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Ubuntu comes with Gnome as window manager. They you can install lubuntu or xubuntu that have LXDE and Xfce consequently.

As far I can tell, the only difference is the window manager.

My question is this: if you can just remove gnome and install another window manager, which takes max 15 minutes, why would you bother making another distribution out of it?

There are also articles comparing those distributions online like there were completly different operating systems, but afaik they are not.

Thanks for your input.

marked as duplicate by pomsky, Jacob Vlijm, DK Bose, karel, Eric Carvalho Feb 20 at 12:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • "which takes max 15 minutes" [citation needed] – Olorin Feb 20 at 7:55
  • Gnome is not a window manager. Mutter is Gnome's window manager. Just curious, how many distro's did you actually try? – Jacob Vlijm Feb 20 at 7:56
  • ok - sorry for not knowing the specific details - but you are so well informed - can you answer the question? – Adam Feb 20 at 7:58
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  • Well, an answer would be too long to post, since the window manager is actually one of the things distro's might share. To sum up differences without any direction would really be too broad. Best advice is to read the articles you are referring to. – Jacob Vlijm Feb 20 at 8:02

First of all, there is difference between "Desktops" and "Window managers" in Linux. "Desktop Environment" usually includes a selection of software that is integrated together, such as file manager, text editor, control panel for system preferences and so on. In contrary, Window manager is one (but important) component of a desktop that handles windows, and may be used on its own. You may swap one window manager with another, for example, I use XFCE desktop with OpenBox window manager.

So, Desktops come with selection of software and some default settings that allow that software to interact in a way that was intended by desktop authors.

But first problem is that when you install another Desktop Environment to your machine, old software that was included with default DE is still on your system, so often you will end up with several programs inteded to do the same task (i.e. for text editing - Gedit on Gnome, Leafpad on XFCE and KWrite in KDE). So some users will prefer to have desktops pre-installed.

While the problem of software duplication may be solved by installing minimal system and then installing your DE of choice, there is second problem: there are some tweaks, pre-made settings and patches that make your desktop environment more usable.

People who maintain their "flavor" of distribution (such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu etc) are usually well-aware of specific issues both to their DE and base system. So usually big distros have their variants for various desktops as do Fedora (they call it "Spins") and Ubuntu. Also they test and provide community support, while company-backed "main" distro may have more priority support for default choice of software.

And while not being different operating systems, different DEs have slightly different paradigms and quirks. Also they have various resource requirements, good and bad points, metaphots, so for regular non-technical user they appear as different OSes.

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