back to article Debian's Cinnamon desktop maintainer quits because he thinks KDE is better now

Norbert Preining, the maintainer of the Cinnamon desktop packages for Debian, is quitting as he no longer uses it – though others have volunteered to take his place. The origins of the Cinnamon desktop go back to 2011 and the release of the controversial GNOME 3 desktop, which introduced radical changes. Some Linux users …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    My personal issue with KDE (and Qt) is lifespan. Maintaining ancient KDE 3.5 era applications is very difficult compared to old Gtk2 and even Gtk 1 applications.

    MOC is partially to blame as a non-standard preprocessor. The build systems supporting a specific version of MOC tends to rot. There is also a slight culture with the KDE community to pull everyone up to the latest and greatest and basically ditch anyone who doesn't want to upgrade.

    Gnome 3+ is naff, and KDE 4+ is naff. Linux and BSD really is lacking an effective desktop in my opinion. Mix this together with the big unknown that is Wayland and the whole environment is very uninspiring.

    FLTK for smaller tools and wxWidgets for larger tools is my recommendation. Skip the mess that is Gtk and Qt, it is just too volatile and unstable in terms of communities and objectives.

    1. ST Silver badge

      > Maintaining ancient KDE 3.5 era applications is very difficult compared to old Gtk2 and even Gtk 1 applications.

      Not really. The only thing you have to do is install LSB Desktop and you get Qt 3.5 with its own moc.

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        Linux Standard Base? Not only is Qt not part of that since Jessie, lsb-desktop only provides Qt4.

        https://packages.debian.org/jessie/lsb-desktop

        Qt 3 was officially removed from lsb in 2015 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Standard_Base)

        So unfortunately, no. Not a solution for software lifespan. Especially since LSB is all but abandoned by most Linux platforms. It also doesn't really help with BSD and other platforms.

        1. ST Silver badge
          FAIL

          > Linux Standard Base? Not only is Qt not part of that since Jessie, lsb-desktop only provides Qt4.

          You're wrong.

          I have Qt 3.5 installed through LSB Desktop on Fedora 33 right now:

          #> uname -a

          Linux xxxxxxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 5.12.9-200.fc33.x86_64 #1 SMP Thu Jun 3 13:55:31 UTC 2021 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

          #> rpm -ql redhat-lsb-desktop

          /etc/lsb-release.d/desktop-4.1-amd64

          /etc/lsb-release.d/desktop-4.1-noarch

          [ ... ]

          /usr/share/lsb/4.1/submodules/toolkit-qt-4.1-amd64

          /usr/share/lsb/4.1/submodules/toolkit-qt-4.1-noarch

          /usr/share/lsb/4.1/submodules/toolkit-qt3-4.1-amd64

          /usr/share/lsb/4.1/submodules/toolkit-qt3-4.1-noarch

          [ ... ]

          #> dnf info '*qt3*'

          Installed Packages

          Name : qt3

          Version : 3.3.8b

          Release : 84.fc33

          Architecture : x86_64

          Size : 11 M

          Source : qt3-3.3.8b-84.fc33.src.rpm

          Repository : @System

          From repo : fedora

          Summary : The shared library for the Qt 3 GUI toolkit

          Name : qt3-devel

          Version : 3.3.8b

          Release : 84.fc33

          Architecture : x86_64

          Size : 8.4 M

          Source : qt3-3.3.8b-84.fc33.src.rpm

          Repository : fedora

          Summary : Development files for the Qt 3 GUI toolkit

          URL : http://www.troll.no

          License : QPL or GPLv2 or GPLv3

          Description : The qt3-devel package contains the files necessary to develop

          : applications using the Qt GUI toolkit: the header files, the Qt

          : meta object compiler.

          [ ... ]

          You see Qt3 in that list? Yes? Good.

          You can also install all the additional Qt3 sub-packages: qt3-designer, qt3-devel-docs, qt3-config, plus all the Qt3 ODBC stuff + database connection drivers. In short, the entire Qt3 distribution.

          If Jessie doesn't provide these, switch to a better Linux distro.

          1. karlkarl Silver badge

            Qt3 was dropped in RHEL8 (https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-us/red_hat_enterprise_linux/8/html-single/considerations_in_adopting_rhel_8/index)

            You are running a version of the Linux standard base (version 4.1) that was released in 2011.

            Most distros have dropped that and moved to the latest version 5.0 (released 2015) where qt3 was also dropped. It is a constant moving target.

