Best Top 10 Ubuntu Desktop Environments on (20.04 / 22.04)

We’ve put together the Best Ubuntu Desktop Environments that you can install.  Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux open source desktop operating systems used across the globe. The new Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is a highly secure, enterprise grade OS that is optimal and quite cost effective for organizations as well as home users. 

Ubuntu Desktop is widely adopted in the Linux OS market, especially by people who want to be creative in AI, ML, public cloud services, container orchestration and other such innovative technologies. Now, GNOME Shell is the default Ubuntu desktop environment. But, that does not mean that you cannot install and experience other environments. Just with a single command, you can install any of Ubuntu’s desktop environments. 

With that said, let’s look at the best top 10 Ubuntu Desktop environments

Best Top 10 Ubuntu Desktop Environments

1. KDE Plasma

Ubuntu Desktop Environments

KDE Plasma desktop is a fast and efficient widget based desktop environment which is easy to adapt. Users can quickly add, remove or move elements as per their requirements. It is a feature packed environment that uses just a few resources. This privacy protected, open source software is free and you can use it to get creative at work, collaborate with teams, reply to emails, surf the web, manage files and folders and so much more. 

Best thing is that Plasma is highly customizable so it can suit your taste. You can download custom widgets to the desktop panel in no time. Use the ‘KRunner’ launcher as a command line to execute shell commands or open and close apps quickly. 

Now by default, Kubuntu is the beautiful Ubuntu version of KDE Plasma software with a full set of apps. The default installation contains thousands of popular programs for graphics, office, email, productivity, photography, etc. and allows you to manage drivers efficiently. 

Some of the ready to use apps include Gwenview, Firefox, Kmail and LibreOffice. You can download the apps of your liking from the Discover Software Center. Kubuntu is fast, mobile ready and a very powerful environment to use. In terms of looks, it is the most modern and visually appealing.

2. GNOME

linux desktop environments

GNOME stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment. It is one of the very popular Linux desktop environments around the world comprising FOSS (free and open source software). It is reliable, easy to use and has a minimalistic yet powerful interface. After KDE, it is one of the best desktop environments to use for its feature rich and well integrated nature. 

It supports a full set of native applications, modern Wayland display protocol and uses X Window System display server. It is a highly customizable environment which uses extension to expand its functionality to a whole new level.

The new GNOME 41 offers an elegant computing experience. The Activities Overview is where you can quickly open windows, check new messages or launch apps. It is a perfect working environment as it offers creative features to help you be more productive. Use side by side windows to easily view multiple documents simultaneously, or use the powerful search feature to access files from one place. It has a powerful messaging system and also integrates with your online accounts to help you access your data from one place.

Best thing about GNOME is that its GUI is mobile touch friendly and offers native support for GTK based apps.

3. Cinnamon

cinnamon Linux desktop environments

The Cinnamon desktop environment is very beginner friendly for people who are new to Linux. It has a Cinnamon spices repository with hundreds of add ons which you can install to expand its functionality. It supports various desklets (programs to add to your desktop), applets (programs to add to your Cinnamon panel), themes and extensions to offer a mature user experience. 

Cinnamon is very easy to get hold of and is indeed one of the most popular Ubuntu environments out there. The Linux Mint community has built this finely forked graphical shell by customizing and modifying the GNOME 3 shell. It is packed with mesmeric effects and animations to offer exceptional UX. 

They have an unofficial Ubuntu variant called Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix which is community driven and offers an elegant, fast and stable desktop experience. 

4. MATE

mate ubuntu desktop environments

The MATE Desktop Environment is nothing but a fork and continuation of GNOME 2. It is an attractive and highly intuitive desktop environment which uses traditional metaphors for not just Linux but also other Unix like operating systems. It is the best choice for people who liked GNOME 2. 

MATE is available for Ubuntu via its official repository known as Ubuntu MATE. It is feature rich and comprises a full set of applications such as Caja MATE’s official file manager, Pluma text editor, Eye of MATE graphics viewer, Atril multi page document viewer, Engrampa archive manager and so on. 

MATE is a fairly lightweight Linux desktop environment with an attractive and intuitive GUI. And, the best thing about MATE is that it doesn’t eat up much hardware resources and can run on budget machines easily.

5. Xfce

xfce Ubuntu desktop os

Xfce is a lightweight and stable desktop environment that is low on system resources. It has been around for nearly two decades now. Xfce may lack special effects and animations, but comprises crucial features, components and functionality users often expect from a lightweight desktop environment. 

