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With so many different Linux desktop environments out there, it can be hard to choose one, especially if you’re a beginner or a user who is just switching from Windows. In case you’re unfamiliar with the desktop environment concept, it boils down to a set of libraries, toolkits, modules and applications that make the desktop visible and functional on the screen, and enable the user to “communicate” with the system.
A great thing about Linux is that you’re not limited to whichever desktop environment ships with the distribution you installed. If you dislike the default DE, just install another one – or two, for that matter. But which one? Perhaps this article can help you decide.Here is a list of Top 10 Best Linux Desktop Environments 1. KDE
KDE is one of the oldest desktop environments – the development started in 1996, and the first version was released in 1998. It’s a highly customizable DE based on the Qt framework, and many popular Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and openSUSE, offer it as either the default DE or as one of the “flavors”.
However, KDE 4.x series is still supported and used by the majority of KDE users. Its main feature is the Plasma interface, which comes in three forms: for desktops, netbooks and tablets. Plasma is basically the workspace you see when you boot up KDE, and you can add widgets and panels to it, have multiple desktops and use the feature called Activities to organize your widgets and apps into groups according to their purpose. For example, you can keep all your social media tools in one Activity, and switch to it only when you want to use these apps.
KDE offers a heap of applications in its Software Compilation; it’s probably the best equipped of all desktop environments. Some KDE applications are: Dolphin (file manager), Kate (text editor), Konsole (terminal), Gwenview (image viewer), Krunner (launcher), Okular (document and PDF viewer), Digikam (photo editor and organizer), KMail (email client), Quassel (IRC client), K3b (DVD burning application)…2. GNOME
Since its first release in 1999, GNOME was always seen as KDE’s main competitor. Unlike KDE, GNOME uses the GTK toolkit, and its aim was to provide simplicity and a classic desktop experience without too many options. However, in 2011 a major redesign was introduced in GNOME 3, and the traditional desktop was replaced by GNOME Shell. Many users and developers were unhappy about this, and some even went on to fork GNOME 2 and create entire desktop environments based on it.
Still, GNOME 3 prevailed, and today it’s just as popular as KDE. Nowadays it offers a Classic Mode to please the nostalgic GNOME 2 fans. The GNOME Shell is its most distinctive feature, and it offers a handy Activities Overview where you can see all your tasks, apps and notifications at a glance. The Dash is the launcher with shortcuts to your apps, but you can also access them from the Search box.
GNOME 3 wants to provide a workflow in which everything is connected and easily accessible, and some of its features are similar to OS X, so it appeals to ex-Mac users. Like KDE, it boasts a bunch of applications, including Nautilus (file manager), Evince (document and PDF viewer), Gedit (text editor), Eye of Gnome (image viewer), Totem (video player)…3. MATE
Basically, MATE is GNOME 2 resurrected – it preserves the look and feel of the old desktop environment while providing software updates and interface improvements. MATE is also friendly towards old hardware, because it doesn’t require compositing, so it’s great for low-end computers. It was introduced in 2011 as a fork of GNOME 2; apart from forking the DE base, the developers of MATE also forked a number of GNOME applications.
MATE is supported by several major Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Mageia and PCLinuxOS. The applications bundled with MATE are Caja (file manager), Pluma (text editor), Eye of MATE (image viewer), Atril (document viewer) and others. It’s a simple and lightweight DE for users who don’t need all the bells and whistles of other feature-packed DEs.
Best for: users with old computers, beginners, those looking for a lightweight DE with a traditional approach to the Linux desktop.4. Trinity
However, Trinity is not just a “copy” of KDE 3; rather, it’s a standalone desktop environment with features that are not identical to KDE’s. Namely, Trinity doesn’t have Activities nor the semantic desktop component with file indexing, PIM and search (the “infamous” Nepomuk-Strigi-Akonadi services that so many KDE users turn off as soon as they install KDE). What it does have is an impressive list of applications, some of which are ShowFoto (photo editor and viewer), Konversation (IRC client), Konqueror (file manager and web browser), Kaffeine (media player), KWord (word processor), Basket (note-taking app), KEdit (text editor)…
Best for: users who love the look of KDE 3 and those looking for a lighter version of KDE.5. XFCE
XFCE has been present on the Linux desktop environment scene for a long time; specifically, since 1996, and current release is 4.12 from February of this year. It’s a lightweight DE based on GTK+ 2, and it’s fully theme-able, with features like window tiling and Preview Mode (similar to Mission Control on OS X). It’s aimed at beginners who want a stable DE that’s not complicated to maintain. Customization is made possible by helpful dialogs, but XFCE has always been focused on simplicity.
