Install Xubuntu Desktop alongside Ubuntu

By | 2008/06/28

If you’re new to Ubuntu you may or may not be aware of the fact that we like our choices here.  One of the big choices is the desktop environment that you work in.  The big two are Gnome and KDE, but there are quite a few more.  Xubuntu, or Ubuntu using the XFCE desktop environment, is another official release variant from the Ubuntu community.  If you’ve never tried it out I’ve got instructions below on how to install it in parallel to your existing desktop, giving you the option of selecting one at login.

Installing the Xubuntu Desktop

Installing the XFCE desktop environment can be done by way of the Ubuntu package repositories.  It has been simplified with the creation of a meta-package, which is a simple package containing a longer list of required packages.  To install the XFCE environment is done with the following:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

When this is finished you’ll need to logout of your current session and select XFCE as the next session you’d like to use.  This option is found on the login screen.  Look for “Sessions” and select XFCE.  This can be made the default or just a temporary change.

Being able to select the session, or the environment that we’re going to use gives us the opportunity to try out multiple desktop environments without needing to reinstall or affect our current system much.  If you don’t like one, simply install and select a different session.

If you’d like to remove the XFCE environment at some point you can use:

sudo apt-get remove xubuntu-desktop

sudo apt-get autoremove

12 thoughts on “Install Xubuntu Desktop alongside Ubuntu

  1. Christoph

    “sudo apt-get autoclean” won’t help much. autoclean clears only the apt cache, but doesn’t remove orphaned packages. You should use “sudo apt-get autoremove” to uninstall dependencies for some package and that are no more needed.

  2. Jason

    Could you expound on some of the benefits of XFCE environments? I’ve read a little bit about it and how they’re more streamlined or something and have been wanting to try it out so this is great. When I downloaded it before I don’t know what I did but I had all the XFCE stuff in addition to my regular GNOME desktop and didn’t like that, so this tutorial is great, thanks.

  3. kindofabuzz

    That’s one thing that isn’t mentioned. When you install it, all the apps from xubuntu-desktop are merged into your regular menus and vice-versa. I really wish they’d do something about that.

  4. Grav

    XFCE desktop environment is a very lightweight interface. By “lightweight” I mean that it does not take a lot of memory to run as compared to Gnome or KDE which use more backend programs to make them run with more “user intuitiveness”. The extra backend stuff helps with stuff like the menus being able to be easily modified and file management to work more like MS Windows or OSX. I’m not saying XFCE is not intuitive, but if you want to dig in and configure where all of your icons and toolbars are going to live and how they’re going to look, then it’s a little more involved to customize. The tradeoff is that the desktop experience will be more responsive (or quicker) once it’s all set up. If it seems too much to configure, just work with it a little. It really makes slower systems shine like new.

    I’ve got XFCE running on a 500 MHz Thinkpad running Slackware and it feels as fast as my brand new Vista machine from the time it takes to boot to getting started
    working in applications. Mostly, I’m waiting on the Vista desktop and Gadgets to load.

    Hope that helps answer your question.

  5. Randy Noseworthy

    Jason, I’ve the KDE desktop installed, and trashed my Gnome settings. With the KDE environment, I was able to still use my machine and use the terminal to properly re-install the Gnome Desktop. I’d highly recommend that a person have a second desktop to log into, unless they’re very good with the command line.

    My question is, how many desktops can one add to their system, or does it matter? Could I add a Flux Box and XFCE allong with the other two?

  6. oren

    randy, there is no limitation.
    just install them and logout.
    than choose one from the sessions menu.
    btw, after playing with xfce i moved on to
    tiled window managers –
    now my favorite in dwm. can’t be faster
    than this one.

  7. Lane Lester

    Xubuntu has been my machine through both Gutsy and Hardy, and I’m pleased with everything except one. The developers, for some reason I can’t fathom, decided to create a hidden “system” menu that the menu editor can’t get to without going through a bunch of tricks. So when you want to add a program to the menu, you have to add it to the bottom section, instead of one of the submenus.

  8. Vincent

    I’m using Xubuntu because it’s so easy to use yet allows lots of customization. Plus, I can use its own compositing manager which is a bit more stable than Compiz. Overall, it really matches GNOME and KDE.

    There are a few downsides, such as not being able to drag-and-drop icons onto the panel and the menu not yet fully adhering to the standards, but most of them will be solved with Xfce 4.6 which is supposed to be ready for Xubuntu 8.10 🙂

  9. Subbu

    It did not remove everything, It installed 213 Mb and removed 41 KB 🙁

    How will I get rid of it ?

  10. Nate

    “It did not remove everything, It installed 213 Mb and removed 41 KB. How will I get rid of it ?”

    In the same boat. please expand on this tutorial!

  11. Christer Edwards Post author

    if the meta-package removal did not work you can manually remove everything using:

    sudo apt-get remove a2ps abiword abiword-common abiword-plugins gnumeric-common gnumeric-gtk gtk2-engines-xfce imagemagick libaiksaurus-1.2-0c2a libaiksaurus-1.2-data libaiksaurusgtk-1.2-0c2a libexo-0.3-0 libgdome2-0 libgdome2-cpp-smart0c2a libglib2.0-data libgoffice-0-6 libgoffice-0-6-common libgsf-gnome-1-114 libgtkmathview0c2a liblink-grammar4 libots0 libt1-5 libtagc0 libthunar-vfs-1-2 libwpd-stream8c2a libxfce4mcs-client3 libxfce4mcs-manager3 libxfce4util4 libxfcegui4-4 link-grammar-dictionaries-en mousepad mozilla-thunderbird orage psutils python-exo ristretto tango-icon-theme tango-icon-theme-common thunar thunar-archive-plugin thunar-data thunar-media-tags-plugin thunar-thumbnailers thunar-volman thunderbird vim-runtime xfce4-appfinder xfce4-battery-plugin xfce4-clipman-plugin xfce4-cpugraph-plugin xfce4-dict-plugin xfce4-fsguard-plugin xfce4-governor-plugin xfce4-icon-theme xfce4-mailwatch-plugin xfce4-mcs-manager xfce4-mcs-plugins xfce4-mcs-plugins-extra xfce4-mixer xfce4-mixer-alsa xfce4-mount-plugin xfce4-netload-plugin xfce4-notes-plugin xfce4-panel xfce4-places-plugin xfce4-quicklauncher-plugin xfce4-screenshooter-plugin xfce4-session xfce4-smartbookmark-plugin xfce4-systemload-plugin xfce4-terminal xfce4-utils xfce4-verve-plugin xfce4-weather-plugin xfce4-xkb-plugin xfdesktop4 xfdesktop4-data xfprint4 xfwm4 xfwm4-themes xubuntu-artwork-usplash xubuntu-default-settings xubuntu-desktop xubuntu-docs && sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

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