Just a rant about the current state of Linux Desktop Environments

Hi there, I’m a bit frustrated so I thought I’d post here about it just to see if someone shares the same frustration and/or maybe have some suggestions.

Lately I did some DE/WMhopping - if that’s even a thing - and tried various options, searching for my ideal environment. Even if I use Linux since like 4 years, I like to change so I never 100% settled on a single DE or WM.

In the last weeks I tried some WMs, some for the first time, like riverwm, and other which I used several times before and are like home to me, like dwm.
I love them, but the thing is that I found out that I’m just more productive on a desktop environment, since on a standalone WM I just keep customizing and scripting it to perfection, searching for problem to fix, instead of just work or do what I have to do. On a desktop environment, after the first hours which I spend customizing it, I’m done and it just pushes me to do what I have to, actually using it, instead of keep building it over and over.

So here I am, happy to try something more standard and distraction-free like good old Plasma or Gnome (the most obvious and complete choices in term of desktop environment) again, but here starts my rant.
I find the current state of Linux desktop a bit…messy.
I feel like we are in between this X11/Wayland thing and neither is a 100% working solution at the moment. To be honest I was totally fine on X11, I didn’t feel the need to “go on” and switch to Wayland, but if it’s here where “the future of Linux desktop” is headed I can be fine with it, or at least try to be.

Right now, I find Gnome crippled by various Wayland-related limitations and weirdness, breaking standard behaviors and forcing the user to some weird workarounds, which are supposed to be features I guess but to me are just taking a huge step backward, literally losing useful features.
I’m not gonna lie, most Gnome devs’ attitude doesn’t really help here, but that’s another topic.

On the other hand, I find Plasma (which I prefer to Gnome) in a sort of an odd limbo right now.
Some stuff on Wayland is broken, and other stuff on X11 is broken as well.
I’m under the impression that it was just too soon to make the switch, so I’m forced to use an X11 session in I want to do some things, and a Wayland one if I want to do other stuff. I think this has to do with the fact that switching to Wayland while continuing to develop new features and stuff, I basically have to choose between a Wayland session full of features and bugs or a crippled X11 session which doesn’t support all the features.
That’s a clearly broken experience and again, I just can’t help but keep thinking that it’s too soon.

So now I’m wondering if maybe a DE which doesn’t change so fast could be a better experience, like maybe XFCE…or something else?

Just to be clear, I’m perfectly aware that it’s the nature of Arch to change often and fast and that alternatives like Debian or something exists out there. But I’m talking about something related to the Desktop Environment too, Plasma is just moving faster than XFCE (for example), so I feel like it’s supposed to be used on a “fast” distro too. Slower DEs are slower and more stable in this means, regardless of the distro.

I don’t know what’s the point of this thread, I don’t have a specific question, I just wanted to share my rant and see what you guys think, if I’m just talking nonsense or if all of this makes sense to you :slight_smile:

It’s just frustrating because using Wayland I feel I’m using a “not-totally-ready-yet” protocol, yet using X11 I keep thinking that it’s sadly probably not going to be around anymore, so it’s like using something that I’ll have to dismiss shortly, so not a long-term solution.

I think it’s cool to play around with tiling Wayland compositors but again, while so fun they’re just not for me if I have to do actual productive stuff. So I’m talking about complete, full-fledged Desktop Environment. Just to be clear :slight_smile:

Okay, rant’s over. Thank you if you read until the end! What do you think about it?


This would probably be one of your better options after reading this.


That’s quite a bit to get through :sweat_smile:

I hope it’s at least been cathartic @loyak

Current issues under Wayland are fairly well understood. What sorts of issues are you having under X11?

Other than that query, I actually agree with much of what you say. It is in a bit of a transition at the moment, from a longstanding X11 system, to Wayland.

Even when speaking with friends about giving Linux a try, I’ve actually told them, perhaps wait at least a few months, because Linux is currently going through a transition, and it’s probably a bit much for beginners to have to navigate these things. It doesn’t present as particularly polished (yet).

That said, it doesn’t really bother me. Linux is the sort of operating system, where we are part of the process of it’s development, in all sorts of possible ways. Even if, as it may be in this case, it’s just going along for the ride as it transitions to a new standard.


MATE is fast if the operator is fast. I’ve never seen a slow DE that wasn’t hardware-related.
MATE and Cinnamon and even pschoLXDE for me, and XFCE make millions happy including me.
KDE is just another desktop. I was never personally impressed with it the many times I’ve tried it, but most of the linux world is.