The default desktop has a panel, a dock and a few icons, thus providing a familiar interface even to users who have never touched Linux. Like other major desktop environments, XFCE offers its own set of applications: Thunar (file manager), Leafpad (text editor), Parole (media player), Xfburn (DVD burning application), Midori (web browser), Ristretto (image viewer)…
Best for: beginners, users with older hardware, and those who want a simple, uncluttered DE.6. LXDE
LXDE is a super-lightweight desktop environment that first appeared in 2006. Today it’s supported by all major distributions and often recommended as the best choice for reviving old computers. LXDE is easy to customize, and its strongest feature is the fact that the applications it provides don’t have many dependencies, so they can be installed without much fuss on any other DE.
Best for: beginners, older users, users switching from Windows and those who have low-end hardware.7. Enlightenment
Believe it or not, Enlightenment is older than GNOME and KDE – it was released in 1997. However, it’s not as popular or as widely used because it was stuck in development for a long time. These days, some distributions (most notably, Bodhi Linux) ship it as their main DE, but you can install and try it out on any distribution, of course.
Enlightenment is primarily focused on the visual experience and innovation in the field of graphics. Several amazing features prove this: desktop animations, window grouping (lets you resize, move and close several windows at once), minimizing windows into icons on the desktop, adding up to 2048 (!!) virtual desktops on 32 possible grids (each with its own wallpaper), and stacking desktops under each other, then sliding them like layers to work on more desktops simultaneously. Applications offered by default include, but are not limited to Terminology (terminal), ePad (text editor), Ephoto (image viewer), Epour (torrent client) and Rage (media player).8. Cinnamon
Cinnamon was created by the developers of Linux Mint in 2012 and based on GNOME Shell, but with a different vision. The idea was to create a simple desktop environment that will look modern, run smoothly, and won’t leave new users confused and frustrated. Since it’s a young project, it’s still in development, but it already has many fantastic features and almost all major Linux distributions offer it as one of their flavors.
Cinnamon supports desktop themes and effects, and you can add applets (panel widgets) and desklets (desktop widgets) to your workspaces. There’s a versatile, customizable menu on the panel, but you can replace it with other applets or extensions. Cinnamon supports handy features for window management such as edge tiling and snapping, and upcoming versions will provide better support for multiple monitors. Some of Cinnamon’s applications were forked from GNOME, most notably Nemo (file manager).
Best for: beginners, users looking for simplicity and ease of use, and those who want a lightweight yet attractive DE.9. Unity
Several features make Unity stand out from the rest. It has separate indicators for applications and system functions, a head-up display for quick searching and an entire search overlay called Dash. The Dash contains Lenses, which are used to send search queries to Scopes and display the results. The Scopes can search for content on your hard drive or across various services on the Internet, including Google Drive, Github and Wikipedia. By installing Scopes and Lenses, you can extend Unity’s functionality and make it more suitable to your needs.
Best for: users who spend a lot of time searching for files or content, as well as those who want a different DE than the traditional ones.10. Pantheon
Best for: beginners, users looking for a lightweight DE, and everyone who enjoys responsive, uncluttered interfaces.
SEE ALSO: 15 Best Linux Games For 2024
As you can see, all these desktop environments look very similar by default, so don’t forget that you can customize them to a great extent. It’s even possible to make KDE look like Unity or Cinnamon to emulate Windows 7!
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The next release of Ubuntu Linux could have a very different interface than regular Linux desktop users are used to seeing. Ubuntu Founder Mark Shuttleworth today announced that the Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwal release would use the Unity interface as its default Linux desktop shell. To date, Unity has been available to Ubuntu users as a netbook-focused user interface.
Shuttleworth announced the dramatic change at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS), which kicked off today in Florida. In addition to the new desktop, Shuttleworth also announced a new effort to enable Ubuntu users to sponsor open source projects with financial donations. Shuttleworth’s overall goal is to continue to improve the quality of Ubuntu Linux as well as the broader ecosystem of open source projects on which it relies.
The move to Unity on the desktop will provide Ubuntu users that have 3D capable hardware with a new desktop experience that is different than the typical GNOME desktop. Though Unity is not technically part of the GNOME project, Shuttleworth noted that Unity is a shell for GNOME and it will run all the same applications that run on GNOME today. He also stressed that Ubuntu remains committed to GNOME, and the move to use Unity for Ubuntu 11.04 should be seen in a positive light.
“We’re working hard to re-assure folks in the GNOME community that our intent is to continue to support the values of GNOME as a project,” Shuttleworth said during a press conference.
Shuttleworth added that Ubuntu today puts a tremendous amount of effort into the GNOME project. Unity in some respects is a competitive effort to the GNOME Shell project which is expected to debut in the GNOME 3 release in 2011.
“The shell is simply the piece that is used for launching applications and for switching between running applications,” Shuttleworth said. “All of the applications are the same. There are developers within GNOME that just focus on GNOME Shell and that’s the piece that we won’t be integrating, but the rest of GNOME will fit perfectly into the Unity environment.”
Shuttleworth noted that Ubuntu developers have participated in the GNOME Shell effort, though they have taken a divergent view on a number of issues including how application menus should appear in the system. As well, Shuttleworth said that GNOME Shell has taken some technical decisions in its stack that do not align with Ubuntu’s direction. Lastly, Shuttleworth said that GNOME Shell is not yet a technology that is ready for wide usage.
“GNOME Shell is somewhat behind and we couldn’t ship it in this release,” Shuttleworth said. “We needed a solution now.”
Shuttleworth also dismissed any notion that Unity could lead to an open core model for Ubuntu where proprietary software is baked into versions of the Unity interface.
“We have absolutely no plans for any proprietary extensions to Unity,” Shuttleworth said.Funding Open Source Software
With the 11.04 release, Shuttleworth also expects to debut a new system that will enable Ubuntu users to sponsor open source software projects with financial donations. The new sponsorship system will be built into the Ubuntu Software Center which was recently expanded in the 10.10 release, to enable users to purchase commercial software.
“In general we have a policy that where we are benefitting from open source and we can attribute that benefit to a particular upstream project, we share the benefits with those upstream projects,” Shuttleworth said. “This is a general mechanism for individuals to support projects and we will provide a mechanism for that flow to happen.”
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.
The “Year of the Linux Desktop” is a fabled time when Linux finally rises up and becomes the dominant desktop operating system, supplanting Windows.
Now, that might sound ridiculous, but the notion has been fueled over the years by Linux’s rise to dominance in every other market. The vast majority of servers run Linux. Just about every supercomputer runs on Linux. If you have an Android phone, it’s running the Linux kernel. Even the Internet of Things and automotive computers are primarily running some variation of Linux.
So it’s not too hard to see why Linux fans would keep hope alive that their favorite operating system would someday claim the mainstream desktop market too.Defining the Year of the Linux Desktop
If you really think about it, this concept of the “Year of the Linux Desktop” is harder to pin down than it seems. Does it mean that Linux will be more common than Windows overall? Does it mean that Linux takes the majority of the desktop market? Or does it just mean that Linux moves into the mainstream and gets respect as a first class citizen? It’s really hard to say.
To make matters worse, the desktop market itself is changing. How many people still use a traditional desktop? Laptops and tablets are becoming the same thing. In that case, does Android count?
For this article the “Year of the Linux Desktop” is going to be considered the year that traditional desktop GNU/Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc.) moves into the mainstream and becomes a serious choice for non-technical users. That seems like a fair balance.Bundled Installs
One of the main reasons that Windows rose to such dominance in the 90s was the fact that it shipped with nearly every computer sold. When you bought a computer, it had Windows, and it had key Microsoft products like the Office suite. Microsoft was brilliant with this, engineering dependence on their products. It was so effective that the US government had to step in and treat Microsoft as a monopoly.
To some degree, that’s still the case today. The vast majority of computers still come with Windows installed. Now, though, there are clearly other choices. Macs are more popular than they were in the past, and Google’s Chromebooks (running modified Linux) provide a great low cost alternative. So where does Linux fit in?
