Five reasons to try the new Razor-qt Linux desktop

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Those in the homogeneous Windows world may be bracing themselves anxiously for the impending arrival of Windows 8 with its controversial Metro interface, but for Linux users, the array of desktop choices just keeps on expanding.

That's not to say that there aren't controversial changes happening on the Linux side as well, of course--just see Unity and GNOME 3 for more on that--but it seems fair to say they're less nerve-wracking for users because of the sheer number of alternatives.

In recent months we've seen several new efforts to innovate some more comfortable Linux desktop choices, including MATE, SolusOS, and the forthcoming “Pure GNOME” Ubuntu Linux. Now, there's yet another one to consider.

It's Razor-qt 0.5.0, and it's a significant update to the young lightweight Linux desktop that I first wrote about late last year. Ready for a run-down? Here are some key reasons this rapidly maturing open source desktop is worth checking out.

1. 'Huge' performance gains

Razor-qt is a lightweight desktop environment that's based on the Qt framework, much like KDE, and it is “tailored for users who value simplicity, speed, and an intuitive interface,” in the project's own words. Now, with this latest version 0.5.0 release launched late last week, the software has gotten even faster thanks to “huge performance optimizations” on the desktop, according to the official changelog.

2. A modest footprint

Razor-qt and KDE may both be based on Qt, but one big difference that sets Razor-qt apart is that it is so lightweight, and can work well with lower-powered machines. Included in the software are a desktop and panel, an application launcher, a settings center, and session components, but it's up to the user to decide which of those they want to use.

3. A raft of new plug-ins

An assortment of new plug-ins make their debut in Razor-qt 0.5.0 for added functionality, including a CPU monitor applet, a volume control applet that supports ALSA or PulseAudio, and a new network monitor.

4. New tools

A new appearance GUI for configuring themes, meanwhile, implements a new way of handling sizes and layouts, for example, and refreshing themes. Then, too, there's a new notifications daemon and a notepad widget now available on the desktop.

5. New bug fixes and translations

Last but not least, numerous bugs have been fixed and translations added in this new release, delivering new stability and accessibility to users around the globe.

Razor-qt 0.5.0 is now available as a free download from the project site, and packages for Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mageia are available through their official repositories.

If you're tired of the dominant desktop choices out there--and particularly if you have older hardware--Razor-qt could be a nice option to test out.

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