Great rant but as far as Wayland/X11, strategize: don’t go where the headaches are. your only priority is your day to day digital business. I don’t have time to be a guinea pig. I will jump on the Wayland bandwagon when I have to and the kinks are worked out. Down The Road.

I love hopping. It always reminds the grass isn’t greener too often. Don’t be frustrated. Again, your priority is running your digital life with no headaches. I get antsy too, all the time.


Now that you’re on the EOS platform these symptoms will fade over time. :wink:


On this, I can wholeheartedly agree. I’ve tried a few WMs over the years. And I feel the same way. Perhaps I’m just not the Linux geek I thought I was. I do like theming my DE from time to time, but a WM is just more work than I want to do to get to the point where I just “use” the OS.


Linux Mint cares about their users, like no other distro IMHO.
They even created Cinnamon and Mate for that reason.
I suggest you give a fair chance to Cinnamon (or Mate). You may find your peace.
Don’t waste time on ranting, unless it is on break time. :rofl:
Go for work now! :running_man:

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Over the semester I got burned pretty hard with updates to Plasma, enough to make me switch environments in the middle of taking classes.

It sucked, but I had a really good time when I switched to Cinnamon. Changes are gradual and usually non-disruptive, and it handles modern hidpi scaling perfectly


I was also in the same boat, switching from environment or wm to other environments/wm’s. I like wayland and will always appreciate when big changes arrive but at the moment I am using xfce and it is not just stable but effective for my day to day use. I think I will stay on this boat longer than I had with the other cruises.


With this you don’t have to worry about x11/wayland dilemma, at least for now. :slight_smile:


Yes, it is. You just did it.

Unless you create one to satisfy each and every of your requirements for a DE/WM, most probably you will find each and every DE/WM out there faulty in some respect for your requirements.

The moral of the story:

Pick one which satisfies mostly most of your requirements and be satisfied with it. Searching for the “ideal” DE/WM is a waste of time and energy. Ranting about it even more so.


This is why I chose to use KDE over Openbox in the end (I use krunner to launch most programs and also have a shortcut setup on the desktop to use one of the buttons on my mouse to launch an app menu), I can get very similar functionality out of it with minimal effort and can also theme it very easily to my aesthetic tastes


For the exact same reason, I use GNOME :wink: :grin:


I used Gnome2 back in the day and when Gnome3 arrived I switched to something else because that thing was a total mess and constant crashing and they didn’t really communicate the new workflow well so most people hated it as well. I think probably have a year ago I decided to give the new Gnome4x a chance. I took the time to understand the idea behind the Gnome workflow and I have grown to love it since then because for me it’s a nice middle ground between a tiling window manager where you have to install and configure everything yourself and a desktop environment when your get to have a similar workflow to a tiling window manager but not have to install and configure everything yourself.

Since I switched over to an AMD gpu I have been using the Gnome Wayland session, so I would be curious to know are you talking about needing extensions on Gnome to get a classic desktop workflow or are you talking about other things when it comes to Gnome Wayland. If the latter I would be curious to know what you are having issues with because I have no complaints about my Gnome Wayland experience since I switched over to an AMD gpu?

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Wayalnd isn’t a “not totally ready yet” protocol, it’s a “horribly broken flawed protocol design” that people are just trying to use anyways for no real reason except the wayland devs said so.

It’s never gonna be ready, because the wayland devs think it’s perfect as the broken mess it is right now. All the things that aren’t working? That’s just somebody elses fault (e.g. the compositor devs are supposed to fix all the broken shit in wayland, so we have wlroots, and we have a bunch of compositors that are just reinventing the wheel over and over to try to fix wayland’s shit)

I’ll just quote someone that seems to know a lot more than me about how X11 and Wayland work but there is a difference as in how they work and it seems the argument about everyone doing it there own way is invalid as well because of the way Wayland works.

With X11, there is a client and a server. The client (Mutter, Kwin, etc.) communicates with the server, and the server communicates with your GPU, which produces the output. Wayland is both client and server at the same time. The window manager will speak directly with the GPU (via the GBM API, which NVIDIA did not want to implement). This being said, the only requirement that needs to be standardized is the GBM API, because the GPU theoretically cannot determine which DE (Desktop Environment) you can use. Therefore, since Mutter from GNOME or KWin from KDE is both server and client simultaneously, only the incompatibility between GNOME and KDE will increase. These are problems that already exist and thus require even more communication between DEs.

