Desktop environments are a collection of software packages and different components that run on top of an operating system and manage the look and feel (GUI; Graphical User Interface) of the operating system. They consist of window managers, text editors, folders, drag and drop functionality, and many other features to make it easier for the user to use an operating system. Desktop environments are super user-friendly and intuitive; they help the user access, manage and manipulate files easily. But they do not provide full control over the functionality/capabilities of the OS. To get the most out of an operating system CLI (command line interface) is still preferred.

How to Choose the Right Desktop Environment

Every Linux distribution comes with its own default desktop environment but you have the option to switch to the environment of your choice. Installing a desktop environment on Linux is very easy and can be done within a few minutes. However, choosing the right desktop environment can be confusing. There are many desktop environments out there that are compatible with Ubuntu. Every desktop environment has its own pros and cons and is optimized for a certain task. Gnome is made with the intention to make it easier to use for common users while KDE Plasma aims to be fast and efficient, and tries to utilize as few resources as possible. So the decision of choosing the right desktop environment comes down to the needs and personal preferences of the user.

How to Install a Desktop Environment

We can use the terminal to install any desktop environment on Linux. You can install desktop environments on Linux just like any other package. In Ubuntu, we can use the “apt” command followed by the environment name to install any desktop environment available in its official repository. In this example, we will install the Vanilla Gnome desktop environment in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS operating system:

sudo apt install vanilla-gnome-desktop 

Install new desktop in Ubuntu The terminal will ask you for confirmation; press “Y/y” and hit Enter: That’s it; the Gnome desktop environment has been successfully installed on your system. After successful installation of the desktop environment, log out of your account from the top right corner of your desktop: Logout Ubuntu Desktop Now look for a button similar to the one shown in the below-given screenshot. The location of this button is different in different desktop environments. On the default desktop environment of Ubuntu 20.04 you can find it in the bottom right corner of the screen: Click gear icon on Ubuntu login Click on the button and choose the environment you want to use: Choose desktop environment to log in to Next login to your account and you’ll see the environment you picked: Log In to New Desktop in Ubuntu You will have the option to change the desktop environment every time you log in.

How to Remove a Desktop Environment

Some desktop environments are not compatible with each other and you might run into problems while running multiple desktop environments. These issues can generally be fixed by troubleshooting but sometimes you might even have to uninstall one of the desktop environments. Simply use the apt remove or apt purge along with apt autoremove command to get rid of the desktop environment.

sudo apt remove vanilla-gnome-desktop 

Remove desktop environment from Ubuntu Now, run the autoremove command to remove the dependencies that are no longer required. These dependencies were automatically installed along with the desktop environment.

sudo apt autoremove 

Auto remove ubused packages on Ubuntu


Every graphic you see after your system boots up is a part of the desktop environment. It dictates how everything from icons to mouse pointers looks and feels on your system. In this post, we focused on how to install and switch between desktop environments on Ubuntu. Moreover, we also learned how to make the right decision when choosing a desktop environment. XFCE Today we will see how to have more than one desktop environment in our system. This article is aimed at newcomers and newcomers. who are interested in knowing the functionality as well as the installation of some desktop environments on the system. Because a blog reader asked us how you can have more than one desktop environment on your system, well, here’s how to do it without all the fuss. Table of Contents

  • 1 Installing desktop environments
    • 1.1 KDE installation
    • 1.2 Cinnamon Installation
    • 1.3 Gnome Shell Installation (Gnome 3)
    • 1.4 MATE installation
    • 1.5 LXDE Installation
    • 1.6 XFCE Installation

Installing desktop environments

The first thing we have to know is what desktop environment we have and from there we can know the route to follow so as not to have problems with the dependencies later. To know the desktop environment we have in use, it is enough to type the following command in the terminal:


With which we will receive a response something similar to this (in my case it tells me that I am using XFCE):


From now on we are going to know which login manager we handle and it is something that we have to take into account since this package or its dependencies are usually broken. So you have to say whether to install any of the ones that use a desktop environment or continue using the one you already have. Personally, one of the ones I really like is SDDM or GDM. From now on you can start with the installation of any of the desktop environments of your liking. It is important that you bear in mind that almost all the desktop environments that you install will offer you the installation and activation of their login manager.

KDE installation

From here, the installation order is independent, I simply start with the ones that I like.
In my case I have XFCE and I am going to install KDE. Here we have two possible facilities. The first is to install the «clean» environment so to call it since it will only install the «minimum necessary» packages for the operation of KDE in our system. The installation is carried out by typing in terminal:

sudo apt-get install plasma-desktop

Now The second method is to install the KDE Plasma environment together with the Kubuntu customization settings, this method will install extra packages and applications with which we have a more personalized environment. For this we must add the following repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

Once the repository has been added, we update our list of packages and repositories with:

sudo apt-get update sudo apt dist-upgrade sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop

At the end of the installation, simply close the user session and select the environment with which you want to start your user session in the login manager. Although it is recommended to restart the system.

Cinnamon Installation

Another environment that you can install quite simply is Cinnamon which is the Linux Mint desktop environment. You can install this by executing the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment

At the end you close the user session or restart your system to start using it.

Gnome Shell Installation (Gnome 3)

Gnome Shell If you are a user of a flavor of Ubuntu or a derivative with a different desktop environment. As you may know, Gnome Shell is the default desktop environment in the main Ubuntu branch. Therefore, its installation can be done installed first:

sudo apt install tasksel

And later we install the desktop environment with:

sudo tasksel install ubuntu-desktop

During the installation of this you will be asked if you want to install and activate its GDM login manager.

Note: you should know that both Gnome Shell, Cinnamon and Mate are environments that were born from the Gnome code and that they share some dependencies. So when you go to uninstall any of these. It is recommended that you have another desktop environment that does not use their dependencies. The recommendable ones can be KDE or XFCE.

MATE installation

Mate is a desktop environment that aims to preserve the functionality of Gnome 2, so many users who know this environment like it by using this environment. To install it, just run in terminal:

sudo apt install tasksel sudo tasksel install ubuntu-mate-desktop

During the installation of this you will be asked if you want to install and activate its Lightdm login manager.

LXDE Installation

LXDE LXDE It is a lightweight desktop environment designed for the minimum use of resources in offering a clean and functional desktop, without neglecting accessibility and simplicity to the user. Here we can choose two ways to install it. Clean installation with its minimum components for its operation and customization is the responsibility of the user.

sudo apt-get install lxde

The other is with Lubuntu (Ubuntu flavor) configurations that include system customization tools.

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

XFCE Installation

XFCE Finally, we can also install XFCE which is used in Xubuntu (Ubuntu flavor) and that like LXDE is one of the desktop environments that does not consume so many system resources. In the same way we have a clean installation:

sudo apt install xfce4

Or installation with Xubuntu settings

sudo apt install tasksel sudo tasksel install xubuntu-desktop

The content of the article adheres to our principles of editorial ethics. To report an error click here!. Tutorial showing how to install a desktop like KDE or Cinnamon in Ubuntu. 22458 views d By. Jacob Edited: 2019-09-24 16:36 Window managers article image. To install a different desktop environment in Ubuntu, you would simply open up a Terminal, and install it via the apt-get install whatever-desktop-environment command. Sometimes you may encounter problems, but they should generally be easy to fix, and there is plenty of help available online. If you wish to try a GNOME session, you can simply logout, and choose the «GNOME Classic» option when logging in. Rather than just installing from the terminal, it may be a good idea to install from a console instead, as it may avoid some problems. You can press or CTRL + ALT + F2 to exit to a console, then enter the following command to exit your current x session).

Install the KDE desktop

If you wish to install the KDE desktop environment in Ubuntu, you would simply run the below command in a terminal window or console:

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop 

You should pay attention to any problems doing the installation. A fairly common problem seem to involve a conflict with packages, causing unmet dependencies. Running the following commands may solve the problem:

sudo dpkg -P unity-scope-gdrive account-plugin-google sudo apt-get -f install 

Another problem is that the Ubuntu boot splash will be replaced with the kubuntu logo. This is purely visual, but if you want to change back to the Ubuntu logo, running the below command will allow you to choose between available splash screens:

sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth 

Install the Cinnamon desktop

Cinnamon can be installed by first adding the repository, then running your standard apt-get install package. Both can be accomplished with the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:embrosyn/cinnamon sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install cinnamon 

If you wish to later remove Cinnamon, run:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:embrosyn/cinnamon 

Install the XFCE desktop

You may install XFCE in Ubuntu via this command:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop 

Install the Gnome desktop

The gnome desktop can be installed with:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop 

If you encounter any problems, such as overlapping icons in overview, you can try switching to GDM display manager instead of lightdm. You can install GDM via apt-get:


