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Gnomeless development-friendly distro

I know “choose my distro”-threads aren’t great, but none of the previous ones I found answer my specific questions, and I can’t go through all the distros out there. I need some pointers.

In episode 295 of Coder Radio, about 29 minutes in, one of the hosts starts talking about some technical issues with Gnome, and about how unless it gets a major redesign, it’s going to become increasingly unreliable in the future. I’m currently using Ubuntu Desktop, and this makes me slightly worried about their recent switch to, and increased investment in, Gnome. Maybe there won’t actually be any issues. Maybe the problems will get fixed, or maybe Chris is just talking out of his ass and the problems don’t even exist. Either way, I’d like to familiarize myself with some good alternative distros so that I can switch if I need to.

TL;DR: I would like recommendations for distros with

  • A reasonably large user base
  • Active development
  • Attention paid to its aesthetics and polish
  • A support-cycle at least one year long, but reasonably up-to-date software
  • No meaningful hurdles for use as a workstation or development environment
  • A Gnomeless default flavor
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I had a quick listen and as he doesn’t mention anything specific (gnome development is open?, he could have linked).

He might though be refering to a problem gnome has about how it handles some of its core processes and how they work together. I was trying to find where i read about it, apparently there’s a bunch of stuff that aren’t split apart well so could cause performance issues in the long run (especially with things like mobile devices and similar hardware). This is possibly what he is referring to, but not much to say without more information.

This isnt much of an issue really in the long run, those things will get fixed (Eventuially), even KDE has had these kind of issues. most do.

In any case, to consider your actual question your looking at it slightly wrong. Gnome is just the DE on top of an OS. You can (kindof with Ubuntu) run any DE on it.

Fedora is my main distro, I use gnome by default, but if i want KDE i can use KDE. I can install it with KDE and not Gnome if it want (i can use the KDE spin, or use the net install, and pick KDE at install). or i can just install KDE along side whatever else I have.

Fedora hits your requirements, but so does many distros including Ubuntu that your using now.


Yes, but the default DE has the most attention paid to it.

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No reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Plenty of attention goes into KDE and the other major DE’s.

Have you looked at i3? It’s another DE that will install on just about anything. Good for productivity-oriented power users.


What happens is that Gnome became crashy for JB jeopardizing their live stream. As Gnome does everything in one process (forgive me not being technical) it’s an ugly crash. X recovers more or less, Wayland dies. It annoys me a bit how what they are using on a given moment in time always seem to get plugged as the holy grail in their shows but ok, that’s the way it is.

The redesign is about using multiple processes to recover a crash more gracefully. This new architecture has not been confirmed yet and work hasn’t started. This might happen, but it is years out.

So they turned to KDE now (KDE Neon to be exact). I think KDE is great, but I do like the current Ubuntu Gnome implementation as well and I have found it to be reliable provided I stay away from Wayland.

As to OP: I think it is fairly easy to add the KDE Neon ppa to your system and install KDE on the side. The new MATE desktop release sounds extremely promising as well.

I should have been more clear. I meant attention from the distro developers with regard to how well that DE work specifically on their distribution, and also the polish of that particular flavor of the distribution.

It’s a WM, not a DE :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: But yes, I use it on my desktop gaming machine. It’s fine for a machine where I don’t expect to get any work done, but it’s too much customization and tweaking for a work machine for my taste.

So do I, but I’m not worried about the situation right now. I’m concerned about what’s going to happen when that redesign starts happening, and I want to be prepared to jump distros if necessary. Plus, expanding my horizons probably wouldn’t hurt just in general.

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Yes, my bad.

Really? I thought the whole point was that it was all efficiency, no frills…

I get what you’re saying, but I think that KDE on Ubuntu or a Red Hat distro will still get more attention than a more obscure distro that uses KDE by default…

If you want something that is kinda feels like windows but still has the linux flair then i would go with cinnamon.

Is also budgie if you need something that stands out all on its own

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Both of those are gnome forks, so I don’t know if they’ll meet OP’s criteria…

KDE, XFCE, Budgie, Mate, Cinnamon.

All of the previous are in active development.

well … well … it is hard to say that they ( all DE’s mentioned above ) do not focus on that however there may be differences with what you think of polish and what they think of polish.

Well here I can speak only about KDE of experience they have LTS which has at least one year support.

For KDE again I can speak of personal experience I really have not seen any till now however it will depend also on OS and on software you are trying to use.

KDE, checks this mark too and while the others are a little bit inspired by Gnome you should elaborate more on what you mean.

Well I believe few of the people there ran KDE before there were even problems and were trying to get Noah to switch too. Should note that If there is a crash in KDE your screen flashes for an instant and the X restarts automatically I don’t have experience with Wayland.

If you are looking for a OS to run KDE and be good - deb based will be KDE Neon , rpm based will be OpenSUSE Leap for stable or Tumbleweed for rolling release.

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To be fair, almost every de is based off of some kind of flavor of gnome. You cant escape it. Though most of the DEs maintain their own code so what happens on the gnome side shouldnt affect them much


Kubuntu sounds like it’d work just great for you. The same base as before and you’d just have to find yourself all your little apps and things in QT5. Although GTK in plasma has been fine for me (gnome alsamixer for example runs same as always.)

Although I’d mirror what Eden, said, most likely anything that creates a massive issue like that will be fixed, and most of the biggest DEs also suffer from similar problems (although if what the other users are saying is right it sounds like gnome suffers more heavily.) I really don’t think you need to worry about it too much though.

It requires configuring, tweaking and customizing. The less of that I have to do on my work machine, the better.


The issue is the problems with Gnome are (apparently) of such a major architectural nature that fixing them threatens to break everything in the interim. Still, as I say, my hope is that such problems will never reach the user, so I’m not switching away from Ubuntu yet. Either way, I do want to have a backup distro so I’m able to switch if I need to.

For now, I’m test-driving KDE Neon and OpenSUSE Leap. Thanks folks. :+1: