Desktop Environments: Gnome, KDE, XFCE

   1 [21:01] <ClassBot> Logs for this session will be available at following the conclusion of the session.
   2 [21:01] <pleia2> Hi everyone! Welcome to the session on Desktop Environments.
   3 [21:01] <pleia2> Quick introductions, I'm Elizabeth Krumbach, a member of the Ubuntu Community Council and I've been using Xubuntu since my first *buntu install and have been using XFCE since 2003. My day job is as Debian Sysadmin.
   4 [21:02] <maco> I'm Mackenzie Morgan, and I'm a MOTU & member of the Americas Regional Membership Board.  I used Ubuntu from 2006-2008 and Kubuntu 2009 to now.  I am an as-of-this-past-Monday member of the real world instead of being a student anymore :P
   5 [21:03] <pleia2> OK, to start out, I will quickly explain what a Desktop Environment is.
   6 [21:03] <pleia2> A Desktop Environment is the full interface, including Window Manager, panels, menus, engines, tools and applications which are put or built to work together.
   7 [21:03] <pleia2> By default, when you install Ubuntu you will get "Gnome" as your Desktop Environment. Other options for a Desktop Environment include KDE and XFCE.
   8 [21:03] <pleia2> I will note, as it can be confusing, but a "Window Manager" is not a "Desktop Environment", it's only a part of it. At the core, a Window Manager simply handles the behavior of the windows on your screen.
   9 [21:04] <pleia2> To add complexity, we've also been hearing a lot about "Unity" and "Gnome Shell" - a "Shell" in the graphical sense is more than a Window Manager and less than a Desktop Environment. If you want to learn more about Unity, jcastro is doing a session at 03:00 UTC.
  10 [21:04] <pleia2> As far as Window Managers go, Gnome uses Metacity, KDE uses KWin, and XFCE uses XFwm. A common example of when you may replace a Window Manager is when you use Compiz Fusion, the window manager which gives you "The Cube" and other effects in the Gnome or KDE Desktop Environments.
  11 [21:05] <pleia2> So, why would you want to switch from Gnome, the default in Ubuntu, to a different Desktop Environment?
  12 [21:05] <pleia2> One popular reason is simply preference. Give another one a try! You may like you find out how customizable the panels are in XFCE, or the flashy widgets are in KDE.
  13 [21:05] <pleia2> Another is speed/performance. Some let you slim down your environment by loading up fewer things by default, some are faster (usually by sacrificing eye candy), some work with lighter window managers which may run better on your system.
  14 [21:06] <pleia2> Any questions so far?
  15 [21:07] <pleia2> < Interficio> So what what desktop enviroment would you suggest if your running the ubuntu netbook edition?
  16 [21:08] <pleia2> the ubuntu netbook edition comes with a version of gnome adapted for the netbook
  17 [21:08] <maco> That's what's now known as Unity
  18 [21:08] <pleia2> personally I didn't like it a whole lot and just use regular gnome on my netbook, it's really about personal preference
  19 [21:09] <maco> Kubuntu Netbook on the other hand uses Plasma Netbook, an interface upstream KDE created for netbooks
  20 [21:09] <maco> So, the default DEs in the various Ubuntu releases are:   GNOME in Ubuntu, KDE in Kubuntu, Xfce in Xubuntu, and...well LXDE in Lubuntu but...Lyz are you going to talk about that? Lubuntu isn't official yet, as far as I know.
  21 [21:09] <pleia2> No, we're skipping LXDE this time around
  22 [21:10] <maco> You can install any of them from a CD specifically containing that version, or you can install another of them right along with your current version by simply installing the *-desktop metapackage
  23 [21:11] <maco>  It'll pull in everything that's normally included on the CD for that version and add an entry to the options on your login screen so you can pick between them
  24 [21:11] <maco> It won't replace the existing one, just add to it.  (And by the way, metapackages are just dummy packages that pull in lots of others as dependencies so you can get full sets.)
