What Is LXQt? The Most Lightweight Linux Desktop Built Using Qt
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When you’re searching for a lightweight Linux desktop environment to speed up your PC, one name is beginning to pop up more often. LXQt is the spiritual successor to LXDE, an interface using so few resources it makes a Raspberry Pi feel like a full-featured PC. What is LXQt, and what makes it different?

What Is LXQt? A Linux Desktop Environment

The LXQt desktop About page

A desktop environment is what you see on your screen. It’s the panel across the bottom. It’s what arranges your apps into windows and lets you move them around.

Windows and macOS each come with one desktop environment. On Linux, there are many. You can completely alter how your desktop looks and feels while still using the same apps, the same background libraries, and the same Linux kernel underneath.

Most Linux-based operating systems choose a desktop environment to use by default (some let you pick your favorite, while others don’t come with one at all). There’s a variant of Ubuntu, the most popular version of desktop Linux, called Lubuntu that provides LXQt. There’s also a LXQt edition of Fedora.

If you use a different Linux-based OS, you will likely have to install LXQt yourself. Instructions are available on the LXQt website.

LXQt’s History

To understand the difference between LXDE and LXQt, we must first talk about toolkits. Toolkits provide a way to draw app interfaces in a consistent way. Without toolkits, developers would have to design and program toolbar buttons and drop-down menus from scratch for each app. In Linux, two toolkits dominate the landscape: GTK+ and Qt What's the Difference Between GTK+ and Qt? What's the Difference Between GTK+ and Qt? You've probably heard of GTK+ and Qt, but what are these development toolkits? And how do they impact how you use Linux? Read More .

LXDE uses GTK+ 2, which is very old code. GTK+ 3 has been around since 2011. LXDE maintainer Hong Jen Yee took issue with some of the changes in GTK+ 3, so he released a port based on Qt in 2013. Shortly after, the Qt version of LXDE and a separate desktop interface known as Razor-qt merged to form LXQt. Hong Jen Yee planned to eventually focus his efforts on LXQt going forward. Since then, LXQt has formally become a separate project.

How LXQt Works

LXQt's app menu and an open web browser

LXQt defaults to a layout familiar to anyone who has used Windows. An app launcher sits in the bottom left. A system tray sits in the bottom right. Open windows appear in a row between the two.

The app launcher contains the essentials and nothing more. Categories containing your installed apps appear at the top, then you have system preferences, user session controls, and a search bar.

The interface is highly configurable. You can change desktop, app, and icon themes. The panel can go to any side of the screen, and you can rearrange the elements however you like. There’s no reason to keep a Windows-like layout if that’s not your cup of sea.

LXQt refers to every component of the panel as a widget. Default widgets provide the ability to save favorite apps to the panel, switch between multiple workspaces, and hide windows to show the desktop. A few additional widgets come included, such as a CPU monitor and a color picker.

Options for configuring a panel in LXQt

Part of LXQt’s appeal is the lack of dependencies (background services that must be installed for a program to run) and the use of interchangeable components. For example, LXQt uses the Openbox window manager. You can use any Openbox-compatible themes to change the look of your window titlebars. You can also tweak the order of buttons in the titlebar and which buttons appear.

In a way, LXQt takes its role as a desktop environment very literally. It manages the desktop. It is not trying to control the entirety of the experience from boot up to shut down. Linux is modular, and LXQt embraces this.

Downsides to LXQt

LXQt customization settings

LXQt lacks some features you may expect from a modern desktop. By default, LXQt does not draw shadows around windows, nor are there animations for opening or maximizing windows. The animation for minimizing a window is present but somewhat choppy. You can change this by enabling or installing a separate compositor. Lubuntu provides one by default known as Compton X.

Recall the search bar in the app launcher? It’s very basic. You must search for an app’s exact name, not what it does. Don’t expect to find files and folders unless you install additional software, because such features can slow a desktop down.

Searching for apps in LXQt

LXQt also does very little hand holding. You are expected to know the names of apps and what they do. If you don’t, you will need to learn. The app launcher doesn’t tell you what is the preinstalled text editor, image viewer, or web browser. You will have to figure this out on your own.

That’s not to say that LXQt is hard to use. I don’t think so. But I also have a certain familiarity with how Linux desktops tend to work. If you know your way around Xfce or MATE, LXQt will take you only a few moments to figure out. Most things are where you expect them to be. The implementation is just different.

Who Should Use LXQt?

There are a few main reasons to consider LXQt:

  • LXQt is lightweight. If you want a simple desktop interface that uses relatively few system resources, put LXQt on your list.
  • LXQt is based on Qt. Frankly, there are aren’t that many desktop environments based on Qt compared to GTK+. If you prefer Qt apps but aren’t a fan of the KDE Plasma Desktop, LXQt is one of your few alternatives.
  • LXQt is modular. If you don’t want a desktop environment that tries to do all the things, then LXQt may make you smile.

LXQt doesn’t get as much attention as other desktop environments. That doesn’t mean it isn’t just as good. But if you want to get an idea what other options are available to you, here are over a dozen of the most lightweight Linux distributions 13 Lightweight Linux Distributions to Give Your Old PC a New Lease of Life 13 Lightweight Linux Distributions to Give Your Old PC a New Lease of Life These flavors of Linux are light on CPU and RAM, meaninig they run great on older and weaker devices! Read More you can find.

