Talk:Comparison of X Window System desktop environments

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Motif and other missing DEs[edit]

Shouldn't it be fair to include Motif and Open Motif as well? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:56, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

CDE as well as NeXTStep.

And XPde! -- (talk) 19:11, 3 January 2010 (UTC)


this page should probably be called "comparison of Linux desktop environments shouldn't it? also, it would be really good to see some performance specs for each DE too. -- 03:14, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

In its current state, it should probable be called "Comparison of desktop environments for the X Window System". I think this article should be changed to a comparison of all notable desktop environmets, including Windows, Mac, RISCOS, Amiga etc. Ahy1 22:08, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I also think it's not particularly useful even as that - I'd expect something on how they differ for the perspective of the user, not 'here's which text editor is included if your distro is KDE-based'.

Tell me how they operate: do they have a 'click here' for the menus button or do you right-click anywhere on the desktop to get the menus or are they drop-down from the top. How do you do things with them? Do you need to have two working hands to do lots of shift clicking or can you operate them with just a mouse? etc etc.

I realise that they allow much customisation - even Windows does that - but, straight out of the box/download, what are they like to use?

Someone also needs to find something on the computing resources necessary to run them. I know from experience that Xfce needs less CPU and graphics power, but how much? Lovingboth 08:19, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

You could list the minimum system requirements as an indication of resource usage. --sofar 15:35, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
None of these are exclusive to Linux-based OSes; misnomer much. ¦ Reisio 02:02, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree, so I moved it to "Comparison of X Window System desktop environments". Guy Harris 02:34, 9 November 2006 (UTC)


This is not a good sentence:

 A desktop environment (DE) can be broken up into several components that function independently and interact with one another to provide the look and feel and functionality of the desktop environment.

it defines a desktop environment in terms of a desktop environment, i.e. a circular definition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

This article needs some serious work. It it not made clear what exactly the list is supposed to be of. The Desktop Environments' own projects? That can't be it, given some of the things on the list. Are they supposed to represent A Very Popular Choice? By who's reckoning? What authority is this cited on? Are they the author's own personal picks? If so I'm sure it's against some policy somewhere. Someone (not me, since I'd just delete the whole thing) needs to take a look at this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 00:56, January 9, 2007.

I took the list from this KDE site and this article. --DevastatorIIC 13:29, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

This article presents window managers as if they are "minimalistic" desktop environments. That is plainly false. Window managers are one of many components that comprise desktop environments. Window managers such as Ratpoison and wmii should absolutely not be included here. They are not desktop environments, and they do not pretend to be. This entire article therefore needs a serious overhaul. k7tz52oef5y5g93r40 00:49, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

+1 for removing the window managers from this article. Enlightenment, Blackbox derivatives, Ratpoison, wmii, dwm and Ion should should NOT be on this list, because they are not desktop environments, they are window managers. This article could confuse people new to linux because the information in it is wrong. Blazeix 19:16, 9 Sep 2007 (UTC)

More information[edit]

Look at other "comparison of" articles -- Linux distros, instant messenger programs, etc.

What I'd like is information that describes the differences between desktops such as KDE and GNOME, sufficient to help distinguish them or help in a choice. Right now this article tells me nothing, or very little, about their actual comparison. Any chance of expansion? FT2 (Talk | email) 22:58, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Include OS X and Windows[edit]

