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
  • pravin wanjal Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:02

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

  • pravin wanjal Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:01

    really its nice…

  • Gonz Aug 30, 2011 @ 16:11

    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?

  • jitender Apr 27, 2011 @ 9:59

    i have redhat5. how can i install vlc player

  • Jake Jan 6, 2011 @ 18:59

    @ Homericious

    Same thing happening over here.

  • zouhei Dec 2, 2009 @ 15:58

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

  • Mukul Apr 24, 2009 @ 12:39

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

    Like If i am using KDE, it should say it

  • 2pac Feb 1, 2009 @ 14:34

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

    Then you will have switchdesk 🙂

  • John Doe Jan 24, 2009 @ 17:47

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

  • jec Jan 22, 2009 @ 8:50

    Thanks! worked perfectly!

  • charl Jan 13, 2009 @ 20:26

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

  • Skyler Sully Feb 28, 2007 @ 5:17

    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

  • delfick Sep 12, 2006 @ 10:38

    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?

  • nick Sep 10, 2006 @ 19:34

    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!

  • Homericious Sep 9, 2006 @ 4:00

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

  • Alejandro Sep 9, 2006 @ 0:11

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

  • ubuntus Sep 8, 2006 @ 20:48

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

  • n00b Sep 7, 2006 @ 23:03

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

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