Explore more about: KDE, Linux Desktop Environment.

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  1. Mike Walsh
    July 18, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Nah; I don't think so.

    There's nowt lightweight about Qt anymore. Qt5 is a bloated, unwieldy monstrosity of a thing.....and is as fussy as all get-out when it comes to version numbers. Not like good old Qt4; that was sweet, and very easy to use.....and backward compatibility wasn't an issue.

    I think I'll pass this one up.

  2. Frankie
    September 15, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Personally, I can't wait for 1.0 version of LXQt;I mean, you're getting the best of both - lightweight, fast & customisable to the core LXQt & fresh, shiny & fancy part of KDE/Neon.
    I've been using now for a while a KDE version of Mint for my main computer and LXDE on my older laptop, and this is like my dream coming true. Finally I'm gonna have the same OS on both of them.
    Only thing that I've got to say is : Thanks to the brains behind the project!!!
    Greetz from the Netherlands ??

  3. Lex
    October 12, 2016 at 4:27 am

    While I agree with the majority of what you said in this article, I don't agree with the title. KDE is based on Qt but LXQt power and beauty doesn't come from KDE at all, it's the Qt display library of routines and visual framework that does all that wonderful stuff.

    The Qt design philosophy is completely different than that of GTK+'s design philosophy. GTK+ is now playing catch-up with Qt but the biggest difference is that GTK+ wants to make code that works on the old system work in the new version of it. That's great for development, however, the size and speed of said binaries, let alone
    libraries based on it are getting larger and a lot slower. This is where Qt is different, from major version to another, they don't guarantee 100% compatibility but they do warn if there is deprecated code coming up quite in advance to a new major version being released. In which during this time, it gives developers to download the development release before the public can, make the changes, test to high hell, then release their applications and libraries just before the public download of the new major version of Qt is available.

    LXQt, like the original LXDE based on GTK+ is lacking some control panel features that should be implemented. The desktop GUI is beautiful but could use some polish in the menu system but all of that is for the most part optional in the menus. Comparing LXQt to LXDE is a night and day comparison, I'm glad they decided to fork and rewrite the desktop for Qt, gives it better support for restricted drivers, too. Since AMD and Nvidia both use Qt libraries, while Intel can use either GTK+ or Qt for their window driven installation application.

    The one thing I like about Qt is, that it's an accepted standard across many platforms; Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, Apple iOS, Google Chrome (the OS), Linux distributions, the various BSDs and even Minix 3 (when they've completed the development of it), the various phones that use many OSes, too, are supported.

    I can't say GTK+ has that type of appeal much beyond Linux distros and FreeBSD, let alone forks of it (PC-BSD is a great example).

  4. tekwyzrd
    October 16, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Sorry, that's LXQT v 0.8.0

  5. tekwyzrd
    October 16, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I have to disagree. The latest LXQT 0.8.1 has a lot of problems. First there's the fact that the desktop controls are very limited and built into PCManFM. Most of the desktop options in Razor-QT have been eliminated. Then there's the inconsistent use of theme and color among the control center modules. Then there's the option to use desktop menu from the window manager - it doesn't work with XFWM4's menu. There's also the matter of .desktop files created in both KDE and Razor and successfully used by other desktop environments that LXQT can't seem to use resulting in Error Failed to change to directory " (No such directory) messages. Add to this bad attitude of the dev who closed the thread I posted to mention these problems and the pathetic excuse for these bugs that make LXQT nearly useless. What good is a desktop showing .desktop files that can't launch apps? They won't even work in PCManFM and there's no options to change the default file manager or hide desktop icons. What good is an advanced environment panel that can add blank variables that can't be edited?

    Razor-QT is still superior to LXQT. All the LXDE devs have done is make LXQT their own barely usable version of the Gnome desktop, a desktop that only works with components they decide you should use.

  6. Bob
    August 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks, nice write up about this. since my solydxk is changing to stable I may replace my Debian machine with a lubuntu with lxqt, i test drove it a while back and it did look great and performacnce was up there with my xfce.

  7. Dreyeth
    July 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Its nice to see another polished desktop using QT maybe this will encourage more QT applications that don't have *everything* KDE contains as dependencies, encouraging more QT applications to be compiled without KDE dependencies.

    Its going to be nice to see a end to anything that is not KDE going with GTK2-3, and maybe I'll have to use that horrid file save dialog less. >_>

  8. Ed
    June 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Just discovered SolydX. It is #40 on distrowatch.

    It is a rolling release, Debian based distro with XFCE (not LXQt), but it has many visual influences from KDE. It looks great and is also very light.

    It is based on Debian testing branch, but the team only releases the update packs when deemed stable for use. They release the update packs 4 times per year, so you never have to do a clean install on the OS if you don't want to.

    Hey Danny, how about a possible review of SolydX? :)

    Thanks for all your Linux articles!
    Ed

  9. Ashwin D
    June 16, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Seems Minimalistic. LXDE is way better in terms of aesthetics ,but I assume it must use less resources.

  10. John A
    June 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

    wow, didn't know about this, thanks a lot ! Nice to find one that's not over bloated.

  11. Jack Nichols
    June 14, 2014 at 2:23 am

    I just installed LxQt on OpenSuse 13.1 on a low end PC and it looks great! The install took only a few minutes. This is quite a bit faster than KDE on this PC.