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Quick way to switch from KDE to GNOME or viceversa

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… add one }

  • n00b September 7, 2006, 11:03 pm

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

  • ubuntus September 8, 2006, 8:48 pm

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

  • Alejandro September 9, 2006, 12:11 am

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

  • Homericious September 9, 2006, 4:00 am

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

  • nick September 10, 2006, 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!

  • delfick September 12, 2006, 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?

  • Skyler Sully February 28, 2007, 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

  • charl January 13, 2009, 8:26 pm

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

  • jec January 22, 2009, 8:50 am

    Thanks! worked perfectly!

  • John Doe January 24, 2009, 5:47 pm

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

  • 2pac February 1, 2009, 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 :)

  • Mukul April 24, 2009, 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

  • zouhei December 2, 2009, 3:58 pm

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

  • Jake January 6, 2011, 6:59 pm

    @ Homericious

    Same thing happening over here.

  • jitender April 27, 2011, 9:59 am

    i have redhat5. how can i install vlc player

  • Gonz August 30, 2011, 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?

  • pravin wanjal January 10, 2012, 11:01 am

    really its nice…

  • pravin wanjal January 10, 2012, 11:02 am

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

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