Popular Linux Desktops
Unlike Microsoft's Windows and Apples Mac OS, Linux allows you to choose from a variety of desktops. Some of the more common desktops are KDE, GNOME, LXDE, XFCE and Unity. These desktop environments aim to provide a suite of products that have a similar look and feel. Most environments provide customisable widgets and features to tailor your desktop to your own preference. LXDE and XFCE offer a lightweight environments that are less resource hungry than their counterparts. These desktops are ideally suited to notebooks and older hardware. Most desktops also offer the ability to switch between multiple virtual desktops.
The KDE desktop is very popular amongst Kubuntu and openSUSE users. KDE is available for most distributions of Linux. KDE was originally founded back in the late 1990s as a way of trying to standardise the way applications looked and worked. A student by the name of Matthias Ettrich called upon others to help with this project. This soon became known as KDE, often referred unofficially as the Kool Desktop Environment. Today KDE has a very large world wide community of developers and users.
The GNOME desktop environment is a graphical user interface that runs on top of a systems operating system. Like KDE, GNOME is free and open source software developed by volunteer communities and paid contributors like Red Hat. The GNOME desktop manages applications, file handling and general window management. GNOME 2.6 proved to be a very popular interface amongst Linux users and was shipped with many distributions as a default desktop environment. GNOME 3 is now available and is a very popular desktop available to most distributions.
LXDE is a free and open source desktop environment that is designed to run fast and efficiently on low end or older hardware. LXDE can be used with most distributions of Linux. Although LXDE is a light weight desktop, it doesn't lack in features or applications. LXDE is the default desktop environment for systems like Knoppix and Lubuntu.
XFCE is a free desktop environment for Linux systems. XFCE is a light weight fast desktop environment that is often used on older hardware, net books and laptops. XFCE is the default desktop for Xubuntu, Salix OS, Saline OS and Manjaro Linux.
Unity is Ubuntu's default desktop environment from Canonical. Unity was designed to utilise space more efficiently. Unity consists of Launcher (icons located to the left), a Dash which allows users to quickly search for installed applications or recently used files. The dash can also retrieve results from third part organisations such as Amazon and embed this into your search. An upper menu bar displays the menus for the active window. Here you can also gain quick access to media players and social networking feeds. Unity is primarily for Ubuntu, however, other distributions such as Arch can use Unity.
The MATE desktop (pronounced Ma-Tay) is a continuation of the GNOME 2 project. The MATE desktop preserves the look of the more traditional Linux desktop. MATE is a elegant desktop solution that is available for most Linux distributions. Ubuntu now has an official release of Ubuntu MATE which incorporates the MATE desktop.