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I was arguing with a friend who said that both terms means the same thing. In my opinion desktop is just the primary user interface(background image plus shortscuts,icons etc) while the desktop enviroment contains the window manager,file manager and its responsible for the whole gui experience.Can someone give a clear definition of both terms?

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closed as off-topic by heavyd, Xavierjazz, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Dave M Dec 17 '13 at 13:45

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center." – heavyd, Xavierjazz, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

See desktop metaphor and desktop environment for more information. –  DanteTheEgregore Dec 16 '13 at 16:37
@DanteTheEgregore Of course i read them before asking here.But it does not answer my question. The only answer that i found satisfying are the definitions on gnome desktop developer.gnome.org/gdp-style-guide/stable/… –  user1478167 Dec 16 '13 at 16:40
"Desktop" can, colloquially, mean any number of things. The basic definition is a set of unifying concepts used by graphical user interfaces to help users more easily interact with the computer. Anything else is a matter of opinion. –  DanteTheEgregore Dec 16 '13 at 16:45

1 Answer 1

The core problem is using a metaphor to define a new concrete idea. On a real desktop I can set my lunch, my hat, my papers and my pencil. The desktop metaphor allows you to draw on your knowledge of real items when working in digital environment. It has virtual paper, virtual pencils, calculators, etc. It is however not perfect. (You can't email me lunch.) Programmers will look at you real strange if you ask if a desktop element would work better if you used dovetail joints instead of mortise and tenon.

The real problem is that poetry makes terrible engineering specifications. If you take the poetic idea that a screen is a desktop (metaphor), and start dealing with measurables such as process separation, you end up with poets wielding slide rules and engineers quoting Roger Rabbit, "How do I love thee, let me count the ways, one one thousand two one thousand . . ."

Metaphors are by their nature fuzzy, and imprecise. failing to realize this leads to flame wars.

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About as good an answer as can be given to a pointless semantic quibble. My own "desktop" is nothing but a background image, rarely seen. –  kreemoweet Dec 16 '13 at 19:38
I use black. less distracting. –  hildred Dec 16 '13 at 19:40
the pointless semantic quibbles show up when you use a micrometer to measure a metaphor. –  hildred Dec 16 '13 at 19:42

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