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raymac46
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I remember when I first started with Linux (and GNOME 2) how much different the desktop appearance was from Windows XP. After my recent tests with ChromeOS Flex, I note that just about every OS these days - Mac, Windows 11, Chrome OS - has a default look with a dock of some sort at the bottom of the screen and a bunch of icons in the center. Linux has its share of that appearance too - you can get it straight out of the box with Ubuntu, Elementary OS or POP! OS or failing that just install one of the many dock apps on GNOME and away you go.

I don't know if everybody set out to copy Mac OS or whether this type of look and feel is best for the users. Certainly it shows that there are more and more types of operating systems that are becoming mainstream than ever before. Odd that something like Cinnamon or Plasma would now seem a bit out of the ordinary. :wacko:

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Hedon James

When I first started experimenting with Linux, I found Gnome2 jarring....in a GOOD way!  I was familiar with the Windows and OSX paradigms, but Gnome2 just made SO MUCH SENSE....the clouds parted, rays of sunshine shone down, and I heard church organs and angels singing....Gnome2 was the ideal layout for ME.  PERFECT!

 

However, this was during the period of 4:3 ratio monitors.  Whether CRT or LCD, the ratio was 4:3, and this turned out to be a VERY important consideration without me even realizing it.  As I started to replace hardware, I noticed the aspect ratio changing from 4:3 to 16:9 or even 16:10.  Gnome2 had an upper bar, allowing me to read the screen like a book (like OSX) and a bottom bar to navigate quickly to open applications.  As the ratios changed, I noticed the "display screen" in the middle was shrinking from top to bottom, but widening from left to right.  I was gaining extra "useless" space from left to right (at least for the work I do on computers), but losing it from top to bottom, causing me to scroll a LOT more to get things done.  Sounds minor, but over a 100-300 page OpenOffice document, it adds up.  I could only shrink the text to reduce the scrolling, but then the smaller text caused eye strain.  Enlarging the text solved the eye strain problem, but increased scrolling.  The cost of doing business with an ideal desktop layout....still better than Windows, IMO.

 

About that time, Ubuntu introduced its Unity desktop, with a dock/launcher on the left hand side of a 16:9 ratio monitor.  I HATED this layout, but as I continued to tinker with it, I noticed the extra vertical pixels were available again for screen display, and that was a positive.  Then I started to learn Unity had key combo shortcuts built right in, which reduced my mouse interactions.  This was actually very efficient, and turned out to be an improvement.  I quickly became a fan of the Unity desktop, despite my initial hatred.  The only thing I didn't like was that damn Heads Up Display (HUD), which caused the header bars to show things it "shouldn't".  Maybe I could've gotten used to that...eventually....but I didn't have to, as folks started to figure out hacks to revert the header bars and eventually Canonical went back to that behavior again.  I still liked the Gnome2 desktop and kept tinkering with it in the Mate desktop, especially Ubuntu Mate.  But I was a Unity man now.

 

Fast forward a few releases and I started noticing "resource creep" in Unity.  It was becoming more and more bloated and was losing it's responsiveness.  This reminded me of Windows issues; and I knew from my Windows conditioning this meant I would have to buy a newer, faster, and more powerful machine.  But my Linux experience said "go ahead and look around....find something else, something lighter, something more responsive."  It worked when I switched from Windows to Linux, why wouldn't it work again, switching from Unity to something else?

 

I remembered how much I liked Gnome2 and had all but made the decision to go with Ubuntu Mate.  It was everything that Ubuntu used to be.  And then I discovered a hidden desktop paradigm in Ubuntu Mate, called Mutiny.  It looked like Unity, but was all Gnome2.  That iced it....I was going to Ubuntu Mate and the Mutiny desktop!  But the OCD in me had one more task to check off the list.....I had found a "better" solution that solved the problem, but was it the "best" solution?  I started looking into desktop environments and their RAM usage at idle.  I discovered that Unity was a HOG (no surprise, that explained a LOT!) and Gnome2 was similar to what I had experienced when I was first drawn into Linux.  But in the process of learning about DEs, I learned that Gnome wasn't the lightest of DE.  In my mind, less resource usage would mean more speed and power to run applications, as those resources wouldn't be diverted to drawing desktop environments.  I learned of XFCE, LXDE, Enlightenment, and "naked" Window Manager (WM) sessions, i.e. Openbox, Fluxbox, PekWM, JWM, IceWM, etc...

