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Best UI/UX Design Desktops on Linux

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This is a long one; timestamps below.
This one is a long time coming. After a poll with over 4,000 votes, as well as my own musings over the years, here’s my breakdown of some of the best examples of UI/UX design on the Linux desktop.
0:00 Intro
1:48 Rules of UX Design by Cynthia Mohr
2:42 Poll results of best UI/UX design
3:23 Definitions of UI/UX design
4:49 Top 5 UI/UX design desktop environments on Linux
14:45 Honorable mentions
#uidesign #linux #uxdesign
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34 thoughts on “Best UI/UX Design Desktops on Linux

  1. Quick heads up: keep the comments civil when talking about preferences, you can help out the channel and get two FREE months of Skillshare Premium at the link in the description, and there are timestamps for each section I cover in the description. Conclusion: we FOSS users love what we love, and making this video was a blast. Until next time! See you below.

  2. Definitively GNOME is the most consistent and most flexible (once you get used to it) DE. It stays out of my way when working and I still get the apps I want to use close by (either in the Dash or by using Dash to Dock). It's heavily reliant on the use of workspaces and IMO it gets the best implementation of virtual desktops in any DE, that is out of the way until they're needed, but clear as to where you are and how do you navigate them.

  3. used cinnamon on mint for a few months last year. then was using a chromebook for about a year. now im running a midrange HP machine and have been using zorin for about a week. cinnamon was the most stable/snappy linux distro but lacked in the aestetics dept. i love the way zorin looks but it hasnt been the most stable experience for me. could be because im pretty new to linux but it seems to run heavier than even windows on resources. this is my most up to date experience with the gnome desktop and so far i like it but it does seem to be more resource heavy than i was expecting.

  4. I think the big gotcha is the amount of possible customization that KDE has out of the box. There's an argument to be made that if you have to mess up with a lot of options to get it to work that's not a good thing, but there's also the opposite argument that it allows you the best UI/UX available. For example, Gnome breaks a decades old metaphor of a desktop: you can place things in there. In Gnome, you can't put things on the desktop anymore, which is an awful UX decision. Another element of UX that has long history is the global menu in the Mac, which KDE allows, but Gnome doesn't.

    There are several videos out there about making KDE look and behave like Windows, Mac, and even Unity or Pantheon (but why?). That's actually what got me to the KDE camp. I don't have to take the trade offs. Gnome doesn't let you use the desktop, it's there to be empty space with a wallpaper and that's it. If I'm working on a single flow with multiple temporary things, I want to use the computer desktop as a physical desktop. Everything in reach for a continuous workflow, then when it's done, you discard most of it, ready for the next task, or keep some things in there if you like. This has been a true and tested process since the 80's. Hell, it's the reason why a desktop is named a desktop in the first place, that's the intention since its inception. That was the physical metaphor it was trying to transfer to the digital world, and Gnome just took it away.

    Then we got Pantheon,which holy shit their single click to open files is so annoying because now when you try to just select a file, it opens (did they fix that in Juno or is it still a thing?). There's a reason why click to select and double click to open has been the standard forever. Also, try minimizing a window in Elementary. Yeah, you can't. How is this a better UX than actually being able to minimize a window? Every desktop since the desktop was invented has been able to minimize a window, with one exception, Elementary. Again, there's a reason for that. You also can't change these settings, as Pantheon is very restricted to the experience its designers want to give you. There's lot of positives for that, consistency being one of them and a very valid criteria, but you have to live with the downsides.

    Finally we go KDE. You can waste a lot of time on it just messing with the settings, and boy do a lot of users, myself included, take the late night drunken dive into it just to see what it can do. This is the desktop where there's an option for pretty much everything. While daunting, that means that it's the one where you can make it have the best UI/UX out there. The point of KDE is that particular ability, it's the whole sales pitch, more than any other DE, so an evaluation without accounting for that is like test driving a high end sports car on a crowded street. Sure, you get to see the nice paint and exterior shape, seats, electronics, sound, other interior perks, etc, and compare it to other luxury cars, but without seeing what it does on a track you're missing the main point of the product. Even if you acknowledge you'll skip that, it's still not a proper comparison if you do skip it.

    What KDE desperately need is an officially sanctioned repository where people upload their configurations and others can download them to their own computers, just like with themes. I'm pretty sure that would result in the bubbling up of great desktop experiences. When a DE can look and behave like anything, it's weird to compare it to any other, because if you like the other, with the right settings KDE can do it as well. There's nothing in the UX/UI of all the other desktops shown here that can't be done with KDE, and on top of that, as I described in specific examples, KDE can take the good parts, and do away with the bad ones.

  5. I'm a UI/UX Designer and this year I decided to stop complaining about how bad the interfaces are. I'm going to star a personal project of redesigning desktop environments and FOSS apps on my spare time. If someone have any ideas on how to collaborate on that, would be great! :] (BTW I vote Gnome 3)

  6. IMO stock Gnome is kinda trash, and most people who say it's great often don't discuss how many extensions it needs to have even basic functionality (dash to panel, desktop icons, AppFolders, etc). How many Gnome extensions does your distro ship with? I just say this because if you're going to have to add stuff to make your desktop useable (to most people), then by that standard, even i3 can make a great DE.

  7. Best is to learn about the tools and pick the one for your job/use.
    Don’t expect one distro or DE to do what the other does, instead “learn” it’s features.
    If you meet a new person expecting them to be like somebody else, they already failed in your eyes because instead of seeing/learning what they do best, you will concentrate on what they don’t do.
    Best footwear/outerwear in wrong season will make you miserable. Hardware/graphics-card is like your body type and foot size, find DE or distro that works/fits_you.
    Destination: distance across your street is best reached by foot vs plane, destination to another country – vise versa.

    Gnome is the default DE on most distros, must be a reason for it. But it doesn’t mean that other DEs or distros don’t have their place.
    Hardware, use type, preference, will dictate what is best or worse, for each "individual" person.

  8. I prefer customization and usability. Stock Gnome lacks almost any customizability and their focus on minimalism hurts usability. At least with KDE I know I can customize pretty much anything without needing to install extras and usability and features are great.

  9. i dont see anything great about deepin, unless you want everything transparent or translucent… even the sidepanel is messy. i would love a more simplistic approach for it like raven does.

  10. "I going to have to sort-of disagree with you…" Pantheon/Elementary is a highly-polished turd. They are so busy forcing you to have it 'Their Way', that they could care less if the thing actually works. Missing fonts in Libre (try adjusting your options sometime), extreme difficulty in adding repositories and countless other gripes. Basically elementary is Apple, but without the quality. Mint (Cinnamon in particular), is just so functional and solid, it basically IS Linux for most computer users I know. And other than a global scaling/zoom-bug, Deepin is light-years easier to make do what you want than elementary.

  11. While it's understandable since this video was geared towards desktop environments, I have to give a shoutout to Ubuntu MATE. The stock MATE desktop is old looking with little change from original GNOME 2 (which is intended) but Ubuntu MATE really amps up and innovates the UI/UX on top of that.
    Using a modern menu (the brisk menu), a really nice default theme, and the best part is the various default configurations available (such as ones that mimic Windows paradigm, Mac paradigm, Unity etc). They even have their own software boutique on top of Ubuntu's. Those guys have done amazing work to give some of the best UI/UX experience you can get in Linux these days.

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