KDE Plasma 5.15.3 Desktop Environment Released With Flatpak Improvements, More
I have had plasmashell crash when I connect an external monitor. I have also had my desktop layout reset when disconnecting or plugging in a monitor. I also had my sometimes be reset when unplugging a monitor. From what I have heard, many of the issues happen when you have the monitor on the left. I am on the Plasma 5.25 beta and also tested on Plasma 5.24.5 on Arch Linux with framework version 5.94.
KDE Plasma 5.15.3 Desktop Environment Released with Flatpak Improvements, More
On Linux, qutebrowser now tries harder to find details about the installed QtWebEngine version by inspecting the QtWebEngine binary. This should reduce issues with dark mode (and some workarounds) not working when using differing versions of QtWebEngine/PyQtWebEngine/Qt. This change also prepares qutebrowser for QtWebEngine 5.15.3, which will get released without an updated Qt.
I'm starting to feel like a base OS should be minimal and secure, and that something like snapd, flatpak, or AppImage should handle be used to handle complicated desktop apps and their dependencies. Unfortunately snapd requires systemd. Not sure about flatpak. And none of these are without security issues, though I think they are manageable at least for my purposes.
Anyway, setting up the machine, powering on, and even on my low end desktop, it felt snappier than the Compaq server we were using. "ok, ok, lets see if it'll run our software." one tar(cpio?) to a floppy, and extracting on my machine, ran Make, and... everything worked. Boss "and how much is this?" "free, zero cost" "hmm, it can't be any good, can it? there's a trick to it" "if there is, I've no idea what it is". Now, in the end, they decided to stick with what they had, to be fair, the SCO Unix stuff /was/ well supported on the hardware, but still having that as a backup, every coder in the company ended up installing slakware on their home machines because it did work.A year, maybe 2 later, running support at the local college in a room with 100+ win3 machines, turning on, they'd immediately copy an image local, boot from that, and it worked great, even if it was heavily limited on what it could do. But that one machine, right near the entrance, behind the pillar so was THE only machine in the entire room the helpdesk couldn't see the screen of, happened to get a dual boot system. Mash... ALT? down as it booted up, et voila, booted into Slackware. And I got so much work done on that machine. As the windows partitions would be cleared/wiped routinely, that machine got me through a 2 year course, having a full dev environment running so I could get work done.
This makes it look like Ubuntu 22.04 LTS should run fine on hardware designed for Windows 7 or later. The idle RAM for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS is 1.3 GB, though, so 4 GB of RAM does not go very far. In comparison Lubuntu 22.04 LTS uses 630 MB at idle, about 670 MB less. My desktop PC with 6 GB of RAM was barely "okay" running Lubuntu 22.04 LTS, but did not do well running Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, as it quickly resorted to "swapping" from the hard drive to make up for the RAM shortage and, as a result, ran quite slowly. Turning off the swap from the command line ate up almost all the available RAM, of course. My tests shows that with Firefox open with a dozen tabs, plus gedit and Nautilus, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS uses about 5.8 GB of RAM, meaning that 8 GB would be the bare minimum RAM for serious daily use and that 16 GB would be more reasonable. I am starting to see why System76 offers 8 GB of RAM as the minimum on their PCs running Ubuntu or POP_OS!. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS is not a "lightweight" desktop, so there is a price to pay for all those features. For my desktop computer, the solution was a RAM upgrade from 6 GB to 22 GB by adding two 8 GB cards and now it runs like a dream.
My recent review of Fedora 35 Gnome left me favourably impressed. Their flagship desktop release turned out to be very slick and elegantly done, with a stock Gnome desktop that really works. Fedora also offers a collection of other versions, each with a popular desktop, much like Ubuntu does. Aside from the default Gnome desktop, Fedora also has official releases, called "spins", which have KDE, Xfce, LXQt, LXDE, Cinnamon, Mate and i3 desktops. There are also several more specialist releases, too, for particular applications, like astronomy or robotics.
Notably missing is an office suite or even a word processor, probably a clue that this distribution is aimed at developers, more than typical desktop users. As noted above, though, pretty much every application for Linux is available in the NixOS repository, so the latest version of LibreOffice can be installed if needed, along with anything else missing.
