Anyone using multiple desktop environment in one user?

I often hear that using different desktop environment in one user is bad and will mess up the config.

But did anyone actually do it?

I used to mix Gnome and XFCE in the past when gnome is still powerful, I don’t remember facing issues related to having them both installed.

I wanted to try out MATE, and currently using Cinnamon. I wonder if it will be safer since they both are based on gnome.

I did it before.
Though it worked somehow but I felt it was a mess.
Each desktop environment has its own apps (think just file manager), so you end up having several file managers.
Plus your system will be having almost all the software, libraries,… etc required by each desktop. (eg. in Gnome you will be having Dolphin as well in the Gnome session)

Well, I did it only once and never even thought of repeating it. It was confusing for me.

Above all, developers and experts here simply say No, don’t do it.

Maybe you can try and experiment on a virtual machine.


I think @limotux is spot-on with his post. Particularly here…

Using a virtual machine is the best way to try out other desktop environments, or even other Linux distros. Gnome Boxes is the easiest and most user friendly in my experience. I currently use Gnome Boxes. I have several distros with different DE’s that I’m testing within my EndeavourOS KDE install.


When there are nothing in common between the DEs you can safely do it.
IE KDE and (Hyprland or Cosmic)
But probably not GNOME and Cosmic
Not KDE and Lxqt

Basically your mileage will vary and it’s not recommended, especially if you have to ask about it.

I also think it’s a bad choice. If you want to try out a different desktop i would also recommend trying it in a vm. My choice is vmware workstation pro.


Anyone using same desktop environment in one user?

Yes. One and the same.


There’s something about piggy-backing another DE to an existing DE that is wrong. I have LXDE and I wanted Cinnamon but it’s one ugly cinnamon. it mirrors the LXDE and it’s mutant and un-natural. It’s so ugly and non-Cinnamon that I have made no configs in it. Just want to see if I can safely remove all the Cinnamon packages this weekend.
2 cents

I don’t mind multiple file manager but yeah I think I remembered trying out other DE other than xfce and gnome, and it was very ugly. At the time I didn’t know having multiple DE will mess up config, I guess that’s why I didn’t move out of XFCE and Gnome back then.

Hmm very well, I will try out new DE in VM. And then in separate device, like a laptop or something.

But… I really wanted to try the desktop while doing my daily things and see if I like it before using it in my main user. HMMMMM

What if,… I do separate install in different partitions but using same /home partition, and using different users? This would let me try different distro/DE while still have access to my work files. I assume it’s 100% safe that way.

Oopsies, I shouldn’t have let my cat wrote the title.

Don’t leave your machine unwatched :wink:


It’s jusst not a good idea, desktop environments conflict with each other due to themeing and some lower level system stuff like portals.

What you can do however is use one desktop environment, and a separate compositor/window manager separtely.

For instance I have hyprland and i3 sometimes both used at the same time by the same user on different ttys without issue. But doing the same with say KDE and XFCE? I’ve tried, it didn’t work out.

║ Wayland Sessions ║
📄 cosmic.desktop
📄 hyprland.desktop
📄 plasma.desktop
📄 qtile-wayland.desktop
📄 weston.desktop
║ X Sessions ║
📄 plasmax11.desktop
📄 qtile.desktop
📄 xfce.desktop

Takes a bit of fiddling, but yes I do, judicious use of OnlyShowIn in desktop files and juggling startups is all it takes.


I keep multiple WM along with one DE (Xfce).

Haven’t felt Xfce to interfere too much with other things on the system. And WMs don’t fight at all if you manage to keep configurations separated.

I’m actually really excited for the coming cosmic desktop. I quite like the way PopOS works, I just don’t like the Ubuntu base. I think it has the makings to be a fantastic desktop environment for most folks.


I found it a bit meh, why clone gnome…?

It’s not a Gnome clone, from what I could glean so far. A LOT of things are being introduced, aside from being written in RUST. The Alpha won’t even be available to end of July. So calling it just a “Gnome clone” is a bit premature. I’ve been following the Cosmic Desktop news on the System 76 Blog as well as pre-Alpha videos. And I’m not seeing just a Gnome clone at all. I’m eager to get in on the Betas when available (maybe even the later Alphas).

1 Like

I still use Gnome and KDE in parallel, always whichever one I like better. I don’t usually have a problem. I used to use XFCE for a long time.