LXQT 0.7 – Back to the Future

LXQT screenshot by lxqt.org

Recently LXQT published its first stable version 0.7, time to take a look at the project that is announced on its website as  “the next generation of the lightweight desktop environment” and “the upcoming version of LXDE”.

LXQT is the love child Razor QT and the QT division of LXDE. Except the Openbox window manager, all elements of the DE like panel, menu, application launcher, settings, (simple) power management etc. are based on QT but without all the clunky KDE dependencies. But why create yet another lightweight desktop environment at all and not just stick with the LXDE code base ? This is explained in a LXDE blog post, or, if you want the management summary, because GTK2 is deprecated and the author thinks future development will go more smoothly with QT instead of GTK3.

Manjaro or Arch users can install lxqt-desktop from the AUR or a binary repository (links for other distributions can be found on lxqt.org). If you include optional dependencies, you also get some neat QT- based tools like PCManFM file manager, LxImage viewer, QTerminal, Juffed text editor, Screengrab and a task manager called QPS. On top of this you might want to add Xscreensaver (required for locking the desktop), VLC media player, Peazip QT for archives and Compton for a little eye candy. More QT apps can be found in the Razor QT wiki or on qt-apps.org. You could also use KDE applications but most of these will introduce the couple of hundred MB KDE dependencies which LXQT is trying so hard to avoid.

Chances are that you will be using some GTK apps, too (Gimp, LibreOffice, …). Like in KDE, GTK apps always look a little out of place but this can be fixed by using the QtCurve theme. Just install QtCurve and the Oxygen icon theme and apply them in LXQT Appearance settings, then repeat the same for your GTK apps using Lxappearance. GTK3 apps should be covered by Lxappearance, for QT5 (e.g. Qupzilla, transmission-qt, …) it’s not so simple. You can modify the application’s .desktop file to start the application with -style qtcurve, or configure an environment  variable (e.g. QT_STYLE_OVERRID=GTK) but these are both pretty ugly workarounds and I would much prefer LXQT Appearance handle this automatically behind the scenes.

Otherwise I’m not really missing anything. OK, transparency for the panel would be nice, or an image preview when choosing a new wallpaper … or a simple locker that doesn’t look like a leftover from the 90s, but that’s something XFCE and LXDE are lacking, too.

Is LXQT a decent lightweight desktop environment ready for daily use ? Definitely yes. I’ve been using it every day for about 2 weeks and it works without problems.

Is LXQT really the next generation of the Lightweight Desktop ? Maybe not yet … right now it’s still more a trip back to an earlier LXDE or XFCE release, but thanks to the QT toolkit and the unheard of merge of two OpenSource communities (usually those guys are forking, not merging) it is definitely the one with most potential to evolve into something really great real soon. Some of the more adventurous distribution makers seem to be seeing this, too, there are already DEV ISOs available for Siduction and Manjaro and others will surely follow.