What Is Budgie? The Linux Desktop Environment That Feels Like a Chromebook

Bertel King 24-05-2018

How does Linux look and feel? That’s a tricky question to answer. Unlike Windows and Mac, there isn’t one version of Linux that all users see.


What appears on your screen depends on which interface you’re using. And these days, you might be seeing more and more of the Budgie desktop.

What Is Budgie? A Desktop Environment

On certain Linux desktops, Budgie is most of what you see on your screen: the panel across the top or bottom, the icons that represent your open apps, the time and system indicators visible in the corner, the wallpaper in the background.

Budgie is the entire desktop environment.

Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

A desktop environment manages what you see and how you interact with your computer. But it can’t work alone. Budgie cannot communicate with your computer’s hardware. For that, your desktop environment needs help. The keys you press and the mouse you click determine what happens on-screen thanks to the Linux kernel.


If you’re coming from a commercial desktop, you haven’t had to think about your desktop environment before. That’s because on Windows and Mac, there’s only one. On Linux, there are many desktop environments Which Linux Desktop Environment Best Suits Your Personality? What kind of computer user are you? Do you leave icons scattered across your desktop? Do you prefer to work in one uncluttered application? Let's find out which Linux desktop environment suits you best. Read More . Most of them have been around for quite a while, but part of what makes Budgie exciting is that it’s relative new, having launched at the end of 2013.

How Budgie Came to Be

The Budgie desktop first appeared as the desktop environment for Evolve OS, the Linux operating system that would eventually change its name to Solus. Its creators envisioned an interface that was simple, like that of Chrome OS.

While Budgie remains primarily a product of the Solus development team, people from elsewhere also contribute to the project.

Budgie uses GTK technologies, the tools of the GNOME desktop environment that many other popular Linux interfaces also use (e.g. MATE, Pantheon, Xfce, etc.).


This is set to change in Budgie version 11, which will detangle itself from GNOME and switch to Qt (which is used in KDE KDE Explained: A Look at Linux's Most Configurable Desktop Interface What does Linux look like? Sometimes, Unity; other times, GNOME. Oftentimes, though, Linux runs KDE. If you're not using the erstwhile K Desktop Environment on your Linux PC, now is the time to change! Read More ).

What Makes Budgie Better? A Deeper Look

On Solus, the Budgie desktop has an interface that will feel right at home to anyone who has used Windows or Chrome OS. The app drawer button in the bottom-left provides access to software.

Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

Icons along the bottom panel show your favorite apps and the programs that are currently open. System indicators appear in the bottom-right, such as remaining power and network connectivity. And as usual, there’s the trusty clock.


One unique aspect to Budgie is the inclusion of a sidebar. You access this by clicking the right-most icon on the panel. Here you can view a calendar, configure audio settings, and view notifications.

Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

While the Budgie desktop currently uses GNOME’s tools for managing system settings, there are a few tweaks available in a specific Budgie Settings Tool. Here you can change themes, set whether icons appear on the desktop, and determine whether windows automatically tile when you drag them to the edge of the screen.

This is also where you have to go to customize the panel. You can move it to any side of the screen, make the background transparent, autohide the panel, switch to a dock mode, and rearrange the parts of the panel (known as applets). You can add more applets that aren’t on the panel by default, and you can create additional panels if one is not enough.


Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

Budgie doesn’t always look the way I described above. In Ubuntu Budgie, the default interface more closely resembles GNOME (the default desktop environment in Ubuntu). But if you look closely, you will see that the core options and features remain the same. Only the way they’re arranged has changed.

Want to try out Budgie? You can download a version of Linux that ships with Budgie by default The Battle of The Budgie Desktops - Budgie-Remix vs SolusOS! Budgie-Remix and SolusOS are both distros with the Budgie Desktop environment enter. But in comparisons, which is faster, most stable, and has the most software available? Which one should you choose? Read More , such as Solus and Ubuntu Budgie. Alternatively, you could install Budgie on your existing Linux desktop (e.g. versions are available for Arch Linux and openSUSE).

