Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wow not a post about gaming!  Yes this one is going to be about Desktop environments, love them hate them confused or not I'm going to talk about my favorite one's.   Lets get down to business shall we?

Window 7

I use Windows 7 the majority of the time (I multi-boot), though at the moment I'm typing this from a Linux Mint 12 install.  I like the Windows 7 it's a much better OS than Vista in many regards, though it's by no means perfect.  My major complain with Windows 7 is pretty much the same as  the complaints I've had for every single version of Windows to date.  It's pretty difficult for an average user to make his or her desktop "feel" the way they want.  Sure I can change the icons around, swap the wall paper but that's it unless I want to go through a pretty rough process that may or may not involve changing registry keys depending on how "custom" I want it to be. 

Gnome 2.x

Low and behold a desktop that's almost had it right.  It has great flexibility, in terms of how much you can customise it thanks to a few nifty add-ons such as Compiz and Emerald.  You can have multiple desktops as well and swapping through them was a breeze.  I came late into the Linux world and didn't get to enjoy this wonderful desktop nearly as much as I should have.

Gnome 3.x with Gnome-Shell

Gnome 2.x is on the way out for most distributions, and 3.x is replacing it.  I like Gnome 3 with the Gnome-Shell.  It's flexible, has a good deal of customisability thanks to Gnome-Shell extensions, and best of all it is designed not to "clutter".  Open windows can have their own desktop which is a great feature if you multi-task.  Scoot my mouse pointer to the top left of the screen and I get a list of all open windows, and an application's menu at the same time.  I can't complain about this at all!  It's a great desktop that with future development and time will be a major contender in the Desktop world.


I really want to like KDE 4, it looks fantastic, and honestly it's not KDE's fault but the software that underpins KDE systems to me lacks a ton of features that bring the "me" factor down.  Dolphin isn't as user friendly as Nautilus as a file browser, the plasma Widgets can be annoying, and due to it's "Stock" accompaniments of software I've had more issues with hardware compatibility with KDE than Gnome, LXDE, Enlightenment, or about any other Desktop you can think of.  To me KDE feels like someone wanted to make a GUI that felt, well "Windows like" while being able to not call it Windows.  It looks good, and when I can get it to play nicely it works well, just it's not quite right for me.


This is another I kind of want to like, but thanks to Apples rigorous grip on anything with a Apple Logo on it, I just can't come to grips with getting it set up in a manner that feels right to me.  I'm not Apple fan (with the exception of the iPod), so call me biased or what ever, but I still find it amusing that the majority of the Desktop Environments have the Hide/Min-Max/Close buttons on the Right while Apple firmly holds them on the left hand of the top window border.  Even Ubuntu which switched to Left Handed Buttons gave you the option to swap them over to the opposite side. 

Windows 8?

I've not had a hands on with Windows 8 but from the screen shots I'm a bit worried.  It appears they are trying to pack 2 Desktop environments into one OS release.  It has one desktop that makes everyone think of a Tablet OS, then a traditional "Windows" desktop that looks very similar to that of Windows 7.  I get the idea, one OS that fits every need unlike Apples approach with OSX and iOS.  At the same time I have to wonder how much bloat is this adding?  In an age where Small and Fast is how the game is played, is a OS that requires 16-20 GB (32bit/64bit)of hard drive space the way to go?  1-2GB of RAM minimum depending on if it's 32 bit or 64 bit?  These numbers aren't pulled out of my backside by the way, they are listed as the minimal requirements for the Windows 8 Consumer Review, sort of a open beta for people to try Windows 8 out for themselves, and with a release currently expected later this year I can't see this changing much.

Well there you have it, my thoughts on Desktop environments.  Hope you enjoyed the read, and I hope you take time to explore some of these Desktop environments for yourself.  It's totally worth seeing what else is out there besides Windows and Apple. 


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