Can I install extra environments without affecting my current environment? I have to use a low energy demanding environment because I will not be able to charge for a few (a lot of) hours and I will need my laptop but I don't want to mess up my Unity and Compiz settings. (They're perfect as they are right now.)

I'm asking because I got mixed messages saying that it is no problem as well as those that say that the universe basically exploded when they switched temporarily.

ps. any recommendations for low power consuming environments? I don't want to run only a shell. A bit of a GUI is appreciated.

For future generations reading this: Xfce works great. The only change to Unity is the notification window that pops up when you adjust the volume or connect to a new network. I'm going to leave that change however because I quite like it. It is now gray and features buttons like "skip this item" for music songs and "don't show this message again" for other notifications.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Braiam, Eric Carvalho, user117103, bain, waltinator Jul 7 '14 at 15:37

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • depends on which one... you should be able to install something like xfce with little problem. – Mateo Jul 3 '14 at 0:38
  • Thanks, I was doubting between LXDE and XFCE to begin with. The choice is clear if XFCE is a low problem desktop environment. – Akisame Jul 3 '14 at 0:44
  • Just as an experience, I installed Mint and Ubuntu dualboot with the same home partition when I wanted to have an additional lighter desktop. – AliNâ Jul 5 '14 at 20:21

You may install as many as you wish. The only 2 that I know of that are incompatible are gnome-shell and unity (one or the other).

The only complaints I have seen about doing so are either :

  1. Cosmetic changes to themes , including plymouth (boot screen), log in screen, and sometimes icons. You can always set these they way you like post install.

  2. Duplicate apps (multiple text editors, cd burners, etc). This makes the menu crowded. You can use kde/xfce/lxde apps with any of the desktop environments.

  3. It can be painstaking to remove the desktops if you no longer wish to keep them. Other window managers (fluxbox, openbox, etc) are easier to remove.

  4. Some people complain of performance hits due to loading multiple libs into ram. IMO the performance hit is negligible. It does require more hard drive space and more packages == more likely to find bugs.

  • Thanks. Since I'm going to install a small lightweight environment number 4 shouldn't be a big problem. I'll see if your other points become a problem but they seem simple to fix. – Akisame Jul 3 '14 at 0:47
  • My home computer is shared by multiple family members, each has his or her preference, so at least kde, xfce, and fluxbox are all installed here. The eyecandy people prefer kde to gnome so usually unity/gnomve shell are not installed, but I try many DE/WM from time to time. – Panther Jul 3 '14 at 0:50
  • Thanks, I had a bad experience a few years back when trying out new DE so I wanted to be sure this time. – Akisame Jul 3 '14 at 0:59

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