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Computer & Technology, Debashish Ray, Latest Blogs, Learning Linux

Learning Linux – Lesson 7

We have come a long way in the galaxy of Linux. Now it’s time to design Linux as per our wish. We all have different tastes and wishes, and Linux has a wide range to offer. Linux has a wide range of user interface called as desktop environments to offer, which is not present in other operating systems. You can redesign your desktop look and how it works according to you.

As we have learned earlier, Click here to view the different desktop environments of Linux.  Not all desktop environments are applicable on every Linux distros. As we have learned earlier that Linux has multiple apps (softwares) for doing the same work, like wise you can install your favorite software on which ever desktop environment you like. To be noted that desktop environment is not only about changing the wallpaper of the desktop but it is far beyond that. 

There are many ways of installing your favorite desktop environment :

  1. Go to “Software Manager” search for “desktop environment” or name of the desktop environment and install it from there.
  2. Go to “Synaptic Package Manager” search for “desktop environment” or name of the desktop environment, mark on the apps and related libraries and click on apply, it will install the selected desktop environment.
  3. Select the desktop environment itself while downloading the ISO file. (this method consumes less RAM while usage in comparison to installing a desktop environment after installing the Operating System.).
  4. Through the “Terminal” which is command based and new users are not convenient about it, you can use this procedure once you are confident of using Linux.

Since we are working on Linux Mint, we will discuss about three desktop environments that I have experimented. It is really confusing to present you the exact figures of how much RAM is used by the different desktop environments, my analysis is based upon my experience on using them. Use “System Monitor” App to view the utilization of your resources. According to my observations, Web browsers uses maximum of RAM and Swap than installed softwares (Apps). Among the web browsers in Linux, “Chromium” uses less RAM and Swap and also good at resource management.

If you are installing desktop environments after installing Operating System, do not forget to select each desktop environment’s default Windows Manager before using it. Selecting default Windows Manager enhances the usage of system resources and hence speeding up the system, it also enhances the system functionality. To switch between your desktop environments, just log out from your current system and select the desired desktop environment and login again.

  1. MATE – A very famous desktop environment in Linux world. The name “MATE”, pronounced Ma-Tay, comes from yerba maté, a species of holly native to subtropical South America. Its leaves contain caffeine and are used to make infusions and a beverage called mate (information collected from MATE website). One thing that impressed me in MATE is its resource management (organizing CPU, RAM, Swap and network). It runs very smooth and consumes less RAM than Cinnamon. A system with minimum 2GB RAM is enough to run MATE efficiently. MATE’s appearance is almost like Win 7. If you are installing MATE after installing Operating System, do not forget to select “Macro” as “Windows Manager” which is the default windows manager of  MATE, which enhances the usage of MATE. 
  2. XFCEXFCE stands for “XForms Common Environment (information collected from Wikipedia). This is one of the most popular light weight desktop environment in Linux World. XFCE’s default windows manager is “Xfwm”,so do not forget to select “Xfwm” as windows manager before using it. This is lighter than MATE and hence consumes less RAM than MATE on usage. XFCE looks almost like Win XP, and is pretty speedy also. A minimum of 1GB RAM is enough to run XFCE smoothly. One of the things that impressed me in XFCE is its “Whisker main menu” and “Favourites & Recently used” section.
  3. CinnamonThis is the default desktop environment of Linux Mint. The graphics are too good but is more bulky than MATE and XFCE. A smooth working of Cinnamon requires minimum of 4GB RAM, as per my experience. It doesn’t mean that it cannot work on less than 4GB RAM. The default windows manager for “Cinnamon” is “Muffin”.

You can reduce the resource (CPU, RAM, Swap and Network) usage of your system by following the below mentioned steps, which enhances speed and efficiency of your system.

  1. Remove unwanted softwares (apps) from “Startup Applications”, which reduces the RAM usage of unwanted softwares loading at the time of booting.
  2. Avoid cluttering of unwanted softwares (apps) opened, close the softwares which are not in use.
  3. Avoid cluttering of unwanted tabs in your web browsers, and as per my observations, use chromium web browser which takes less RAM and Swap area. (this option frees maximum RAM and Swap area)

As per my experience do not skip between the desktop environments frequently. Use a desktop environment for few months until you have explored it completely.

Enough for today, until next session…



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