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The Linux desktop-a-week review: LXDE

I've used LXDE for weeks, and I'm still having trouble finding much to say about it. That's not a good sign.

102414 lxde desktop full

"LXDE desktop full" by LXDE: LXDE. Licensed under GNU General Public License via Wikimedia Commons

Credit: TeamScreenshot: Hidro - Hidro (talk)

I feel a little bad right now.

Over the last two weeks I’ve run nothing but LXDE as my primary Linux Desktop Environment (other than a few excursions into Android land). Been using LXDE. Been enjoying LXDE.

But I have practically nothing to really say about LXDE. I feel like, after all this time, I should have something interesting to talk about. But I just plain don’t.

It’s fast, blisteringly fast. And it’s damned lightweight too. After that, things get pretty boring.

LXDE is built on GTK+, which means GTK-based apps are right at home. So that’s a plus, I suppose. Though that really isn’t a problem on any desktop environment I’ve tried so far. But… you know… it’s something that I can write down about it.

After that, things get average and mundane… in a hurry.

The default look and feel, for example, is best summed up by saying that it’s “nothing to write home about.” It’s not bad. Truly, it’s not. But you can’t really say it’s amazing either. You can make it look a whole lot better, of course – just need to do some digging for better themes. But the first impression isn’t much better than, "Well… this is a computer, I guess."

The default file manager, PCMan, is also quite extraordinary in how unremarkable it is. That’s not to say that it isn’t a perfectly good – and ultra-peppy – way of managing your files. It’s just so late 1990’s in style. Now, I like retro computing styles. But this isn’t so much “retro” as “retro-ish-I-guess.” It’s a lot like a slightly cluttered-up, much older version of Nautilus.

The Desktop Panel style interface is extremely expected. Think of what a generic desktop environment looks like. Think of an interface that this so extraordinarily generic and obvious that it can’t possibly exist without the universe ceasing to exist. That’s LXDE.

Which is good! It means that it’s easy to learn and fairly intuitive.

It also means that it’s almost boring enough to kill a man.

Now, I should take a moment to mention LXQt, a recently created version of the LXDE suite of software built in Qt instead of GTK. My experiences here were strictly with LXDE. I’ll be taking LXQt for a spin some time later on.

I don’t really have anything additional to declare about my time with LXDE. Which sounds a whole lot worse than it is.

The profound averageness of LXDE, combined with its light memory usage and snappy performance, make it a perfect fit for something like a Raspberry Pi – a resource-light device focused on education. I don’t have any plans to use LXDE on any of my personal systems in the near future, but if I were deploying a Raspberry Pi for a school, LXDE would be on the top of my list. And that’s pretty cool.

Now. What’s next in my journey through all of the Linux Desktop Environments? I’m going to try out another of those environments that only really runs on one Linux-based OS: ChromeOS and its Ash Window Manager.

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