The Downsides to Budgie

As a relatively young desktop environment, Budgie doesn’t have much of its own identity. The interface is deeply integrated with GNOME, to the point where it can feel more like a customized version of GNOME than a separate entity. It’s possible to recreate much of the Budgie experience inside a GNOME desktop using extensions 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface After using GNOME for a while, you may wish to change a few things about the overview mode, or even tweak the panel. These eight extensions help you do just that! Read More .

Budgie is not an interface that gives you much to tinker with. That may turn off some people. At the same time, the distinction between System Settings and Budgie Settings may confuse less technical users. This can make it unclear whom Budgie is targeting.

Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

Budgie isn’t yet mature, which means new releases subject you to quite a bit of change. Switching from GTK to Qt may help with this, but it may take years for things to settle down after such a major transition.

This timeframe may be impacted by the relative lack of investment in Budgie. Compared to larger desktop environments, Budgie’s development team is rather small. This can keep the project agile, but it also means there are fewer hands doing the work that needs doing. In the open source world, it helps to have more eyes spotting bugs and more hands fixing them 6 Reasons Your Favorite Linux OS Is Plagued by Bugs You found a new Linux operating system to try, and you loved it. But then it went wrong. Sometimes Linux gets buggy after a month or two. The question is, why? Read More .

Is Budgie the Right Desktop Environment for You?

As a newer desktop environment, Budgie lacks some of the baggage that other projects carry. The interface feels modern. Popup menus look like they were designed in the 2010s, not the 1990s. If you want a free desktop that looks like a newer creation, Budgie is worth a look.

Budgie Linux Desktop Environment

At the same time, the Budgie desktop doesn’t function all that differently from other interfaces you may have grown up using. GNOME often requires you change the way you interact with your computer. This isn’t true of Budgie. So if you like the traditional paradigm, add Budgie to your list (though you may have to move a few bits around depending on your distro’s default Budgie layout).

Also consider Budgie if you like being invested in a project from a smaller team with vision and imagination Can Solus Replace Your Current Linux Operating System? A Linux operating system that has been gaining traction lately is Solus. Aimed at the everyday home user, let's find out why Solus might make a perfect replacement for your current desktop OS. Read More . The desktop is not unlike Pantheon in that regard. The interface is young, and how it matures remains to be seen.

Related topics: Budgie, Linux Desktop Environment.

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  1. dragonmouth
    May 26, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    "What Is Budgie? The Linux Desktop Environment That Feels Like a Chromebook "
    If I want a Chromebook, I'll get a Chromebook, not some ersatz copy.

    When I read "Budgie", I always think "wedgie". I've used Solus with Budgie. It felt like having a wedgie so I went on to other distros.

    • Jim
      May 27, 2018 at 10:45 am

      I agree, and I have no desire to have anything Chromebook like, Windows like or Mac like. I want Linux to be Linux. Ikey is a very talented developer, and I used the original Solus which I did really like, but that used Gnome 2, but Budgie is not for me. Since then I have moved to the Mate desktop and am very happy with it. Whatever OS I decide to run will have to offer the Mate desktop, and if for some reason that would go away I would use Cinnamon.

  2. Cletus Thistleberry
    May 24, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I've been entrenched in KDE for years, but Budgie is impressive. I've installed Solus on an old laptop to get a feel for it, and I've been quite surprised at how much I like it. It's very intuitive.

    For a long time now, I've been advising new Linux users to start with Mint, but lately I've been pushing newbies to Solus, and it's largely because of Budgie.

    • Gazoo
      May 24, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      You've been pushing newbies toward Solus? Does it even support the majority of apps available on Linux? All I ever see, concerning Solus is: "I would suggest requesting the package in the bug tracker". Very user-friendly (in a frustrating, pull-you-hair kind of way).

      This is why they are embedding support for both flakpaks and snaps - to increase their limited app offerings based on their own package manager (eopkg files). Helping a project out is a nice thing to do. Being dishonest because of fanboyism (I hate fanboys) just creates a backlash.