Linux Desktop Environments vs Microsoft Windows

Unlike Windows 10 and previous versions of Windows, Linux offers a variety of desktop environments that can be chosen for installation.  By desktop environments, I mean a set of tools complete with the means to open applications, change settings and file management.

The “look and feel” of the desktops are customizable by the user to emulate common operating systems.  For instance, one of the newer distributions called elementary OS (operating system), looks very much like Mac OS with common icons centered at the bottom of the screen.  With a Linux desktop, however, the users can make their desktop look any way they wish.

This is in marked contrast with Microsoft, which forces the user to comply with their idea of how a desktop should work.  Some of Microsoft ideas have been successful (Windows 3.1, XP and 7) while others have been very bad indeed. Back in 1995, after Windows 3.0 and 3.1, Microsoft launched Microsoft Bob. Bob dummied down the desktop to a simulation of a house, where different “rooms” offered applications to be launched – if this sounds stupid, most people agreed and (thankfully) Bob lasted less than a year.

Microsoft, in my opinion, has always had a condescending attitude toward the public that uses their products. On more than one occasion, Microsoft has produced operating systems that require higher requirements of memory and processor–reasoning that the public would buy more hardware to run their OS. Witness the release of Windows Vista that was not only bloated, but obsoleted printers and scanners that worked under previous operating systems. In a remarkable approach that produces a few winners followed by losers, Microsoft also produced Windows 8 – the solely tile based OS that was roundly rejected the public.

Back to Linux which offers a variety of desktop environments. Linux Mint alone offers three different versions for consideration: Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE. Cinnamon is actually a fork of the Gnome 3 desktop which offers Nemo for file management. Mate is a fork of GNOME 2 while XFCE has a long history and was rewritten twice based on GTK. All these desktops, as developed by Linux Mint, look very similar, but Linux Mint XFCE is best for computers with limited resources.

Back in the early days of Linux desktop users were limited to the applications associated with the desktop environment they chose. Today, that is no longer the case. Users through software managers in Linux can choose a variety of applications.

Other popular desktops include KDE Plasma (as in distributions Kali and Kubuntu), LXDE is another lightweight desktop and Pantheon as used in the aforementioned elementary OS.

There are many other desktop environments in Linux available to anyone who wishes to be up for an adventure. Many of these desktops are highly customizable. For my business, I tend to go for the tried and true desktop environments. For that reason, I recommend Linux Mint and their long term support options.