There’s a new open source desktop environment angling for your attention called CuteFish.

Now, let me be clear: this project is very much a work in progress. I’m not going to focus on what it can or can’t do at this point. And that’s not because I’m being lazy but because by the time a lot of people read this blog post there’s a good chance bugs will have been fixed, new features finessed, and further improvements made.

Present functionality aside, CuteFish looks like the start of something very good indeed.

So what is it exactly?

CuteFish: What is it?

CuteFish Linux File settings
A UI all of its own

CuteFishOS’s stated goal is to “make a better experience desktop OS”. To do that they’re building a new desktop environment (‘CuteFishDE’) using KDE Frameworks, Qt, and KDE Plasma 5. This desktop will sit at the heart of a new Linux distro called CuteFishOS.

The desktop experience caters to “beginners”, rather than power users. As such, the devs have no (current) plans to add complex, edge-case, or convoluted settings and features. Like Ubuntu, the aim is to provide a basic set of sane defaults that “just work” for most users.

CuteFish Linux File manager and settings app
CuteFishDE: File manager and settings app

Sidenote: I do wonder if the ‘Cute’ in the project name is a play on the pronunciation of the ‘Qt’ project… 🤔.

Design wise, the CuteFish desktop environment looks like a mix of JingOS (indeed, the CuteFish website lists JingOS as ‘friends’ of the project), the Arch-based CyberOS, and deepin (sic). But unlike JingOS, which targets tablet devices specifically, this one is built with a mouse pointer and keyboard in mind.

CuteFish desktop showing firefox and battery
Runs regular Linux apps too

As the desktop is built using open source software you can already install the CuteFishDE on other distros, including Manjaro and Arch Linux. Indeed, the former of these already offers prebuilt .iso downloads so users can try a budding new Manjaro CuteFish spin.

That may or may not appeal to use. It does to me if only because we have DEs that broadly a traditional Windows layout (Cinnamon, KDE Plasma). Adopting a macOS layout (i.e. a bottom dock and a top bar with global menu) isn’t any stranger.

CuteFish dark theme screenshot
Dark theme is present (of course)

CuteFish devs are also hard at work on crafting a range of bespoke native apps “to ensure that users experience a unified UI / UX experience in their daily use”. Again, at the time of writing, those apps are in formative states and not usable for most users’ daily computing activities.

But the promise is there.

I plan to keep a close eye on this effort as it develops. It’d be great to see an Ubuntu-based offshoot (perhaps a PPA, perhaps a full-fledged derivative) just to widen choice. Let me know what you think of it (if you try it) down in the comments.

Dev News cutefish jingos kde qt