Debian derivatives

KDE Neon

In 2014, KDE began numbering releases of its framework, Plasma desktop environment, and software compilations separately. This change was made because these three areas of development progressed at different rates, and developers did not want to hold back just to keep all three in sync. Mainly for this reason, Kubuntu founder Jonathan Riddell started KDE Neon [17] to showcase the latest development in all three areas.

KDE Neon is not primarily intended for everyday work, although it is installed on KDE Slimbook computers. Rather, it is a snapshot of recent developments in advance of what is included in the software compilations. Some releases may not work smoothly on some systems.


Tails [18] is a Debian derivative that has become a leading distribution for privacy. Running from a flash drive, DVD, or virtual machine, Tails was inspired by Incognito, a similar Gentoo-based distribution, and its development was funded by the Tor Project as well as Debian. The distro received general recognition because of its use by Edward Snowden.

Tails offers a Gnome desktop outfitted with security tools for encrypted messaging, email, and newsfeeds. Other tools are used for anonymous file sharing, ad blocking, and Bitcoin transactions. Perhaps the most important tool is Tor, which allows for anonymous browsing and blocks incoming traffic that is not anonymous.

All of these tools take time to set up. However, Tails' documentation removes the need for any previous expertise. As a result, just about anyone can have a well-protected system in a matter of hours.

elementary OS

The homepage for elementary OS [19] describes it as "The fast, open, and privacy-respecting replacement for Windows and macOS." However, elementary OS is better-known as the leading representative of recent distributions that focus on aesthetics. Based on Ubuntu, it sports a heavily modified Gnome desktop with its own window manager, dock, mail client, and desktop utilities. The result is frequently compared to macOS or to Debian derivatives like deepin and Zorin that similarly emphasize a beautiful and functional desktop.

Traditionally, aesthetics have been ignored on the Linux desktop in favor of function, so elementary OS is appreciated by many users. However, its attractiveness sometimes comes at the price of fewer customizations than expert users prefer. Potential users should also be aware that, despite a structure to encourage a $20 payment for downloading, elementary OS can be downloaded for free by entering a zero dollar payment instead.

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