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switch between gnome and kdeA while ago I wrote an article about why you should consider giving Ubuntu a go 5 Reasons A Disgruntled Windows User Should Consider Using Ubuntu 5 Reasons A Disgruntled Windows User Should Consider Using Ubuntu Read More . A few of you asked why I never mentioned Kubuntu, and some seemed convinced that KDE was the way to go. Well guess what? Here’s how you can have both.

Ubuntu Ubuntu 10.04 - An Extremely Simple Operating System [Linux] Ubuntu 10.04 - An Extremely Simple Operating System [Linux] Read More uses the GNOME desktop environment straight out of the box, which provides a functional and fairly clean desktop with a few sexy effects from Compiz. Kubuntu Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Read More uses the KDE desktop environment which has now comes with more bells and whistles than ever.

If you’re sitting there on your Ubuntu machine thinking “I fancy giving that a go” then you can. With a couple of commands and a restart, you’ll be using KDE in no time.

KDE Or GNOME?

Besides appearance (well, duh) there’s a few key differences between KDE and GNOME. If you’re using Ubuntu right now you’re running GNOME (and if you’re using Xubuntu, you’re enjoying XFCE 8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux 8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux Read More ).

Take a look around. It’s pretty easy to get it to do what you want, it doesn’t really look that much like Windows and it comes with its own set of tools and toys.

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switch between gnome and kde

KDE on the other hand gives you considerably more say in the way your desktop looks, despite at first seeming quite Windows-like. For seasoned Microsoft glassy-eyed veterans, KDE might seem the smarter choice as it’ll provide a more familiar and tailored desktop. If you’re sick of the Windows method, you might find GNOME more refreshing How to Set Up a Dual Boot Windows & Linux System with Wubi How to Set Up a Dual Boot Windows & Linux System with Wubi Read More .

KDE also comes with its own set of applications, most of which have unnecessary Ks all over the place, like Konqueror 12 Worthy Alternative Browsers for Linux 12 Worthy Alternative Browsers for Linux Read More and Amarok. The main downside to installing both environments is the fact that you get both software packages appearing all the time, but if you decide to remove one you can remove the associated software packages too.

Regardless, installing KDE is a great way to experience Linux in a slightly different flavour. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to remove (I’ll go through that bit too).

Adding Repositories

First thing’s first, we’re going to be using the command line Learn To Use The Ubuntu Command Line With CLIcompanion Learn To Use The Ubuntu Command Line With CLIcompanion Read More so open up your favourite console (if you’re in vanilla Ubuntu you can find Terminal in Applications then Accessories) and type:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You’ll be asked for your password, input it (it won’t be displayed) and hit enter. Now you’ll want to open up the Software Sources window in System then Administration. Click on the Updates tab and enable Unsupported updates (lucid-backports).

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You can check on the repository you just added in the Other Software tab if you want. Once you’re done close the window.

Installing KDE

Back to the command line 4 Websites to Learn Cool Linux Command Line Tricks 4 Websites to Learn Cool Linux Command Line Tricks Read More , find Terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get update

Once the update has completed you’re going to want to download KDE with the following command:

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

You will be notified of the archives that are about to be downloaded, the download size and eventual size on your disk. Type “y” and hit Enter to begin the download. You’ve probably got enough time to make a coffee or go to the bathroom. When you get back, you should see the KDE installer open in the Terminal window.

Next you’ll need to choose a default display manager. As I have had no problems with GDM (and once had to recover Ubuntu via the command line thanks to KDM) I chose the former. This one’s up to you, but GDM just seems to work for me and thus comes with my recommendation.

Once you’ve made your decision, the installer will begin. You’ve probably got enough time to drink that coffee and wait until your Terminal looks like this:

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You’ll need to restart your computer at this point, but you might want to disable automatic log-in first otherwise you won’t be able to choose KDE at startup. To do this in GNOME go to System, Administration then Login Screen. Enable Show the login screen for choosing who will log in and close the window.

Once you’ve restarted and reached the login screen click your username, input your password and at the bottom of the screen where it says Session choose KDE before logging in as you normally would.

You should now see KDE spring into action. If at any time you would like to switch back to GNOME, log out and choose GNOME as your Session.

switch between gnome and kde

Removing KDE/GNOME

So you’ve tried it and it’s not for you. Not to worry, removing KDE and restoring your pure GNOME desktop is quite possible using a single and incredibly lengthy command.   Since the command is very lengthy, we have put it into a TXT document which you can download here at your convenience.

If you’re really bowled over by KDE then you can remove GNOME completely with a similarly monstrous command, again put into a handy TXT document which you can download here.

To paste into the Terminal you’ll need to hit Ctrl+Shift+V. This command will remove all KDE related packages and double-check your GNOME packages. Next time you boot up, you’ll have a pure GNOME Ubuntu again.

