Posted by: linuxmoose | May 2, 2011

Hello Internet

Hello to everyone who might read this. I have been meaning to start a blog in order to talk about Linux for a while now, so here it is. Hopefully I’ll update it once in a while, but don’t count on regular posts or anything.
I think that I’ll talk about window managers and desktop environments for my first post here, as they seem to be on people’s minds a lot recently thanks to the releases of Gnome 3 and Unity. Firstly, you should know that while I like my windows to have buttons and the like I am more inclined to use lightweight window managers such as Openbox or Pekwm over KDE of Gnome, although I will certainly use a heavier environment as my laptop has three gigabytes of RAM and can certainly handle it. Anyhow, on to the actual article.
First on the list is good old Gnome 2.X. I have spent a lot of time using Gnome 2.X, and I have cone to enjoy it’s many configuration utilities and plugins to the panel. When I’m not using Gnome 2.X I often miss the Panflute and DockbarX plugins to the panel. Gnome 2.X is (or was) the most popular desktop environment and was default in some major distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora and was an officially supported desktop in others such as OpenSUSE, Mandriva and PcLinuxOS. While I often preferred to use a lighter option Gnome 2.X was one of the first environments I tried and is still one of my favorites. Hopefully it will be maintained in the same way Trinity maintains KDE 3.
Gnome 3 is the successor to Gnome 2.X and introduces a whole new style of desktop. It’s mixed reviews and different approach (I still miss Mac OS 9’s interface, so I’m kind of old fashioned) made me reluctant to give it a try, but eventually I broke down and installed Fedora 15 beta, which was surprisingly stable. Anyway, I found it to be pretty, about as fast as Gnome 2 and usable, although I severely missed my menus and easier window switching. Still, I found it usable and logical enough if one is not attempting to get used it it from the older style of menus and taskbars.
Next up is KDE 4. I have never been a KDE fan, although I can’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because my first experience with Linux was with a horribly mangled KDE 2 setup, maybe it’s just because I’m crazy about my CPU usage, or I could just miss my GTK themes. Whatever the reason I have never given KDE a fair chance even though it is the second most popular desktop environment. The few times I have used it I have found it nice, but confusing.
Xfce is my favorite of the desktop environments, and with Xfce 4.8’s new features it is almost the perfect Gnome 3 alternative if you miss Gnome 2.X(at least to me). Xfce comes with some configuration utilities, although not as many as Gnome 2.X or KDE 4. It also has a reputation of being lighter then the two major desktops, which I like. It is default in many distributions, my favorite of which are Salix and Wolvix.
Lxde is the last popular desktop environment, and is the lightest of them all. While I like Lxde, it sort of feels like Openbox with some added programs such as Lxpanel, Lxterminal and Lxsession to me, particularly since I successfully pieced together an Lxde and Pekwm setup. I find that Lxde’s customization options are severely limited, but if one does not care about that sort of thing, it is a nice and fast environment, and one of my preferred ones.
Enlightenment 17 (commonly called E17) is also a fairly popular environment, although weather to call it a desktop environment or a window manager I am not sure. I think that it is technically a window manager, but it is pretty much self contained and could easily be called a full desktop environment. E17 has a lot of eye candy for being as light as it is, as while I have not been brave enough to try it on my old hardware it is supposed to be quite quick. I do not particularly like E17, but I have found it to be quite pleasant in systems such as Bodhi, PcLinuxOS and Macpup.
Pekwm is my window manager of choice. It is quick, simple and the configuration files make sense to me. There are a number of pretty themes, and I truly can not figure out why Pekwm is not more popular. If you like/use Openbox, Fluxbox or something else like them I highly recommend Pekwm.

Openbox is quite possibly the most popular window manager and comes with several configuration tools such as obconf and obmneu. While I feel that it’s themes are not quite the match for Fluxbox or Pekwm and certainly not Emerald, they are nice enough and it is certainly a good window manager, perhaps the best for newbies with older computers. Its implementation in Crunchbang (#!) is certainly wonderful.

Fluxbox is also exceedingly popular  for a window manager, and comes with it’s own built in panel and several utilities. I got a really nice impression of Fluxbox when I used it, and I felt that it was quite newbie friendly as well. Some of it’s themes are quite nice, such as the ones on tenr.de. Tech is especially nice in my opinion.

While there are several other window managers I would like to make a note of, such as Icewm, Fvwm and  WindowMaker I feel that this post has gone on long enough. If you noticed the lack of Unity, it’s because I haven’t actually used it in it’s current form, so I couldn’t talk about it. Anyway, I’ll try to end my tangent and post this. Enjoy!

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