mintCast 313.5 – Desktop Environments


In the second half of mintCast Episode 313 (313.5), Join Leo, Bo, Tony, Moss, Josh & Joe as we discuss our favourite desktop environments and why we use them, cover some listener feedback and talk about some cool stuff we think is worthy checking out.



  • What’s a Window Manager vs. What’s a DE?
  • Cinnamon
    • Joe
      • I enjoy the simplicity, very set it and forget it
      • I rarely see the desktop anyway
      • Good out of the box, looks very modern while having a familiar style
      • Has super key searching built in
      • Touch screen friendly after some tweaking
    • Bo
      • I hadn’t used Cinnamon in a long time as Mate is usually my default. I recently tried it again because we covered a story on the show that sparked my interest.
      • Uses Nemo file manager developed by Linux Mint
    • Leo
      • I’ve been a long time Cinnamon user. The fact that it works in Mint the way Plasma works in KDE Neon is one of the biggest reasons I like it. Every point release I’m surprised by how much better it gets.
    • Moss 
      • Debbie Downer here
      • Crashes too often; when I report that it crashes, I get attacked
      • Moving open programs to other workspaces is more difficult than in MATE or XFCE
    • Tony
      • Just to say that as I come from a background of older hardware use the extra RAM head space that Cinnamon uses has always kept me from using it. Maybe now I rarely suffer lack of resources I need to give it a longer term go 
  • MATE
    • Joe 
      • Doesn’t look as good out of the box as Cinnamon but still good
      • Better for lightweight systems and remote desktop
      • Used to use lxde/lxqt for lightweight but Mate has super key search built in and when i was using the others they did not
      • When i say built in i mean that i did not have to do any other work to get the search function working
    • Moss – This is my go-to DE. It works. It looks similar enough to Win7. There are a lot of quirks yet to Cinnamon and I’ve not had any issues with MATE. The rumor is that, when Gnome 3 came out and everyone hated it, MATE forked Gnome 2 in the best way, and has since converted to GTK3+ tools. Cinnamon took the new Gnome 3 and tried to fork it backwards to resemble Gnome 2. So MATE looks forward from a revered past, while Cinnamon looks backward from a convoluted future.
    • Tony – As Moss this is my goto DE, I have been using it since Ubuntu went all Unity and I moved to Mint as my Distro. It has all the tools I need and is compatible with gnome 3 software
    • Bo – Caja file manager, fork of Nautilus.
    • Leo – A good second fiddle to Cinnamon in Mint, and especially great in Ubuntu MATE, I’m always pushed away by the out-of-the-box experience I have. Screen tearing is a big issue for me on just about every display I’ve ever used! It’s a default compositor issue, I’ve found.
  • XFCE
    • Bo – XFCE used to be my default. It was light-weight and easily installed on many distros (My Archbang days). A vanilla install used to be very basic and ugly but was easily customizable. The Archbang forums was full people posting their configs and screenshots.
    • Leo – XFCE in Mint has started to beat out MATE for me, especially if I’m running it in a VM. Extremely lightweight and fully featured. Missing some features of Cinnamon, so I can’t stay long or use it as my daily driver!
    • Moss – It’s stiff and  ugly. You can modify it in a number of ways to make it less ugly, but it remains stiff. Taskbars can be made to run Top or Left, but in most configs you can’t get them Right or Bottom.
    • Tony – A bit pared down for me but great for older hardware if very limited resources, although only slightly better than MATE. 


  • KDE Plasma
    • Moss – Plasma is everything you dream about in a DE except they are still trying to make it work. They’ve been trying longer than any DE except Gnome. When they succeed, it’s a truly beautiful thing. They have dumped more than a few of their applications. If you want to see an update manager fail, run Discover… it fails a lot less than it did a year ago, but still…
    • Bo – KDE used to be a Linux Mint option. It uses Dolphin and has several “K” applications. Notably Kde Connect, Kdenlive, and Krita etc…
    • Leo – Plasma is my second favorite. It’s 99% perfect for me. My only real nitpick is that if you try to put anything in the middle of a task bar, anything added to the bar (i.e. app identifier icons) will move the clock over. This hurts my brain!
    • Tony – I know it was a long time ago, but I’m still feeling the fear of the KDE 4 fiasco 😉
  • Deepin
    • Josh – Deepin is by far the most user friendly desktop environment to use. It’s a great one for people who want something that is very like macOS but in a linux operating system. 
    • Super easy to install on Linux Mint and other Ubuntu based OSes
    • Deepin has its own OS for the best experience (Moss: Which would be great if (a) They would have a livedisc version and (b) it wasn’t strictly Debian (no PPAs))
  • Others (LXDE/LXQt, …)
    • Leo – LX* is great for extremely lightweight installs. Honestly, when hardware gets that old for me, I run things on it headless. So once it’s time to put LXDE or similar on it, I pass it up entirely!
  • Is Moksha a DE?
    • Moss – I’m probably the only one here using Moksha or any other version of Enlightenment. Honestly, it’s a Window Manager, but it does more than any other WM and gets really, really close to DE status. I wouldn’t be running Bodhi if it weren’t for Moksha. The Enlightenment people themselves are conflicted on its status.  But just like KDE, you don’t want to run the update manager, Eepdater. Maybe someday…



I am writing in about the comments made about Samba.  The Samba

configuration can get complicated.  Many of the settings are default so

they don’t even need to be mentioned in the config. Basically the

smb.conf file tells Samba what isn’t default.  Other then some specific

settings particular to your system of course.


I wanted to show a neat way how I use Samba in my home network. I have

Debian 9 setup with Plex Media Server.  If you are not familiar with

Plex.  Plex needs to be the owner of the media files and the directories

that contain them.


