When comparing KDE Plasma Desktop vs Pantheon, the Slant community recommends KDE Plasma Desktop for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux desktop environments?” KDE Plasma Desktop is ranked 4th while Pantheon is ranked 8th. The most important reason people chose KDE Plasma Desktop is:
There are many customization options and possibilities to tweak the desktop, including widgets.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Highly customizable
There are many customization options and possibilities to tweak the desktop, including widgets.
Pro Looks beautiful
The design of the three built-in desktop themes; Air, Breeze, and Oxygen, are very beautiful to some.
Pro Adheres to standards
Standards adherence allows for interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops, with similar Wayland support being worked on. Applications not written with Plasma in mind work very well in Plasma as a result. The development team has also been instrumental in standard creation and adoption such as NETWM, X11 clipboard, icon themes, mimetype handling, application menu standardization, system tray protocols and notifications and more.
Pro Has a file manager that provides a good balance between power and simplicity
The included file manager provides several icon, list and detail views to choose from along with features such as tabs, bookmarks, tagging, previews and metadata, network file access, bluetooth file transfers to/from devices and excellent removable storage integration while remaining fast and easy to use.
Pro KDE is an evolution on the classic desktop model
KDE is a great evolution on the classic Win95/XFCE approach. It's moving in innovative directions while respecting the classic metaphors.
Pro Keyboard friendly
Nearly all actions can be driven with keyboard commands. Window management, including effects such as desktop overviews, can be triggered with a keyboard control (or mouse gesture) and some even support filtering results (such as windows shown) by typing. The KRunner tool (default keybinding: Alt+F2 or Alt+Space) provides searching local files, online sources, unit conversions, math and more all from a keyboard driven interface.
Pro Many coherent applications
What make plasma so nice is the galaxy of apps, sharing same look and feel, configuration and behaviour. This helps with making for a uniform looking desktop.
Pro Comes with a suite of powerful applications
Plasma Desktop generally comes packaged with a full set of applications to get users started, including a file manager (Dolphin), advanced file manager and browser (Konqueror), image and document viewers (Gwenview, Okular), the Calligra office suite, CD and DVD authoring (K3b), and dozens more. The desktop can be installed and used without these applications, but they add significant value for many people.
Pro Multi-device "Convergence"
Plasma Desktop provides seamless "zero config" integration of your Android device with your laptop and desktop machines via KDE Connect. Phone calls, SMS messages, cross-device copy and paste, media remote control, cursor control and more are supported.
The technology that Plasma Desktop is built on, simply called "Plasma", also provides interfaces for phones, tablets, netbooks, and media centers in addition to the desktop. These additional interfaces use the same underlying frameworks and therefore work well together and have a unified feel to them. They also support a common set of applications across them which adapt to the input methods and screen sizes.
Pro Enjoyable to use
Thanks to looking awesome, and being customizable and flexible.
Pro Fast and efficient
Looks great! Dolphin file manager is without a doubt the best fully functional and easy to use and multitask with.
Pro Integrated advanced search
Plasma Desktop comes with an integration search system that makes it easy to find local files, emails, contacts, events and more. The file manager supports tagging and rating files as well as full-content searching and the KRunner command window and the Milou desktop widget makes searching for files, emails, applications and other content by name, subject, category, tag, fulltext, etc. very simple. It does this with essentially no noticeable interference with day-to-day usage of the computer, thanks to the scheduling built into the backend system (Baloo).
Pro Very customizable
One of the best aspects of KDE is that it gives you Lego-like tools called widgets. You can combine the widgets in the way that better fits you and get a Mac OS desktop layout, a Gnome 3 desktop layout, a mobile device desktop layout or a completely new desktop layout that works for you.
Pro Activities what multiple desktops needed
You can really separate work ambient from personal ambient.
Pro Great for developers
Provides its own IDE for C++, Qt, HTML and through workspaces allows better organisation of work.
Pro Low system resources consumption
Not as lightweight as XFCE, but pretty close (like +100MB in real use).
Pro Integration with mobile devices
KDE Connect allows integration of the computer and mobile devices on the same Wi-Fi network.
Pro Not based on GTK
A lot of users don't really like GTK's style and way of doing things.
Pro Separate LTS version
KDE has an LTS version for people expecting stability.
Pro Touchscreen support
Works good with touch devices and allows customization of gestures for them.
Has a lot of good features preinstalled (Android integration with KDEConnect, etc.), and comes with lots of improvements and new features with new releases.
Pro Simple, clean aesthetic
Nonintrusive and easy to overview workspace.
Pro Smooth, subtle animations
Nearly everything is animated, but it's not over the top.
Pantheon is light on system resources, giving it the advantage of being able run well on a multitude of setups.
Pro Splitting and animations
Switching between workspaces is fluid, pulling up the workspace preview bumps up the rest of the desktop, open windows show up on the switcher along with larger icons, and everything is subtly animated. You have two windows taking each half the screen by dragging to corners.
Pro Looks amazing
Looks absolutely amazing. Very nice to use. Amazing UX.
Pro Highly Modular
While built to be integrated, Pantheon is also highly modular. Shell components like the Panel, Dock, and app launcher can be swapped out with limited repercussions.