To be perfectly honest, the outlook for Linux still isn’t very good. Dell does offer a handful of Ubuntu laptops geared towards developers, and there are a couple of smaller specialty PC manufacturers catering to Linux, but the chances of walking into your local electronics store and picking up a computer running Linux are still very slim.Mainstream Use
Is Linux ready for mainstream daily use? Absolutely. There is no reason at all why even the most technologically challenged can’t use Linux.
While it’s still possible to use Linux in the most obscure and arcane ways imaginable, the majority of Linux installations give you a complete, functional, and user-friendly experience. If you set up a distribution like Ubuntu on your computer, you’ll probably find yourself with most things that you’d want from your PC without needing to install any extras.
The main desktop environments like KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, and XFCE are all very complete, with GNOME and KDE Plasma being the top contenders. Not only do they have all of the features that most users would want and expect, they look really nice, too. Plasma, in particular, easily looks just as good, if not better, than anything Microsoft or Apple have put out.
Installing software packages isn’t exactly perfect. Graphical app installers have most of the functionality that users would want, but they’re still a little clunky and don’t always show accurate search results. They’re getting better, though, and all provide a simple way to keep the computer updated.
Most installers are very easy to use now too. Ubuntu’s is probably the best, and almost all Ubuntu derivatives, like Mint, use it. In reality, if you can install a program using a wizard on Windows, you can install Linux.Gaming
Gaming on Linux is an unfortunately complex topic. There isn’t exactly one way to play games. Is it a native Linux game? Is it a game for Windows? Is that Windows game supported by Wine? Would you rather have a launcher like Lutris? There’s a lot more consideration that goes into things than just inserting the disk and installing.
There are actually a surprising amount of games available natively for Linux. Services like Steam, Humble Bundle, and GoG all support Linux very well. Steam even has over 2000 titles available for Linux. However, the games available for Linux tend to be indie titles with a few bigger name ports coming from studios like Feral Interactive.
Then, there’s Wine and the launchers like PlayOnLinux and Lutris that use it. Wine is a compatibility layer that translates Windows code to something that Linux can use. It’s not perfect, though. There is a performance cost, and not every game will work. Even still, there are plenty of games that you can play through Wine.
Linux gaming isn’t perfect, but as long as you don’t need the latest games as soon as they come out, you can definitely get by and have a great time gaming on Linux.Third Party Support
Third-party support for Linux is a big topic. There’s a lot to cover. Both hardware and software support have been gradually improving for a long time, though.
Hardware support was a big problem in Linux’s past. New devices were simply not supported, and even more were really poorly supported. Now, though, that’s not the case. The vast majority of devices work immediately on Linux systems.
There are two sore spots here: wireless adapters and gaming hardware. Some wireless adapters are still poorly supported. Most are fine, but it’s something you should check before switching. Most “gaming” peripherals aren’t supported at all, meaning all of the special gaming functionality won’t work, and the device will behave like a standard USB keyboard or mouse. That said, there have been plenty of third-party community efforts to get these devices working, so some do. Again, it just requires that you look into it before making a purchase.
Obviously, software is a different story. There aren’t nearly as many companies developing commercial software for Linux. A lot of commercial software doesn’t support Linux at all. It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, though. The open-source community has created a rich ecosystem around Linux that provides just about everything you could ever need. The open-source alternatives to many commercial products are not only just as good, they’re completely free of cost.The Desktop Market
When considering the “Year of the Linux Desktop,” it’s important to consider the current desktop market. It’s bad. The sobering truth is that desktop computing isn’t nearly as big a deal as it once was, and the majority of people don’t care.
Desktop and laptop computer sales have plummeted over recent years. Microsoft even saw the proverbial writing on the wall and has shifted a lot of its focus into the cloud. Apple went so far as to suggest that tablets would make the computer as we know it obsolete in a recent ad campaign.
So, if it does arrive, what will the “Year of the Linux Desktop” even look like?So, Is It?
Is 2023 going to be the “Year of the Linux Desktop?” No. In fact, the idea is a little ridiculous. There’s not going to be a year where a switch gets flipped, and suddenly everyone starts using Linux. It currently is and will continue to be a gradual move.
As bugs, security issues, and invasions of privacy that come from commercial operating systems continue to be a problem, people, mostly younger people, will seek out an alternative. Meanwhile, desktop computing will become more and more of a specialized professional practice. Somewhere along the line those things will intersect and create the climate for Linux to overtake Windows. And, by that point, Microsoft won’t care. There simply won’t be enough money in it for them to care.