            I didn't realize Fedora was so behind when it comes to LSB. This is kind of evidence that many Distros simply do not adhere to it.

            As for switching Distro.. hah what a luxury to choose a specific one. We need to support as many as possible (and Win32 and Solaris)... It is more feasible (and portable in the long run) to just use a different UI platform.

            1. ST Silver badge

              > You are running a version of the Linux standard base (version 4.1) that was released in 2011.

              I just told you I'm running Fedora 33.

              Fedora 33 includes LSB 4.1. So? Good for them. They care about backwards compatibility and they don't arbitrarily remove older things just cuz they're not on the latest list of shiny.

              Incidentally, RHEL8 also includes LSB 4.1. Please complain about that too. Not Shiny!

              If you want to deal with RHEL 8 you can build Qt3 from source. Or check RPMFusion and EPEL see if they don't provide Qt3 for RHEL8.

              Good luck with Solaris and Win32. I take it you can't let go of Solaris' amazing and unparalleled Desktop capabilities.

    2. cardich

      "wxWidgets for larger tools is my recommendation. Skip the mess that is Gtk and Qt"

      wxWidgets are based on Gtk.

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        wxWidgets sits on loads of UI toolkits.

        Win32 on Windows

        Cocoa on macOS

        Gtk or X11, Qt on *nix

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    He’s right. It is!

    (Legs it as the Gnomeites and Cinnamonites start lobbing brickbats!)

    In all seriousness, the wonderful thing about Linux is that we have the choice. The price we pay for that choice is a disjointed user experience where user interface elements from one program don’t match up with those from another.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      The fragmentation of linux, right from the different distributions, with their different ways of doing the same thing, for example, package managers, through reworking in different releases right through to different user interfaces has been a great choice which has pleased a minority but held linux adoption back for the majority.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Last time I checked

        1. Linux is a OS kernel;

        2. Android and its GUIs are doing rather well, and Chromebook sales have increased as well.

        If you mean Linux distributions and desktop environments not unseating a monopolist legacy OS/GUI, I would say application compatibility and $hundreds of billions$ in marketing play a far bigger role.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          I forgot to mention the denial and righteous indignation when their preciousness is challenged.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Ad hominem replies, the first resort of the incompetent.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          By all means be pedantic about that, but most people, when they hear 'Linux', think of the entire *ecosystem*, not just the kernel. Blame the classic monolithic structures (one kernel, one OS and one Desktop Environment per strand, see Windows, MacOS, OS/2).

          Hell, some people think FreeBSD is 'Linux'. Why? Because it's a Unix-based OS. Various Linux and other POSIX-compatible disties have been slung together with various BSD disties to... appeal to the general view that "oh, they're all the same under the hood".

          So yes, if Debian/Ubuntu/Mint/whatever, the RedHat eco system (RHEL, CentOS, Fedora), the BSD eco system (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc etc etc) want to make inroads in the general population, then differentiation and making clear that you are *not* the same as the others, is key.

          Just saying... When it comes to the PR/messaging side of things, the OP you replied to is not wrong.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Simple statements of fact are "pedantic"?

            The statements are not necessarily wrong, they're just irrelevant. Desktop environment consistency is not important in the success of an OS and its ecosystem. Windows is proof of that. In green field environments without a well funded entrenched competitor, in mobile, embedded, AI, and hyperscale/cloud markets, Linux and the BSDs have done quite well.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              But they're not irrelevant to those with the purse strings, the budgets, and the like. I point at the case of the Munich administration who decided to go all open source, and then, eventually after several years of faffing of trying to make open source work in their desktop environments, went back to Windows.

              You can decry my (or @werdsmith's) pointing this out as irrelevant all you like, but the fact remains that when you have hundreds or thousands of employees who are used to one thing, being made to switch to another thing that while being 'easier' on the budget is less usable in their daily work than the thing they were made to switch from, then you have a problem when those employees start complaining en masse that their work environment is being made more difficult.

              That is the problem here. You might think (and know) your chosen distie is the mostest-bestest-awesomest on the planet, but if your employees/colleagues can't get to grips with it, that's a problem. And you will need to understand that.

              I know this, because I've lived that life for the better part of 5 years and it caused a lot of grief and upset (and some mental health issues in some people) because the work environment is where you spend at least a third of your waking hours in. Why make it more stressful than is absolutely necessary? And no, policy based on some dogma of open source is *not* a reason to make an environment more stressful.