The Wayland Devs are the same devs that were working on X11/Xorg.

That being said whether or not you like Wayland or don’t like Wayland. X11/Xorg isn’t from this time anymore because it was created in the 80’s, in a time when the internet didn’t exist and security wasn’t a thing. So a modern replacement is very much needed, whether that be Wayland or another replacement.

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I use my GNOME exactly as Dev Gods have ordained.

:crazy_face: :sheep:

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Wayland isn’t a replacement, as much as it’s devs like to claim otherwise, and the wayland devs were X11 devs, this doesn’t make the wayland devs the same ones that worked on x11, I doubt the devs of wayland are actually the original designers of x11 quite strongly…

I mean think about it, X11 was so well designed and made that most linux users are still happily using it even if it’s been unmaintained for about a decade.

Wayland is so poorly designed and made that it has existed as long as X11 had existed when Wayland was originally created and it’s still garbage that barely anybody truly likes.

And that perspective kinda tells you everything you need to know about wayland, doesn’t it?

An X11 replacement would be fine, but wayland isn’t one. X11 just being properly maintained would also be just as good honestly.

So what if it was made a long time ago, the linux kernel is from the 90s and we’re still all using it aren’t we?

From my understanding from different people. The problem with X11 is that how it’s currently designed doesn’t allow the devs to implement modern features that are necessary for a modern display server in today’s world, that is the reason why they created Wayland. If enough people disliked Wayland that much someone or several people would have already created an alternative solution that is better than Wayland but seems no one has, and if they have it seems it’s not better because the it hasn’t gotten the eye of any of the main stream distributions.

The difference is the kernel is still being actively developed and updated with modern features.

Wayland was created in 2008, so Wayland hasn’t existed as long as X11/Xorg.

Redhat has plans to drop X11/Xorg support, so it seems it will probably not be likely that an alternative will be created unless someone else does.

With all that complaining about something that you don’t have to pay for but are able to use for free be my guest to write a better display server, that is better than both X11/Xorg and Wayland.

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Guys, I get it, I wrote a long post and ranting is a waste of time. That’s fine, I just wanted to share some thoughts and I was under the impression that this is what the Lounge section is for.
I didn’t ask for help and I didn’t want to create flames or throw stones at anybody, I just wanted to chat in a friendly manner about this topic, but if I bothered someone I apologize, that wasn’t my intention at all.
It definitely seems like someone was annoyed by this post and I’m sorry, but you can just ignore it if it bothers you somehow. I have to add that english isn’t my first language, so maybe I wasn’t totally clear on some point, and that’s why the post is so long: I tried my best to share my though clearly and not being misinterpreted.

That said, thank you for your insights, they’re very precious for me and you’re right, I may go back to XFCE, or try Cinnamon or Mint, that’s good advice :slight_smile:

Now to answer your questions: @Bink on Plasma/X11 I can’t use the Spectacle’s screen recording feature, which I need. I know there are plenty alternatives for that, I was talking about the fact that on a freshly installed system I have the screen recording binded to Super+R, which throws an error saying that on X11 it isn’t supported. Not a huge deal, but binding by deafult something that throws an error doesn’t give me a “just works” impression, which Plasma used to give me before 6, that’s all. Also I have occasional lagging and stuttering and I just can’t bind some of my media keys for some reason, and I could do it flawlessly before 6 and I still can on Plasma/Wayland (which have many other big issues at the moment, for me).

And @Cphusion: that’s interesting what you’re saying about the Gnome workflow, I never thought about that this way. I have to be honest, right now I don’t have a list of the problems I had and they may be fixed now, some time has passed. But I remember last time I tried I was especially annoyed by the fact that you couldn’t just drag’n drop files from the archive manager to nautilus, and you had to extract all the archive somewhere and then drag the speficic files you wanted, and deleting the rest. The thing that bothered me was that searching for this specific problem I found an issue in which the devs were arrogantly pretending to not see any problem here and saying that it’s just how Wayland works. I found other similar situations were Wayland limitations broke some very simple and standard thing and the attitude of the devs was similar.

That said, I think Gnome is a very good DE, it’s just worse since Wayland and it doesn’t feel like home for me, that’s all :slight_smile: