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I am starting with this project of mine of writing a custom UI for linux. What would happen is:

  • The computer would boot into this UI which would not be the typical taskbar/icons/startbutton kind of thing. Think more like a dedicated UI instead of a general purpose one.

  • It would provide access to wifi, ethernet, bluetooth etc. Basically have access to most system resources.

  • Up until this point, I don't planning on having a file manager for the user. The app would take care of this. Sort of the way apps on mobile phones work.

My first instinct was to work (fork an existing one) on a custom DE like Gnome/KDE. So I read up a lot about window managers and desktop environments and while window managers seem to be the best option for what I am trying to do, another idea occurred to me which would be much less complicated. I could simply (I know!) write an app which the native OS boots into, without any splash screen etc. So, take a distro like Arch Linux, strip it down to the basics and then build an app on top of that.

I would like to get some advice on what the best way to go forward with this would be. Do you guys concur that an app is better to go with? Please excuse me if the question seems naive. Any suggestions/ideas welcome.

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I will be honest. The very fact you are asking this question means you shouldn't be trying to do something as complicated as trying to fork Gnome/KDE at this point. Your alternative solution is actually what Gnome/KDE does. What problm are you tring to solve by creating your own UI? This seems more like a question. – Ramhound Aug 29 '13 at 11:33
Well, I gotta start somewhere right? – Jeevan Jose Aug 29 '13 at 13:40
People don't start programming by creating projects like Gnome/KDE which has millions of programming hours and has been around for years. – Ramhound Aug 29 '13 at 13:45
I meant start this project. I've done a lot of programming before. Desktop apps and web apps. Gnome/KDE I believe are Desktop Environments, right? So they are not the usual 'desktop app' like say spotify. That is what I mean in my alternative solution. – Jeevan Jose Aug 29 '13 at 13:54
2/3 of the KDE name stand for Desktop Environment. Your alternative solution will require hundreds of programming hours. Its not clear what problem your trying to solve nor the reason a stable project like Gnome cannot meet your needs even if it was modified. – Ramhound Aug 29 '13 at 14:08

To write a GUI for Linux I would take Qt (can be downloaded here and Eclipse CDT as a IDE (

I assume you have knowledge of C / C++. Good luck!

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It would be easier to create your desktop environment from existing components than to "reinvent the wheel" and do it all from scratch.
I would recommend looking at this question on Stack Overflow. You choose the pieces (window manager, toolbar, etc.) for your project and put them together into your desktop environment.

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