What's the most efficient DE?

I know, it’s a trick question because the answer is always the same.

It depends.

  • on who you ask.
  • on your level.
  • on your use case.
  • on how you measure efficiency
  • etc, etc, ad infinitum

For me, there is the question of what you expect from the overall experience. If you are in business, your expectations may differ from those of a full-time programmer, graphic designer, a new EOS user, a gamer and so on.

I flirted with KDE way back when it was the clunky Kool desktop, back in the late 90s. So you can imagine my surprise at the sheer features and granular configurability KDE Plasma, when I installed it a few weeks ago to replace my love-hate relationship with Gnome.

Once I found something that adapted to my workflow, that was it, I stick with it. It just depends on your level of curiosity, and my philosophy has always been “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, which is losing favor in a day where you can swap distros in minutes and restore just as fast.

But coming back to this efficiency question. Notice I did not say “productivity” or “ROI”, as these all depend on what you use your computer for.

Programmers I come across, seem to think DE’s get in the way of coding and are more focused on keybindings to window managers. Business people want all their tools at their fingertips with a GUI.

KDE Plasma seems to be shaping up as the most configurable, but does that necessaily make it the most efficient? Does it make it the most time consuming DE to get the way you want it?

Gnome 42 remains to be seen, as they have already disabled configuring features, but of course the community is no doubt crafting workarounds at this writing.

So what’s your take desktop environments as far as being efficient in your use case?

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I don’t think about it at all.

I use KDE because I like it. That’s all I care about.


In my use case, I can get every desktop to do whatever I need, however, somewhat differently of course. So they are basically equally efficient from my use case “point of view”.


So you have multiple DEs installed and use the one that suits your use case?

Does KDE mind its own business when installed with Gnome, or is there some conflict you know of?

Not a programmer or need a pc for my work. It’s my hobby and my goal is to be a “forever noob”.

I started with KDE, the Kool kid :stuck_out_tongue: (October 2000/RHL). I used it until 2004 (mainly with debian and suse). Gnome was the ugliest kid in town for me. Then came Fedora Core 1 and gnome. Until 2010, gnome 2 was my main DE in every distro ( serial distrohopper). When i found crunchbang i felt in love with openbox. Archbang, wattos, bunshenlabs, bridge, mabox, archlabs… Every distro with openbox flavor was my next.
Openbox flavor was the reason i installed EndeavourOS.

For me, the best DE is the one i use every time BUT i can live (simpler and happier) without one.


No. But I have tried out a few of them.
At the moment I run Arch/EnOS with Gnome, Cinnamon, Plasma on a couple of machines.

I prefer not to have several DEs installed on one and the same install. My guess is that this combination is more prone to “conflicts” because of GTK vs. QT. But others who have actual experience of this combo might be better suited to answer your question.

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I hope EOS cured you :wink:

I will fire up a VM of Openbox.

You have great memory. I could not even be sure what distro I ran with Kool DE, but I think it was Mandrake.

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My memory is so so so bad. I keep screenshots here, there, everywhere. :wink:
EndeavourOs openbox is very minimal (no distro-dedicated scripts etc.) but all the basics to start is there and as @pebcak said, you can get every desktop (wm) to do whatever you need.


All DEs have minor conflicts when run from the same user account. Whether you view those things as trivial annoyances or deal breakers depends on your expectations and preferences.

The only DE I have found which caused major conflicts was Deepin

In my experience, it is the opposite. DEs tend to conflict because of their similarities, not their differences. The issues are generally caused where they overlap.


For me efficiency is measured on the basis of ease of doing the required tasks. I use KDE on my system because it offers those things which I need. The main reason for me to choose KDE is that it gives feel of home system as I was on Windows before.

On other side, the efficiency depends on person to person workflow. All DEs are made by keeping these things in core. They all offer efficiency in one way or another.

Did you have to make a lot of configuration and customizations to get it to do what you want, or did you leave it stock?

I had made few configuration by looking others ideas in the forum. :innocent:

Those configuration are of dock and taskbar position.

My prime target is to do my tasks, hence I want my UI as clean and efficient as possible. One of the important tool in KDE is KRunner, which reduces the need of application launcher.


I can go from base level install to “my setup” in less than 5 min on KDE.

So, I guess that would be the most efficient.


I don’t know why and I can’t help myself but I’m always returning to Xfce.


I ran Xfce for while. It was light and fast and I was using it on laptop, some with limited resources. Then one day I read about how Plasma was reported to be as light as Xfce. So, I decided to put it to the test. Was it as light? No, but I was really surprised at how close it came, so I moved to Plasma and have grown with it.

I’ve never been a Gnome fan.


Yes, I think there’s no “better distro” or “better DE”, there’s just a distro and a DE that better fits your needs.

I’m a totally noob on GNU/Linux DEs, but I made my homework some months ago by trying different distros and DE’s on VirtualBox and these are my impressions:

  1. GNOME: Visually, is the best DE I’ve seen…, well, only outside from Ubuntu. :rofl: It was hard to me to get used to its workflow and it seems heavy on resource usage
  2. KDE: Great looking and has a lot of customization options, but I’ve found it a little overwhelming and I’ve got some minor issues. I love the menu!
  3. Budgie: I love Raven and what Ubuntu did with Themes and Layouts, but I’ve missed workspaces preview, it’s only available on panel widget (applet?), too small for me
  4. Cinnamon: Not the best looking DE, but it’s still customizable and has a lot of cool features
  5. Zorin, Deepin, Cutefish and others: All of them has a wonderful panel…, but only if you don’t maximize your windows, where is better to switch from “best looking” to normal (efficient) mode. I didn’t find any real advantage over other DEs

My choice was Cinnamon, because it’s better for my productivity:

  1. Easy customization for panel, menu, workspaces
  2. Grouped Window List with window preview on hover (Not available on all DEs)
  3. Workspaces: Easy hot keys to access every workspace and show workspaces grid
  4. Nemo is really cool, I love the compact view, bookmars on side bar, Connect to server (SSH, FTP, etc.)
  5. Acceptable resource usage

I wish Cinnamon had something like pop shell tiling or bismuth. I’d go back immediately. Gtile is the closest thing and it’s just terrible.

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I’m not a fan of window tiling, so I can’t suggest anything useful. I’ve just use workspaces to organize all the apps I use.

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Workspaces for me too

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For me, it’s KDE Plasma, indubitably. This is because I can tailor it to suit me perfectly, and it’s fast and light enough that it does not get in the way. Also, it has Konsole and Kate, the best terminal emulator and the best text editor in existence. And Dolphin is pretty nice, for a GUI file manager, especially the embedded Konsole.

I can’t stand the philosophy of GNOME – it’s like those new cars and bikes that discourage any user modification.