I'm currently running Ubuntu 16.04. To keep my story short: I'm trying to play a game in WINE fullscreen, but actual fullscreen mode for this particular game crashes too much, so I'm running it windowed at my native resolution. However the Unity bar and launcher are both visible when I do this, so I want to install a secondary DE just for WINE games (I'm thinking Xfce because it uses GTK+2, which hopefully won't interfere with anything to do with Unity's GTK+3).

I know it's as simple as sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop (or whatever the equivalent is for the DE I will choose), but I once tried this with KDE in 14.04 and it caused considerable problems with the visuals and functionality of Unity (Qt would override GTK+ visuals, Nautilus would crash at launch, etc.). Do you have any tips for installing a second DE that I can switch to at login without interfering with the stability of Unity? Am I correct in assuming that Xfce will likely cause the least amount of difficulty?


Xfce most likely won't cause any problems since it is also based on GTK+ (GTK+ 2, yes, but that is already installed).

KDE causing problems would probably be due to:

  • Toolkit differences: KDE is Qt while Unity, GNOME and Xfce share the GTK+ toolkit

  • You installed the kubuntu-desktop package which brings in the whole KDE universe

Now, if you just want to pop into Xfce once in a while for a game, install xfce4 rather than xubuntu-desktop - it just installs the core Xfce desktop, not all of Xfce's apps.


Some tweaks to give you a near fullscreen experience.

  • Set Xfce-panel to autohide (Right-click on panel->Panel->Panel preferences->Automatically hide the panel->set to 'Always')

  • Tell Xfce to hide the titlebar when maximized (Settings Manager->Window Manager Tweaks->Accessibility->Check 'Hide title of windows when maximized')


Since Ubuntu doesn't really have very good support for multiple DEs, things like themes, icons, and colors will be the same in every DE you install. Some programs will too.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a way to isolate DEs from each other, so there's always the issue of conflicts and other annoyances from installing another DE along with your current one.

It's really just a risk you have to take when you install multiple DEs. If one causes problems, or you don't like it, it can always be uninstalled with

sudo apt-get purge DENAME-*

but that could uninstall important packages for every DE installed.

  • Very well. Then can somebody who's tried some/all of the DEs on 16.04 tell me which one caused the least difficulty? – lightspectra May 27 '16 at 15:52

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