By Wayne Boyd
I don’t care so much about how much system resources a desktop environment uses in a Linux distribution. Most modern computers can handle that sort of thing without even blinking an eye. So when people say they run Openbox, LXQT or XFCE because they want a system that doesn’t eat up memory and speed, I don’t care about that.
So far I haven’t found the best desktop environment for my personal needs. I have, of course, used KDE-Plasma for a long time off and on, and frankly, I like the sliding or cubed desktop rotation thing.
I don’t like that I can’t do that anymore using ctrl-alt-right (or left) arrow. I have to either put the mouse over the panel and rotate the mouse wheel, or click on the desktop pager in the taskbar. Frankly, that’s just annoying to me.
As I understand it, KDE-Plasma has moved away from virtual desktops and they prefer you to use Activities, which I get but don’t need and don’t use. Even with Activities, switching is annoying.
I do like XFCE because you can switch with the ctrl-alt-arrow thing, and with the mouse by rotating the wheel. I also like that you can have multiple wallpapers on each of your virtual desktops. I’m not happy that there’s no animation with the switching, but that’s okay with me as a trade off.
Mate is pretty much the same thing but without multiple wallpapers.
My favorite right now, oddly enough, is Openbox as implemented in the maboxlinux distribution, but not because it supports multiple wallpapers (it doesn’t) or rotating wallpapers (it doesn’t) but just because I like what the maboxlinux people have done with it. It works really well with my ultra-wide curved monitor as the image below demonstrates how I’m writing this article.
Every time I think of coming back to a distro that uses Plasma, I’m annoyed by this virtual-desktop switching issue.
In fact, when it comes down to it I really like Gnome’s implementation of virtual-desktops the best with their dynamic allocation. Essentially Gnome starts with one virtual desktop, but when you open a program a second virtual desktop becomes available, and expands (or contracts) as necessary. With Gnome extensions you can even make the desktops scroll horizontally instead of the default vertical arrangement. You can even make it so when you get to the end of your virtual desktops in Gnome it automatically goes back to the first.
All this is done with Gnome extensions and this process, making a Gnome system to my liking, takes a whole lot of work and I wind up adding so many extensions that it doesn’t look or feel like Gnome anymore at all and eventually seems to slow down the typing on my keyboard.
Which is why I keep coming back to Openbox on the maboxlinux installation. I do need to customize it to my liking, but isn’t that part of the challenge and fun of Linux anyway?
Not to try to sell you desktop environments you might not like, I just don’t like KDE-Plasma anymore. I wish they’d provide an easy fix to the virtual desktop switching problem.
Here’s an image of my maboxlinux desktop on my ultra-wide monitor (3440 X 1440).