In regards to DE and what it does

I am using xfce version of EOS and I am a bit confused about what a DE does as someone new to Linux. There are programs installed with xfce in them and I am not sure if they are built by the devs of xfce or they are an essential part of it. Like I like to install other DEs and experiment with them but don’t want to break my system. Is there a guide or something for this. I have search a lot on internet but couldn’t find any answer to my question.

A DE is short for desktop environment.

It does absolutely nothing.

It is a collection of software packages which defines the desktop experience.

Desktop Environments is usually Gnome, Plasma or Xfce.

Use virtualbox if you want to experiment with different desktop environments.

While everything is possible it does mean it will work out well.

It is usually a bad idea to mix-in other desktop environments on the same system - it will likely create weird issues - especially mixing Gnome and Plasma.


For example it provides your toolbar, icons, wallpapers, settings menu, file manager etc. etc. Maybe most importantly (?) they come with something called a Window Manager which you might want to search. (basically it tells your windows how to appear and where to appear)

Most of the essential programs such as your file manager or terminal will be built by xfce devs when you initially install EndeavourOS XFCE. You can see what Arch installs when you say pacman -S xfce4 here. Almost all of these are built by xfce devs, EndeavourOS installs a bit more stuff when you want XFCE. They are tightly integrated with each other so I would call them essential but you can still install KDE’s terminal Konsole for example and use it. However, it would install a lot of KDE libraries you don’t otherwise need since it is also tightly integrated with its own DE.

You can create a new user and use another DE exclusively with that user. That should be mostly painless but I would recommend doing it in VirtualBox like Root said.

I recommend checking out KDE Plasma. It is very nice by default and it is extremely customizable and powerful.


How hard is it to just a WM without a DE? I mean should I necessarily go without anything, like network and audio manager like an arch install , or can I have the basics running and just choose programs I need to install, like terminal emulator, file manager etc?

Running just a Window Manager is quite popular in the Arch-sphere. A lot of people end up with a tiling WM, like for example i3. These are keyboard-sentric, and can be “hard” to use and configure, if you’re a regular mouse user. Fluxbox is another great one, it is more like a regular, mouse-driven, DE. You can have a look at the Fluxbox edition of MX Linux, to see what a good implementation looks like.

When you install EndeavourOS, there is an option to install without a gui. I haven’t personally tried that, but I guess you can go from there and install a window manager, and have a pretty lean system.

The “hardest” part about Arch install, in my opinion, isn’t the install itself, but what comes after. You need to configure and set up everything yourself. To some, this is exactly what they want, and one of the best things about Linux. If you’re one of those, there will be a learning curve, but you’ll quickly learn. Others just want a ready-made environment, and get on with using the computer.

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I actually prefer keyboard-centric way of doing things, it is one of the reasons I migrated to Linux. So it is a plus for me. My biggest question for me as you said is the after installation part. I know there are a lot of basic stuff missing like configuring Wifi and pluswire and stuff like that which is annoying, I will learn it if I have to or for just to learn how linux works, but don’t feel the need to doing it. But I like to not start with a lot of junk apps (including DE) and choose what terminal emulator , web-browser etc to install and don’t worry about uninstalling apps and thinking about it may break something.

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Yeah, that is the main attraction of Linux for me as well, the choice and the modularity.

Building on top of a base install isn’t particularly difficult. But you need to have the interest.

Virtualbox is great for experimenting. You can for example install the EndeavourOS base, like an Arch install, and then practice installing a window manager. Then you can investigate how your bare-metal EndeavourOS is set up, and practice replicating that in your Virtualbox base install. You can also have, for example, a community Window Manager version of, say, Manjaro running, and then investigate how they’ve set up things, and replicate that.

I certainly have interest, I am enjoying learning Linux related stuff. Unfortunately it is time consuming and I don’t have the time I like to play with it. It was a huge investment migrating to EOS and learning all the stuff form the zero. So I am going to do it just slowly and in due time.