              And unfortunately, the classic OSes used by the masses are monolithic things that marry one desktop environment with one OS and one kernel, and in some cases, are just... one 'thing'.

              1. Someone Else Silver badge

                You can decry my (or @werdsmith's) pointing this out as irrelevant all you like, but the fact remains that when you have hundreds or thousands of employees who are used to one thing, being made to switch to another thing that while being 'easier' on the budget is less usable in their daily work than the thing they were made to switch from, then you have a problem when those employees start complaining en masse that their work environment is being made more difficult. [emphasis added]

                Yet that didn't seem to hamper Windows 10 uptake any, now did it? Bosses just told the minions to "get over it", and miraculously, they did.

                Funny how that works...

        3. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Chromebook -- awful tool. Unless you are happy with ALL your data going to Google, then it's fine.

      2. jason_derp Bronze badge

        "...pleased a minority but held linux adoption back for the majority..."

        If pleasing the majority was the point, they've certainly cocked it up good.

        Totally unrelated: I take personal pleasure in yelling at fish for not caring about arch support in shoe insoles. The bastards.

  3. demon driver

    Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

    But wouldn't someone who wanted Cinnamon choose Mint in the first place?

    And I like Preining's reply to the "thank you. We need fewer desktops" post: "In some sense I agree with you, so let us abolish Gnome3 as it has been a misconception right from the beginning! Maybe we can tunnel the energy of the developers to Cinnamon and a decent DE environment based on Gtk?"

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

      I have never had a problem with options, not a fanbois.

      I get more riled when they change the cli interface than when they change a gui.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

        Agreed. My DE is just a conduit through which I launch terminals.

        That said, I've never really liked KDE. It always ends up feeling really inconsistent.

        Gnome for all it's faults at least feels consistent.

        I'm slightly cringing at the "Pros don't use Gnome" comment too as I doubt many Pro coders use KDE because the font rendering sucks. It's fucking awful to look at compared to Gnome (and its various derivatives).

        1. FatGerman

          Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

          >> 'm slightly cringing at the "Pros don't use Gnome" comment too as I doubt many Pro coders use KDE because the font rendering sucks. It's fucking awful to look at compared to Gnome (and its various derivatives).

          Oddly, I have the precise opposite experience.

          The *default* antialiasing settings in KDE *used* to suck. It was trivial to fix them. The defaults now are perfect for most people, and a KDE desktop looks way better than Gnome or XFCE.

          1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

            > or XFCE.

            I miss XFCE...

            But, I ditched it when I moved to using a laptop more frequently. Absolutely fine on the laptop, but their (continued) approach to multi-monitor is a royal pain in the arse.

            There's an implicit assumption that the screen on the left is the "main" desktop - if space on the desk you're at means your laptop has to be on the left, then it's the main screen rather than the big monitor you've just plugged in.

            Then, you go for lunch (or something) and your monitor goes into power-save. When you come back, you've got to set the monitor back up.

            It's such a little thing, but if you're plugging/unplugging regularly it wears thin.

            1. William Towle
              Unhappy

              Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

              > Then, you go for lunch (or something) and your monitor goes into power-save. When you come back, you've got to set the monitor back up.

              I don't remember XFCE being quite that temperamental, but I do recall returning to my desk from team meetings at $PREVIOUS_EMPLOYER and reconnecting the monitor having that result (normally I took paper notes but once or twice having the laptop was Required). I'd have had XFCE in my personal laptops' initial installs if it wasn't for that :(

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

            Gnome3 *used* to suck as well.

            KDE font rendering and scaling has, does and always will suck. Especially at HiDPI.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: But wouldn't someone who wanted Cinnamon choose Mint in the first place?

      not if you are a Linux purist who does not like what Ubuntu/Canonical has done with their Fork.

      Debian is to many a purer distro than the IMHO, monstrosity that Ubuntu has become.

      Personally, I'm more of a RedHat sort of person but if I had to choose another distro then Debian would be high on the list if not at the top.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: But wouldn't someone who wanted Cinnamon choose Mint in the first place?

        I have to admit that I am becoming disillusioned with the whole GNU/Linux distro. environment.

        I've been an Ubuntu user since Dapper Drake (6.06), which is what I moved to when the old Redhat Desktop releases stopped.

        When the whole Unity/Mir thing kicked off, I nearly abandoned Ubuntu, trying Mint, and mainline Debian, and LDME, but decided that I liked where Ubuntu sat in the distribution hierarchy (sufficiently functional to mostly work out of the box, and not so far down the line that it was dependent on too many other distros.), and instead worked to use a desktop other than Unity, eventually settling on Gnome Fall/Failback.

