Alternative Linux desktop environments

Distro Walk – Alternative Desktops

© Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

© Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Article from Issue 242/2021

If you are looking for an alternative desktop interface, Bruce gives a rundown of seven Linux distros with unique desktops worth exploring.

Two decades ago, Linux desktops were limited to Gnome and KDE, with Xfce a distant third. All three are thriving today and have been joined by Linux Mint's MATE and Cinnamon, as well as LXDE. Together, these six provide the interface for the majority of Linux distros. Many distros support more than one of them as well.

However, not every distribution is content with the Big Six. Under the interface, these distributions may share the same applications and technologies, but they also want something more – minimalism, speed, or aesthetics. Here are seven desktop distributions that have chosen to go their own route that are worth exploring if you are looking for something different. Some of these distros' desktops have found their way into another distribution, but it is always worth seeing them in their original settings, the way they were intended to be seen.


Around the turn of the millennium, Enlightenment was a popular interface somewhere between a window manager and a desktop. In 2015, Bodhi Linux [1] took Enlightenment 17, removed half-finished and broken code, and applied bug fixes from Enlightenment 18 and 19 to produce Moksha (Figure 1), which it has offered ever since.


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