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I am using Ubuntu 12.04. I want to try out KDE and other desktop environments.

But I'm not sure if I'll like them enough to switch permanently. I want to be safe and make a transition in a piecemeal fashion.

Is it possible to install KDE on Ubuntu and yet not do away with the default Unity shell?

Could I install multiple desktop environments and switch between them by tweaking some startup configuration and then rebooting?

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1 Answer

up vote 13 down vote accepted

It is possible, to install KDE run sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends kubuntu-desktop. After you install it you can switch between Desktop Environments at the login screen.

This also works with most of the common DE's out there.

For Xubuntu (XFCE) sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xubuntu-desktop

For Lubuntu (LXDE) sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends lubuntu-desktop

And Gnome Shell (Gnome 3) sudo apt-get install gnome-core

Theoretically you can have as many of these installed as you want, but I would only use one or two at time to avoid conflicts.

Note: If you plan on moving to a new DE completely, remove the --no-install-recommends from the commands above.


You can remove any of these with the purge command in apt, like this:

sudo apt-get purge gnome-core


sudo apt-get purge kubuntu-desktop

If you want to try Linux Mint's Cinnamon use these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable  
sudo apt-get update  
sudo apt-get install cinnamon

To uninstall Cinnamon use sudo apt-get purge cinnamon and follow these instructions on removeing PPA's.

I have personally run Unity and Kubuntu, Unity and Xubuntu and Unity and Gnome Shell. I have used Cinnamon a little bit too. KDE is by far the most customizable closely followed by XFCE in Xubuntu. Right now I just use Unity.

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Is this possible just for KDE or other environments aswell? Are desktop environments like normal software utilities or are then like device drivers, that having two of them is surest way to disaster? I was hoping you could enlighten me a bit on the way desktop environments work and interact with each other. (Just a little bit) –  Kshitiz Sharma Dec 13 '12 at 4:37
I edited the answer to include more information. –  Seth Dec 13 '12 at 4:46
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