        This is now long in the tooth, and does not appear to play nicely with the most recent LTS X11 and older Nvidia cards that I have installed in some of my machines. Stupid things like systems not fully powering off or suspending correctly, and not getting the screen size from X11 correctly (this is quite a bizarre problem that makes full screen apps fall of the side of the screen that I've never seen before - and it does not seem to be a virtual desktop problem).

        On my most powerful desktop, I've got Cinnamon on Ubuntu 20.04, but I'm not totally happy with it. I don't know what it is, and if I did, I'm sure I could change the config, but something in the font handling just looks... wrong.

        My main laptop is still running Ubuntu 16.04, so is still running Gnome Fall/Failback, but as this has just dropped out of support, I need to do something. But systemd just pisses me off with it's complexity and lack of readable user documentation, and as always, the online blogs and stuff is now becoming out-of-date compared to the latest releases of systemd, making it difficult to sort the no-longer-useful stuff from the rest,

        I have an old Acer Netbook as an ultra-portable for diag. work, which has limited memory, and I run Ubuntu with LXDE on that, but that always felt functional but a bit too cut-down.

        I'm forced to use RHEL desktop and Gnome 3.82 on my client provided laptop, and still don't like the UI design choices and restrictions that Gnome impose on what you're allowed to do.

        I've even dabbled with Devuan and Raspian (with their default GUIs), but somehow I move away from them and never go back (the Raspberry Pi is running in a PiDP11, so I actually have the GUI turned off on that system for most of the time).

        Jake keeps telling me to look at Arch or even one of the *BSDs. Maybe I should finally do it, and then decide on the desktop afterwards. Maybe I should just accept that I'm getting too old for this game and go to a mainstream consumer OS, but this would betray my last 25 years of trying to get away from them.

    3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

      I had so many issues with cinnamon that I dropped Mint.

      I did report the bugs and how to replicate them, but nothing was done. Could I fix it? I had a go, and while I could reproduce it, I could not fix it..it was (and still is) an interaction between Nvidia display drivers, usb and hard drives, plus widgets.

    4. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

      > "We need fewer desktops"

      Very true, we actually only need Metro Modern whatever it is called June 16th 2021. One size fits all, conveniently dumbed down, optimized for use on cash dispensers, because that's what everybody uses, don't they.

      Seriously, the desktops are one of Linux's biggest advantages for the desktop user, as they allow people to use the environment they need and/or feel comfortable with. I definitely don't want some arrogant jerk to tell me how I should work. I already quit Windows because of that...

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

        > One size fits all, conveniently dumbed down

        Ahh, someone remembers Unity far too vividly

    5. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Now I know that Debian also packages Cinnamon

      ... let us abolish Gnome3 as it has been a misconception right from the beginning! Maybe we can tunnel the energy of the developers to Cinnamon and a decent DE environment based on Gtk?"

      Methinks that if those developers had wanted to work on "a decent DE environment" we wouldn't have ended up with Gnome 3.

      [Hmm ... "DE environment" ... you seem to have a nasty case of RAS syndrome, there].

  4. IGnatius T Foobar !

    KDE

    The early 201X's were an interesting time. Ubuntu had just landed and was winning new Linux users by the tens of thousands with its easy and intuitive desktop. Then things like GNOME 3 and Unity started landing, things that tried to turn every computer into a tablet with a keyboard.

    KDE had some bad-ish times too, but it's still been my daily driver because it looks and acts like a desktop. It is optimized for devices with an upright screen, and a physical keyboard and mouse. Apple and Microsoft would do well to emulate this.

  5. SCP

    Well it is a thank you for your work and efforts to Norbert Preining from me, good luck with your future activities.

    Well done to Joshua Peisach ([and others] for taking up the reins.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I tried to read his comments by following the link, and that LIGHT GREY TEXT on OFF-WHITE was _SO_ HIDEOUS I had to expand it to 150 percent to even TRY to read it... it was like trying to read badly faded print in candlelight on yellowed paper.

      I have to wonder what desktop the *ahem* web author of that page uses. THAT page is just *HORRIBLE*!!! WORST! WEB! DESIGN! EVAR!!!

