux desktops.
(Page 4 of 4)

Go directly to the review of each Linux desktop:

GNOME 2

GNOME 3

KDE

Unity

Unity

Unity began as a netbook desktop, but in Ubuntu 11.04, it became the default desktop. Or, more properly speaking, it became the default shell for GNOME, since, despite all the differences from GNOME 3, Unity is still GNOME behind the scenes.

Drawing largely on interfaces for mobile devices, Unity is intended as a desktop for any hardware platform. It remains in rapid development, and will eventually be available in a 2-D version for those systems that lack hardware acceleration.

Pro

 

  1. Of the four major desktops, Unity is by far the simplest to use.
  2.  

  3. One of the main virtues in Unity's designs is the implicit realization that, given the shape of modern screens, vertical space is more restricted than horizontal space. Consequently, instead of a menu that drops down from the top or a panel, Unity features a launcher for favorite and open apps that opens from the left side of the screen. When the launcher's icons take up all the vertical space, the bottom few icons are collapsed to save space.
  4.  

  5. Unity does encourage opening apps from the launcher, and, like GNOME 3, makes sparing use of the panel. However, it is flexible enough to allow icons on the desktop if that's what you prefer.

 

Con

 

  1. Administrative and customization tools tend to be buried deep. At first, some users may believe that they aren't included. But, even when you learn otherwise, reaching them requires patience and seemingly endless mouse-clicks.
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  3. Unity replaces the menu with the dash, a listing of available apps that covers the entire desktop. The name's suggestion of compactness seems ironic, since a more sprawling and unwieldy design is hard to imagine. In effect, Unity replaces the classic menu with something that is just as disruptive and space-consuming.
  4.  

  5. Like GNOME 3, Unity's designers were optimistic about the state of hardware acceleration. That's why both Unity and GNOME 3 require a fallback desktop.

 

The Fragmented Market

Judging from the reactions I have heard, the release of GNOME 3 and Unity appears to have fragmented the free desktop, with none of the major choices emerging as a clear favorite. However, with the fragmentation occurring mostly in GNOME, I suspect that KDE can now claim to be the most widely used Linux desktop, if anyone is keeping count.

All the same, I doubt that many of the disgruntled GNOME users (however many there happen to be) are switching to KDE. The antipathy between GNOME and KDE users is based mostly on rumors and the fear of something different, so it is unlikely to be changed by any facts or even open-minded experimentation.

Instead, some users are investigating less popular desktops. Xfce in particular seems to have benefited from the fragmentation, but LXDE and Enlightenment seem to be attracting attention, too.

However, if, like most people, you prefer to confine your experimentation to the four major choices, then maybe the pros and cons I've listed will give you some direction, by suggesting which desktop you should try -- or else avoid altogether.

Go directly to the review of each Linux desktop:

GNOME 2

GNOME 3

KDE

Unity


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Tags: Linux, Ubuntu, Gnome, KDE, Unity


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