Is XFCE the best Linux desktop ever?

In today's open source roundup: XFCE might just be the best Linux desktop ever created. Plus: Is Android Wear the new iPad? And how to install and dual-boot SteamOS

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, open source

Desktop environments are a very personal thing in Linux, and there are many to choose from for each user. KDE, XFCE, GNOME, Unity, and many other options are available in various distributions. Each desktop has its pluses and minuses, with some being more traditional and others being more modern. But is there one that towers over the others? Well, Datamation thinks that if there is one then it's XFCE.

According to Datamation:

XFCE keeps it simple. XFCE remains rock solid, dependable and maintains the logic that most people still look for in a menu driven experience. I also happen to think that XFCE provides a solid balance between desktop environment speed and general usability.

The point is this – park any basic Windows users in front of XFCE and in minutes, they'll find their way around. I don't have the same confidence with GNOME and KDE in this area. GNOME 3 is completely foreign to most people whereas KDE starts off familiar, only to offer menus on top of menus which may overwhelm some newer users (my opinion).

More at Datamation

XFCE Best Linux Desktop Environment
Image credit: XFCE.org

Uh oh, I hesitate to offer my opinion about this because I'm rather hopelessly biased when it comes to XFCE. It's always ranked right at the top of the charts in terms of Linux desktop environments for me. It just seems to meld with my workflow much better than KDE, GNOME or most other desktops.

When someone new to Linux asks me about which desktop to use, I share my preferences with them. But then I usually recommend that they try a number of different desktops before settling on one. You can't really know which one you like best if you don't have exposure to a number of different desktop environments in Linux.

It's somewhat dangerous though to proclaim that one desktop environment is better than the rest for the simple reason that we are all different. XFCE might work beautifully for me, but you might loathe it if you are used to another desktop. So it's completely subjective to say one desktop is "better" than all the others.

Thankfully we are blessed with so many different desktop choices in Linux that nobody is stuck using a desktop that they don't like. Remember when Ubuntu switched to Unity? Some Ubuntu users couldn't stand it so they decamped to Linux Mint or other distros. The ability to make these kinds of choices is one of the things that sets Linux apart from Windows and OS X.

So when you get right down to it, the best Linux desktop is simply the one that you prefer to use each day.

Android Wear and the iPad
Computerworld sees similarities between the reaction to the launch of the iPad and Google's announcement of Android Wear.

According to Computerworld:

It's bulky and awkward. We have smartphones, so it's unnecessary. It's a solution in search of a problem. You can't read it in sunlight. The screen gets all smudgy. It's too expensive. It's dumb.

Already I'm hearing the exact same list of complaints about Android Wear watches that I heard about the iPad, and for the exact same reasons.

And I'm going to say the same things about Android Wear that I (correctly) said about the iPad: Android Wear will be an addictive and massive cultural phenomenon, and its primary benefit is a lack of features -- minimalism is what makes it so powerful.

More at Computerworld

Android Wear
Image credit: Computerworld

The article is quite upbeat about the prospects and impact of Android Wear. While I can appreciate the author's perspective, I remain utterly unconvinced about the daily utility of any smartwatch. Yes, I know I'm a knuckle-dragging luddite on this issue, but it seems to me that smartwatches are just going to be more of the same stuff we have on our phones except it will be on our wrists instead of in our pocket.

But do we actually need yet another device to carry around? Sure, there's a certain convenience factor since the device is attached to your wrist, but it seems that much of the functionality will duplicate what already exists on your phone. For me there would have to some truly killer app that completely differentiates the watch from the phone, and Google Now just doesn't seem to be it (though it surely has its good points).

I don't know, maybe I'll change my tune when smartwatches have been out for a while. Perhaps the second or third iteration of these devices might be appealing enough to get one. But right now I'm just not sold on the idea that these things are going to be worth the bother.

How to install and dual-boot SteamOS
Linux User and Developer has a detailed set of instructions on how to install and dual-boot SteamOS on your computer.

According to Linux User and Developer:

The installation process is not always straightforward, though, and even the instructions on the SteamOS website can be misleading. There’s also an installation element missing from SteamOS right now – the ability to dual-boot. In the traditional way at least, since you cannot add SteamOS to an already working computer with a distro, as the installation methods wipe the system. With a bit of planning, though, you can dual-boot with an existing OS or create a dual-booting system after the fact.

It’s time to create the ultimate living-room gaming and HTPC and to experience SteamOS as it develops. Just remember, this will wipe your computer, so make a backup beforehand or use a spare machine.

More at Linux User and Developer

If you run into any problems be sure to check out the SteamOS discussions on the Steam site. You may also want to browse the SteamOS FAQ if you have questions about SteamOS.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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