  6. Nate Amsden

    Mate is great

    Not sure when I first switched to Gnome 2, though I was using Afterstep for many years in the late 90s and early 00s (on Debian), perhaps I jumped to Gnome 2 from that mostly on Ubuntu maybe starting mid 00s. Then Ubuntu and the Gnome team separately both taking similar drugs decided on radical changes. Fortunately there was enough people to start MATE and Mint(not sure when Mint's first version was). I jumped ship from Ubuntu about a year after 10.04 LTS went end of life to Mate 17, and now on Mate 20(installed fresh last year).

    Really nice to have a stable user interface for about the last 15 years now. Though I may only have ~5ish years left one of my key bits of software I use with Mate is called brightside for edge flipping on virtual desktops(never been multi monitor, always been virtual desktops my regular laptop uses 16). brightside apparently isn't maintained anymore, the last version I could find was for Ubuntu 16.04.

    After a couple hours of work I was able to build it cleanly on Mint 20 (Ubuntu 20) and it works fine, but several of the libraries it uses are past end of life(and I had to hack some stuff into the code/configs to get them to build) and am certainly concerned 5 years down the road when I upgrade again will it even work anymore. Then there's the whole Wayland thing what will that be like, guessing brightside from 2014 using X11 protocol probably won't work too well on that. Been using edge flipping since my days with Afterstep which was/is a master at virtual desktops(WindowMaker too I'm sure I used Afterstep at the time to be different I guess, later used LiteStep on WinXP for my work system in mid 00s). Mate works fine without brightside but I switch virtual desktops often times several times a minute so having that functionality is critical. I saw some alternatives before I went down the road of building brightside myself none seemed to compare from what I recall.

    Only annoying bit is the marco window manager continuously loses the "mouse over activation" ability(another critical bit for me), started a few years ago was hoping it would be fixed in Mate 20 but it is not. I have a little button on the screen that I press to reset marco(doesn't cause any data loss) and it works again for a random amount of time.

    Never was into Cinnamon or Gnome 3, I have had Gnome 3 on my home Debian "server" (only has a GUI to show either calm videos in a loop in VLC or a slideshow) over the years and think it would be too painful to use day to day.

    I used KDE back in the 90s for a while I remember building it and QT from source many times, pre 1.0 stuff. Not sure why I stopped using it

    Anyways thanks to MATE/Mint folks..going to go donate again now.

    1. dmesg
      Pint

      Re: Mate is great

      I started using Mint w/ MATE for personal systems about 6 years ago. Does everything I need and want, new versions change gently and don't require re-building a mental model or muscle memory, it's stable, and snappy enough on my machines. The one thing I miss from the old DEs is the ability to have different wallpapers on different virtual screens, but I can live without that.

      Congrats to the MATE team for delivering a solid and useful piece of software that consistently respects its end users.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Mate is great

      Been using MATE on both Debian and Devuan for many years now. A few niggles (Aren't there always), but basically it just works and when I need to do something it is right there for me. Can't bear the "let's pretend your desktop monitor is a smartphone touchscreen and hide everything" ethos that underpins so many of the others.

  7. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Lightweight and easily portable

    I like xfce. Not the prettiest toy on the shelf, but it's super responsive on pretty much any hardware.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Lightweight and easily portable

      This was my choice for crouton linux on Chromebook. My reasoning is that the gui doesn't need to be pretty, I don't do productivity in the OS GUI I spend as little time there as possible. Its job is to get me into the applications where the actual productivity happens.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Lightweight and easily portable

        XFCE for me too. Desktop managers are just a tool to launch and manage apps, not an end in themselves.

        Having loved it for years, I can say there are some places, where the usability of XFCE could be improved (like adding an app launcher to panel could be simpler), but these are minor niggles. Could probably be fixes without adding bloat, though.

  8. TsVk!

    I had a similar progression, give up on earlier Gnome and KDE desktops and moved to Cinnamon. In the last 6 months it's got all buggy and started crashing so I moved back to the new KDE. Couldn't be happier. Stable and much easier to navigate than before, less voodoo required.

    1. Wyrdness

      I used XFCE (on Fedora) for years as KDE seemed too bloated and as for Gnome 3...

      I moved to Cinnamon on Mint last year and it's pretty good. Cinnamon did seem very buggy and I was having to restart it at least once a day. It's become a lot more stable recently and restarts are a thing of the past.

  9. Blackjack Silver badge

    I prefer MATE over Cinnamon but well... this is a bit worrying.

  10. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

    Legal issues

    I stopped using DEs a long while ago, use icewm. But KDE was always a problem, with the QT legal changes.

    As far as I am concerned, technical quality comes second, if there are legal problems. Bitten way too many times (long ago!).

