Linux 101: What’s the difference between a desktop environment and a window manager?

In case you had been ever curious as to the distinction between a Linux desktop atmosphere and a window supervisor, Jack Wallen is right here to clear that up.


Picture: Jack Wallen

After utilizing Linux for some time, you may come throughout an article or point out of a window supervisor. What does that imply? Is it a desktop atmosphere? No. Is it part of a desktop atmosphere? Typically. I wish to try to clear this up a bit, so you do not wind up complicated one with the opposite. 

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The very first thing to know is that they will each function your desktop interface. The most important distinction, nonetheless, is that one makes your Linux life significantly simpler. Which one? The desktop atmosphere. The factor a couple of desktop atmosphere is that it focuses on a completely built-in expertise. Meaning each software will get pleasure from options like drag and drop between one another. 

For instance, in GNOME (a desktop atmosphere), you may drag an .odt file from the file supervisor into LibreOffice to open the file in query. 

A window supervisor (corresponding to Fluxbox) does not all the time have that function (though with a little bit of tweaking you may make it work). 

And that brings me to my second level: The desktop atmosphere is all about simplicity. Out of the field, all the things ought to simply work. DEs like GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon, Pantheon and Mate supply a really minimal studying curve. Then again, some window managers, corresponding to Enlightenment and i3 can take appreciable effort to get them precisely the way you need. 

That, nonetheless, is likely one of the large benefits of window managers. For probably the most half, window managers are extremely customizable. This customization can take some effort, however, ultimately, you may have a desktop that appears and behaves precisely the way you prefer it. 

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Quite the opposite, most desktop environments go for simplicity over customization. To make this a bit extra complicated, each desktop atmosphere has a window supervisor. It is a part of the puzzle. For instance, GNOME has Mutter, and KDE has KWin. You may run Mutter and KWin with out GNOME and KDE, however I would not advise it. Ultimately, a desktop atmosphere is for many who need simplicity and integration, whereas a window supervisor is for many who do not care a lot for full integration and like excessive customization.

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