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Ask Jack: The most efficient Linux desktop

Jack Wallen answers a TechRepublic member who wants to know whether GNOME 3/GNOME Do is the most efficient Linux desktop.

I love questions about the Linux desktop, and the following question from reader Bill Cauley is especially close to my heart because it's about the efficient Linux desktop.

Q: I have: Ubuntu release 11.10 (oneirec), Kernal Linux 3.2.0-16-generic, Gnome 3.2.1 as stated in my System Monitor. With it I use "Gnome Do" that enables the activation and use of just about anything on my computer by merely pressing the activation key super-space and the first letter of and then enter to get what I want. My question: Is there a Linux desktop configuration out there more efficient than what I've described? A: GNOME Do is one of the most efficient desktop apps available, and the combination of GNOME 3 and GNOME Do is a pretty killer combo. GNOME Do brings serious power back to the keyboard of a desktop that is not nearly as keyboard friendly as what Linux users expect. But as far as the most efficient Linux desktop, I would hand that title over to either Xfce or Enlightenment E17. Both are faster running desktops than GNOME and much more configurable, and with both desktops, you can set up as many keyboard shortcuts as you like. With E17, I particularly like the desktop menu -- you left-click on any blank spot in the desktop, and you get a menu where you can access every application and setting on your system; you can even create a keyboard shortcut to make that pop up.

If you prefer a more integrated, modern desktop, you won't find a more efficient combination than GNOME 3/GNOME Do.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

6 comments
yaseennoorani
yaseennoorani

Very much agree with you Jack regarding E17, it's almost unreal! It's configurable to the highest degree, it's very light, and it's very attractive in terms of looks and themes.

Aussie_linux_user
Aussie_linux_user

Probably not as pretty as enlightenment.. but same concept.. it is super light and fast .. and I have configured shortcut keys for all my regularly used apps and custom configured menus to suit my needs.. a little bit more admin when adding new apps, however superfast and completely out of the way..

Giph
Giph

It is strange, but I would pick these 2 environments as well for the same reasons. I love lightweight desktops & am a keyboard shortcut fanatic so being able to create or tweak those is very important. Another nice thing about e17 is that if u use an older crappy machine, it can still feel fast, responsive & eye catching at the same time. for super efficiency I would like to see damnsmallinux w/ e17. I know you used to be able to add an e16 module which is still good, but e17 is way better.

paulfx1
paulfx1

I like some of the features in Konquerer as a file manager, like the ability to open up a terminal in the directory I am in. Desktop shortcuts are easy to make. I have to center click for my application menu, right clicking gets me KDE's menu. I've run KDE 4.X something or other and I hated it. I run Gnome on that machine. Not that I've any great love for Gnome mind you, but I don't hate it as much as KDE 4.X Someday I'm going to have to take the time to backport KDE 3.5.10 to that machine. I have another system setup as a dedicated CNC controller and I use Fluxbox on it. It isn't really a desktop system. It can run X Window with only 22 MB of RAM though, and that has to be worth something :)

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

Before one can define the most efficient desktop, one needs to consider what the user defines as efficient. I suspect that many users are more interested in accomplishing real work, rather than spending hours customizing/maintaining the work environment, or investing hours in learning a new approach to traditional functions. Efficiency most likely should be associated with functionality. The primary "speed" that is most likely of interest to the typical user is, "How quickly can I get from power on to productive application?" Next, one must consider multi-tasking- moving focus from one application to another, and transferring data between applications- perhaps not so important for such things as gaming, but probably critical to anyone doing any sort of research or computer aided engineering. Finally, should a desktop consume too many resources, it will of course impact the productivity one expects from the system. I have used Gnome Do (with older versions of Gnome), and find that it mostly gets in the way, demanding attention when I would rather be concentrating on other things. Any desktop environment that requires attention is inefficient. A procedure that requires more than one or two key stokes or mouse clicks to get the desired application up and running is inefficient. Gnome Do can require a number of key storkes, should one have a number of applications similarly named, or should one chose to run an application with different default settings between sessions (i.e., different shell scripts to start a program with different command line options).

alfowler
alfowler

How do I a Linux user of some years, value desktop speed compared with knowing which menu click gets me to the application I am about to use. I think familiarity with my chosen desktop wins over speed.