    And from what I read, they (QT owners) have made worrying changes again.

    1. gerryg

      Re: Legal issues

      The Qt scare "legal issues" story is seemingly one that won't go away. I am never sure if those that raise concerns are actually worried or are just engaging in FUD.

      https://www.qt.io/blog/2016/01/13/new-agreement-with-the-kde-free-qt-foundation

      https://dot.kde.org/2016/01/13/qt-guaranteed-stay-free-and-open-%E2%80%93-legal-update

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Legal issues

        The latest QT issue is that Long-Term Support releases are now commercial-only.

        1. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

          Re: Legal issues

          Exactly what I was referring to, thanks!

          IANAL, but I think this latest restriction means not everybody can use QT in its most stable and long lasting form for developing FOSS?

          Even if I am wrong, I think it creates an uncertainty in the mind.

          This is an ongoing saga since the late 1990s. I recall GNOME starting because of the QT problem.

  11. Kev99

    I've used Cinnamon, Gnome, Mate, and Openbox (Puppy Linux default). I can't tell the difference except for Puppy which has too much garbage on the desktop. What's the big woo-hoo? To me, the difference amount to choosing this theme or that in windows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In no particular order, I've used fluxbox, openbox, probably a couple of other *box, xfce, lxde, lxqt, RazorQt, KDE(3.5), KDE Plasma (is that 5?), Gnome, Gnome2, Cinnamon, Unity and Enlightenment. There might well be one or two others. (I gave up on Ratpoison in about 30 seconds...)

      I'm currently using Enlightenment, but the only one of those environments that I'd never use again, given the choice, is Unity. Ultimately, all the desktop environments present pretty much the same thing in slightly different ways. Am I the only one who doesn't really mind what the environment looks like, so long as it is reasonably functional?

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        the only one of those environments that I'd never use again, given the choice, is Unity

        Agree 100% about Unity. I haven't tried as many DEs as you have, but of those I have tried Unity ranks at the bottom.

      2. gregzeng

        Desktop Environments. So many!

        Window managers, Desktop Environments are alternatives to the CLI. Each has a limiting architecture. These limits determine the existence of all possible extensions, themes, forks, etc. It is interesting to see these themes, extensions trying to be added to each new environment. Differences slight? Not true. Each difference is very imprisoning. This "bloat" often is impossible. GNOME3 & Unity differ from the other full DE, in trying to avoid the WIMP design invented by Xerox.

  12. UDP-Port-53

    It's all about paints

    "I left my second wife because my first ex wife went surgery, lost 25 pounds and now looks like younger version of Melody Marks."

    Man at these age are not really care about grips and tractions anymore.

  13. FatGerman
    Stop

    Splitter!

    The world of Linux desktops is utterly hilarious. It always reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian with all the factions sitting around separately, all wanting the same thing but too stubborn to work together.

    For anybody non-techie (i.e. the vast majority) the desktop *is* the OS. It's he bit they interact with, the bit they see. They don't give a jaffa's fart what toolkit it's built with or what the license is. All they care about is can they use it to get stuff done. So many people I talk to can't get their head around Linux because every time they see it it looks and works differently. It puts them off. Choice is only desirable if you care enough to learn and choose. Most people don't. Any distro that came along with one stable desktop that basically worked in a way most people are familiar with would get traction. That's what Ubuntu did to begin with before they lost their way with Unity and the whole thing fractured into the current nonsensical gnome-forks hell.

    KDE has always been there in the background, always working basically the same way. But it had its bad days with KDE4, which is when I left it for Xfce. And it has some licensing problems which people who give a toss about such things find offputting. I started using it again recenlty and KDE5 is truly excellent. Replaced my Windows install on my work computer and am just able to get stuff done.

    Gnome3 is bloody awful though. I blame them for creating the whole situaion.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    KDE ?

    I know it's probably just me, but the second I realised the KDE team were clearly on a bet to shoehorn "K" in front of everything (Konqueror anyone ?) it was hard to take it seriously ever again.

    Totally agree with most folks about early Ubuntu - around the Dapper era. It impressed the socks of me and actually made me think that the Linux desktop was finally upon us.

    Then, with tiresome predictability, the whole thing went to shit.

    1. Manolo

      Re: KDE ?

      "the KDE team were clearly on a bet to shoehorn "K" in front of everything"

      That's a thing of the past now. And even if they still did, I fail to see how that detracts from the actual software quality.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: KDE ?

