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I am looking for a lightweight window manager/desktop environment similar to Unity, but not Unity/Unity-2D GNOME or KDE. Specifically, I'm looking for something light with the following features:

  • window buttons layout like in Unity.

  • side bar/dock on left with system tray, apps, devices & a menu of some sort.

  • or a top bar with system tray, apps, devices & a menu of some sort.

The reason I am looking for this is that my computer can't handle Unity & my development apps at once any more.

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You should try unity-2d. – jokerdino Jan 16 '12 at 9:50
was looking for something lighter then unity/unity-2d – zeitue Jan 16 '12 at 9:52
Tried OpenBox with xcompmgr gnome-setting-daemon awn look pretty cool but not really what I was looking for – zeitue Jan 17 '12 at 17:20
I wouldn't call Unity "lightweight". Then again, others wouldn't call Xfce "lightweight". – landroni Jan 10 '14 at 18:48
@landroni I said like unity but lightweight not that unity was lightweight. – zeitue Jan 11 '14 at 5:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted


You may also want to have a look at Xubuntu that comes with the lightweight Xfce desktop. This also includes a customizable launcher (here shown at the bottom) that can also be moved to the left side like in Unity:

enter image description here

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I wouldn't say it's "like unity" as it lacks the dock functionality: although looking similar to a dock and the Unity launcher, the launcher panel works as a simple stupid shortcut panel, every click on it will launch a new instance of the app and won't bring up a minimized one. A 3-rd party dock (e.g. AWN) is to be installed to implement the modern behaviour as provided by Mac OS X dock, Unity Launcher and Windows 7 task bar. – Ivan 2 days ago

Go for cinnamon !! I am currently using that and it works smooth and fast !!

Main Page - Linux Mint

It has all the good things from Gnome 3 plus thumbs up for performance !!

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...doubt it... its a fork of gnome-shell so therefore has the same requirements as gnome-shell... – fossfreedom Jan 16 '12 at 10:25
I used Gnome 3 and it was a memory hogger !! This one is super quick !! You can just try it !! No harm in trying !! The future Linux Mint Distros are by default coming in Cinnamon as gnome 3 is not doing what users expect !! – Aram Bhusal Jan 16 '12 at 10:28
Looking for something lighter and more launcher on the side although cinnamon would be good if the bar could be moved to the top. – zeitue Jan 16 '12 at 10:31
... if you can expand your answer with some facts and figures and references saying that cinnamon is considered a light interface then great - I'll upvote. However, I've read that the key reason for development of cinnamon is the traditional desktop workflow that gnome-shell didnt support out of the box nor with the mint MGSE extensions – fossfreedom Jan 16 '12 at 10:33
Cinnamon in Mint 14 was nowhere near "fast". In particular, it took two seconds for the window list to show while you hold Alt and after you release Tab; and quick Alt+Tab sometimes took one second (in LXDE or XFCE it's instant). Also, you won't get window grouping in Mint unless you install this applet, which is developed by a Bible school boy who's only recently learned programming. – Dan Dascalescu Dec 28 '12 at 22:58

Xfce + metacity (12.04 - 13.04).

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop leafpad
cp /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml && leafpad ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml


<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
         <value type="string" value="xfwm4"/>


<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
         <value type="string" value="metacity"/>

in leafpad.

Save and log out. Then right-click on bottom panel and open Panel > Panel Preferences.

Set mode to Vertical and length to 97%.

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