Google+

Top 10 Ubuntu Desktop Environments and Shells

If you’re looking to change up your Ubuntu installation and find what works best for you, this post will list the top 15 desktop environments and shells for Ubuntu (and a majority of other Debian distros) and their features.

» Unity

This is the default shell installed on Ubuntu.

Features:
It is available in both 2D and 3D (3D runs on Compiz). Both versions work similarly; the only difference is a few minor appearance tweaks. It features a launcher on the left for currently running applications and pinned programs, a dashboard of installed applications and files, workspaces, and a global menu.

System Requirements:
Unity 3D requires a 3D graphics card and hardware acceleration. Even if your machine can’t run 3D, it should be able to run 2D.

Installation:
Ubuntu is pre-installed on Ubuntu 11.04 and later. You can switch between the 2D and 3D versions on the log in screen.

» GNOME


GNOME is the official shell of GNOME 3.

Features:
GNOME uses Mutter instead of Compiz as its window manager. Windows, by default, cannot be minimized as workspaces are more highly encouraged.

System Requirements:
GNOME requires hardware acceleration and is aimed to run on machines at most five years old.

Installation:
GNOME is available on Ubuntu 11.10 from official repos. In the terminal, type sudo apt-get install gnome-shell.

 
 

» XFCE


XFCE is widely used in distros such as Crunchbang because it is very lightweight.

Features:
XFCE is extremely lightweight and aims to use few system resources. Even so, it is still boasts nice aesthetics and is easy to use.

System Requirements:
Minimal requirements are necessary. I have run XFCE on Crunchbang smoothly and quickly on a machine with 512 MB of RAM.

Installation:
Ubuntu features its own version of XFCE called Xubuntu. You can install it by typing the following in the terminal: sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop.

 

» LXDE


LXDE is another lightweight desktop environment.

Features:
It focuses on high performance and low resource usage, while retaining aesthetics.

System Requirements:
Minimal hardware requirements.
Installation:
LXDE is the default desktop environment used in Lubuntu.

 
 
 
 
 
 

» KDE


KDE is perhaps the second most popular desktop environment, second to GNOME.

Features:
KDE is known for its ease of customizability.It features a tradition taskbar and widgets on the desktop.

System Requirements:
KDE requires a more robust system, much like one which would be used to run Unity 3D.

Installation:
KDE is the default desktop environment of Kubuntu. Additionally, you can activate KDE in a normal installation of Ubuntu by looking for kubuntu-desktop in the Software Center.

 
 

» GNOME Panel


GNOME Panel is the classic look of Ubuntu.

Features:
GNOME Panel features a taskbar/panel at the top of the screen, where custom buttons and applets can be placed as a launchpad.

System Requirements:
GNOME Panel can be run on any average hardware; requirements are lower than those to run Unity 3D.

Installation:
If you’re on a version that doesn’t have GNOME Panel installed, you can follow these instructions on AskUbuntu.

 
 
 
 

» Pantheon


Pantheon is a desktop shell for use in elementary OS Luna and later and still in development.

Features:
Its top panel (called the WingPanel) is a mix between GNOME 2 and GNOME Shell. It features an application launcher and a new version of Docky, called Plank.

System Requirements:
Pantheon is designed to be lightweight and customizable.

Installation:
To install Pantheon, open the terminal and type the following commands, one line at a time with an between each line: bzr branch lp:elementaryos
cd elementaryos
sudo conf.sh --configure-installed
. Then log out and, upon logging in again, choose the new DE.
If that does not work, please see additional instructions on AskUbuntu.

 

» Cinnamon


Cinnamon is a GNOME Shell desktop fork aimed at being more simple and traditional.

Features:
Its top panel (called the WingPanel) is a mix between GNOME 2 and GNOME Shell. It features an application launcher and a new version of Docky, called Plank.

System Requirements:
Requirements for running Cinnamon are roughly the same as for Unity 3D and other “heavier” DEs. It requires a 3D graphics card.

Installation:
To install Cinnamon, open the terminal and type the following commands, one line at a time with an between each line: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon
. Then log out and, upon logging in again, choose the new DE.

 

» Mythbuntu


Mythbuntu is based on XFCE but geared more towards media PCs.

Features:
Its top panel (called the WingPanel) is a mix between GNOME 2 and GNOME Shell. It features an application launcher and a new version of Docky, called Plank.

System Requirements:
Minimum system requirements are 512 MG of RAM; however, 2GB of RAM is recommended. For a full list of requirements, please visit the Mythbuntu site.

Installation:
To install Mythbuntu, open the terminal and type sudo apt-get install mythbuntu-desktop or search for mythbuntu-desktop in the Software Center.

 

» Awesome


Awesome is a desktop environment that acts like a windows manager.

Features:
It comes with a top panel that holds applets and running programs. It is a tiling window manager, so it automatically arranges windows without overlaps, while still filling up the screen. Tiling actions can be customized.

System Requirements:
Awesome is intended to be very lightweight; sources have reported it running on machines with 128 MB of RAM!

Installation:
To install Mythbuntu, open the terminal and type sudo apt-get install awesome.

Source: AskUbuntu

Posted in: Desktop Environments and Shells, Linux

Comments

  1. I’ve read it alleged cinnamon uses less ram than mate. 3d required? does it use more or less cpu? gpu?

  2. Thanks, I will try pantheon

  3. Pingback: End of Life – What this means to you. | Mike's Place in Cyberspace

  4. martini says:

    Excellent!

    To install Mythbuntu, open the terminal and type sudo apt-get install awesome.

    :)

  5. Very useful guide :) ty so much

  6. This is very good desktop… but in my laptop can’t install. i get a message “Failed to download repository information”

  7. This could be anything from an error in the repo, a typo, or your internet connection.

  8. Pingback: Fast, lightweight alternative to Compiz' Expo Plugin? | WyldePlayground.netWyldePlayground.net -

  9. Pingback: Fast, lightweight alternative to Compiz' Expo Plugin? | Ubuntu InfoUbuntu Info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>