Linux: How to Switch to LXDE, Xfce

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page tells you how install and use another desktop environment, such as Xfce, LXDE.


LXDE is the most simple and functional desktop, and uses the least amount of memory and CPU.

LXDE is my favorite.

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

or, also install all of its light-weight apps. I recommend this:

# 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

〔➤see Linux: LXDE/Openbox, Change Keyboard Shortcuts


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

How to install/switch to a different Linux desktop?

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

〔➤see Linux: How to Install/Remove Packages

Ubuntu Unity

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

Unity is a new desktop introduced in Ubuntu around 2012.

It made a significant change from the traditional desktop. Many operations has become “smart”. They also use much more memory and CPU. Often have fancy visual effects such as transparency, animation, etc.

The “smart” behavior is great for beginner. But for advanced users, it is unpredicable and annoying. So, switch to xfce or lxde.

thanks to Casey Webster for tips.

What is Window Manager, X11, Desktop?

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 is GTK? What's qt?

GTK+ and qt are graphical user interface programing frameworks.

Almost all Linux GUI apps are written using either the GTK+ or Qt.

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?

Linux Desktop Topic

  1. Linux: How to Switch to LXDE, Xfce
  2. Linux: LXDE Keyboard Shortcuts
  3. Linux: LXDE/Openbox, Change Keyboard Shortcuts
  4. Linux: LXDE Set Key Repeat Rate
  5. Linux: LXDE/OpenBox, Disable Mouse Scroll Wheel Hide Window
  6. Linux: Xfce Keyboard Shortcuts
  7. Linux: Xfce Good Themes
  8. Linux: xmonad Keybinding
  9. Why Tiling Window Manager Sucks (xmonad, ratpoison, dwm, …)

  1. Linux: Set Default App
  2. Linux: Shell Commands for GUI Apps
  3. Linux: Image Viewers
  4. Linux: Move File to Trash by Command