Actually, there is a remote, but still somewhat logical, scenario where Microsoft themselves will usher in the “Year of the Linux Desktop.” They’ve already thrown their weight behind supporting Linux on their Azure platform because it makes sense from a business standpoint. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that a future Windows release may use the Linux kernel because it’s more economical to develop that way.
In any case, 2023 won’t be the “Year of the Linux Desktop,” but it is a great time to give Linux a try. It’s a modern operating system, and it’s absolutely mature and stable enough for daily desktop use. Give it a shot, and see for yourself. You may just find yourself falling in love.
Nick is a freelance tech. journalist, Linux enthusiast, and a long time PC gamer.
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With a new visual interface including new themes sounds and effects as well as a semantic file manager, speed and multimedia handling improvements, KDE 4 is a major release for the Linux desktop.
While many of KDE 4’s new features will be visible to end users, a lot of work has been done under the hood that will benefit developers too with new frameworks including Phonon for multimedia, Plasma for desktop and panel interface and Strigi for search. The sum total of all KDE 4’s improvements could well serve to help bolster its adoption against its Linux desktop rival GNOME as well as Microsoft’s Windows.
“KDE has in my opinion has done something very good here, building foundations that are both very strong and very flexible,” Lars Knoll VP of Engineering at Trolltech told chúng tôi “They have tried to build KDE4 from the ground up and I am convinced that we will only see the full effect of having these foundations in a year or two from now.”
One of the defining elements of KDE is Trolltech’s Qt cross-platform application development framework. In KDE 4, KDE has move from the older Qt 3.x series to the new Qt 4.x which make a difference in a lot of different areas.
Graphics support is also improved by way of Qt4 as is accessibility support and internationalization. Knoll noted that internationalization is extremely important for KDE as it is translated into more than 40 languages from all corners of the world.
“In total I’d say that Qt4 is a much stronger foundation for a desktop environment than Qt3 could ever be,” Knoll said.
Holger Dyroff, Vice President, Product Management SUSE LINUX Products for Novell, views the enhanced usability in many KDE applications such as the file manager and PDF reader as benefits for its users. As well Dyroff, is keen on the smaller resource footprint of KDE 4 which can help users in resource constrained environments.
(SLED) use the rival GNOME Linux desktop as the default.
“KDE is an option on SLED releases, but there is no default selection on openSUSE, where we offer GNOME, KDE, and other desktop environments like XFCE,” Novell’s Dyroff noted.
Similarly Red Hat’s Fedora has KDE as an option as does Ubuntu (though the KDE version of Ubuntu is called Kubuntu).
“KDE 4 is a major feature on the Linux landscape in 2008, and while KDE 4.0 is not yet ready for production enterprise use, Novell anticipates that the innovations driven by KDE 4 will improve future versions of SLED,” Dyroff said. “We will include the latest stable version of all open source projects that compose the relevant desktop landscape for our broad customer community. However, GNOME will stay as default for our SUSE Linux Enterprise products, due to adoption and support in the industry with partners, ISVs and customers.”
df) shows that 71 percent of their users are using KDE versus 21 percent GNOME. As well the he noted that Mandriva Linux is mainly KDE based.
“So in total I do not feel that KDE lags in term of user adoption,” Knoll said. “It might lack in terms of mindshare, especially in the US.”
But the battle for the Linux desktop is not about GNOME versus KDE in Knoll’s view. He argued that having both desktops has helped the Linux desktop environment overall and provided choice. Knoll added that can also run KDE applications on GNOME and vice versa, so they are not excluding each other.
Knoll argued. “Windows and Mac OS X have over 98 percent market share together, why should KDE and GNOME fight for the small piece of the cake they have instead of trying to get part of the huge pieces that Microsoft and Apple currently have.”
This article was first published on chúng tôi
In Windows, the virtual desktop feature has been ignored for long enough, for either of two reasons: only a few people know about it or because it only became a standard feature in the Windows 10 iteration.
A virtual desktop is another “desktop” where you can have other applications running. It’s like having a second instance of the operating system running on the same PC.Why You Need the Virtual Desktop Windows Feature
The answer is productivity.
