TDE: Museum Piece or Modern Desktop Alternative?

Trinity Desktop Environment’s latest release may seem like a trip back in time due to archaic features, but it does offer a functional desktop for modern computing and, more importantly, freedom of choice.

In the early years of this century, Gnome 2.0 and KDE 3.0 were Linux’s most popular desktops. Sometimes one won the popularity polls, sometimes the other. Eventually, both were replaced by radically new releases, but both refused to disappear. In the case of KDE 3.0, a fork was created called Trinity Desktop Environment [1] (TDE, or simply Trinity). More than 10 years later, Trinity continues to be kept alive by a small group of developers, mostly in once- or twice-yearly maintenance releases, with the latest R14.0.11 release in October 2021. The result is a functional desktop, still suitable for modern computing, but with some archaic features and limitations that users may want to update immediately after installation.

Trinity is included in few distributions, so the project cannot depend on maintainers from outside the project. Instead, the project includes downloads for images of several distributions configured to install Trinity. These include a number of images for Debian, Devuan, Red Hat, and Fedora. For convenience, the Long-Term Support (LTS) releases, such as Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa), are probably the ones to choose because newer releases may not support Trinity. In some cases, unofficial or testing versions may also be available. Yet another alternative is to install from source tarballs, which is the only choice for adding Trinity to an existing installation. In each case, consult the online documentation about your distribution of choice to avoid minor, irritating glitches, especially when attempting to upgrade. Note that after 2013 and release, Trinity switched its numbering system to avoid being dismissed because of its version number alone. Releases after that began with 14.0.0. To date, there has been no other major release.

The Face of the Future or the Past?

Unless you install from source files, the installer for Trinity depends on the distribution used. Regardless of the chosen distribution, Trinity opens for the first time with KPersonalizer, a configuration guide that would improve most other desktop environments. Besides routine configuration such as the theme, country, and language (which, for some reason, defaults to French for Canada), KPersonalizer includes a choice of general behavior (Figure 1) as well as the Eyecandy-o-meter, which sets the level of special effects to use. Unless you dislike special effects, you can probably set the meter to maximum on a modern computer, although turning the effects off may help reduce problems or make Trinity run better on an older computer. By default, later logins start with a tip for users, although this feature can be turned off.


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