  25 [21:12] <maco> Each has its own default set of applications. If you get more than one of them, you'll end up with lots of applications installed
  26 [21:12] <maco> Many of those will do the same thing
  27 [21:13] <maco> You'll also notice that each has its own default theme and wallpaper and all that goodness. Ubuntu's historically been the brown one, but now it's eggplant/aubergine/purple. Kubuntu's the blue one. And Xubuntu's that funny colour that comes between blue and grey
  28 [21:16] <ClassBot> taves asked: while running Kubuntu i noticed there were different in sytax ie. instead of gksudo it was kdesudo are all the commands different for each environment
  29 [21:17] <pleia2> not all of them, but as the DEs feel the need they will create and adapt the code to work better within their environment
  30 [21:17] <maco> The graphical applications are different, so in that case you're invoking different graphical applications for requesting credentials. You can use gksudo on Kubuntu if you install it. No harm in using "gksudo kate" for example. Normal command line stuff (mv, irssi, cp) is the same though
  31 [21:17] <ClassBot> digbydog asked: you mentioned 'upstream' which some other people have used today. Could you explain it's meaning?
  32 [21:17] <pleia2> "upstream" just means the project above the one you're using
  33 [21:17] <maco> Code flows from upstream to downstream (like water in a river)
  34 [21:18] <pleia2> right, so there is a gnome project, and ubuntu takes gnome from that, so gnome is upstream from ubuntu
  35 [21:18] <maco> Upstream writes it, downstream (in this case Ubuntu) packages it and maybe patches it a bit too
  36 [21:18] <ClassBot> nhandler asked: Should I worry if apt says it is going to remove ubuntu-desktop (or another meta package)?
  37 [21:19] <maco> It's not the scary "oh god my entire desktop is going away" thing it sounds like, BUT it could make upgrades go less smoothly
  38 [21:20] <pleia2> when it says that, it means you're removing one of the packages that is the ubuntu-desktop meta package pulls in
  39 [21:21] <ClassBot> taves asked: so instead of running dual boot Kubuntu and Ubuntu i can install the KDE environment on my *buntu
  40 [21:21] <maco> Exactly
  41 [21:21] <pleia2> Ok, that's all the questions for now so we'll move on, now, each of these comes with different software and looks different, we'll now explain a bit about them and how they differ
  42 [21:23] <maco> Ubuntu, being GNOME-based, has a top and bottom panel. Bottom lists your windows and workspaces. Top has menus to get to apps and configure stuff and also your clock and all
  43 [21:24] <maco> The top panel is also where you find the broadcast UI for using Twitter /
  44 [21:25] <maco> Kubuntu uses the KDE4 Plasma-Desktop interface on the desktop mode and Plasma-Netbook for netbooks. Starting with 10.10 (Maverick), these are on a single iso
  45 [21:25] <maco> Which interface you see on first login is determined by your screen resolution
  46 [21:25] <maco> You can change between them in System Settings -> Workspace if you have a preference. I actually use Plasma Netbook on my 22" screen at work
  47 [21:26] <maco> Plasma-Desktop has a fairly normal menu for launching applications (but with a search box) in the bottom left corner
  48 [21:26] <maco> Plasma-Netbook has the menu embedded in the desktop
  49 [21:28] <maco> Ubuntu's defaut set of applications includes Empathy for IM, Firefox for web, Tomboy for notes, Evolution for mail/cal/address, and some other stuff
  50 [21:29] <maco> In Kubuntu these are corresponded to by Kopete, Arora, hmm for notes I think that's mixed into the next bit which is Kontact
  51 [21:29] <maco> One thing Kubuntu has that you don't see in Ubuntu so much is that you can have lots of widgets. They can be rotated or resizes or even overlapped. One of these is on the Plasma-Desktop by default to contain all your files and such on the desktop to a small area instead of scattering everywhere
  52 [21:30] <maco> In Plasma-Netbook you get a page called Page One that can scroll to fit *even more* widgets on your itty bitty screen
  53 [21:30] <maco> Any questions?
