I would like to be able to install XFCE to run alongside unity so I can choose, upon startup, which DE I use, without breaking any features of either DE.

Following this: Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr: a classic beauty

Note: don't install Nautilus in Xubuntu! This will cause system conflicts.

I don't want to affect ANY of the features in Unity, i.e. I want to be able to use the two interchangeably, so I can't follow some suggestions of just cleaning out all the old stuff as that would mean using Unity would be changed.

Can I install Unity aside with XFCE and switch them as I want? Is this possible in 12.04?

2 Answers 2


There are no conflicts between XFCE and Unity, and Nautilus works perfectly fine on Xubuntu 12.04 and 12.10.

If you wish to install XFCE in Ubuntu, install either xubuntu-desktop (for XFCE + Xubuntu branding + all Xubuntu default apps), or just xfce by itself if you don't want to end up with two sets of default apps.

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop


sudo apt-get install xfce4

Additionally - and I stress that this is based only on my own personal experience on one laptop - I've found that Xubuntu boots and runs much more quickly than Ubuntu whether Unity is installed or not. Based on this experience, I always prefer to install Unity on Xubuntu instead of XFCE on Ubuntu if I want an OS with both desktop environments. You may wish to try the same next time you reinstall your OS and see if you notice any performance improvements.

  • Thanks, this is on a desktop that runs most of the time so the latter isn't a problem, but certainly something I'l bare in mind for the future!
    – James
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:22
  • 3
    Afterwards, you may want to restore the Unity greeter. Nov 16, 2014 at 23:07
  • Running this on your phone doesn't bring you any kind of convergence or desktop experience but apparently breaks your Ubuntu phone. (This may change or this statement needs to be corrected when convergence is available on phones.)
    – LiveWireBT
    Jun 4, 2015 at 0:01
  • I strongly recommend not installing just xfce4. It's missing a lot of integration and features you've come to expect from a desktop environment. I found xfce4 almost unusable and nearly gave up on it...until I tried xubuntu-desktop, which includes a real task switcher/search box and other gnome-ish abilities.
    – Cerin
    Apr 6, 2017 at 14:23
  • Is it possible to have e.g. Ubuntu 18.04 with Unity as well as MATE-Desktop for e.g. xrdp? I am asking this since any kind of remote session usage with Unity / Pantheon / Gnome3 seems nigh to impossible...
    – Igor
    Aug 24, 2019 at 1:22

Just install xubuntu-desktop and it should work :). It should not conflict anything (never did for me).

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