I love choices. <3
But some of the choices I have can become something that limits my choices to work the way I want. It's between KDE4.6, Gnome 3, Unity and XFCE4.8. This post will rate them with pluses and minuses, and in the end I'll end up using something I guess... but what is yet to be decided.
Tried it yet? Yes, in VirtualBox 4.0.8.Impressions from what I've read and watched.
+ It's snappy and not as bad as I thought it would be.
+ CSS3 theming in gnome-shell is pretty awesome.
-/+ CSS theming in gtk3 is a good start but at the moment it's extremely limited. No support for box-shadow, single side borders, display none etc etc. Themes look rather flat.
-/+ Those Gnome santas really like to waste vertical space. What's with all the pointless toolbars, whitespace and the insane amount of vertical padding? The good thing is that some of it it can be changed in the theme.
-/+ I feel that I can't customize much. If I want to setup a single panel at the bottom and nothing else I should be able to do so. Right now it seems that the shell won't allow me to move around stuff where I want it. Gnome shell extensions should fix some of this I hope.
- I would prefer less zooming and more options, lots of more options for everything and everything a trillion times more. It doesn't feel modular enough. They should learn from KDE.
- The default GTK theme and icons are really ugly. (The same for Gnome 2.32 though.)
- The Gnome team can't handle criticism concerning bad design decisions. At least that's my impression of them from what I've read in mailing lists, forums and blogs.Unity
Tried it yet? Yes.Impressions.
+ Saves vertical space.
+ Looks rather ok with the exception of the sidebar. (Hideous icon backgrounds.)
- In VirtualBox 4.0.6 I get some bugs. Buttons, titlebars and some menus randomly decided to change their "click"-area a couple of pixels down, so I randomly tried to click buttons where nothing happened. I also notices some visual glitches on the buttons in the appearance settings. Noticed some bugs in metacity too. (No hover effect for example.)
- Can't customize the sidebar much except for some settings in ccsm.
- The main menu is way too big and it takes a lot of more clicks to get to where you want. Using the keyboard saves some time though. However, I'm furious that I have to stretch myself to use my keyboard. (That's what years of Opera with mouse gestures does to you. You stop using your keyboard.)
- The sidebar with intellihide is a pain to work with. I just set it to 32px in ccsm and then turned off intellihide completely. The small area you need to hover your mouse over makes you miss... A LOT. Once intellihide is off it feels better but there are many improvements to be done. (Like minimizing an app when you click on it.)
- Emerald didn't work.
(The only window manager that allows me to be creative.)
- Overlay scrollbars are confusing and sometimes makes me miss-click on a background application or something else. :/
- Doesn't feel very modular atm.
- Right now I don't feel that Unity will be something for me. I'll wait until 12.04 to see if they've made any improvements.KDE4.6
Tried it yet? Yes.Impressions.
+ Standard familiar interface.
+ Nice collection of QT apps available. Surprising really because Gnome have been larger for such a long time.
+ Can use emerald themes with Smaragd.
+ Lot's of improvements with every release.
- Customization is a pain in the buttocks. I love modular customization, but KDE just does it all wrong.
- Not enough customization options for the buttons etc. Bespin and QTcurve? What else? Bespin is clunky and not minimalistic enough. QTcurve is ok, but not as good as Murrine. And I don't want to learn C++ just to customize some buttons and stuff.
- Inconsistent tray icons that I would love to change but for some reason can't. Also inconsistent applications. Some allows me to hide toolbars, others only allows me to hide 1 toolbar or none at all. I want to get rid of the statusbar in Dolphin. Small design decisions that makes me nerdrage.
- SVG? I prefer PNG as I love pixel-design. But ok, maybe I can learn to work with SVG graphics... :/XFCE4.8
Tried it yet? Yes.
+ Standard familiar and snappy interface.
+ Works with Compiz.
+ Lots of nice improvements to the xfce4-panel.
+ Modular like nothing else, in a quite good way.
- Worried that they will stick with gtk2 for quite a long time. I hope they embrace gtk3 or maybe even QT, as long as they keep the interface modular (in a good way.)
- Not many consistent or interesting panel applets yet. There's an indicator applet, but it has not yet been updated to support the new changes made to the panel concerning transparency.
- Xfce4 default main menu is boring and very outdated IMO. I want a new one without having to install gnome-panel applet support.
- The panel still resizes icons based on the xthickness set in the GTK theme which is a bad design decision. A good thing is that you can easily use another panel like awn or docky to get better looking icons.LXDE/*box/compiz standalone
+ Modular enough.
- Compiz standalone is only good with emerald. Emerald hasn't been updated for some time.
- It would be nice to have a GUI to change menu items. I can live without it though.
- *box window managers are a bit limited when it comes to look. But it's no big deal if you just want a working environment.
- LXDE panel is a bit inconsistent. And I miss some more advanced menu plugin.
Will update this once I've tried Gnome-shell. Right now XFCE4.8 wins because I feel more like home there. This may change however.