  54 [21:32] <maco> <shadeslayer> maco: s/arora/rekonq :P     <-- he's right. the Kubuntu team went through many arguments about default browser
  55 [21:32] <ClassBot> taves asked: using the KDE4 on ubuntu does it keep all my programs and commands? or do i have 2 im's such as empathy and kopete?
  56 [21:32] <maco> Yes, you'd have both
  57 [21:33] <maco> I used Pidgin with Kubuntu for a long while
  58 [21:33] <ClassBot> sebsebseb asked: Is this one of the last one of these kind of sessions for User Days or Open Week? Since soon things will be mainly about Unity and Gnome Shell when comes to Ubuntu.
  59 [21:34] <pleia2> Unity and Gnome Shell are just for Gnome :)
  60 [21:34] <maco> You can pry Plasma out of Kubuntu's cold dead hands :P
  61 [21:34] <pleia2> KDE and XFCE will still go on as they are, so next time we can do the same session
  62 [21:35] <pleia2> (with Gnome section expanded to talk about Unity, etc)
  63 [21:35] <pleia2> So, Xfce and Xubuntu!
  64 [21:35] <pleia2> Some examples of how Xubuntu with Xfce differs from Ubuntu: it doesn't come with Open Office, instead it comes with lighter-weight "abiword" for word processing and "gnumeric" for spreadsheets.
  65 [21:36] <pleia2> It does use gdm for the graphical login, and several other gnome things, but even those are discussed each release to see if they are still the best viable option for Xubuntu
  66 [21:36] <pleia2> The default Xubuntu in Lucid looks like this: (maverick didn't change much - but watch out for some exciting changes in natty!)
  67 [21:37] <pleia2> As mentioned above, Xubuntu uses the XFwm by default for the window manager. It uses Thunar for a basic file manager, as sorta seen here: (it's pretty basic though)
  68 [21:37] <pleia2> The Xfce panels (at the top and bottom in the screenshot) have their own items you can add, but you can also use gnome panel items.
  69 [21:38] <pleia2> For some more screenshots of the installation and default configuration of Xubuntu you can see: (these were taken from Lucid, but give you a good idea)
  70 [21:38] <pleia2> Most of what you'll find app-wise is that Xubuntu takes apps from other DEs, you can even run the gnome and kde services in the background so things launch more quickly even on Xfce
  71 [21:39] <pleia2> For more, check out and
  72 [21:40] <pleia2> That pretty much wraps up our prepared presentation, questions?
  73 [21:41] <ClassBot> shadeslayer asked: How about metioning edubuntu as well? :D they have this cool new feature where you can launch a edubuntu session on the web
  74 [21:41] <maco> Edubuntu is sort of a hybrid of Ubuntu and Kubuntu for educational purposes
  75 [21:42] <maco> It's a GNOME desktop with the KDE Education suite added on, and yes, the thing where you can play with it online to try it out is SO COOL
  76 [21:42] <pleia2> and there is also - another educational suite which uses XFCE
  77 [21:42] <ClassBot> taves asked: so gnome is avail for other *nixs aswell not just ubuntu
  78 [21:42] <maco> Yep
  79 [21:42] <pleia2> right
  80 [21:43] <maco> Ubuntu's is slightly modified, though...for example the notification system started in Ubuntu (though some other distros offer it in their repos now)
  81 [21:43] <ClassBot> taves asked: whats  canonical?
  82 [21:43] <maco> Canonical is the company that funds Ubuntu development
  83 [21:43] <maco> see
  84 [21:43] <pleia2> they also control the trademarks
  85 [21:47] <maco> If you have any questions about Unity, GNOME, and the relationship thereof, hold them for jcastro's session at 0300 UTC please
  86 [21:48] <maco> Sorry, make that "questions or opinions"
  87 [21:51] <ClassBot> There are 10 minutes remaining in the current session.
  88 [21:56] <ClassBot> There are 5 minutes remaining in the current session.

UserDays/01292011/Desktop Environments: Gnome, KDE, XFCE (last edited 2011-01-29 23:00:12 by alderaan)