Having many tabs/windows open means you can only work on one program at a time. This feature impacts how you can move from one activity to the next.
Think about a web designer, for instance. For a simple project, he needs to have an Explorer tab, a photo editor, an IDE and a web browser all active. Imagine the stress of having to switch between all these programs.
With virtual desktop windows, he only needs to switch from one desktop to another. Say goodbye to the hassle of maximizing and minimizing programs.
This feature is even more far-reaching for laptop users, as they cannot move around with many monitors.
If you want to know how to use this feature on your Windows PC, keep reading.Set Up the Virtual Desktop on Windows 10
2. Select the “Search bar.”
3. Input the keyword virtual in the search bar. Choose “Customize virtual desktop settings.”
4. Set the virtual desktop to show windows that are open on only the active desktop. Set the same for the Alt + TAB option. Exit Settings after that.Set Up Task View Button on Your Taskbar
If you already have the task view button enabled, skip this step.
Select the “Show task view button” option.
An icon should appear on your windows taskbar. Check beside the Search button or Cortana (if you have it activated).Create a New Desktop
Or you can use the keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + D to create a new desktop.
You should see a new empty desktop appear beside your primary desktop.Switching Between Your Desktops
There are two arrow keys that you can use to scroll through the open desktops. Note that Windows arranges the desktops serially. This means you cannot jump desktops while switching.
You can also use the Windows keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + Right Arrow or Win + Ctrl + Left Arrow to scroll through the open desktops.Move Windows from One Desktop to Another
You may want to move windows from one open desktop to another one. There’s a provision for this.
Go to the desktop where the window/program you need is open.How to Close Virtual Desktop Windows
Note that closing the virtual desktop windows closes the open programs on them too, so only shut them after you finish working with them.
Go to the task view pane using the Win + TAB shortcut or task view button.
Hover over the desktop you need to close and end it like you would every other program.Wrapping Up
The virtual desktop windows feature is one of the best additions to the Windows OS. So far, it seems you can have an infinite number of virtual desktops open. At last count, there were more than 250 virtual desktops open on the test machine. Also, you can create your custom windows shortcuts for various actions. If you want to improve your productivity, this feature has your back.
Image credit: Man working with vurtial screens by DepositPhotos
Nicholas Godwin is a technology researcher who helps businesses tell profitable brand stories that their audiences love. He’s worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. You may follow his work on Twitter or simply say hello. His website is Tech Write Researcher.
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Having a second monitor can be a productivity booster that gives you more screen real estate and a better multitasking experience. Whether you are on the go and can’t carry an actual monitor with you or just want to use your mobile device as a monitor, this guide will help you achieve that.
This tutorial shows you three different methods of using your smartphone and tablet as a second monitor for your Linux desktop.1. Using Remote Desktop Protocol on Gnome 42
While Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not a new feature for Linux desktops, Gnome 42 lets you use extendable virtual monitors over an RDP connection. This is by far the easiest and most convenient way to share a virtual monitor on Linux.
Before starting, make sure you are using a distro with Gnome 42, like Ubuntu 22.04 LTS on Wayland (the default display server of Gnome 42).Enabling Virtual Monitor Feature in Gnome 42
To enable the virtual monitor feature, run the following in your terminal:gsettings
setchúng tôi screen-share-mode extend
This feature allows you to share and treat your virtual monitor like an actual monitor.Setting Up Remote Desktop From Settings
Go to Settings and select “Sharing.”
Select “Remote Desktop,” and from the Remote Desktop menu, enable Remote Dekstop and Remote Control.
Set a username and password to use for connecting to this desktop.
Close the window and log out from your current Gnome session. Once you log back in, you can use the Remote Desktop feature.Connecting With an RDP Client From Your Mobile Device
On your mobile device, download any RDP client to connect to the remote desktop. In my case, I’m using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app, which is available for Android, iOS and ipadOS.
On the Remote Desktop app, select the “+” icon and “Add PC.”
In the “PC NAME” field, enter your PC’s IP address and save it. Make sure that all of your devices are connected to the same network.
If you don’t know your PC’s IP address, you can easily it find it by running hostname -I in the terminal.