Problems with changing display manager (I.e. From lightdm to GDM) might cause you to get stuck on the loading splash screen doing boot. To fix this, you may need to hit CTRL + ALT + F1, and then reinstall your desktop environment – don’t worry, this should not effect your personal files. If for example you installed the Gnome desktop, an easy way to fix certain problems is to simply re-install it after removing it properly. To do this, run something like the following:

  1. sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-gnome-desktop
  2. sudo apt-get remove lightdm
  3. sudo apt-get autoremove
  4. sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

The GDM display manager should be automatically installed, and you will be prompted to choose a display manager. While others should also work, GDM might work better with Gnome. You just have to test, and see which you like better. After installing another desktop, you might also encounter minor problems with your Themes. To fix those, you can open up the Gnome-tweak-tool, choose the default theme for your desktop, (In Gnome: Adwaita). Typical problems are rounded corners having black backgrounds, and missing GUI controls (the GUI controls are not missing, just the icons.) Alternatively, you can check for updated versions of your Themes, or you can try and fix the themes yourself. Some settings can be changed with simple CSS declarations.

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More in: Linux Tutorials Different Fedora Linux variants (Spins/Labs) have different default environments.
For example, the Fedora workstation uses GNOME as its default desktop environment, while the KDE spin will use KDE. Irrespective of what installation media you used to install Fedora Linux, you can easily try and switch to any of the many other desktop environments that are available without affecting your current desktop environment.

Installing additional desktop environments

You can list available desktop environments using the default package manager, dnf.
In a terminal use the dnf grouplist command to list all available package groups:

$ dnf grouplist -v Available Environment Groups: Fedora Custom Operating System (custom-environment) Minimal Install (minimal-environment) Fedora Server Edition (server-product-environment) Fedora Workstation (workstation-product-environment) Fedora Cloud Server (cloud-server-environment) KDE Plasma Workspaces (kde-desktop-environment) Xfce Desktop (xfce-desktop-environment) LXDE Desktop (lxde-desktop-environment) LXQt Desktop (lxqt-desktop-environment) Cinnamon Desktop (cinnamon-desktop-environment) MATE Desktop (mate-desktop-environment) Sugar Desktop Environment (sugar-desktop-environment) Deepin Desktop (deepin-desktop-environment) Development and Creative Workstation (developer-workstation-environment) Web Server (web-server-environment) Infrastructure Server (infrastructure-server-environment) Basic Desktop (basic-desktop-environment) i3 desktop (i3-desktop-environment) Available Groups: 3D Printing (3d-printing) Administration Tools (admin-tools) Audio Production (audio) ...

Install the required desktop environment using the dnf install command.
Ensure to prefix with the @ sign, for example:

# dnf install @kde-desktop-environment

You can also use the full name using the groupinstall command:

# dnf groupinstall "KDE Plasma Workspaces"

Switching desktop environments using a graphical user interface (GUI)

First, install the desired desktop environment as described in Installing additional desktop environments. You can login to a different desktop for a single session using the login manager.
For example, for the Gnome Display Manager (GDM) that is used by default on the Fedora Linux Workstation:

  1. On the login screen, select a user from the list.
  2. Click on the Preferences icon right below the password field. A window appears with a list of several different desktop environments.
  3. Choose one, and enter password as usual.

Login Screen

Using switchdesk

You also change your desktop environment using the switchdesk tool.
It also allows you to change default desktop environment for individual users, and for all users.

  1. Install the switchdesk and switchdesk-gui packages:
    # dnf install switchdesk switchdesk-gui
  2. Run the Desktop Switching Tool application.
  3. Select the default desktop from the list of available desktop environments, and confirm.

Desktop Switching Tool

Switching desktop environments using the command line interface (CLI)

First, install the desired desktop environment as described in Installing additional desktop environments. Install the switchdesk package: Pass the selected desktop environment as the only argument to the switchdesk command, for example: See the switchdesk(1) man page for more information.

Manually editing the system configuration

You can also change your default desktop environment using the /etc/sysconfig/desktop system configuration file.
If this file does not exists, please create it.
This file specifies the desktop for new users and the display manager to run when entering runlevel 5. Please create/edit it using your preferred text editor.
Note that you will need administrator (root) privileges to create or edit this file. Correct values are: DESKTOP="<value>", where <value> is one of the following:

  1. GNOME — Selects the GNOME desktop environment.
  2. KDE — Selects the KDE desktop environment.

DISPLAYMANAGER="<value>", where <value> is one of the following:

  1. GNOME — Selects the GNOME Display Manager.
  2. KDE — Selects the KDE Display Manager.
  3. XDM — Selects the X Display Manager.

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