I think it would be useful from a pedagogical perspective to include OS X and Windows in the comparison. That would mean moving this page to Comparison of desktop environments. Chris Pickett 22:47, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Guy Harris, I saw your recent edits... presently Comparison_of_desktop_environments redirects to Comparison_of_X_Window_System_desktop_environments. I tried moving this page, but it requires an administrators' help. Chris Pickett 00:11, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I know - it's "edits", plural, as in "I backed out my comment because I realized that the page just redirected".
To get the page moved, I'd suggest that you
1. edit the page a bit so that it starts talking about non-X11 desktop environments;
2. request the move on Wikipedia:Requested moves, as the page you get when you click "move" for the Comparison of X Window System desktop environments page suggests.
That's what I've done for at least one rename that was blocked by an edited redirect page. Guy Harris 00:40, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I was confused by your second edit summary, that's why I replied like that. (It's generally better to strike out text than delete from a talk page.) Thanks for documenting the process here. I've done a requested move before, but I'm focusing on Linux right now, so I'll let you or somebody else who comes along take care of it.
By the way, I think there should be just one column for each of OS X and Windows, not one for each different version. Chris Pickett 01:22, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I think there should be just one row for each of OS X and Windows; most if not all other "Comparison of XXX" pages have, for each table, one row for each XXX and one column for each point of comparison.
Hmm, I don't know about rows vs. columns. I think that you want more rows than columns for readability, and inverting the table even with OS X and Windows added would still be 6 rows and 14 columns.
Only if there's a significant difference between version N and version M of a given desktop environment should there be separate rows for the two versions. Guy Harris 01:33, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I also don't know about that. Certainly there are significant differences between Windows 98 and Windows Vista, but what I meant to say was that in both cases you want DirectX as the graphics API, Windows Media Player as the media player, and Microsoft Word as the de facto office suite (even though it must be paid for separately). Chris Pickett 02:44, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I think it would be extremely difficult to include OS X and Windows to do any sensible comparison. OS X is a possibility as it is an *nix system, nevertheless difficult. Windows, imho is impossible. The Windows interface cannot be changed even to a minor extent. It can simply be "themed". The interface is knit into the system and is inseparable from the system itself. It is impossible to break up the interface into components and tell which is the file manager and which is the WM. Nobody knows what powers the interface or even how the interface works because its source is closed. The Windows interface is a unique one and cannot be compared with the other DEs in this page. I hence propose that the page not be moved, and if moved only for the purpose of simplicity of the title. -- Artagnon 10:35, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Konqueror or maybe Kaudiocreator ?[edit]

In the first table, Konqueror stands for cd-ripper in KDE, maybe Kaudiocreator was meant there? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:58, 29 March 2007 (UTC).

Large modification[edit]

I modified the article to a large extent. It is by no means perfect, but I think I've atleast given the article some direction. I don't think it makes sense to include proprietary desktop environment like the one Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X gives with its OS. Some of the elements don't even have their own names. Most elements are inseparable and integral parts of the OS. The whole environment is a tangled mess and everything is written directly into the kernel. Further, since everything is proprietary, it's impossible to analyse and compare them with free software. I believe proprietary and free software are in different leagues and cannot be compared with each other expect on a superficial basis.

I think the purpose and objective of the article is very clear. What it talks about is also very clear. I'm sure new GNU/Linux users will find this article very useful and informative too.

I finally take take this opportunity to request permission to remove the expand and expert tags as I think my modifications have satisfied the requirements of both. Leave any messages concerning this issue on my userpage.

-- Artagnon 16:21, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

style concerns[edit]

I added the inappropriate tone tag because I think this article could benefit from some improvement in writing style. The sentence structure generally seems repetitive and choppy; it could be more sophisticated. I know that this isn't exactly tone, but I couldn't find a tag template that dealt with this particular issue. This may be something I can try to work on later, but right now I'll just throw this out to everyone.Brad Gibbons 06:11, 25 May 2007 (UTC)


In Unix, a desktop environment is not a window manager. BSD, Linux, Unix, and HURD can all run with almost no extra software from the command line. The fact that a window manager doesn't need extra software to run does not make it a desktop environment.

In Unix, a desktop environment is a set of programs that the author thought was the minimum needed for end users to run the operating system. They usually have a window manager, a terminal (command line), a file manager, cd/dvd burning software, image editing software, text editing software, hypertext software, and common toolkits and libraries for other applications.Altarbo 22:16, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, a desktop environment is not a window manager. -- Artagnon 09:06, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

DEs eliminated, WMs overloading[edit]

a while back I added info to the (then-only) table, about Equinox and LXDE (as well as Rox); yes, very minor in terms of market share and development, but still DEs: not just WMs. (I think the "elaborate" qualifier somebody added later. But then this page isn't called "Comparison of Elaborate X Window System desktop environments", is it?)