Select your PC on the Remote Desktop app. It will ask for your username and password. Enter the previously configured username and password and select “Continue.”Setting Up Your Virtual Monitor Position
You can configure your virtual monitor position just as an actual monitor. From the Settings app, go to “Displays.”
Here you can change your virtual display position relative to your laptop/PC’s display. Also, you can change the orientation of your virtual monitor from the “Orientation” option.2. Using VirtScreen
VirtScreen is a Linux-exclusive app that can create and share a virtual screen using a VNC server. VirtScreen is currently not supported on the Wayland display server, so make sure you’re using Xorg to run VirtScreen.Installing VirtScreen
You can download VirtScreen from its GitHub page.
To install the VirtScreen deb package, run:
Replace “path/to/virtscreen.deb” with your actual file path.Running VirtScreen
Run virtscreen in your terminal to start up VirtScreen.
From the menu bar, select the VirtScreen icon and “Open VirtScreen.”
If selecting “Open VirtScreen” doesn’t open anything because of drive incompatibility, run export MESA_LOADER_DRIVER_OVERRIDE=i965; in your terminal and run virtscreen again.
On the VirtScreen pop-up window, set your preferred screen resolution for the virtual screen and select “ENABLE VIRTUAL SCREEN.”
On the VNC tab, select “START VNC SERVER.”Using a VNC Client to Connect to Virtscreen
Now that you have the VNC server running, open a VNC Viewer (or any VNC client of your choice) on your mobile device and select the “+” icon to create a new connection. Enter your displayed IP address and port number and select “CREATE.” (You can leave the name field empty.) For example, I put the address 192.168.0.108:5900 where 192.168.0.108 is my IP address and 5900 is the available port number.
On the next screen, select “Connect” to connect to VirtScreen.
VNC Viewer will show up in the virtual screen on your secondary device.3. Using Deskreen
Deskreen is a cross-platform app that can share your screen to any device with a web browser.Installing Deskreen
You can download the Deskreen deb package from its official website.
To install Deskreen, run:
Make sure to replace “path/to/deskreen.deb” with your actual file path.
If you want, you can also run Deskreen without installing it by using the Deskreen AppImage file.Sharing a Single Window With Deskreen
Once you have the Deskreen app installed, open the app and go to the displayed address bar from any web browser.
If Deskreen asks for confirmation, select “Allow” to let Deskreen share the screen with your device.
Select “Application Window” and choose one of the opened windows to share.Using Deskreen to Share an Extended Display
Deskreen requires a dummy display plug to share your extended display. A dummy display plug is a cheap device that makes your PC think that it is connected to an external display. Alternatively, you can also use VirtScreen to create a virtual screen.
Once you have the dummy plug connected to your PC, go to Settings and select “Displays.” On the Displays page, set the display mode to “Join Displays.” On the Deskreen app, select “Entire Screen” after connecting your secondary device.
As of now, sharing the “Entire Screen” feature needs workarounds to work on Wayland, so make sure you are on Xorg when using this feature.Drawbacks of Using Deskreen Compared to the Other Two Solutions
Deskreen shares your screen as a video stream so that you can not interact with your PC from your secondary device. You also need to keep the shared window running in the background. Minimizing the window will result in a blank video on your browser.Frequently Asked Questions Why does an RDP connection not work after a restart?
This a commonly known issue and can be solved by signing out of the current session and signing in again.How can I change the display server from Xorg to Wayland and vice versa?
If you are using Gnome, you can easily choose which display server to use on the login screen by selecting the setting icon and choosing your preferred display server.Can I use more than one virtual display in Gnome 42?
While it’s possible to use more than one virtual display, your Linux desktop’s performance might start to suffer once you do so.Can I play videos on my secondary display?
Whether you are using Deskreen, RDP protocol, or VirtScreen, video playback is good enough and doesn’t look too choppy. Try to use a good 5Ghz network for better playback.Can I interact with my Linux Desktop from the secondary device?
If you are using an RDP connection on Gnome 42 or VirtScreen, you can interact with your Linux desktop from both of your devices. However, it’s not possible for Deskreen to interact with your desktop from the secondary device, as Deskreen only streams a video of your screen.
Image credit: Screenshots by Muhammad Munna
Muhammad Munna is an Electrical Engineering student who is passionate about technology and writing. He loves to experiment with different techs and dig deep into them. In his free time, he can be found fiddling with his smartphone camera.
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