Pro Perfect for chromebook
It's light and easy.
Pro Slick, smooth desktop environment
Easy to use and easy to configure, there is almost nothing that the developers did not think of to creat a top-notch user experience.
Con Stability problems
Under certain conditions, most of KDE's components can be highly sensitive to race conditions, which leads to KDE applications frequently crashing, and, on rare occasion, kdeinit itself locking up.
Con No easy way to backup & restore all settings
Most crashes cause loss of settings - panels vanish, all favorites and launchers missing, icons lost, wallpaper back to default, theme changes, activities present but not active, etc.
The configuration is held in a multitude of places, the changes are applied automatically even after a crash, all without a tool or clear way to recover.
Con Held back by dedication to emulating Windows
One of KDE's pros is that it works similarly to 90's-era desktop environments such as Windows. However this holds it back from being able to present something that works intuitively for people who aren't familiar with how computers back in the 90's worked.
Con Difficult to turn off some transparency
Some of the transparency settings for Plasma can only be removed by changing away from the standard theme altogether. A bit disappointing as so many other things are configurable to the deepest detail and transparency in the wrong place can make reading menu entries for example difficult at times.
Con Certain releases are frighteningly unstable while offering a myriad of desktop effects of questionable value
Con HiDPI support is spotty
The log in screen as well as some other components of the OS do not scale properly under HIDPI. Some things in the log in screen will be displayed too small, such as the mouse pointer. It can also be difficult to get full scaling to work properly in the DE itself with things such as icons, text and window borders.
Con Perceived clunkyness and slowness
Emphasis on perceived. It's a myth from the days when SSDs, gigabytes of ram and cpus above 1GHz and more than one core were a fantasy. On anything semi modern (i5 2500k, 8 gb memory and 256 gb ssd is total overkill and that's a 5 year old system) it's as fast as anything.
Con Too complex
Shows too many options at once often time, making it more complex than simplistic.
Con Removal of advanced customisation of desktop themes
After plasma 5.6 they removed advanced customisation for desktop I think. With this option you could make hybrid themes; use bar from this theme and use icons from this theme.. like this. That was the thing that made me choose KDE over other ones. So I don't know which desktop environment to use now... Old gnome and Xfce looks like each other and I hated their sharp look. KDE was really different out there and now It's becoming like a phone desktop environment flat and uncustomizable. Yes KDE was really unstable because of variety of customisations at KDE 3 and 4 but with plasma 5 It became really stable so I really can't understand why they choose to remove "Advanced customisation" at desktop. It is a really big downgrade for me and a lot of old KDE users think that way but that new themes and the new look made this new plasma popular among gnome users more so I think they wont be going back to good old plasma before 5.6..
Con Add-on installation can be tricky.
Adding themes and widgets can be tricky.
Con Not for production
May be extremely buggy and there are unnecesary configurations which takes away time to do actual work.
Con Issues with printing
Qt5 apps are unable to access all advanced printing options, which is a huge drawback because you will have to install GTK apps to get full printing functions.
Con Compiz integration destroyed
The KDE developers seem to pride themselves on destroying previously working features with each release. Plasma 5 is terrible because Activities and Virtual Desktops are completely separate now. VD's in Plasma 5 can't even have separate wallpapers let alone widgets. Activities don't integrate with Compiz and KDE well at all (no cube, different keyboard commands). Using Activities and Virtual Desktops together gets confusing real fast. Combined with the fact the developers have no interest in fixing this at all KDE users are just running away to new desktops that are borrowing old perfectly good KDE code.
Con Kirigami is buggy
The newer QML based interface is too much tied to the breeze style. So if you use another style(like Qt's default Fusion) you will have a mixed desktop interface of fusion and breeze. It also fails at certain points to set the correct color in a widget so if you use a dark theme you will often face dark text on dark background issues.
Con Difficult to use on virtual machines on version 5
KWin compositing is restricted to xrender on virtual machines which makes the default booting process difficult as 3D graphics needs to be turned off from the VM itself.
Con Shell-style ≠ widget-style
The Plasma-shell is unable the use the current Qt style for its interface thus making it hard to get a consistent user interface.
Con Not resource efficient
There are many bloatware along the basic installation, thus uses lot of system resources for eye candidness.
Con Few configuration options
It is pretty bare-bones on a stock install, but further configuration options can be added through various official tweak tools.
Con Too simple
Good for people who want a plug and play simple Desktop Environment. But for a multitasking / entertainment / cutting edge or Gaming Rig this is not the answer.
Con Not ideal for enterprise environments
As it has no set release date, and no set support and/or EOL dates, that makes it a not so good choice for enterprises managing a number of machines where such dates are important to know before hand.
Con Slow maintenance
Any significant updates come with new release, which usually takes 2-3 years. Hence gets obsolete with current software.
Con Not available for major Linux distributions
Con No icons on desktop
Con Uses GTK
Nowadays, GTK is designed with GNOME, and only GNOME, in mind. Non-GNOME applications which attempt to utilize it suffer as a result. Pantheon is no exception.
Con Looks and feels like a Mac
Which may turn quite a few people off with the aesthetics, of course for some people, this is a pro.