I don’t have a high specs system for VM but I have a old laptop which I can dual boot with windows and try different distros with it. It is relatively safe because I don’t keep my data on it and if it breaks I just make a new partition table for it. I was thinking about installing arch on it and to use it as a test on my Linux skills, but installing EOS without a DE is not a bad idea. I may give it a try to see what really DE is. I know what WM and tiling mangers do but still not getting what DE does. I guess it is a connector between user and X for most part a side from apps it installs. It is a bit hard to know these stuff with just using couple of distors.

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My advice, for what it’s worth, install Plasma and use it for a couple of months. It’s a pretty painless way to get into Linux from windoze. In fact, the default look and feel of Plasma is quite similar to windoze, only much better. It is what windoze should have been.

Now, I understand you want something different, and that’s great, but don’t bite more than you can chew. While a fully featured DE might seem a bit bloated, it does everything for you, including managing your network, audio levels, screen brightness, etc… And if you hate how it looks, you can customise Plasma to look completely differently.

Also, nothing prevents you from installing an additional WM next to Plasma. I’ve been running dwm alongside Plasma for years, on my laptop.

I’m noticing you’re asking a lot of very basic questions, and the best way to have them all answered is with some experience actually using a Linux system.

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If you install EOS without a DE, you can then install a DE piece-by-piece, to see what it does.

First you need to install X, and usually a display manager, and set up users and such. There are easy to follow guides floating around the net.

Then, you can install for example Xfce piece-by-piece. You can customize it to include exactly what you want, and leave out everything else. Then you’ll end up with a bare-bones DE, and you can install just what you need and want.

I don’t have my notes for an Arch Xfce install right now, but I have the notes for Debian, so you can see how it looks. In Arch the packages will be slightly different, do a search for “Arch minimal Xfce install”, or such.

In Debian:

 sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xfonts-base xinit x11-xserver-utils --no-install-recommends
 sudo apt-get install xfwm4 xfce4-panel xfce4-settings xfce4-session xfce4-terminal xfdesktop4 --no-install-recommends
 sudo apt-get install thunar xfce4-power-manager xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin thunar-archive-plugin
 sudo apt-get install lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter lightdm-gtk-greeter-settings --no-install-recommends
 sudo apt-get install gvfs-backends
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Write your own DE, with black-jack and hookers!



If you know the C programming language, forking dwm and changing it a bit is really easy, as dwm is probably the simplest wm in existence. And it’s great fun.

That’s way too suckless, i want compositor with fancy fire effects and rotating cubes!!


Yeah, when I use dwm on my laptop, it is great ergonomics, but I always miss wobbly windows and magic lamp minimising. I like when it jiggles…

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Your advise is certainly useful and I appreciate it. I am not that new to Linux, I have been learning how to use it on my old laptop using Mint-cinnamon and it has been more than a month since I migrated my main machine to EOS. So I think I am getting the hang of it, and I kinda don’t like the Mint like Desktop experiment anymore and want to try something new. As you said it configuring WiFi and audio and screen and stuff I took for granted all this time is a bit worrisome but I like to test something new. I actually using xfce and liking it a lot as I am learning more about it but still want to try new stuff. I will keep in mind KDE as having a nice looking DE. I have low specs machines so I usually gravitate toward light DEs but I will give it a try.

If i were to guess, I’d say Plasma is actually more performant and lighter than Xfce.

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That a great idea. I think is both practical and educational. My only concern right now is dual booting . I have win10 installed and that wiped up my mint install on that machine. I like to install two linux distros on the remaining space on the drive but not sure how. Is just installing some distro which has grub enough for that?

Personally, I have never bothered with dual boots, they just seem like more trouble than they are worth. So I can’t help you there.

I have a window 11 install on a seperate drive, and I use it for the occasional game. With two seperate os drives, I don’t have to mess with dual boot, I just go into the bios and boot from the Windows one when I need it.

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Interesting , I had no idea. i should give it a try.

I actually have installed windows on a external HD for my main machine and it work fine. As you said windows still is needed for some stuff eventho i use linux 99% of the time. the issue is that I need my main machine to do my daily stuff, so it is not very practical. I can use another external HD and install Linux there but my old machine is an old laptop with USB2 so I am not sure how good it is going to perform on it.