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If I install a different desktop environment on ubuntu, will it delete files or programs installed earlier?

Could I use those programs installed with ubuntu if I replace the environment with xfce?

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Installing a DE will not affect installed programs. Take a look at my answer Here, it might help you with the installation. – Mitch Jul 13 '13 at 9:02
Agree. xfce4 just installs XFCE, while xubuntu-desktop installs xfce4 and might install new programs (those who do not belong to ubuntu-desktop). – ignis Jul 13 '13 at 10:23

Changing Desktop Environments is like changing clothes, yourself will be the same. There's almost 0 risk of data loss (you always should do backups) and almost no glitches (Unity and Gnome 3 don't play well together). There's no risk of something bad happening whatsoever.

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