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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'
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]
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...
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!].
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.
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...
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.
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" :)