I am not doing a Desktop Environment review here. This is merely an opinion piece based on my personal experience and computing style.
Fast forward to the present and the graphical user interface of a modern desktop distribution has changed drastically. There are many reasons for these changes, one of which is adapting to modern technology. Mobile computing, touch input, etc. I look at GNOME today which is at version 40 and I am really struggling to get comfortable.
GNOME version 3 changed everything about the desktop. This was in 2008. I did not appreciate some of the design decisions, so when Canonical announced Unity for Ubuntu, I was thrilled. Unity kept the GNOME environment that I truly enjoyed and added to it. I also used MacOS a lot and the transition back and forth made it easy for me. I would continue to use Unity until in 2017, when Mark Shuttleworth made the official announcement that the desktop would be discontinued in favor of GNOME 3. Needless to say, I was upset (again). Sure, there were Mate and Cinnamon, both designed to preserve the GNOME 2.x look and feel. I did not know what to think about those. They just didn’t feel as well polished (at the time). I am sure that the projects have matured significantly since then.
It was not the end for Unity though, the open source community forked the project. Development continued. Now we have an entire distribution called Ubuntu Unity focused on maintaining the desktop.
I look forward to giving it a spin shortly.
Then there is KDE. Originally referred to as the K Desktop Environment but for branding reasons, it is now simply just KDE. Although, I do believe that KDE now stands for the community itself and KDE Plasma refers to the desktop environment. I do not have anything negative to say about it. Versions 2 and 3 were decent. Version 4 stirred up quite a lot of controversy but this seems to have subsided since the release of Plasma. What can I say? Plasma looks pretty well polished for a desktop environment. My only problem with KDE as a whole is that I am just not comfortable using it.
Of course, there are so many other desktop and window manager environment. I have tried them all: XFCE, Xmonad, LXDE, Budgie, Enlightenment, Pantheon, et al. Many of them looked beautiful. They just weren’t filling that void and I was not as productive.
My inability to adapt to a new desktop environment is probably the same reason why I still use vim and grep for my software development instead of a modern IDE.
What has your experience been and what desktop environment do you find yourself using to be productive?