        And the comment seems to ignore the myriad of G-prefixes out there… Qt is simply a far better framework for rich GUI applications.

        1. Solviva

          Re: KDE ?

          I've heard there's a company that prefixes their products with a lowercase 'i'. Very weird behaviour that I can't see catching on anytime soon.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gui on *nix

    What madness is this?

  16. trevorde Silver badge

    Finally!

    2021 will be the year of the Linux desktop!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Finally!

      Ah, yes, but which one?

  17. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Speaking purely a user I now longer care

    about desktop environments. Not because I have any problem with them. On the contrary they just work. Even the lightweight ones tend to be sufficiently customizable that I can set them up to preference and not really think about it from then on.

    1. gregzeng

      Re: Speaking purely a user I now longer care

      Blind people might not care about Desktop Environments. The rest of need eyes, for different lighting environments, different font & screen sizes. Wayland was invented because Xorg is do limiting. Not many Desktop Environments can handle Wayland yet. Wayland is still rapidly being invented.

      In this regard, the blind & CLI users don't need to worry about Desktop Environments.

  18. Zolko Bronze badge

    KDE = Kmail

    The real reason to use KDE is the Kmail (well, actually, Kontact) client, integrating proper off-line mail, CalDav calendar, and LDAP contact lookup. All in one place, quite good looking, quite stable (sometimes I have to log-out after wake-up from suspend), intuitive, "just works".

    I might also add Kwin as a simple but potent window manager, with all compositor goodies and seamless connection to external monitors. Oh, and not to forget Dolphin the file-manager, more potent than ANYTHING out there: connect directly and seamlessly to FTP and SFTP clients, split-view like in MidnightCommander, integration with git and svn repositories ... think of anything a file manager can do, Dolphin has it. Far superior than what MacOS or Windows can offer.

    Oh, and did I mention uptimes measured in weeks ?

    The thing about the Qt license is a running gag (or FUD) since more than 20 years.

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: KDE = Kmail

      There's nothing stopping you running Kontact or Dolphin under a different desktop environment if you prefer, of course. Theme sharing between applications built under different toolkits and running under a different DE isn't perfect, but it's not too bad (although it probably wouldn't hurt if they all collaborated a bit more closely on this).

      And the fact that you can sftp: or smb: (or whatever) seamlessly to remote servers through your file manager is common to pretty much all Linux file managers, I think? It is a fantastic feature, I agree (and a great example of modular design). It's a little annoying that MacOS only supports this for smb: and you need to acquire additional software there if you need to connect to other servers (especially sftp, which should surely be regarded as a "first class citizen" on any unix-based OS, bah!).

    2. FatGerman

      Re: KDE = Kmail

      I used to like KMail, it was one of the killer apps in the KDE3 days. Then they tried to turn it into some kind of monster that requires you to install hundreds of megabytes of bloat (MySQL??? WHY) just to check email. I was impressed I was able to connect it to work's Office365 account sure, but the calendar plugin sucked and it's such a massive resource hog. I run Outlook in a browser now and it's quicker and uses less RAM, sadly.

    3. Manolo

      Re: KDE = Kmail

      Mostly agree with you, but Kwin and multiple monitors?

      Fine as long as you remember to turn on your monitors first before waking up the computer from sleep, or your desktop orientation will randomly get borked. It might switch left and right, it might turn in to a single monitor setup displayed on both monitors.

      Then again, might be problematic with other window managers too.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: KDE = Kmail

        > Fine as long as you remember to turn on your monitors first before waking up the computer from sleep, or your desktop orientation will randomly get borked

        I don't have that, but I do have a similar annoyance.

        Scenario:

        - My laptop is plugged into a monitor via HDMI

        - Screen locked before I wandered away (or auto locked)

        - It's been left a while, so monitor has powered itself off

        If I come back and waggle the mouse, then kscreenlock (or whatever it's called now) comes up prompting for my password. If I then power my monitor on, it too displays the password prompt.

        Except, now, neither provides any visual feedback when I press keys to enter my password (whacking enter will unlock and everything unlocks - assuming the password's correct).

        Thing is, my keyboard and mouse are plugged into a USB switch so I can switch them between machines - when it happens, I always get a hit of paranoia that I'm actually typing it into Slack/Skype on another machine

    4. gregzeng

      Re: KDE = Kmail

      In Linux, Dolphin file manager is ok. Thunar has the WYSIWYG file-name changer that no other Linux program can handle. Linux has yet to get the combination of both Dolphin & Thunar. Windows has had this almost since the beginning of Windows. It is now freeware: Flashpeak "Servant Salamander". It is also THE Most customizable of all file managers, regardless of any operating system.

