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I was wondering if I could run those three versions in the same computer and how. I would love having them in my computer.

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Here's a nested list of your various options:

  1. You can install multiple desktop environments in the same Ubuntu system, by installing the corresponding package. Most of these are metapackages.

    • GNOME 3 with Unity / Unity 2D: ubuntu-desktop
    • GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell: gnome-shell
    • GNOME 3 with GNOME Fallback (looks like, but isn't, GNOME 2): gnome-session-fallback
    • KDE 4 Plasma Workspaces - kubuntu-desktop
    • Xfce 4 - xubuntu-desktop
    • LXDE - lubuntu-desktop

    That's not an exhaustive list of metapackages providing desktop environments. Other variants, like edubuntu-desktop, can also be installed this way.

    The best way to have an Ubuntu system with GNOME Unity, KDE 4, and Xfce 4 installed is probably to install the Ubuntu desktop CD, then add the kubuntu-desktop and xubuntu-desktop packages.

    If you're installing from the command-line with sudo apt-get install ..., make sure to run sudo apt-get update first to update information about what versions are available of software to install. Otherwise, and especially given that these are big metapackages:

    1. It may try to install some versions that are no longer available, causing the installation to fail.
    2. It may try to install some versions that are buggy and don't work right with each other.
    3. You may incur security vulnerabilities (though you could fix them by a subsequent upgrade of everything to the latest version).
    4. It takes much more time and effort to upgrade potentially hundreds of packages after installing old versions, than to run sudo apt-get update first and install the newest recommended versions in the first place.

    Remember, when you install these big metapackages, many packages are installed.

    Of course, you can install them just as well through the Software Center (no sudo apt-get update needed, it's taken care of automatically).

    If you have more than one desktop environment installed, you can work in one system where you have access to everything. This is quite valuable, so this is probably what you'll want to do. However, note that, unless you do quite a bit of manual reconfiguration, you'll see all applications when in each desktop environment (in its menus, or when you search for installed apps), including applications designed for the other desktop environments.

    They will still run, and most of them without any problems at all, since even those applications that are very strongly pinned to a particular DE have that DE installed in this scenario. When running, though, they may cause significant background user services associated with their desktop environment to start up in the background. This sort of thing is particularly common when running KDE programs in GNOME.

  2. You can install Ubuntu and its derivatives (Kubuntu and Xubuntu) separately, on separate partitions. There's another major choice to make, within this:

    1. You can have a separate /home partition which they all share. Your per-user settings and other user-specific files like browser bookmarks, cookies, and cache if you use the same browser application will be shared. This is very convenient.

      But with multiple versions of some software using the same settings and data (since some programs are shared between GNOME/Unity, KDE, and XFCE), you may experience some problems. For example, if one system is updated before another, older versions of software may be unable to access configuration data "upgraded" by the newer versions. Yu may also want to customize your personal menus differently in ways not facilitated easily when the different systems share /home.

    2. Each system has a separate /home. You have separate Documents, Downloads, and Desktop folders (for example) and each application is configured separately for you in the separate systems.

    A secondary choice to make is whether or not to use separate swap partitions.

    1. You should probably share the swap partition. The systems aren't both swapping to it at the same time, after all.

    2. But if you use it for hibernation (i.e., suspend to disk) and you want to be able to run one system while hibernating another, you should have separate swap partitions. Even if you don't want to do this, if you plan to use hibernation at all, you might want separate swap partitions in case you make a mistake, so you don't overwrite one system's hibernation state by booting the other system by accident.

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Run sudo apt-get update in terminal (just in case, What is the terminal?) to get an up to date package list.

For Xubuntu sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop or xubuntu-desktop Install xubuntu-desktop

For Kubuntu sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop or kubuntu-desktop Install kubuntu-desktop

Be prepared to fix some things like the splash screen, How to recover splash screen

Otherwise you can use them with your same user on the log-in screen by selecting the icon near your name to get a list of desktops.
How do I switch to Xubuntu?

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I did that, but then it appeared a message: Warning: no support for locale: en_US.utf8 – Juan Diego Jul 24 '12 at 1:48
This question might help for that problem… – Mateo Jul 24 '12 at 2:07

Perhaps you could refine your question? Are you asking if you can run three separate installs of ubuntu, xubuntu, and kubuntu on the same hard-drive with different partitions? Or are you asking if you can you can use the Desktop Environments for each in the same partition?

If you are asking if you can install Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and Kubuntu as separate partitions then the answer is yes. If you are asking if you can use the three desktop environments as well as the packages that come with each, then the answer is also yes.

I am sure that you can install each separately on the same hard-drive as different partitions, and choose which one you want from the grub loader. However, you would have to install three times!

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You could in two ways. You can add plasma and xfce4 desktops to a current gnome ubuntu desktop but this come with a lot of bloat (just like if you added Cinnamon or Gnome-Shell to a unity install). You could also make a logical drive with separate root partitions for each DE and a /home folder for them to share but each desktop would require a different login/username to ensure there is no desktop settings problems.

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If you're using all different user accounts on the separate systems, what reason would there be for them to use the same /home? – Eliah Kagan Jul 20 '12 at 4:53

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