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2.2 Choosing a Distro by Desktop Environment

A “Desktop Environment” is essentially the front end of your system; it controls how your system looks, how you interact with it, and some of the default applications. Desktop environments in Linux are typically independent projects, so in the same way websites can interchangeably use multiple types of front end, distributions of Linux can interchangeably use multiple desktop environments.

In this lesson, we’ll cover some of the main desktop environments and help you decide which one is for you.

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2.2 Choosing a Distro by Desktop Environment

Hey, welcome back to Lidy's for Web Design. In the last video, we went through the qualities of the different distributions and how they may affect your decision on which to use web design. In this video, we're gonna have a quick look at the different desktop environments and which distributions best support the different desktop environments. Theoretically you could use any desktop environment with any distro, but the developers of different distros will typically put more time and effort into a small number of desktop environments that they want to implement really well. So it's a good idea to have a look at the different desktop environments and figure out which one appeals to you the most, because that may influence which distribution you wanna use. So there are five that I would recommend considering when you're first getting into Linux. The first is KDE. And this is what I personally use. And I'm gonna be showing you through KDE a little bit in the next video. In my opinion, and again this is just a personal view point. KDE is the best for a web design workflow because of some of the perks that it has. And I'll go through that a little bit later. So it's extensively customizable, it's very powerful. And it uses a tool kit for its interface called QT. I'll explain why that's relevant in just a moment. The next desktop environment is Gnome, and you'll pretty much find flame wars and debates from here till the end of time over which one is better, KDE or Gnome. It's just one of those things there is really no best, it just comes down to what you prefer for the way that you work. So Gnome has more of a fixed layout, but it can be customized by using extensions and Gnome uses GTK instead of QT, and both of these are toolkits for creating user interfaces. And the reason that's relevant is that if you're using a distro with QT, then you can really only install QT themes. And if you're using GTK, then you can only really install GTK themes. So if you're anything like me as a designer, it's important to be able to control the look and the presentation of things. So if all the themes that you like that make you feel at home in your operating system are with GTK, then you're probably gonna wanna go with a GTK based desktop environment. And the same is also true for QT. The other desktop environments that I'd recommend checking out are XFCE that also uses GTK. And it has a reputation for being very light and very stable desktop environment. And then you have Pantheon, which is the desktop environment of Elementary. So if you're using Elementary you're going to be using Pantheon. And if you want to use Pantheon, at the moment, you pretty much have to use Elementary. And in a similar way, Cinnamon is the main desktop environment for Linux Mint. Mint also offers other desktop environments, but it's main focus is on Cinnamon. So arguably that's the best desktop to use with Mint. Now of course there are also plenty of other desktop environments, so don't be afraid to explore a little bit and see if what you really love, is not even on this list in the first place. So now to bring that back around to choosing your distro, if you really want to use KDE, then your best bet is gonna be to go with Kubuntu. If you want to use Ubuntu as your operating system, OpenSUSE if you wanna use an RPM based system and Manjaro or Antergos on an arch based system. All four of these have a really good implementation of KDE. Now if you wanna use Gnome then Fedora is a great place to go if you wanna use an RPM based system and that's in part because Red Hat, the company behind Fedora is also a sponsor of Gnome. OpenSUSE also has a really good reputation for its Gnome desktop. Antergos has a beautiful known desktop, and then Vanilla Ubuntu, which has been using its own desktop environment for a while, is soon gonna be switching back to using Gnome 2. If you wanna XFCE, then you can check out, how do you pronounce that, Xubuntu? Xubuntu, which is just your regular Ubuntu operating system with the XFCE desktop over the top, and Manjaro also has a really good implementation of XFCE. And then once again, if you wanna use Pantheon, go with Elementary of course, and you can use Cinnamon on Mint. And that might seem like a lot to consider. And definitely compared to just coming from that sort of binary system of Mac OS versus Windows, there is a lot there, but that's actually one of the really great strengths of Linux. You're not restricted to just two choices that you can't make any changes to. If you try one type of Linux and you don't quite love it, then there are a bunch of other things that you can go and try until you find something that you are just smitten with. My personal top three are Kubuntu, KDE Manjaro, and elementary. And your favorites might be a totally different list. So definitely allow yourself to get out there and explore this whole Linux world. Enjoy all the choice and the freedom that you have and just have fun with it. In the next video I'm gonna show you how to set up KDE so that it's really awesome for our web design workflows. We're gonna start with a freshly installed version of Manjaro with KDE on it. I'm gonna show you how to set up a monochrome UI theme so that you don't have any color pollution while you're doing design. And show you how to work with the really awesome file manager. I'm gonna show you how to easily access terminals, so it makes working with get and gulp and npm and grunt and all those types of things just super, super streamlined. I'm gonna show you how activities work that let you set up a different space for the different types of work or even play that you do. I'm gonna show you how to work with title bar actions and hot corners and a whole bunch of other things. And all these things come together to make what I feel is an absolutely fantastic environment for doing web design. So I'll take you through all of that in the next video. I'll see you there.

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