  19. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Devil

    It's not dead!

    It's just Preining for the Friords!

  20. Dave559 Silver badge

    I detect a theme here

    Apologies for the bad title pun (wait for it), but I'd say that all of the major nix desktop environments are actually pretty good these days, but just in different ways. (I am even that fairly rare beast, someone who really likes that Gnome 3 gets out of your way, but is quickly summoned back with a simple press of the <super> key. I love that it has window switching thumbnail previews ("Mission Control") enabled by default, but I really don't like that they have more recently gone down the stupid path of trying to kill off proper window menu bars (one of the key pillars of the whole WIMP interface, and an essential keyboard-shortcut accessibility feature), so I have, with a little sadness, moved away from it (and, by extension, Gnome applications).)

    After doing a grand tour, I have currently settled on Cinnamon (which also features window previews, but you do have to know that it actually does have this feature and that you can enable it (it's in Hot Corners, I don't think you can use a keyboard shortcut for it, unfortunately?), but also the handy feature of allowing window previews (not just icons) in the alt-tab switcher (as well as cover flow, last used, and several others, according to taste)). The thing that none of the DEs sadly seem to have got right for the window preview switcher is that if you have too many a typical power user's number of windows open, the previews end up being too small to distinguish easily (defeating the point): a better way to do it would perhaps be to show a defined maximum number of preview thumbnails on screen and flip down or right to show the next screenful of them if you have many windows open?

    But the thing that currently annoys me the most is the lack of nice themes these days (the window borders, titlebars, and buttons). It seems that you can have anything you like nowadays as long as it's a not-quite-right-looking clone of MacOS Aqua, or an unending bottomless pit of horrible, horrible, "Material" ugly flatso design clones (and all of which seem to be almost identical to each other?!): all with titlebars so painfully blackly black (and with no shading, gradients, etc, to give them at least a little bit of "life") that it is almost impossible to tell where one window stops and the next starts, minimal highlighting of the active window/titlebar, and (most annoying to me) too-minimal or no side or bottom window borders and no active window highlighting extending to them. Call me old-fashioned but I like my windows to have a few pixels of clear visibility showing their edges and clearly highlighting (in a visibly different shade, or preferably, colour) which is the active window (also useful for accessibility reasons as well). It's so sad that several decades of good UI design methodology seems to have all been thrown away and forgotten about over the past few years. The whole flatso fail really can't go away soon enough for me!

    1. Zolko Bronze badge

      Re: I detect a theme here

      And what about the "dark" themes fashion ? With a light theme, you can highlight the active window by "raising" it with shadows, clearly showing which window is above the others. With a dark theme this becomes impossible, there is no indication which is the currently active window.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "While diversity is a good thing, it also dilutes resources"

    That is, sorry to have to point it out, a dumb comment. Those resources are not interchangeable bricks. They're human beings, complete with their own set of motivations. If Cinnamon did not exist, it would not mean that every and each of its current developers would be working on either GNOME or KDE.

  22. Beretta3901

    Tumbleweed with Wayland

    Time to move:

    I was a Mint/Cinnamon user until they decide not support Wayland. Then move to Fedora/Gnome3 /DashtoPanel combination (it's the only way to tolerate Gnome) and it's pretty good until Gnome 4 have problems with DTP (I don't Know why it's not native in Gnome). So know I moved to Tumbleweed/Plasma/FullWayland, it's very good but can't run FreeCAD. Next, maybe back to Ubuntu/Gnome4/DTP.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Tumbleweed with Wayland

      if Wayland weren't trying to re-invent things [for the lulz apparently] while SIMULTANEOUSLY becoming more Windows-like _AND_ removing the one capability that makes X11 superior to all [display and interact on remote desktop over network or even on the same machine with a different login context, simply by assigning the 'DISPLAY' environment variable] I might actually consider using it. But I don't.

      So if Mint/Cinnamon devs want to FOCUS RESOURCES ON THINGS THAT MATTER, and NOT waste time re-re-doing things JUST for Wayland, I'm in agreement with them.

  23. Citizen99

    TDE = Trinity Desktop Environment

    Happily running the KDE 3.5 fork 'on the metal' on Debian, currently Buster, or Devuan, currently Beowolf.

    Lubuntu or Xubuntu usually for virtual machines.

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