 

I experimented with ALL of them and found ways to hammer each into a usable DE for me.  Along the way, I accidentally discovered and fell in love with Root Menus of WMs!  I was now a WM guy, who autostarted the DE "skins" (panels, etc...) to resemble a full-fledged DE.  At some point I realized I was autostarting all the services/programs that a DE would start and that I might as well use a DE manager to handle all that for me.  Long story short....I determined that LXDE was the minimum DE that accomodated me AND allowed for display of root menus (Openbox).  Shortly thereafter, I learned how to swap out Openbox for Fluxbox and that cemented the decision.  Hammering the LXDE components into a paradigm that looks like Unity was the easy part.  I was back in business with a supremely responsive and ultimately configurable LXDE desktop that looked like Unity, and accommodated my workflow, rather than the other way around.  PERFECTION!  And soon thereafter, I discovered how to create multiple DE paradigms that resembled Windows, Gnome2, & OSX, in addition to my preferred Gnome.  This allowed me to consolidate my Linux tech support into a SINGLE distro for everyone I helped migrate to Linux.  One distro, multiple DEs available according to user preference....I had perfected "perfection".

 

Within the past 3+/- years, I started looking to the future and see LXDE dying on the vine.  It's being replaced with LXQt.  So I've ported my LXDE desktop to LXQt, as much as possible.  But Linux isn't a static environment....something is ALWAYS changing.  Features get added, features get removed, features get restored.  LXQt has removed my "root menus" from the desktop display, in the name of progress.  So for now, I'm sticking with the (older) version that maintains that functionality.  But soon I'll have to make a choice....I can remove the ability for LXQt to "manage the desktop", but if I do that, perhaps I should return to "naked" WMs instead of a true DE.  If I stay with LXQt as my DE, I MUST find a solution for my heavily customized root menus.  Looking into jgmenu, but haven't solved it yet for my Fluxbox specific tools & settings.  And yet another potential solution is to return to the LXDE desktop, which isn't dying nearly as fast as I was led to believe it would?  But considering that LXDE is based on Gnome2 toolkit, and Gnome is on Gnome4 toolkit(?), how much longer is that a viable option?  Seems like they'll have to port to another toolkit sooner or later?  OTOH, WindowMaker has remained a bastion of continuity and remained viable for all these years....why not LXDE also?

 

One thing I do know.....the path will reveal itself.  It always does, because it's always moving and can't stay "hidden" for long.  And this is the reason I continue to "farm" different distros in a VM.  Every once in awhile, someone does something in a new or unconventional fashion that I just can't help but admire....and I'm stealing that!  good luck doing that with OSX or Windows!  Vive le linux!

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The thing I can't understand about ChromeOS is that the desktop is clear. There is no way to add anything to it. Anything I want to launch or find without clicking all over is to add the icon to the "shelf" (same as MAC's dock). And yet, all that space on the top is empty. It took me awhile to "learn" ChromeOS despite that I can find my way around my android phone, tablet and Kindle, which I've added googleplay to so I can install a few favorite apps.

Edited by zlim
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V.T. Eric Layton

Hmm... I'm serious creature of habit, I guess. I also started out with a Gnome desktop (in Ubuntu 6.06); however, settled on Slackware quite soon after that. My desktop arrangement has hardly changed at all in nearly 17 years. Other than the "multi-desktop" option and a disappearing sidebar menu (left side of screen) in Linux, I had my previous Windows (98 and XP) set up basically the same way.

 

Here's a shot of my original Ubuntu 6.06:

 

ZOWZhdC.png

 

Here's one of Slackware from recent times:

 

fnwq0kj.png

 

I'm get more cat-like as I get older... don't like change! ;)

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No question that Linux is the most customizable of all the available  OSs. You've got all the DE's and WMs you could ever want. The other OS options do lock you down quite a bit. If you want Linux to look like Mac OS you can do it. If not...

Strangely enough I like Chrome OS not having any icons on the desktop. I set up my Windows and Linux desktops with practically nothing but the Trash can on the desktop, or a folder where I can stash all the icons that get placed on my desktop involuntarily.

I've never been a fan of text menus so the right click and search for options you get with a lot of window managers is not needed for me at least. Besides, I hate configuring the darn menus with text files. Horses for courses I suppose.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton

As you can see above, I'm definitely not the type for cluttered arrays of desktop icons of any sort. I launch what I need from my main panel and the hiding left side panel or from my Whisker Menu. I like to use my desktop for fun and interesting wallpaper...

 

RX20iBT.png

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What I find interesting is that the 3 OSs - Mac, Windows and Chrome - do not give you much ability to customize your desktop, but they have all converged on a look and feel that features a dock and icons. You can do that in Linux too - but in Linux you can do virtually anything you want from i3 to Plasma, and configure each of those the way you like. That clearly differentiates Linux from its competition. Too bad more people don't recognize this fact. That is "free as in speech."

