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Install Xfce (Xubuntu) on Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu by default includes the Gnome desktop environment, but it’s easy enough to install another window manager. We’ve already covered installing KDE (Kubuntu) on Ubuntu in a prior article.

Xubuntu is a lighter version of Ubuntu that uses Xfce as the window manager. From the homepage: “Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for various *NIX systems…”

To start the installation, open up a terminal window and type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

You will be prompted for your password, and then you will be prompted to select yes (just hit enter)

After the installation, you will need to logout or reboot your machine. When you get to the login screen, select the Options button in the lower left hand corner:

You will be prompted to select from one of the available window managers. Select Xfce and then login.

The Xfce desktop looks a lot like Gnome, but without all the fancy gadgets:

Stay tuned, more articles about window managers coming soon.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/22/06

Comments (15)

  1. vidyarthi reddy sama

    hi … i tried that command in the terminal .. but after few seconds it says it cannot find “xubuntu-desktop”

  2. Bill

    Nice very nice going over and install the KDE (Kubuntu) on my other computer.

    Only thing I seen was when I reboot it goes to a black screen runs a script or bunch of stuff that I have no idea what it means lol for 3 seconds then reboots Thanks for all the help with linux.

  3. jusacaneri

    Thanks, this was searching for a long time, all previous did not right.
    Thanks!!

  4. pancake

    I get the same problem as “vidyarthi reddy sama”

  5. joe

    You must enter sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop – exactly as mentioned above – did you type apt-get install or did you forget to type install ?

  6. phil

    my terminal says “E: Couldn’t find package xubuntu-desktop please help

  7. Adam

    I would like to install XFCE Desktop Environment just added as a start up option.
    I don’t want xubuntu! I like my regular Ubuntu, I would just like the XFCE option added to the login menu like so many other people.

    Why they make it so the login screen and splash screen becomes Xubuntu!
    They should not do this. