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Old 06-23-2012, 02:33 PM   #1
bennypr0fane
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How to replace one desktop environment with another


Hello,
I generally want to ask how I can replace any given installed desktop environment with a different one.
By that I mean not just adding a new DE by e.g. going apt-get install xyz-desktop,
but first getting rid of all the apps and settings that come with one desktop (that does not involve the apps necessary to all the editions of a distro).
For example, Linux Mint 13 comes with 3 different default desktops to choose from, but they all include Linux Mint's update Manager and other things unique to LM. Those things I would obviously want to leave in place, but get rid of the standard set of applications that comes with the default desktop and replace them with LXDE.
More specifically, I have Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) with Xfce on my desktop, and want it with LXDE instead (there isn't currently an LMDE edition with LXDE as default). This is because I'm not satisfied with the speed and responsiveness of the current setup and hope for better results with LXDE.
On a different partition of the same PC, I have Bodhi Linux, which has Enlightenment desktop. This I want to replace with LXDE because I'm just not convinced by E17, it's too messy, with UI glitches I don't see in Lubuntu running on my laptop.
Thanks, Ben
 
Old 06-23-2012, 02:39 PM   #2
frieza
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first of all to replace a desktop environment you don't have to get rid of the old one, in fact i would recommend you don't because desktop environments (such as kde or gnome) also come with various libraries that are useful, it's just a matter of installing the new one and making sure it's configured to be the default at time of login.
 
Old 06-23-2012, 06:24 PM   #3
bennypr0fane
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frieza View Post
first of all to replace a desktop environment you don't have to get rid of the old one, in fact i would recommend you don't because desktop environments (such as kde or gnome) also come with various libraries that are useful, it's just a matter of installing the new one and making sure it's configured to be the default at time of login.
Well you don't HAVE to, but if I don't remove the old one first, I can't benefit from a lighter desktop in terms of speed, right?
You can see that non of my OSs has Gnome or KDE right now, so if I were to remove the current desktop, the Gnome libraries already present would remain untouched.
Anyway, how would I make sure get to I log into the new desktop by default and the old one doesn't continue to require a login as well?
Because I've had exactly this kind of situation already, when adding KDE to my previous install of Ubuntu 10.04 with Gnome.
I was asked to login to a Gnome session at startup, and to login again to KDE as soon as I started a KDE app -
and then it would take forever to load the KDE libraries.
That's also why I thought it would make sense to get rid of the existing DE, because then I'd have a minimum of apps present that require extra libraries...
 
Old 06-23-2012, 07:06 PM   #4
r.russo
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As said above, removing the old DE would be a problem (specially talking about GNOME or KDE) and that may bring broken dependencies and stuff. Since you're talking about XFCE, I don't think it would take many dependencies with it. Have you tried apt-get remove xfce4-desktop or something similar? Another way may be using Synaptic and search XFCE and see which is its main package, try to remove it and see which other packages will remove. Then you should check if you still have a login manager and install LXDE, set it up and will be running. If it gives you an error post it here and let's see...
 
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:13 PM   #5
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
Well you don't HAVE to, but if I don't remove the old one first, I can't benefit from a lighter desktop in terms of speed, right?
nope, the only penalty you suffer from not removing the old desktop is at worst a bit of used hard drive space, but some of the libraries that come with those desktop environments are essential to running certain programs. as for performance and speed? it's a matter of what is currently RUNNING, as opposed to what's INSTALLED.
 
Old 06-24-2012, 10:32 AM   #6
bennypr0fane
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Originally Posted by frieza View Post
nope, the only penalty you suffer from not removing the old desktop is at worst a bit of used hard drive space, but some of the libraries that come with those desktop environments are essential to running certain programs. as for performance and speed? it's a matter of what is currently RUNNING, as opposed to what's INSTALLED.
Ok, so maybe it'll be better to not try and completely remove the old DE, but I'm still concerned about the matter of the applications: If I just go ahead and add LXDE, I'll have two apps for everything, menus of double length, and maybe even two options for the settings applications. And I definitely won't be remembering which is LXDE and which is Xcfe, so whenever I chose an app from the previous DE, it'll cause the respective libraries to load and maybe also bring up an extra login prompt - as described above. How do I avoid that situation (1. mess of applications 2. extra login)?
I wonder if there isn't some kind of how-to for this kind of task (I searched, but no luck yet)? I bet thousands of others have had this concern before...
Thanks, Ben
 
Old 06-24-2012, 11:38 AM   #7
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
Ok, so maybe it'll be better to not try and completely remove the old DE, but I'm still concerned about the matter of the applications: If I just go ahead and add LXDE, I'll have two apps for everything, menus of double length, and maybe even two options for the settings applications. And I definitely won't be remembering which is LXDE and which is Xcfe, so whenever I chose an app from the previous DE, it'll cause the respective libraries to load and maybe also bring up an extra login prompt - as described above. How do I avoid that situation (1. mess of applications 2. extra login)?
I wonder if there isn't some kind of how-to for this kind of task (I searched, but no luck yet)? I bet thousands of others have had this concern before...
Thanks, Ben
no none of that would happen

the 'extra login prompt' you are probably thinking of would be simply a drop down menu at the login prompt to chose which DE you wish to use at time of login, but the login manager usually defaults to the last choice (unless you tell it otherwise)

the out of control applications menu? not gonna happen, applications in the menu, with few exceptions have NOTHING to do with the DE, they just sit in the menu looking pretty. a desktop environment DOES come with it's own set of applications (file manager, volume mixer etc,) but those aren't so specific you can't run one in the other enviroment, anything so specific, yes if you change settings for say nautilus, it won't effect what konqueror does, but that goes without saying. but as for the other settings applications, they are usually generic (sound mixer operates the mixer device, it isn't DE specific, try opening two mixers at the same time, you'll adust one and the other follows, like being pulled with a magnet)

as for libraries? well libraries are merely a foundation on which to build a program, you would have to practically re-write a program to use a different library, which is why keeping other libraries is a good idea because there is no 'gnome' version of konqueror for instance, and no 'kde version' of nautilus, but you could run either file manager in either Desktop environment

actually to clarify, it isn't that the libraries are part of the desktop environment with which they come, it is merely that the desktop libraries come with said libraries because the DE is dependant on said libraries being present to even function. same with a lot of the other software, if you remove the libraries you break the software which depends on them. you probably have some libraries that come with other DEs installed on your computer already without knowing it.

no a DE is merely a graphical SHELL, a tool that provides a user interface, your fears are overblown, just take the plunge and do it.

it's alwyas a good idea to have a backup of your data anyways, that way if you do mess something up you can start from scratch and not lose your data.
 
Old 06-24-2012, 06:29 PM   #8
bennypr0fane
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nice. installed LXDE from Synaptic. After install, I was asked to choose a display manager. Chose XDM. Reboot.
Everything is exactly the same, except for, oh, a few double applications - not as many as I thought though - and Flash has stopped working. And I don't get to shutdown the computer anymore, just log off.

I was never asked to chose between DEs at startup.
btw I get the impression frieza you didn't understand or ignored a good deal of what I wrote.
Will try to clarify soon.

Last edited by bennypr0fane; 06-24-2012 at 07:45 PM.
 
Old 06-24-2012, 07:36 PM   #9
TobiSGD
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It is because you have chosen XDM. You have to configure XDM, most other display managers, like GDM, LXDM, whatever have a menu to choose the DE/WM, XDM doesn't.
 
Old 06-24-2012, 09:22 PM   #10
bennypr0fane
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How can I get back to GDM?
 
Old 06-24-2012, 09:31 PM   #11
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Just install it (or remove XDM), you should be asked which display manager to use.
 
Old 06-24-2012, 09:46 PM   #12
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
nice. installed LXDE from Synaptic. After install, I was asked to choose a display manager. Chose XDM. Reboot.
Everything is exactly the same, except for, oh, a few double applications - not as many as I thought though - and Flash has stopped working. And I don't get to shutdown the computer anymore, just log off.

I was never asked to chose between DEs at startup.
i did not say there would be NONE, just not significant enough to wory about

for instance file managers
KDE has konqueror, gnome has nautilus

mixer
kmix,gmixer

so yes some of them will have similar 'doubles', but konqueror will run in gnome and vice versa, so you could get rid of either safely or keep them both, it's entirely up to you, none of this will eat up more than a bit of disk space though unless you chose to run them, and those menus can be configured to not have them there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
btw I get the impression frieza you didn't understand or ignored a good deal of what I wrote.
Will try to clarify soon.
please do not make personal attacks against people who are patiently trying to help you.
 
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:06 PM   #13
bennypr0fane
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Originally Posted by frieza View Post
i did not say there would be NONE, just not significant enough to wory about

for instance file managers
KDE has konqueror, gnome has nautilus

mixer
kmix,gmixer

so yes some of them will have similar 'doubles', but konqueror will run in gnome and vice versa, so you could get rid of either safely or keep them both, it's entirely up to you, none of this will eat up more than a bit of disk space though unless you chose to run them, and those menus can be configured to not have them there.



please do not make personal attacks against people who are patiently trying to help you.
You are right, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have reacted this way.
I appreciate your advice (as generally I find people freely helping others with their knowledge an amazing phenomenon, not to be taken for granted), and thank you for taking the time and effort to reply to my questions.
Still it bothers me to read things like "your concern is not a concern", or "what you want to do is unnecessary", and it doesn't happen rarely. That is of course not literally what you wrote, but it's what I understood - hence the phrase "I get the impression that..." which I make a point of using to express that I may have the wrong impression, and if so, you're very welcome to tell me.
However, what is for you not significant enough to worry about may still be a concern to me.
One part of my post that I felt you ignored or didn't understand was my account of how I added KDE to Gnome in the way that you seem to be advising, and it did result in a messy situation with many issues that I want to avoid this time. So I told you how it happened to me and I think I have reason to assume that I will get the same problems if I do it again in same way. That's why I was irritated to read "no worries, just do the same thing again, but this time it'll be different"
The second part is about the libraries that take a long time to load when calling an application that needs them. For instance, when in a Gnome session I started Amarok , it took a good 30 secs for it to load completely. Your explanation about what libraries really are helps my understanding of Linux, but it doesn't change the fact that my computer gets slowed down.
The "extra login prompt" coming up I remembered just now was actually the KDE keyring that I had mistakenly activated - and that I'll avoid this time.
Maybe I'm a bit of a neat freak, ans also a speed freak:
1.) my PC is a bit old, but if Linux gives me the possibility to still have a lean, fast and responsive system, I want to make use of that,
and 2.) I hate clutter and I like to keep my menus clear of stuff I never need.
Hope I managed to make it more clear. I guess I need to read some kind of comprehensive guide about Linux and desktop environments, window managers, libraries and all that, the whole things obviously still kind of eludes me.
Anyway, thanks again
Ben
 
Old 06-25-2012, 12:24 PM   #14
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If you are a speed freak don't use Ubuntu or Ubuntu based distros.
Go for Arch, Slackware or Gentoo. All of these will be faster than Ubuntu. But this will have the price of somewhat steeper learning curve. If you want it faster than Ubuntu/Mint/[insert favorite derivative] but still want to have it only slightly less convenient than Ubuntu try it with Debian.
Also, stay away from KDE 4 and Gnome 3/Unity/Cinnamon, go for XFCE, LXDE or, even better, don't install a DE at all. Install a WM, like Openbox, Fluxbox or something similar (back in the time I used Openbox, but now I am a fan of tiling WMs, currently using i3) and only add the applications you need.
When you have done that, disable/remove all services that you don't need.
 
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:08 PM   #15
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
You are right, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have reacted this way.
I appreciate your advice (as generally I find people freely helping others with their knowledge an amazing phenomenon, not to be taken for granted), and thank you for taking the time and effort to reply to my questions.
Still it bothers me to read things like "your concern is not a concern", or "what you want to do is unnecessary", and it doesn't happen rarely. That is of course not literally what you wrote, but it's what I understood - hence the phrase "I get the impression that..." which I make a point of using to express that I may have the wrong impression, and if so, you're very welcome to tell me.
However, what is for you not significant enough to worry about may still be a concern to me.
One part of my post that I felt you ignored or didn't understand was my account of how I added KDE to Gnome in the way that you seem to be advising, and it did result in a messy situation with many issues that I want to avoid this time. So I told you how it happened to me and I think I have reason to assume that I will get the same problems if I do it again in same way. That's why I was irritated to read "no worries, just do the same thing again, but this time it'll be different"
apology accepted, though I wasn't exactly trying to say,"your concern is not a concern", I was merely trying to point out you were fretting more than necessary as it was a MANAGEABLE concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennypr0fane View Post
The second part is about the libraries that take a long time to load when calling an application that needs them. For instance, when in a Gnome session I started Amarok , it took a good 30 secs for it to load completely. Your explanation about what libraries really are helps my understanding of Linux, but it doesn't change the fact that my computer gets slowed down.
The "extra login prompt" coming up I remembered just now was actually the KDE keyring that I had mistakenly activated - and that I'll avoid this time.
Maybe I'm a bit of a neat freak, ans also a speed freak:
1.) my PC is a bit old, but if Linux gives me the possibility to still have a lean, fast and responsive system, I want to make use of that,
and 2.) I hate clutter and I like to keep my menus clear of stuff I never need.
Hope I managed to make it more clear. I guess I need to read some kind of comprehensive guide about Linux and desktop environments, window managers, libraries and all that, the whole things obviously still kind of eludes me.
Anyway, thanks again
Ben
actually it isn't the libraries usually that add to load time, it is graphics effects and loading data files (for instance amarok, which has to load the playlist, and scan for the presence of the music files etc...), some software have maintenance tasks they perform at startup, and the biggest pinch on resources involved with the desktop environment is all the sound effects and cute graphics effects that the computer has to load, libraries are just passive resources of code and if they didn't exist, programs would be much much larger and much harder to develop.
here's a bit of a read on libraries (wikipedia)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_%28computing%29
 
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