It consumes less hardware resources, yet offers a user friendly and visually enchanting interface. For customization, it offers numerous plugins and applications which you can install to extend its functionality. Few of these are a window manager, text editor, terminal emulator, iCal based calendar, application finder, sound mixer, session manager, setting manager, image viewer, DVD/CD burning app, etc. 

Xfce is mainly known to adhere to standards, specifically those defined by freedesktop.org. Its official Ubuntu flavor is known as Xubuntu.

Xubuntu is a free community developed OS that is easy and elegant to use. It is perfect for users who want to make the most out of their laptops, desktops and netbooks as it offers feature rich and modern computing experience. Preinstalled apps include a mail client, web browser, media apps, word processor, spreadsheet editor and much more. You can download more apps from the Ubuntu Software Center.

6. Deepin

deepin - linux desktop os

Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) is a reliable and visually alluring environment developed by Deepin Technology Co., Ltd. It features a full set of applications pre installed to suit your daily domestic recreational activities as well as office use. Some of these apps are Deepin Movie, Deepin Store, Deepin Screenshot, Deepin Desktop Environment, etc. It almost looks and feels like macOS, hence most users are attracted towards it.

Apart from its pleasant GUI, it offers a beautiful layout and intuitive animations. UbuntuDDE is their official Linux distribution that combines the intuitiveness and power of Deepin and Ubuntu. All the applications here are written using Deepin GUI toolkit. 

It offers a power packed Deepin Dock and Control Center based on Qt technology, where you can access various functionalities. All in all, it is a safe, elegant and user friendly desktop environment that integrates some of the best open source products. 

7. Pantheon

Pantheon ubuntu desktop

Those who have used elementary OS Linux distro, may already know Pantheon. Pantheon is a desktop environment that is coupled with the elementary OS. It is a thoughtfully designed environment built for macOS and Windows. 

Latest update i.e., elementary OS 6 features app sandboxing, multitasking view, new installer and dark style. It also features Picture in Picture where you can keep tabs on movies, games, etc. while working on another terminal process.

The platform is open source, built upon FOSS and is beginner friendly. Pantheon is written using Vala and GTK3 toolkit, offering a highly polished look. It uses low hardware resources and aims to reduce the need to use the command line. Just like Deepin, Pantheon also feels elegant like macOS, especially the bottom dock.  

8. LXQt

LXQt ubuntu desktop os environment

LXQt stands for Lightweight Qt, which obviously means a lightweight desktop environment offering a modern yet classic look. It is available for most BSD and Linux distros. The components and applications in LXQt are built using Qt and KDE Frameworks 5. Now, it does not flaunt highly attractive GUI, but it is known to run easily on older machines with low hardware resources. It is a great alternative to Xfce. 

Lubuntu is the official and most popular Ubuntu variant of LXQt. It has a clean and simple UI comprising various lightweight applications. 

9. Budgie

Budgie ubuntu desktop

Budgie is a luxurious desktop environment based on GNOME, hence it is very light, stable and fast. It has a GNOME like modern look and feel with amazing simplicity, elegance and efficiency. Utility in this environment is what makes it most popular.

The main highlight of Budgie is its Raven Sidebar at the right side of the screen, which is a common space for various customization options, applets and notifications. Budgie is fast, slick and very modern looking. Windows and macOS users will most probably like it.

Ubuntu Budgie is the official Ubuntu flavor featuring the Budgie desktop environment by default.

10. Enlightenment

enlightenment desktop

Enlightenment is a desktop shell that has basic functionalities such as launching apps, managing windows and performing system tasks. But, it does not include a full suite of applications. Enlightenment is built upon EFL (Enlightenment Foundation Libraries), which you can even use independently or build on top of each other to create powerful applications or new features.

These EFL libraries at the core are comparatively more efficient than GTK+ and Qt ones, and also have a lesser memory footprint. Range of applications written with EFL are Terminology (terminal emulator), Rage (media player), Ephoto (image viewer and editor), and so on. You can use Enlightenment along with KDE and GNOME for better experience.

Best Ubuntu Desktop Environments 2021 / 2022

As stated above, there are various best Ubuntu desktop environments out there to cater to your choices and needs. Which Ubuntu desktop environment is the best, you may ask? Well, there isn’t a clean cut answer to this. 

Exceptional picks for best Ubuntu desktop environments would prominently depend upon your desired interface, applications and intuitiveness. If you are looking for a feature packed and powerful desktop environment which feels more like Windows, then KDE Plasma or Cinnamon would be great!

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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