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abarbarian

I started with linux as I were skint, could not afford a Windows os, and also the open source aspect and the ability to customise the pc to suit me. Oh and to escape the regular blue screens of death.

I had my XP and then later on my Windows 7 set up nicely with Rocket dock as a disappearing side bar and the bottom bar I think disappeared too. This like Eric gave me a luverly look at all the fancy wallpapers I found. I only kept Windows going for playing games way back then.

Sick of the BSDeath I tried Ubuntu. Great I thought I can customise to my hearts content. How wrong could I be. For the life of me I could not make the top bar place at the bottom of the screen. I gave up in disgust.

Tried Mandriva with KDE the all singing perfect set up that would be oh so customisable and full of exciting useful features. It was certainly exciting and full of features that were advertised with all the bells and whistles but almost all programs were over sold. As the new features still had to be introduced or were flaky in use. After suffering nearly as many linux Blue Screens of Death I binned that too. I did give it a decent try with different new updates but they all had the same problems. Gnome and KDE came with loads of programs I did not need and to my mind they were a bit bloated. So I was a tad lost at that point.

Charging over the hill on a white charger a knight in shining armour cam to the rescue hmm well sort of. A chap called Urmas suggested that I come here to the font of all things penguin and learn how to install and use Arch. Being a fool and uneducated in penguin lore I rushed into this new venture. It took me two days to work out what nano was never mind how to use it.

The rest as they say is history.

I now run, sort of, a stableish Arch os with the wonderful customise to your hearts content Window Maker and am very happy indeed. 🥰

 

An early try at Window Maker customisation. 😜

 

YuLvAUo.jpg

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Hedon James
49 minutes ago, abarbarian said:

I started with linux as I were skint, could not afford a Windows os, and also the open source aspect and the ability to customise the pc to suit me. Oh and to escape the regular blue screens of death.

I had my XP and then later on my Windows 7 set up nicely with Rocket dock as a disappearing side bar and the bottom bar I think disappeared too. This like Eric gave me a luverly look at all the fancy wallpapers I found. I only kept Windows going for playing games way back then.

Sick of the BSDeath I tried Ubuntu. Great I thought I can customise to my hearts content. How wrong could I be. For the life of me I could not make the top bar place at the bottom of the screen. I gave up in disgust.

Tried Mandriva with KDE the all singing perfect set up that would be oh so customisable and full of exciting useful features. It was certainly exciting and full of features that were advertised with all the bells and whistles but almost all programs were over sold. As the new features still had to be introduced or were flaky in use. After suffering nearly as many linux Blue Screens of Death I binned that too. I did give it a decent try with different new updates but they all had the same problems. Gnome and KDE came with loads of programs I did not need and to my mind they were a bit bloated. So I was a tad lost at that point.

Charging over the hill on a white charger a knight in shining armour cam to the rescue hmm well sort of. A chap called Urmas suggested that I come here to the font of all things penguin and learn how to install and use Arch. Being a fool and uneducated in penguin lore I rushed into this new venture. It took me two days to work out what nano was never mind how to use it.

The rest as they say is history.

I now run, sort of, a stableish Arch os with the wonderful customise to your hearts content Window Maker and am very happy indeed. 🥰

 

An early try at Window Maker customisation. 😜

 

YuLvAUo.jpg

THAT is a very cool looking desktop!  I love the abstract wallpaper, and dark themes are my thing....yours is "dark" on 2 levels, LOL!

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I think there's a difference between personalization and customization. I have personalized my Windows 11 desktop with wallpaper, dark(ish) theme, added a few icons to the taskbar, and I use StartAllBack to give me a Windows 7 look on the Start Menu. But it's not as if it looks like a tiling WM. You would still recognize basic Windows 11 appearance.

 

Screenshot-1.png

Edited by raymac46
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2 hours ago, raymac46 said:

I think there's a difference between personalization and customization. I have personalized my Windows 11 desktop with wallpaper, dark(ish) theme, added a few icons to the taskbar, and I use StartAllBack to give me a Windows 7 look on the Start Menu. But it's not as if it looks like a tiling WM. You would still recognize basic Windows 11 appearance.

As one who does a lot of IT support - thank goodness for that! At least there are some things that I can tell a person to do that I know will bring up what I expect once I know which OS is involved. 

Question - is there a way in Linux to "force" a default behavior regardless of customization?

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Not really my area of expertise - but in a business environment you could disallow root/sudo privileges so there wouldn't be much anyone could do to change desktops. Maybe Josh could comment here.

