Linux: How to Switch to LXDE, Xfce

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page tells you how to switch to lxde, xfce.


LXDE is the most efficient desktop, uses less memory and CPU than xfce.

linux lxde screenshot 2013-06-02
Linux LXDE
# install lxde desktop
sudo apt-get install lxde lxsession

or, also install all of its light-weight apps:

# install full lxde environment
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

After install, just re-login. In the login panel, there's a menu to let you choose from installed Window Managers.

Note: “Lubuntu” means Ubuntu with LXDE desktop.

〔➤see Linux: LXDE Keyboard Shortcuts ⌨


Xfce is the second most efficient.

xfce desktop screenshot 2012-10-15
Xfce desktop. 〔➤see Xah Linux Box Config
# install xfce desktop
sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

“Xubuntu” means Ubuntu with Xfce desktop.

〔➤see Linux: Xfce Keyboard Shortcuts ⌨

What's the difference between {Desktop, Window Manager, X11}?

The term Shell, or GUI Shell, is sometimes used to refer to a core part of Desktop Environment. Not to be confused with the command line “shell” (aka terminal, console, bash), which is a older, more widely understood, term.

What's GTK? What's qt?

Almost all Linux GUI apps are written using either the “GTK+” framework or “Qt framework”. For most Linux GUI app, you have to check which lib it's from. For example, the apps in Ubuntu are mostly GTK+ based apps. If a GUI app says it's written in GTK+, that means you must have Gnome installed or you have to install the GTK+ lib.

Most apps from Gnome desktop are using GTK. Most apps from KDE desktop are using Qt. When a app is using GTK, it often require other libs from Gnome, but not always. Same for Qt with KDE.

What are the popular {Window Managers, Desktops} for Linux?

How to install/switch to a different Linux desktop?

For others, do apt-cache search name to find the package name.

〔➤see Linux: Package System {dpkg, apt-get} Tutorial

{Unity, KDE 4, Gnome 3} = Fancy

Ubuntu Unity 5.12 2012-april 2
Ubuntu's Unity 5.12 interface, .

Unity and GNOME 3's UI are bleeding-edge, “smart”. If you are a programer, you may find this “smart” behavior annoying. They also use lots memory and CPU. Often have fancy visual effects such as transparency, animation, etc.

thanks to Casey Webster for tips.