I come back notice that info is completely gone. Not even a mention But there are reams of info on things like Blackbox & Ratpoison etc, which IIRC are WMs and nothing but. Not DEs in any way shape or form.

Sections, paragraphs, table columns, opinionating & more all about WMs, and info about real DEs just gone. As well as all this irrelevant stuff being levered into the page so that now it's a complete mess as opposed to a nice clear comparison.

What the hell is happening to this page?

end rant 9ulk 17:31, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

I personally apologise for removing LXDE, Rox and Equinox. I don't have personal experience with any of them and really couldn't integrate them into the article. I appreciate your concerns about the article tilting towards WMs instead of the original intention of DEs. Reams of info on Ratpoison and Blackbox? I'm probably to blame for that. However, I don't think it makes sense to make another page for comparison of X Windows System window managers and since WMs are an integral part of DEs, I propose that we include them. After all, WMs like fluxbox and ratpoison are capable of functioning independently of other DEs- along with some extra software, they function like full-blown DEs.
Yes, I'm also to blame for the "elaborate" qualifier. It is probably an unnecessary qualifier and the article should clearly differentiate between DEs and WMs.
Please edit the article in any way you see fit taking into consideration the comments posted on this page. I will also attempt to do the same when I find the time. If you'd like to discuss this more, you can leave a message on my talk page. -- Artagnon 10:21, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Another major edit[edit]

In response to the comments, I've made another major edit to the article. I hope the major crisis of DE versus WM was addressed in this edit. -- 13:32, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

"Full Environments" and "Window managers only" split in the table is a fantastic solution to the long standing debate of DE versus WM. The article needs to be edited further to look encyclopaedic. The "five categories" is also my invention and should probably be removed. Artagnon 17:05, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Maybe tables could focus on objectively-measurable traits?[edit]

This is hard to do because window managers are a religious topic; thanks for trying.

This reminds me of a table very subjectively comparing the American Presidential candidates: [1]

One way to make it easier to understand is to find a few objective data points that separate the different categories of desktop environment from each other:

  • Installation size
  • Includes application launcher?
  • Includes configuration GUI?
  • Includes Web browser?
  • Includes visual effects?

Longer explanation could go beneath the table. References should be actual links (or references to books, etc.), not just a description of where you looked for the information (which you may want to put in the prose, or may not need at all). The table of applications corresponding to each DE/WM is great.

I'm not sure the topic is Wikipedian to address, because to even begin figuring it out you have to make some assumptions about the user's needs. (But again, thanks for the effort that went into writing and rewriting the thing and trying to be dispassionate.)

Incidentally, I got to this article because I'll probably soon be using Xfce on an ultraportable, storage-constrained laptop (the Asus Eee) and wanted to find out more about it. Maybe that application somehow rates inclusion -- that these smaller, less-known environments are practical for old, less-powerful, or storage-limited machines. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:40, 19 February 2008 (UTC)


half the (minimal) content of Comparison of X window managers is talking about metacity & kwin as part of gnome and kde, and the rest is about jr. environments like blackbox and icewm.

Why not merge this artcle with "Desktop Environment"? - KitchM (talk) 04:31, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

What about speed?[edit]

Im doing a lot of test in my new Arch linux and i see kde very high in mem use but fster than gnome and xfce the king of speed but kde the king of visual effects. what about the speed and mem needs? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:32, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

What about accessibility?[edit]

This belongs in the comparison. Keyboard shortcuts? Alternatives to pointing with the mouse? Auditory cues/feedback? Support for applications which otherwise might provide such accessibility features? -- (talk) 03:00, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

memory use[edit]

"Memory comparison can be found here."

