Linux Desktop Environments

A desktop environment (or window manager) is the graphic environment that you use to interface with your computer. One of the most common 'desktop environments' is the explorer interface on Microsoft Windows, where you have a start menu, desktop icons, etc. Within Linux each desktop environment has its own interface, as well as system menu, login managers and developer tools. One advantage with Linux is that you have a choice on what desktop environment you use.


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux includes the latest 2.6 series of the GNOME Desktop.

  • The biggest change from the 2.4 series to the 2.6 series is that nautilus uses a spatial interface instead of the standard browser type interface.

  • The good news is that the spatial interface speeds up nautilus.

  • It is reminiscent of the way older Microsoft Windows Explorers would always open in new window by default

Fedora’s default GNOME Desktop

  • Overall Fedora and Red Hat‘s implementation of GNOME seems relatively stable, but not as stable as the 2.4 series.

  • The interface is themed away from the default GNOME look into a theme that is called BlueCurve.

  • The BlueCurve look is a nice looking theme that includes new Window Decorations, Colors and Icons.

  • The desktop is also rearranged from the default GNOME look, you no longer have the top panel, and the bottom panel is overly large for GNOME.

  • Mandrake utilizes a very standard GNOME 2.4 series desktop.

  • The only real change is the inclusion of a new theme called Galaxy, and a customized start menu to allow organized access to applications across the different Desktop Environments.

Mandrake’s default GNOME Desktop

  • Suse Linux also includes the GNOME 2.4 series desktop.

  • Unlike Mandrake though, it is somewhat customized, but in such a way that you don’t notice it right away.

  • The biggest change is the inclusion of patches to GTK.

  • Because of this, most of the dialog boxes are tweaked a little allowing for a better user experience.

  • There are also small changes, such as Ximian’s Industrial theme being the default look.


  • Red Hat‘s Linux’s implementation of KDE strays drastically from the default KDE desktop.

  • The desktop is themed in such a way to look exactly like Fedora’s GNOME desktop.

  • Unfortunately in its default state, the desktop is extremely not user friendly.

  • An example is there is no easy way to open a file manager on the Desktop, Taskbar or Menus.

  • The only way to open a file manager is to go through the menus and find the web browser and once the program launches, you must hit the home icon which will bring you to the home directory

Fedora’s default KDE Desktop

  • Mandrake’s KDE desktop is very clean, but generic looking.

  • Mandrake’s changes mostly just include a customized start menu, the Galaxy theme and various other settings that are changed from a default KDE installation, such as double-clicking to launch a file instead of a single click.

  • Suse’s changes includes a customized start menu, as well as customized applets, such as applets for hardware control, the dialup Internet Connection and Power Management applets.

Mandrake’s default KDE Desktop

Suse’s KDE desktop is the most polished of these three distributions. It is also the desktop that is the most similar to a default KDE desktop from

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