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Linux, Unix, and *nix like Operating Systems Forum

What does Linux look like?

 11:12 am on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

That is not an easy answer. With Linux you have literally hundreds of graphical interfaces to choose from. I don't mean just window dressing, but actual desktop environment as well. I wanted to give the non *nix user a sample of what some of the more common desktops and window managers look like, All the shots here are of the same computer. Most of the shots are relatively empty so I could show the desktop/window-manager instead of cluttering the screen with applications. In most of the shots you will see a browser -- I wanted to show some of the variations available to the *nix world (ranging in size from lynx to Mozilla), all of them are open source

The two desktop environments that get the most attention are KDE and Gnome -- both are very handsome and both have a slight resemblance to windows. KDE has the most features, but it is also quite large. I think Gnome is also very functional and aesthetically pleasing. As you could tell by my screen-shots I really do not use either much, these shots are pretty much how they look 'out of the box'

KDE [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] -- that is the Konquerror browser.
Another KDE shot [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] -- this is one of the standard themes.

Gnome pretty much out of the box [cgi-fun.hypermart.net], That browser is Galeon which is absolutely the most functional browser I have ever used.

Another shot of Gnome [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] with a fancy blue theme.

TWM [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] (Tom's Window Manager) is a huge contrast to Gnome or KDE, it is basic and has very little e eye candy, It is known as the grandfather of many window managers, as it is one of the oldest and several WMs started life based on it's code/

Xfce [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] like KDE and Gnome is more than a window manager, it has many desktop functionalities including a sound manager, a file manager, a program launcher, drag and drop capabilities, and many other functions, yet Xfce is also a very light environment to work in and works nicely on less powerful machines.

Afterstep [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]is a very popular window manager modeled after NeXTStep. The browser there is Dillo, it is less than 250K in size.

Window Maker [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] is the child of Afterstep, it is a beautiful and very stable window manager. That is Links a text based browser. I actually like using it every ones in a while, it is very good for reading forums.

If you are into eye candy you will really like Enlightenment. I'll just let the screenshots speak for themselves:
Enlightenment 1 [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]
Enlightenment 2 [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]
Enlightenment 3 [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]

In contrast, ICEwm [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] is all about being light and functional. ICE resembles win95 somewhat, but it's strengths are in it's light weight and ease of use. ICE has keyboard shortcuts for every function, you do not need a mouse to use it. I used it daily for about six months and it never did crash on me.

PWM [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] is a Tab based window manager that allows you to join multiple applications to one frame. PWM is in my opinion the quintessential opposite of Enlightenment -- all function, no eye candy.

Blackbox is also based on the NexSTep, but is boiled down to basics. BB manages to be handsome and slim at the same time. BB is very different than what most windows users are use to. The menu is always one right mouse click away. When applications are iconified the do not shrink down a taskbar or a desktop icon, but instead they go to an icon sub-menu. Blackbox is a super lightweight, it is very good on older machines.
Blackbox 1 [cgi-fun.hypermart.net], that is lynx, another text based browser.
Blackbox 2 [cgi-fun.hypermart.net], this is how BB looks at default.

Fluxbox [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] is absolutely my favorite window manager. It is based on Blackbox, but has TABS like PWM. If you look closely at this screen shot you will see the tabs at the top left of the application frames. This allows me to maximize space and keeps me very organized. Flipping through applications is as simple as moving your mouse wheel which will cause the frames to rotate applications. Like BlackBox, Fluxbox manages to be good looking while remaining ultra light weight.
Here [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] is another screenshot of Fluxbox joining two browser windows in one from. Underneath the browser you will see a 'rolled up' frame. That is a feature I really miss whenever I have to use a windows machine.

And finally QVWM [cgi-fun.hypermart.net] if you absolutely must have something that looks and acts like win95,

There are many many more options than what I've shown, but I figure this is a pretty good sample to get people interested.

A good place to read more.... [plig.org]



 11:24 am on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Many thanks Littleman!

Sort of comes into the categroy (for me) of "The basic thing you wanted to know about Linux but were afraid to ask" .. in case everybody though i was a drongo.