That link is to a biased source and the author even admits it himself in the article. I think would be better to either discuss in more depth in the article with other sources included as well, or just delete that link... (talk) 15:42, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Dolphin is the file manager not Konqueror.[edit]

Dolphin is the file manager not Konqueror. (talk) 04:00, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Correct. Added a few lines about the replacement of Konqueror with dolphin, but imo, information about konqueror should be deleted all together. Any thougts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Topfenbaecker (talkcontribs) 08:08, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

ETK Links to Commune of the Working People of Estonia[edit]

The ETK link redirects to Commune of the Working People of Estonia. I fixed it, so now it goes to Enlightenment Foundation Libraries, but I just wanted to note it because I thought it was funny. =) --Topsfield99 (talk) 19:12, 12 April 2011 (UTC)


This article seems to need a little refresh. What about MATE (desktop environment) and Cinnamon (user interface), while I never heard of Ede and Etoile (are those country or distribution dependent?), neither with Fedora, Suse, ?Ubuntu, Mint, Magaia, EeePC-Linux (obsolete), EasyPeasy, nor Knoppix (and some others).
The table should be split up in three, at the "full", "semi" and "WM" column areas.--Mideal (talk) 12:45, 29 November 2012 (UTC) Edit: Not to forget Unity (vomit).--Mideal (talk) 12:51, 29 November 2012 (UTC) I also think that some of the links should be removed as well. One of the links is to a 2007 comparison of the two? I'm not sure if any of the points are still valid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:08, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Can additional environments be added ? The list is severely outdated, even with the minor update in 2012. See (talk)

About "Compatibility and interoperability issues"[edit]

To my knowledge this is a non-starter. There are no compatibility issues or interoperability issues with the X11 based desktop environments at all, since the interaction with the desktop and an application (from a window manager point of view) is entirely based an X11 protocol, which all the window managers have implemented (if not, nothing would work!). Any interoperability or compatibility issue is then reduced to what other libraries or managers use, but since an app would -depend- on those being present, that's a non-starter too, i.e. there are no interoperability issues and no compatibility issues since each project either implement a common protocol with no extensions or implement a unique protocol.

Unless someone is able to produce an example or either a compatibility issues or an interoperability issue (swiftly) I propose to remove the section entirely. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:37, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Window Managers and Desktop Environments[edit]

At various points upthread, it's mentioned that the inclusion of information about pure window managers not associated with any desktop environment in the first table is unnecessary. As there is now a page for comparison of X window managers, it seems doubly unnecessary. I propose that it is removed. Any objections? Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 21:34, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

As no one has objected over the past week, I've gone ahead and removed all the information about Window Managers which are not part of desktop environments. Other information about WMs should go in comparison of X window managers Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 08:31, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
So this subject just popped up on (linky). Since you have recently worked on this page, what do you think about rotating the tables to better accommodate greater numbers of DEs listed, and to visually match the table on the WM page? Maybe there's some way to get Unity in here, perhaps by labeling it as "Ubuntu/Unity", then using an asterisk and footnote to explain how it's not a true full-featured DE. I'm also a little confused by the text above the first table mentioning five groupings, was this pre-WM-removal? DraugTheWhopper (talk) 05:04, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
It was, but I don't think it can have made much sense then, either, since I don't see four obvious groupings now. I'll remove it.
As for the large number of DEs on that thread, feel free to add some of them. Beware, though: as far as I know WindowMaker and UDE (despite it's name) are only window managers; not full DEs, and I can't find any evidence that Zorin Linux actually has it's own desktop environment. All the sources I can find with a brief search say it uses Gnome. Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 12:34, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

Question on adding GNOME-based and others[edit]

The list mentions MATE (I guess because of it being a GNOME2 fork), but misses Cinnamon [1]. Besides the discussions on differences between Window Managers and Desktop Environments, how do you think we should treat forks or alternatives that keep roots in the original project (Cinnamon, or Budgie [2] for GNOME3) or inner variants such as Plasma Active for KDE?

For a comparison, besides project philosophy, toolkit and estimated disk footprint some other real metrics such as memory footprint [3] would be a good addition, and while I agree that the referenced article falls victim to the confusion between window managers and full blown desktop environment, the fact that he listed all of them hints that this article should mention and/or reference exclusions, clearly state the rules of exclusions (missing utilities or certain features to qualify as one) and mention them as alternatives to implicit window managers in the second table where applicable (I'm thinking also of Compiz and Metacity besides Openbox).

Also for the GNOME column the file manager is called Nautilus (Cinnamon calls it Nemo) and the browser is called (or codenamed...) Epiphany. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mitzampt (talkcontribs) 18:46, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^