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V.T. Eric Layton
3 hours ago, crp said:

Question - is there a way in Linux to "force" a default behavior regardless of customization?

 

If you mean a Windoze-like point 'n click method to return everything to defaults, then NO. There isn't such a thing in Linux. If you want the default config then you simply remove/change your previous customizations/modifications manually.

 

If you meant something else with this question, then please clarify.

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Most folks I have helped out do not have much expertise with computers and rarely change even the default wallpaper in Windows. Most issues I've dealt with lately are in networking, printer configs or malware removal rather than problems with the OS itself. People get a Windows 11 machine and try to pair it up with a Windows XP printer, or they get a new gateway and nothing works with it.

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securitybreach

Well you can set user profiles that are restricted to certain things. You could for instance only allow the users to write to certain directories, like their Desktop and Downloads folders just as you can on Windows. You can also restrict the users by only allowing certain apps to be installed using a custom package manager with only software from the approved repository. You can restrict access by utilizing the /etc/security/access.conf file. You could also use OpenLDAP along with Puppet for something resembling active directory policies.

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/718074/how-to-use-restricted-shell-to-limit-what-a-linux-user-can-do/

https://etutorials.org/Linux+systems/red+hat+linux+bible+fedora+enterprise+edition/Part+III+Administering+Red+Hat+Linux/Chapter+11+Setting+Up+and+Supporting+Users/Setting+User+Defaults/

https://linuxconfig.org/how-to-restrict-users-access-on-a-linux-machine

 

You could also setup portable desktops so that the setup looks the same, no matter what machine they login to:

Quote

Linux is an operating system that was born on the Internet, so it is not surprising that it has strong networking capabilities. This makes Linux an excellent server, but it also allows Linux to be an excellent desktop workstation, especially in a highly networked environment. Red Hat Linux lets you easily set up your users with a portable desktop that follows them from computer to computer. With other leading desktop operating systems, it is not nearly as easy.

 


Normally, a Red Hat Linux user's home directory is located within the /home directory. As an alternative, within the home directory you can create a directory named after the system's host name. Within that directory, create the users' home directories. Thus, on a Linux system named dexter, the user mary would have a home directory of /home/dexter/mary instead of /home/mary. There is a very good reason for doing this.

 

https://etutorials.org/Linux+systems/red+hat+linux+bible+fedora+enterprise+edition/Part+III+Administering+Red+Hat+Linux/Chapter+11+Setting+Up+and+Supporting+Users/Creating+Portable+Desktops/

 

Granted, I do not have a ton of experience in this but you can lock down accounts and set a default environment for users on Linux. They do something similar at work with the Blade Servers that the engineers connect to. They are virtual Redhat desktops assigned to the users but they can only modify certain things, only use software assigned to them and there is a standard deployment environment that each user connects to.

 

Hope that makes sense

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KDE used to have a Kiosk Mode where you could set it up and users couldn't change hardly anything. I tried it once for a hotel PC but they couldn't bear not having their familiar Windows. 🙄🤣

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securitybreach
5 hours ago, sunrat said:

KDE used to have a Kiosk Mode where you could set it up and users couldn't change hardly anything. I tried it once for a hotel PC but they couldn't bear not having their familiar Windows. 🙄🤣

 

Well you can make KDE look like windows XP, 7, 10, 11, etc.

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abarbarian
23 hours ago, Hedon James said:

THAT is a very cool looking desktop!  I love the abstract wallpaper, and dark themes are my thing....yours is "dark" on 2 levels, LOL!

 

I just posted a small series of dark Window Maker themes in the "Show Us Your GNU/Linux Desktop" section just for you. 😝

 

Not really just for you, I am just taking the opportunity to promote Window Maker yet again 🤣

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My take on this issue is that while MacOS, Windows, and ChromeOS make the user adapt to their requirements, Linux allows the user to adapt to his/her requirements. Of course if you like the look and feel of one of the other OSs, Linux would be happy to oblige. There is a difference.

 

WallpaperDog-10726311.jpg

 

That said, for the 99% whose desktop will always look like this, it probably doesn't matter.

Edited by raymac46
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securitybreach
4 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

My take on this issue is that while MacOS, Windows, and ChromeOS make the user adapt to their requirements, Linux allows the user to adapt to his/her requirements. Of course if you like the look and feel of one of the other OSs, Linux would be happy to oblige. There is a difference.

 

WallpaperDog-10726311.jpg

 

That said, for the 99% whose desktop will always look like this, it probably doesn't matter.

 

Most people's "computing" is done in a browser anyway

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