Conclusion

Having both KDE and GNOME at your disposal is useful, especially for newcomers still evaluating the OS. If you’ve got a shared computer then having both environments installed isn’t such a bad idea either. Sooner or later you’ll know which you prefer, I personally prefer GNOME with a nice dock 8 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine 8 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine Read More .

Whatever you do with your Ubuntu, don’t forget to tell us about it in the comments. Do you use KDE or GNOME? Or both? Or another desktop environment? Don’t be shy!

  1. Sasha
    December 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    @dave: try to look at query and simply remove quotes like amp; before last sudo put ;
    and that's it :-)

  2. Sasha
    December 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    @dave: try to look at query and simply remove quotes like amp; before last sudo put ;
    and that's it :-)

  3. dave
    November 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    tried to remove KDE and got this error message in terminal
    bash: syntax error near unexpected token ';&'

  4. dave
    November 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    tried to remove KDE and got this error message in terminal
    bash: syntax error near unexpected token ';&'

  5. Imran Akhtar
    November 22, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Gnome is much easier to configure than the latter. Ultimately, I cannot give Linux and the open source world enough praise for allowing one to experiment and enjoy so many different OSes and desktops.
    web designing

  6. Rbrownlie
    November 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    After I installed KDE, my subpixel rendering for my fonts stopped working.

  7. ShmuelNyssen
    October 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hey!
    Im starting to convince my self to get in to the Ubuntu side cause Windows is VERY slow.

    The point is that i have both Gnome and KDE and i wanted to uninstall KDE since months ago cause i dont use it, and (may be not) i feel my booting process is slower.

    Thanks for the Extra Easy Gide! I relay appreciate so! :)

  8. ShmuelNyssen
    October 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hey!
    Im starting to convince my self to get in to the Ubuntu side cause Windows is VERY slow.

    The point is that i have both Gnome and KDE and i wanted to uninstall KDE since months ago cause i dont use it, and (may be not) i feel my booting process is slower.

    Thanks for the Extra Easy Gide! I relay appreciate so! :)

  9. Marco Ghirlanda
    October 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    The second link for the txt is wrong, it should be 2 instead of 1 (you get the same txt than the one for removing kde)

    • Tim Brookes
      October 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks, we'll get this fixed asap :)

  10. Rawnut
    October 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    There is no need to add repositories. KDE 4.5 is already in the main repos.

    "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop" is all you need. If you don't want to use the command line, it's in the software center. Just search for kubuntu.

  11. Rawnut
    October 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    There is no need to add repositories. KDE 4.5 is already in the main repos.

    "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop" is all you need. If you don't want to use the command line, it's in the software center. Just search for kubuntu.

  12. McStud
    October 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I get so bored with one desktop environment. Therefore, I have tried numerous flavors. Blackbox is minimal, lightweight, but very cool. Did not care for Openbox, not skinnable enough. Fluxbox is very similar to Blackbox and it too is quite cool. KDE is very pleasant looking, but draws more resources than any of them. The plasmoid effect is too slow for me. Gnome is snappy and I love the interface. It is very intuitive, and highly configurable as is KDE. The two "Big Boys" would definitely be Gnome and KDE. In my opinion, Gnome is much easier to configure than the latter. Ultimately, I cannot give Linux and the open source world enough praise for allowing one to experiment and enjoy so many different OSes and desktops. Think about it. Here is a trustworthy saying: "We will never be able to choose XP, Vista, or 7 at login!"

  13. Tim Brookes
    October 12, 2010 at 9:33 am

    There's also the xubuntu-desktop package in the repositories, which should work (though you'll get all the Xubuntu software packages too, in case you just wanted the GUI).

    You can of course use the command line interface, it'd be:

    sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

    I believe...

  14. Tim Brookes
    October 12, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I've personally not tried XFCE (as it's built for slower machines, and GNOME works a treat on my laptop).

    I don't think you need to add any respositories for XFCE, I've found this guide which suggests just installing the XFCE package via the Synaptic Package Manager. Good luck!

  15. Tadatma
    October 12, 2010 at 5:48 am

    and for having xubuntu as an option would it suffice to replace 'k' with 'x' ?

    • Tim Brookes
      October 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

      I've personally not tried XFCE (as it's built for slower machines, and GNOME works a treat on my laptop).

      I don't think you need to add any respositories for XFCE, I've found this guide which suggests just installing the XFCE package via the Synaptic Package Manager. Good luck!

      • Tim Brookes
        October 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

        There's also the xubuntu-desktop package in the repositories, which should work (though you'll get all the Xubuntu software packages too, in case you just wanted the GUI).

        You can of course use the command line interface, it'd be:

        sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

        I believe...

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