You can’t ever have enough desktop environments for Linux systems! For each new desktop environment, there’s another choice for users that may suit their needs and preferences better than any other solution.
The relatively new Budgie desktop environment has recently appeared and is finally easy to install under Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Let’s take a look at its design and features.
About Budgie Desktop
If you think Budgie desktop looks a lot like Chrome OS, the operating system found on Chromebooks, it’s not just you. This is completely intentional — the Linux distribution that this desktop environment is being developed for, Evolve OS, is trying to look a lot like the operating system that is becoming familiar very quickly among households, schools, and corporations.
And this isn’t necessarily trying to be a copy cat — it actually satisfies a very valid need. Chrome OS, while awesome, is only available for actual Chromebooks. In other words, you can’t just take your own computer and put Chrome OS on it to turn it into your very own Chromebook. The Chromium OS project does exist, and there have been other projects that have tried to take Chromium OS and package it in a way that turns it into the “Chrome OS for every computer”. But they came and went, because it’s not very easy to accomplish.
So, instead of trying to take the actual Chrome/Chromium OS and adapting it for use to other computers, Evolve OS tries to take traditional desktop Linux distros and make it look like Chrome OS. With the Chrome browser installed, it can very much act like a Chromebook, but at the same time it still has the power of a full Linux installation where you can also run more apps offline than you can with Chrome OS.
That being said, the Budgie desktop environment is highly influenced by the Chrome OS desktop environment and has followed the design very closely. That means that you’ll get to enjoy the very noticeable minimalism, giving you less interruption from the desktop environment and more focus on the content that’s in front of you.
Of course, there have been some slight modifications made so that it can still function like the full-fledged desktop Linux distro that it is. The primary difference in this regard is that the menu will launch the typical categories of applications, rather than a listing of Chrome apps that are installed. However, the latest versions of Chrome for Linux will add a category to this list of apps called “Chrome Apps”, so you’ll still get access to your Chrome apps through this menu, virtually the same way as you would in Chrome OS. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s familiar, and it works.
The Budgie desktop is pretty low on features right now. Besides the very simplistic interface that’s front and center, a lot of the other features are based around Gnome’s features, including the Nautilus file browser (which we’ve compared to others before) and the Gnome Control Center for the system settings. However, it all looks great and is functional. One caveat is that not everything is there yet in terms of features. Why? Keep reading.
If this is right up your alley, it sounds like a perfect desktop environment, right? Quite possibly, but it’s not for everyone at this moment. While there’s an increasing amount of hype around this desktop environment, it’s still in the pretty early stages of development. It’s come far enough that a lot of features are in place, but it still has a few to add and a ton of stability fixes left. The desktop environment also has various requirements that some distributions use, but others (like Ubuntu) don’t. It will take some time before it’s fully featured, stable, and easily available on your favorite distribution.
Try It Out
There are a few ways you can try the Budgie desktop. The best way to test it (especially without potentially messing up your system) is to download a copy of its “home” distribution, Evolve OS, and boot from a USB drive with it, or run it in a virtual machine. If you decide to install it to a testing machine or in your virtual machine, the always-important command to use for updating the system is
sudo pisi up.
There are also unofficial repositories for Ubuntu, Arch Linux, openSUSE, and Fedora, as well as a tarball of files for all other distributions if you’re up to the challenge of installing that. For distributions with unofficial repositories, you should be able to add the repo, update your package lists, and then choose to install the metapackage which will pull in all other dependencies.
Ubuntu users can run the command:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sukso96100/budgie-desktop && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install budgie-desktop
This will add the needed repository, update your package lists, and install the desktop environment. For other distributions, check the instructions for your specific distribution for exact instructions. Once it’s installed, you can log out and choose the different desktop environment at the login screen.
How Will Budgie Fare?
I’m excited to see how this desktop environment will look once it reaches stable status and how well it will be adopted by Linux users, especially those who have installed Linux on a Chromebook. I’m pretty optimistic about its future since it does fill a need that has existed since Chromebooks were created. If you’re interested in it, go take a look at it and see if it’s something for you.
What upcoming desktop environments are you fond of? Do you think we have too many desktop environments or not enough? Let us know in the comments!