5 Least Popular Desktop Environments for Linux

Posted by jun auza On 8/23/2008
KDE, GNOME, and Xfce are without doubt the most well-known desktop environments for Linux at the moment. They are utilized by majority of Linux Distributions simply because they are very much stable and usable. But did you know that there are other capable Free and Open-source desktop environments that you probably haven’t heard of?

--Let me introduce you to some of the least popular desktop environments for Linux:


Equinox Desktop Environment (EDE) is described as “small desktop environment, built to be simple and fast”. It is based on modified FLTK library (called extended FLTK or just eFLTK). EDE uses a tiny amount of memory space that its window manager consumes less memory than xterm. Some of its basic features include:

* desktop with icons and wallpaper
* Xft font anti-aliasing
* taskbar with configurable menu, cpu status, easy keyboard switching
* theming
* localization

XFast is a lightweight desktop environment that incorporates X and Window Manager within the same project. Its goal is to have a very slim and fast graphical environment that targets (not only) embedded systems with low resources where it is important to have a UI available with short loading times and low memory consumption. XFast is a fork and further development of the Xynth windowing system. It was branched from the original project in order to add some far reaching modifications to the environment that are not compatible with the idea behind the original project.

LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) is especially designed for low-end computers and new generation devices like netbooks and other portable gadgets. It can be build on top of different Linux distributions. In fact, it’s been utilized by some lightweight distros like SliTaz and TinyMe. Unlike in other desktop environments, the components of LXDE are not tightly integrated. Instead, they can run independently of each other with few dependencies. Some of the important components of LXDE are:

* openbox, window manager
* LXPanel, desktop panel
* LXSession, session manager
* LXAppearance, theme switcher
* PCManFM, file manager
* LXTerminal, terminal emulator
* LXTask, task manager

Mezzo was originally available for Symphony OS, but some earlier versions of it were available as a .deb package for other Debian-based distributions such as Ubuntu. Mezzo disposes of standard concepts like "The desktop is a folder" and nested menu systems and instead presents all needed information directly to the user via the main desktop and four desk targets for tasks and files related to System, Programs, Files, and Trash. This tries to simplify the desktop. Mezzo uses FVWM as a window manager.

Project Looking Glass
Project Looking Glass is an innovative 3D desktop environment sponsored by Sun Microsystems. It is programmed in Java using the Java 3D system to remain platform independent. Despite the use of graphics acceleration features, the desktop explores the use of 3D windowing capabilities for both existing application programs and ones specifically designed for Looking Glass. One of its most notable features is the creation of reversible windows. This capability can be used for features like allowing the user to write notes and comments on the windows' backs, or displaying application dialogs without risking them being detached from the application they relate to. All windows start by looking like a normal 2D or 2.5D window, but can be manipulated as thin slate-like 3D objects which can be set at any angle or turned completely around by the user.

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