FreeBSD and Linux changing Desktop Environments/login manager

Asked by Christopher

Q. I have both FreeBSD and Red Hat Linux desktop computers. I would like to change KDE to GNOME or vice versa. Under FreeBSD X windows is working but without KDE/Gnome desktop, I am using Intel Celeron computer can I run or install kde?


Changing Desktop Environments under Red Hat
Use utility called switchdesk, open terminal, and type

# switchdesk

Select desktop you would like to use, click Ok.
From System Setting select > Switch desktop tool
Modify /etc/sysconfig/desktop file

# vi /etc/sysconfig/desktop

Setup/modify variable DISPLAYMANAGER:

  • If you want Gnome Desktop setup it to DISPLAYMANAGER=”GNOME”
  • If you want KDE Desktop setup it to DISPLAYMANAGER=”KDE”

Note: Debian user can need to modify file /etc/X11/default-display-manager and need to put full path of desktop manager. Therefore, if you are using Gnome use path /usr/bin/gdm, for Kde use path /usr/bin/kdm.

FreeBSD Desktop system
Since you are using low end Celeron I recommend using xfce desktop (you can use Gnome too but it will be little bit slow). It is a desktop environment based on the GTK+ toolkit used by GNOME, but is much more lightweight and simple.

To install xfce, type following command as root user:

# pkg_add -r xfce4

Open your configuration file .xinitrc and append/add following line to it:

# cd
# vi .xinitrc

Simply add following line:


Save the file, exit to shell prompt. Above line, tell the X server to launch XFce the every time X is started.

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1 comment… add one
  • TheRaven Jan 11, 2012 @ 10:37

    First: Gnome runs nicely in Linux and FreeBSD on Celerons. I Have extensively run Linux variants as well as FreeBSD with desktop shells, Gnome and KDE, on an IBM Thinkpad A20m with a whopping 700Mhz single core Celeron, a skinny 256MBs of system memory and a huge 40GB EIDE hard drive faster than Win2K and XP on any level.

    Second: when someone asks about Gnome and KDE XFCE is irrelevant belonging in the additional remarks or a “did you know” capacity offered as a heads up on other desktop shell management systems. To ignore the installation tips regarding Gnome and KDE entirely focusing on XFCE takes the writing and places it into the opinion polls immediately and is poor styling.

    Professional level advice for anyone who wishes to be concerned with their “professional” image. Still a good response and instructional to a common question. Fantastic that the question was presented back in the year of 2005 and still poses concern in this year of 2012 — same stuff different decade — very sad in hind sight, but through the diligence of hard working communities is changing everyday for the better.

    Anyone interested, but unfamiliar with Linux and/or FreeBSD may like to read the rest of this response posting; I present the most easy and reliable candidates for getting started with a Linux operating system outside of the obvious Red Hat and SuSE distro system.

    Anyone interested in FreeBSD with GUI desktop shells like GNOME and KDE will like to peruse the offerings brought to the community by GhostBSD (GNOME centric) and PC-BSD (KDE centric). There is also a FreeBSD variant desktop shell that is very reminiscent of MacOS X and can be found in a demo video on YouTube, but I cannot seem to locate the video again — I suspect it is a seriously overhauled XFCE shell. A true UNIX distribution can be obtained from Oracle with openSolaris and/or Solaris with the only differences being, at this time, community and commercial support packages.

    Linux users should note that XFCE MacOS X like desktop shell centric interests can be satiated with DreamLinux. Have used it extensively and must say that it’s an excellent member to the Linux Distro circa. It is Compact, comprehensive and an outside the box Brazilian developed system with unique tools and install-able application systems much like PC-BSD’s PBI system of application installation executable types. DreamLinux has earned its place and still climbs the ladder with an excellent community and some really good support on topics like installation, creating your own DreamLinux distro and much more. Highly recommended. DreamLinux is Debian based, but has been modified to support Red Hat and SuSE rpm packages as well. DreamLinux wants it all and it is going over nicely with everyone getting what they want in a win-win scenario.

    Every operating system mentioned in this response has been utilized in great capacity by myself installed on hardware and/or virtual machine environment, but do be aware that i had run into compatibility issues with drivers. Commitment to getting a system up and running defines how much you like and want it — many of the driver issues can be negotiated by using the Linux compatibility layer in FreeBSD or, if available from the hardware manufacturer, compile the drivers from source for your platform.

    Novice users should consult the communities abroad at and Distro Watch as these sites can let you know a great many things about what can be expected while using your chosen distro with your present hardware configuration. The external communities are in addition to your distro’s user community your toolbox and measure for success with your operating system of choice.

    Enjoy and take care.

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