Quick way to switch from KDE to GNOME or viceversa

by on September 7, 2006 · 18 comments· LAST UPDATED November 9, 2007

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This tip is submitted by reader Zacharie:

switchdesk is the command to switch from KDE to GNOME or viceversa. This command provides a simple method of choosing between the various desktop environments available under Fedora Core, Cent OS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

If X Windows is running, switchdesk will bring up a dialog box which allows the user to choose between the available desktops installed on the system.

Task: To switch from GNOME to KDE, use the command

$ switchdesk kde

Task: To switch from KDE to GNOME, use the command

$ switchdesk gnome

Please note that file ~/.Xclients, ~/.Xclients-default stores the currently selected desktop.

A note about other distros/BSD

switchdesk is RedHat and friends only command. If you are using different Linux distribution or FreeBSD, open ~/.xinitrc file and type full path to your desktop manager. For example, to use xfce4 desktop:
$ vi .xinitrc
Append following line (your path may be different use, which command to get exact path):
/usr/X11R6/bin/startxfce4

Save and close the file. Enjoy new desktop.

While login you will see option for different desktops (provided that all of them are installed). Usually this is located below Username / password box or lower left button. Just select appropriate desktop (KDE/XFC4 etc).

Load KDE while running Gnome

You can load KDE while running Gnome desktop (thanks to sweta for pointing it out):
Just open your gnome terminal and type the command:
$ startkde &

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 n00b September 7, 2006 at 11:03 pm

excellent tip. I am using fedora core 5 and switch desk is good for swithing desktops

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2 ubuntus September 8, 2006 at 8:48 pm

any way this can be used on any of the UBUNTU variants?

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3 Alejandro September 9, 2006 at 12:11 am

great tip…but it’s “X Window” isn’t it?

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4 Homericious September 9, 2006 at 4:00 am

Foul! Doesn’t work! Command isn’t found and can’t be installed via “apt-get”. Not a standard X command!

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5 nick September 10, 2006 at 7:34 pm

I’d like to see Gnome and KDE Running at the same time using XGL – imagine ctrl and the desktop swizzles round in all its XGL glory with a different desktops on different faces of the cube. That would be really sweet!

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6 delfick September 12, 2006 at 10:38 am

once using the startkde command, how do I close kde and return to gnome?

also it doesn’t close gnome, as i can still see and use the gnome-panel

also, would it even be possible to have kde on one face of the cube, and gnome on the other?

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7 Skyler Sully February 28, 2007 at 5:17 am

Well, I know this is a little late and wrong, but the answer to quitting kde after you start it with the startkde command is:

> kdeinit_shutdown

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8 charl January 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

you didnt answer all the questions and problems, I also dont have the switchdesk command on my system

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9 jec January 22, 2009 at 8:50 am

Thanks! worked perfectly!

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10 John Doe January 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

The problem I have is that Fedora 10 is telling me:
bash: switchdesk: command not found

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11 2pac February 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm

John Doe: as root, run: yum install switchdesk
Press “Y” when you get asked to install packages…

Then you will have switchdesk :)

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12 Mukul April 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

How to know through command line which GUI i m in linux ..

Like If i am using KDE, it should say it

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13 zouhei December 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

thank you so much for this article , it helped me a lot in my school work

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14 Jake January 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm

@ Homericious

Same thing happening over here.

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15 jitender April 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

i have redhat5. how can i install vlc player

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16 Gonz August 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

i can’t quit kde using de command kdeinit_shutdown. it says: Warning: connect() failed: : No such file or directory
Error: Can’t contact kdeinit!

what should i do?

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17 pravin wanjal January 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

really its nice…

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18 pravin wanjal January 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

the command switchdesk gnome didnt worked correctly what should i do?

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