I have been a Debian user for more than 10 years now and like many others linux/alternative OS enthusiasts have tried, retried many other OSes and always return back to my Debian home. Below is my experience of setting up minimalistic desktop environment for productivity and ease of use.
Disclaimer: I’m assuming following bits about the reader i.e. you’re good at or least comfortable using command line to that of GUI and you want a workable desktop but not necessarily Windows/Mac OSX replacement.
Debian folks do a great job at providing installer that can be configured to install just the right desktop you want. If you prefer to use it, then there are two steps to it. First telling the installer that you want alternative desktop.
Debian’s default desktop environment is Gnome. Second you have to select to install the “Desktop environment” during the installation process, which is usually after the base OS installation.
If you were like me then you would like to know everything that goes into your system and hence prefer an approach different from the above or in other words installing just the required packages. One benefit is, say down the line I change my mind and want to move to another desktop environment. In that case I would exactly know what was installed as part of the XFCE installation and remove only those packages.
$ sudo apt-get install xfce4 xfce4-goodies iceweasel lightdm
Above command installs XFCE desktop along with Login manager LightDM and rebranded Firefox.
LightDM is smaller lightweight alternative to GDM
Below is screenshot of my latest desktop
I have customised it heavily with following -
- Greybird theme
- [Faenza Cupertino Icons] - Mac Lucida Grande fonts
- Background from mota.ru