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 How to run multiple desktop environments (DE's) with Linux Mint 11

How-to run multiple desktop environments (sessions)


The great thing about Linux, is you can customize EVERY little thing to your liking. I just so happen to enjoy being able to have different desktop environments to do certain tasks. Linux Mint 11 ships with GNOME 2.32, which is a very nice desktop environment, with the latest version of Compiz. It just so happens the latest version of Compiz is incompatible with Emerald in the package manager, leaving limited visual appeal, because a lot of the nice themes are Emerald. (You can still get Emerald to work with Compiz)

I wanted to try XFCE a few weeks ago, because I haven't fooled around with it for a long time, so I decided to install it from the package manager. Everything ran great, and I had no compatibility issues. I'm not quite sure whether or not to call this a tutorial, or an informative guide, but I will go through the steps of how I installed XFCE, and KDE, to run alongside with GNOME 2.32.


I would like to start by saying XFCE can run all your applications on mint that are pre-installed. Don't be skeptical about compatibility, as the the DE rarely affects which programs can/can't run.

Firstly, open up Synaptic Package Manager either from your menu, or from the terminal using:

sudo synaptic

In the search bar type in "xfce".

I would recommend downloading "gtk2-engines-xfce" so you can run GTK2 themes with your XFCE sessions.

You need to check "xfce4" and all the dependants in order to run xfce, but I recommend downloading all of the spiffy components that are in the package manager ready to work with XFCE.

Click apply (green check), and let Synaptic do the work.

After everything is downloaded and installed, simply logout, and at the bottom where it normally says "Gnome", just choose "Xfce" from the drop-down box. Login, and enjoy your new DE.


You can do the same with KDE, and any other DE's. If you want to go back to Gnome, you can just choose it from the drop-down box.

Enjoy having a limitless combination of desktop appearance!

Tags: multiple,desktop,environments,de,mint
Created: 2 years ago.
Last edited: 2 years ago.
Reviewed: 2 years ago.
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2 years ago

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop

This will get all the dependencies. Log out and back in, choosing xfce for your desktop.
2 years ago

I'd like to try out Xfce without downloading/installing another full distro. remoulder's comment is probably correct, but your tutorial sounds interesting.  
2 years ago

You can install other DEs with most linux distros, however just installing via synaptic as you describe will not result in the equivalent linuxmint version for that DE  

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