A desktop environment is the bundle of components that provide you common graphical user interface (GUI) elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets.
There are several desktop environments and these desktop environments determines what your Linux system looks like and how you interact with it.
Most of the desktop environments have their own set of integrated applications and utilities so that users get a uniform feel while using the OS.
Some desktop environments such as GNOME focus on a modern look and user experience while desktop like XFCE focus more on using fewer computing resources than on fancy graphics.
Think of the desktop environments as clothes. The clothes determine what you look like. If you wear skinny jeans and flat shoes, you would look good but you running or hiking in these clothes won’t be comfortable. Your clothes depend on your need and determine your looks, the same is the case with the desktop environments. You have to decide whether you want something that looks good or something that lets your system run faster.
Some of the popular desktop environments are:
- GNOME – Uses plenty of system resources but gives you a modern, polished system
- XFCE – Vintage look but light on resources
- KDE – Highly customizable desktop with more than moderate usage of system resources
- LXDE – The entire focus is on using as few resources as possible
- Budgie – Modern looks and moderate on system resources