That said, there is a lot to learn if you are moving to NixOS from a distribution with more conventional Linux package management and file systems. For most users you would need a good reason to spend the time learning how to use NixOS, such as for a high-security work environment or something similar. Most people just looking for a nice, clean Gnome distribution would probably find one like Fedora better meets their needs and with much less time investment required.
The included default Falkon web browser had a new version, 3.2.0, released on 31 January 2022 after three years without a new release, which is a long time for web browser. Hopefully it will be kept more up to date now. Falkon is one of the few Qt-based web browsers available. It works fine, but has only a short list of extensions available, plus in my previous testing I found that it had a number of issues, including no spell-checking, user agent string problems and that it consumes a lot of RAM. Falkon has great potential, but needs more work to become a truly great browser. There are, however, several great, GTK-based browsers that can be installed. The repositories include Firefox, Chrome and Opera, plus the Qt-based Otter Browser.
Void Linux is available only in 64-bit for i686, x86-64, ARMv6, ARMv7 and ARMv8 architectures. It comes in two versions, "base" with no graphical interface and "Xfce" with the Xfce desktop environment. The initialization system is runit, rather than the more common systemd in use in many distributions today.
SliTaz is actually surprisingly good and a real delight to use. It lacks the oddities or quirks often found in lightweight distributions and really is much more like a normal Linux distribution than you would expect in such a tiny download. It shows a great deal of thought and care put into it by its development team. The result is a surprisingly functional and fast desktop, that can be quickly set up with everything needed. This really is the distribution to get that old computer back into service.
Overall Fedora 35 with Gnome is simple and elegant. You get a truly vanilla Gnome experience and if you like that, then you will love Fedora 35 with Gnome. If not, then try one of the other desktop environments available and find one that will make you happy. Basically as long as you have relatively modern hardware then Fedora has an installation that will make any Linux user smile.
For use in hardware testing, or for a rescue system, Puppy is hard to beat. It is also useful for breathing life into older hardware or a computer with no hard drive, rendering it useful for daily work. I am not sure too many people with more modern hardware use Puppy for a daily desktop, though, as there are more full featured and more polished Linux distros out there.
Xubuntu 21.04 uses an updated point version of the last desktop, Xfce 4.16.2, with the GTK 3.24.30 toolkit. This version brings some small user interface tweaks as well, including improving the Greybird window theme to create more active/inactive window differentiation, something I have been looking for for many releases.
Lubuntu 21.10 was released on 14 October 2021. This is the seventh release for Lubuntu with the LXQt desktop and the 24th overall Lubuntu release. This is the last "standard" release in this development cycle, as the next one will be a long term support version, 22.04 LTS, due out on 21 April 2022.
Ubuntu 21.04 was released on 22 April 2021. This is the distribution's 34th release and the eighth with the Gnome 3 desktop. This is a "standard" release, supported for nine months, until January 2022.
When Ubuntu Web boots up it presents a very attractive desktop, that looks more than just a little bit Mac-like, with a dock along the bottom. It uses Wayland by default instead of X11 and that seems to work fine. The default wallpaper is a seductive starry night sky over a sand dune, with the Ubuntu Web logo, but there are 36 other wallpapers to choose from if you don't like that one. Ubuntu Web uses the Adapta GTK theme and the Papirus icon theme.
As I spent time working with each distribution, exploring the settings, working with it for daily tasks and writing about it right from the desktop I was evaluating, using its own default text editor for that task, I couldn't help but rank them in my own mind as to which I liked best and why, at least for my own use. I didn't put any of that into my reviews, trying to stay a bit more neutral there, but now that I have finished the five reviews, I thought I would write up what I found in comparing them.
The first version of Lubuntu I ever used was the second one released, Lubuntu 10.10, which was not bad on its release day and quickly got better with updates. I tried to use Lubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 but their lack of stability led me to try out many other solutions (including Puppy and Debian) before settling on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with the Unity desktop and I liked it a lot. I probably would have stayed with Ubuntu, but the constant crashes in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and 14.10, particularly of gedit, Nautilus and Unity itself, made both versions unusable. I switched to Lubuntu 14.10 when it came out, skipped the whole switch to Gnome 3 in Ubuntu 17.10 and haven't looked back since.
Kubuntu's main menu system seems to run much more smoothly in 20.10 than it did in 20.04 LTS. There is also a conversion to a "simple menu" and also the Application Dashboard widget, which supplements the main menu with a full screen application menu, much like Ubuntu's, with the touch of one desktop button.