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Fedora 20 (Heisenbug) KDE Netbook Desktop
This is the KDE Netbook desktop on Fedora 20. As I have said so many times before, I just love this desktop on my netbook systems.
Everything is laid out very simply, choices are clear and easy, favourites are right there at the top, the search bar is obvious, and there is a graphic (icon) two-level hierarchical menu. When you use the search function, whatever matches is shown graphically in the menu area.
New windows automatically start full-screen, and window controls are contained in the top panel, so the window gets the most screen area possible. The top panel also includes an "active window" selector, or you can un-maximise windows and work with several on the screen at once. There is also a second page (Page One) which contains live feeds for News/Weather/Chat and such. It's just plain good.
I don't want to take too much of a dig at Ubuntu, but when I compare this to Unity, with its seemingly endless column of baffling icons down the side of the screen, and the window controls only sometimes included in the top panel, and even then only sometimes visible, and even then on the "wrong" (left) side of the panel/window... well, I just don't get it.
The actual content of this version is identical to the previously described standard KDE desktop — this is not a different spin or different installation, it is only a different selection in the KDE System Settings / Workspace Behavior.
This is the Fedora Xfce spin.
The first thing I noticed about it was that it does not include the Whisker Menu that is becoming popular with a lot of other Xfce distributions. The philosophy here seems to be about the same as I explained for the KDE spin - if you want Xfce, you get Xfce, and if you want more on top of that, it's easy enough for you to add it.
The second thing that I noticed was that the content of the Xfce panels has been grouped in the way that I have always preferred it on my netbooks. Large items with incorporated text are in the top panel, which spans the entire display; more compact items, strictly graphic icons with no text, are in the bottom panel and it is set to minimal size and auto-expands as necessary when items are added.
In the screenshot above, I have gone one step further and changed the icon panel to vertical orientation, and moved it to the side of the screen. Netbooks have limited display area (that's one of the things that makes them netbooks, duh), they have more horizontal space than vertical, and users tend to feel "cramped" or "limited" vertically rather than horizontally, so why not make the best possible use of the screen, give up horizontal space for the panels rather than vertical space. Of course, the other thing I always do is auto-hide both panels, so they are not always consuming so much screen space.
I also made a couple of other changes to the default Xfce desktop. First, I don't display desktop icons for removable filesystems. This is a preference that is driven by my specific situation, because my systems tend to have anywhere from five to fifteen disk partitions (for other Linux installations), and that makes for a very cluttered desktop, which I really don't like.
However, this means that I don't get desktop icons when I plug in USB sticks and such, so my second change is to add the mounted devices icon to one (or both) of the panels, so that I can still easily unmount/eject USB devices. Third, I add a shutdown icon to the side (originally bottom) panel, because I don't want to have to remember which one has that when I want to shutdown or reboot.
Another useful functional difference with Xfce is that you can not only get to the menu hierarchy through the top panel Applications Menu button, you can get the same thing by right-clicking on the desktop background, as shown in the screenshot above.
As for the specific content of this spin, the focus is obviously on keeping everything small and light:
- Xfce 4.10
- Midori 0.5.5 (lightweight web browser)
- Claws Mail 3.9.2
- Abiword 3.0.0
- Pragha Music Player 184.108.40.206
- Parole Media Player 0.5.2
- Ristretto 0.6.3 (Image Viewer)
- Geany 1.23.1 (Editor/IDE)
- Yum Extender 3.0.13 (Software management)
- Thunar 1.6.3 (file manager)
That certainly fits with the "lightweight" philosophy, besides having minimal versions of pretty much everything, there's not even a spreadsheet or PDF viewer included in the base distribution! Of course you still have the option of adding what you want - LibreOffice, Firefox, PDF viewer, whatever, they're all available in the Yum Extender. So start with the base, and make what you want.
LXDE is another "lightweight" desktop, and like Xfce it has benefited from the recent turmoil in Linux desktops.
While Xfce has slowly added at least a few "bells and whistles", LXDE seems to have stayed much closer to its hard-core lightweight roots. I have loaded this version on my Samsung N150 Plus, and I can tell you first hand that even on that old and rather underpowered (by today's standards) netbook, LXDE is still quite snappy. As with the other spins, the base distribution that Fedora has put together also respects the lightweight philosophy:
- Midori 0.5.5 (lightweight browser)
- Sylpheed 3.4.0b5
- Abiword 3.0.0
- Gnumeric 1.12.8
- LXMusic 0.4.4
- GPicView 0.2.1
- Yum Extender 3.0.13 (software management)
- PCmanFM 1.1.2 (file manager)
As always, you can add whatever else you might want via Yum Extender (or yum CLI of course).