I’m a few days into Fedora 18 and I think I’ve come the the conclusion that the desktop that best suits *me* is MATE. The journey to this point has been a rather long and meandering one. Let’s cut it short and start at GNOME2.
- GNOME2 : I was happy and all things were good.
- GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell) : When it became the default Fedora window manager I went with the flow and stuck with it for a few months. At the time I thought it was OK. I even wrote some posts saying I kinda liked it. After a while it started to get on my nerves and I switched.
- LXDE : That lasted about 10 minutes. Nuff said!
- XFCE : I stuck with this for quite a few months. It’s very simple and very quick. There are a few rough edges, but nothing that really made me squirm.
Once I installed Fedora 18 I felt like I needed a change. A quick return to GNOME3 convinced me that I now truly hate it.
- Cinnamon : The first impression was very good. It’s not officially “supported” on Fedora, but is in the repo. The Fedora version seems a little buggy, which is where the problems began. I started trying to arrange my desktop and stuff just didn’t work. I have a feeling that Cinnamon may end up being my desktop of choice in the future, but for now I’ll have to pass for something that works properly on Fedora.
- KDE : I’ve had brief dalliances with KDE over the years. The people who love it seem almost fanatical. Every time I’ve tried it, it has driven me nuts. I had made a decision that Fedora 18 was probably going to be the version where I become a KDE fan. Two days was all I could take. I don’t know what it is about KDE, but I can’t handle it. It is by far the prettiest window manager. I look at it and I feel like I want to use it. Trouble is, when I start I feel like it is getting in my way. I can’t really put my finger on it. It just isn’t for me.
- MATE : So we come full circle. MATE is a fork of GNOME2. I read something recently that says it uses most of the plumbing of GNOME3, but has the “traditional” GNOME2 feel. I installed it and it felt like coming home. After a few months of being out in the cold, MATE was a hot fire, a pair of warm slippers and plate of beans on toast with a bit of cheese on top. Fantastic! My desktop is very simple and functional. The interface does not get in my way. It’s not going to make Linux the desktop of choice, but I think a lot of long time Fedora users will try it and like it.
I understand that open source is all about choice, but it seems such a shame that we have so many talented people all working on different window managers, none of which quite hit the mark. It just makes you wonder what could happen if they all worked together. Of course, it would never happen, but you can dream…
If I’m honest, OS X is better than any of these interfaces. I think Windows 7 probably is too. The bonus with having your interface dictated to you is you just get on with things and make do. The Linux desktop is definitely a case of “Freedom is slavery“. Being the Linux fan I am, I will just have to continue being a slave…
I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, so when next week I’m telling you Windows 8 is awesome, so be it.