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Purpose of a D.E. is to provide a coherent suite of applications in terms of look, functionnalities, and usability.
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As its name says, Window Managers control the appearance and ways to interact with your environment windows. Most D.E. provide their own Window Manager, but some also work well apart (without an associated D.E.).
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You might want to try several environments, or adopt one instead of another. Installing a new Desktop Environment will make it available for your system, and several settings determine which one is run by the user. You might want to try several environments, or adopt one instead of another. Installing a new Desktop Environment will make it available for your system, and the way sessions are handled will determine which one is run by the user.
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== Mixing applications from various Desktop Environment ==

While the purpose of a desktop is to provide a coherent suite of applications, you are likely to mix applications coming from several desktops which are using various graphical toolkits, with the inconvenience that they will not be well integrated.

It is sometimes possible to reduce the differences by using themes common or similarly looking between Desktop Environments.

== Theming and customization ==

Novice users might use themes provided by their Desktop Environment.

Advanced users might also be interest in directly customizing Graphical Toolkits or applications, such as GTK2, GTK3, terminals...

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https://www.debian.org/logos/openlogo-nd-50.png https://www.debian.org/Pics/debian.png

Portal/IDB/logo_portal.png Welcome to the Debian Desktop Environment Portal


Portal/IDB/icon-display-32x32.png Debian supports all kinds of graphical environments from fully-featured desktop environments like GNOME and Plasma, to lighter environments like Xfce and LXDE, to even lighter window managers like Openbox and tiling window managers like Wmii.

Most Desktop Environment currently rely on Xorg (X Window System), and will eventually support Wayland in the future.


Desktop Environment

Purpose of a D.E. is to provide a coherent suite of applications in terms of look, functionnalities, and usability.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/GNOME-Shell-3.10.png

The GNOME project provides two things: The GNOME desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/KDE_4.png

Plasma by KDE is a powerful open source graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Xfce-4.4.png

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for various *NIX systems. Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications quickly, while conserving system resources.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/LXDE_desktop_full.png

LXDE is designed to work well with computers on the low end of the performance spectrum such as older resource-constrained machines, new generation netbooks, and other small computers.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Ubuntu_MATE_15_04.png

MATE is the continuation of GNOME 2. It provides an intuitive and attractive desktop environment using traditional metaphors for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.

Other desktop environments available in Debian include Cinnamon, LXQt, Budgie, Enlightenment, FVWM-Crystal, Window Maker, Sugar Notion WM and possibly others.

Other desktop environments not available in Debian include Unity (1 2), Pantheon, ROX, Equinox/EDE, Étoilé, CDE, Artemis, Durden and others.

Window Manager

As its name says, Window Managers control the appearance and ways to interact with your environment windows. Most D.E. provide their own Window Manager, but some also work well apart (without an associated D.E.).

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Openbox-elementary3.png

Openbox is a lightweight and highly configurable window manager with extensive standards support. It is well known for its minimalistic appearance.

http://old.fluxbox.org/download/propaganda/fb-icon48x48-metal.png

FluxBox is a windowmanager for X that was based on the Blackbox 0.61.1 code. It is very light on resources and easy to handle yet full of features to make an easy, and extremely fast, desktop experience.

Compiz logo

Compiz is a compositing window manager for the X Window System that uses 3D graphics hardware to create fast compositing desktop effects for window management.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Wmii-logo.svg/55px-Wmii-logo.svg.png

Wmii is a dynamic window manager for X11. It supports classic and tiling window management with extended keyboard, mouse, and filesystem-based remote control. It replaces the workspace paradigm with a new tagging approach.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Awesome_logo.png

Awesome is a dynamic window manager for X11. It supports tiling window management with extended keyboard, mouse, and it is scriptable in Lua. It includes many add-ons which can make it very powerful. It replaces the workspace paradigm with a new tiling approach of non-overlaping windows.

Installation of a Desktop Environment

First, during the installation of Debian, the installer offers the choice of which Desktop Environment you want to install, you can also install none if you want no graphical environment or prefer to install it later.

Afterward, installing another Desktop Environment is as simple as installing a single package. For some Desktop Environments, you have choice between several meta-packages depending on if you wish to install a minimal set or most of the software coming with the environment. Please refer to the page specific to the Desktop Environment you wish to install for a description of these meta-packages.

Changing Desktop Environment

You might want to try several environments, or adopt one instead of another. Installing a new Desktop Environment will make it available for your system, and the way sessions are handled will determine which one is run by the user. The easiest way to change it is to use a Display Manager, which prompts you at login which Desktop Environment you wish to run for this session, and eventually make it default.

Sessions

Sessions are usually managed by the Display Manager, which itself relies on Xsession.

If no Display Manager makes use of Xsession, you can still start the X Environement with the startx command, which is a call to xinit.

Mixing applications from various Desktop Environment

While the purpose of a desktop is to provide a coherent suite of applications, you are likely to mix applications coming from several desktops which are using various graphical toolkits, with the inconvenience that they will not be well integrated.

It is sometimes possible to reduce the differences by using themes common or similarly looking between Desktop Environments.

Theming and customization

Novice users might use themes provided by their Desktop Environment.

Advanced users might also be interest in directly customizing Graphical Toolkits or applications, such as GTK2, GTK3, terminals...

Resources

End-user

Contributing


CategoryPortal | CategoryDesktopEnvironment