This is assumed that you have already followed the installation

instructions and created the user or users that will sign into Samba. 

When setting up the shares in Samba.  You can force the user and group

of a share.  What that does is when you save a file to that share.  It

will be saved as if that user and group saved the file themselves.  So

in my case.  I set the shares for Movies and TvShows to the plex user

and plex group.


Now from my desktop I can drag and drop movies and tvshows into the

appropriate share.  The files are owned by both plex user and plex

group.  Plex will see them automatically and import the meta data.


I will include my smb.conf file and my fstab from my desktop. This may

look like a lot of typing.  Just take it one step at a time.  Remember. 

Rome wasn’t built in one day.


If any of you have questions.  Just email me or send me a message to

@Dale_CDL in Telegram.



      workgroup = ASGARD

      server string = Plex Media Server

      netbios name = Baldr

      security = user

      server role = standalone server

      wins support = yes

      domain master = yes

      local master = yes

      preferred master = yes

      os level = 255

      map to guest = never

      name resolve order = host wins



      comment = Movies

      path = /plexmedia/movies

      force user = plex

      force group = plex

      create mask = 0660

      directory mask = 0770

      writable = yes



      comment = TvShows

      path = /plexmedia/tvshows

      force user = plex

      force group = plex

      create mask = 0660

      directory mask = 0770

      writable = yes


force user and force group tells Samba what user and group to write the

files as.  create mask and directory mask tells Samba what user and

group permissions the files that are written have. When you install

Plex. The user and group plex is the default as far as I know.  You can

look at your /etc/passwd to see if it is listed.


Here is how you mount the shares when your computer boots.  It will send

a windows user name and password as if you were using a windows

computer.  This is user name on the server and the password you created

using the smbpasswd command.


Add this line to your fstab file.  Make sure it is all on one line. My

email client is wrapping my example to the next line.


//baldr/movies  /home/dale/baldr/movies/        cifs


0   0


In my example.  //baldr is my Plex Server and /movies is the name of the

share.  The next one is where I want it mounted.  I created a

baldr/movies directory in my /home/dale directory.  The next is what

file system to use and in this case it is cifs (which is what windows

uses).  The next is your users user id and group id.  To find that type

in a terminal.


cat /etc/passwd | grep username


where username is your username you used to login to your desktop.


The next is the version of windows file sharing.  A safe choice is

version 2.0 .


credentials is the file that contains your windows username and password

you used on Samba.  Make sure you set the .smbcredentials file to mode 600


chmod 600 .smbcredentials


That will make it so only your user can read or write to that file. 

That is help keep your username and password you used with Samba.



  • Josh – We have a new website, it’s currently in BETA and it’s a huge upgrade from the 2011 theme we were using. Hosting is provided by Bytemark Hosting who are based in York, UK. We’d like to thank them for donating the server for the website upgrade. Any feedback you have on the new website, please do email [email protected]!


  • Tony H – If you watch YouTube videos and would like to watch them offline check out a command line utility called youtube-dl, Thanks to Joe Ressington for mentioning this on the Choose Linux podcast I installed it on the Debian install on the Toshiba and it works like a dream. There is a GUI version as well but the CLI version works well install instructions here:

How many times have I mentioned youtube-dl.  But the other Joe mentions it….




  • Show Split



           Occasional Blog

           Twitter @TonyH1212, [email protected] 


Before we leave, we want to make sure to acknowledge some of the people who make mintCast possible … 

  • Josh for working on redesigning our website, setting up the YouTube stream, and providing lots of technical help.
  • Bytemark hosting for providing the new hosting server for the website.
  • for hosting our audio files.
  • The folks at Hacker Public Radio for the Mumble server we use to communicate
  • The Linux Mint development team for the fine distro we love to talk about. [Thanks Clem!]

One Reply to “mintCast 313.5 – Desktop Environments”

  1. mikef90000

    Comparing desktop environments is something close to my heart. Finding one superior to Windows XP comvinced me to use Linux full time. I keep up with Xfce, Lxde/Lxqt, MATE and the slowly evolving Cinnamon.
    Unfortunately this podcast shows the hosts to be a bunch of crying babies – how do some of you folks stay married?
    The most egregious statements relates to a DE ‘looking modern’, this is a very subjective opinion.
    Complaining about the need to change the default appearance of Xfce is ludicrous; due to the elegant panel design it only takes One right mouse click to change Panel preferences. Likewise the Xfce Settings Manager makes it easy to tweak themes and other appearance issues. Right click on the desktop to quickly change wallpapers and desktop icons. And the Whisker Menu kicks all other DE menus ass. My standard Xfce look takes about ten minutes from word go; if needed I can back it up with Xfce Panel Switch.
    After Xfce I prefer Lxde/Lxqt – panel functionality is very similiar and I hope Lxqt will catch up. MATE is good but still has some very annoying limitations from GNOME 2 days (no panel widget list, no expandable spacer, clunky A/P/S menu layout). Cinnamon is very slowly adding customizability, but the limited panel layouts and huge icons make me wonder WHY BOTHER – in Xfce these are infinitely adjustable.
    Learning KDE is a post graduate degree I don’t have time for yet. GNOME Shell abhors customizablity and keeps dumbing down functionality; it panders to keyboard-shortcut fanatics like programmers.
    BTW the comments about preferring ‘lightweight’ desktops are also pointless – modern browsers mandate that your desktop system must have at least 4GB of memory, therefore no problem for the DE. My 1GB Raspberry Pi runs Raspbian with Lxde pretty well, but then again it’s my headless media server and I ssh in most of the time.
    Bottom line – if you can’t change the DE defaults EASILY then don’t use it.
    Regards, Mike

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