Seldomly Discussed Linux Desktop Environments

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  • DevynCJohnson
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    • @devyncjohnson

    Many Linux users are familiar with some of the most common desktop environments such as GNOME, KDE, MATE, Unity, etc.. However, there are some desktop environments that appear to not be as well known. It can be helpful to know a little about these desktop environments. Also, some Linux users may learn that they like one of these environments better than their current favorite.


    Sugar is a GTK-based desktop environment that was designed as part of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. Sugar is suppose to be a easy to use environment (especially for young children). While most environments are programmed in C/C++, Vala, or some other low-level language, this one is written in Python. Despite the fact that this is a high-level language, the desktop environment still operates well. Sugar works well on touchscreens or systems with a traditional mouse. Sugar does not use the typical terms "programs", "folders", etc. Rather, programs are called "activities". The "desktop" is called "home view". The official website has a glossary for the various terms that are specific to Sugar ( At, users can download various activities (programs/applications).

    Support for Android is being developed as seen at


    Hawaii is a desktop environment that uses Wayland (rather than X11) and Qt-Quick. Hawaii uses Simple Desktop Display Manager (SDDM) as the login screen.


    LXDE is based on GTK, but LXQt is Qt-based. LXQt ( was merged with Razor-Qt and is still an excellent Qt-alternative to LXDE.


    MoonLightDE (MoonLight Desktop Environment) is a fork of LXQt that uses Qt5 and Simple Desktop Display Manager (a login screen). MoonLightDE is compatible with both Wayland and X11. This desktop environment is great for lightweight Linux systems that use Wayland.

    OPIE (Open Palmtop Integrated Environment)

    Linux systems that run on PDAs may use OPIE ( OPIE is a fork of Trolltech's Qtopia. This desktop environment commonly uses various KDE applications such as Konqueror (a web browser).


    GPE (GPE Palmtop Environment) is an alternative to OPIE that uses GTK and X11. GPE also works on Palmtops.


    The Linux distro Elementary OS ( is a Ubuntu-based distro that has its own desktop environment called Pantheon. Pantheon uses the Gala window manager which uses the libmutter library. "libmutter" is a library from the Mutter window manager. Pantheon uses GTK.


    Maynard is a graphical shell plugin for Weston. Weston is a Wayland compositor. Maynard is still a work-in-progress.


    Étoilé ( is a desktop environment that is based on GNU-step. Frugalware (Slackware-based) uses Étoilé by default although Étoilé also works on BSD systems (such as MidnightBSD). Étoilé resembles the old Mac OS desktop.

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