 12:35 pm on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

My PC broke a little while back and the OS I could get to install on it was *nix. I strongly advice all thous who are planning on moving to this OS to read up on it first. I can't even get it to dial to the internet. AAAHHHH!!


 5:21 pm on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately many winmodem manufacturers have the sneeze put on them by Microsoft not to release their drivers. If you are going to go through a dialup you may have to swap out your modem for one that isn't exclusionary. Setting up a Ethernet connection is quite easy.



 9:48 pm on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thank you littleman for providing us so much information on the Linux window/desktop managers!!! I used to switch window managers every few weeks just to try them all, but this is what my Linux looks like now:

Screen Shot [yang.wattle.id.au]

Well, too bad that I am using Windows as my desktop 90 percent of the time :( But usually the first thing I do is opening an SSH session to the nearest Linux box :) When I am using Linux as the desktop, I usually use Enlightenment as my window manager. Not because it's such a beautiful window manager, but it lets me to tweak every aspect of its configuration, especially the key binding. But I guess the whole point is that you can/should choose whatever window manager/desktop suite that you are most comfortable with. With Free Software, you get a choice. Moreover, you can change the software to work the way you want, instead of changing yourself to work the way that piece of software wants...


 9:55 pm on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

>That is not an easy answer.

I must admit that is what threw me at first, I couldn't quite grasp the concept of choosing how you want to operate your machine. Once you break away from the concept of a "standard" desktop and start to match users with the best window manager for them then it is quite a revalation [productive too!].


 6:46 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I missed this post the first time around. That is an awesome set of screenshots Little.


 9:55 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yep, nice to give everyone a chance to see how 'non-scary' Linux can be.

I've been using it exclusively for about a year and a half and find it sooooo much better than win in so many ways.



 3:57 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have alway been jealous of Lynux users in that their interface is so much more interesting. Unfortunately a lot of the programs i need to use dont run on lynux.

and yes i have tried the alternate ones and they are inadequate =)


 5:58 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

aeomac - have you tried VMWare? i really like it - am still using my Win2k system, but can launch into resumable session of Win98 and Linux and another Win2k system, all at the same time (needs a lot of memory to do all that at once tho). full screen or windowed.

but you can get VMWare for Linux - i know a few friends use it to run those minority-apps that only run on Windows. Themselves and I have found it a reliable and effortless way to test/configure/run different browsers/scripts etc...


 7:21 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks BT,
I thought I'd add a couple.

KDE3 after playing with the settings [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]

My working desktop, easy on the eyes, and a efficient work environment [cgi-fun.hypermart.net]. Though I wasn't working there, as you could tell by the way I had the three browsers open and the dancing penguin in the corner.


 9:27 am on Nov 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wanted to add a screenshot of Waimea [cgi-fun.hypermart.net], it is another child of Blackbox. It is also a very light window manager, is highly configurable, yet can be quite beautiful with it's transparencies and True Type font support. It has a 'virtual desktop' where applications can be dragged from one screen to another. Typically Waimea is set up in a 3x3 configuration, picture a Tic Tac Toe layout.


 11:31 am on Nov 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

littleman, that desktop image of the luminous mushrooms is one of three that I've been swapping between for the last 6 months or so. :)


 5:43 am on Nov 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Dante, yeah it is a very relaxing background. My desktop is changing all the time too. I chose that background because I thought it did a decent job at highlighting the transparent effects of Waemia.

Here is it's website:


 5:50 am on Nov 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for shattering the myth about linux being "geek only" orientated.

On my linux box I recently set up a user account for my mother who is totaly un-computer minded. I set it up in such a way that everything was very easy to use and undestand and she uses it daily with no problems. Finds it easier to use than windows 98 and windows xp.


"it doesn't break as easily" :)


 6:43 am on Nov 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hey, that's great. I have been trying to get my mother to switch, but so far she is stuck in her win95 ways.


 1:29 pm on Nov 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Stuck in her Win95 ways? My mother-in-law doesn't even have an electric typewriter yet. ;) I'd say the odds of converting her to Linux are about zero. For some reason I like her anyway, though..

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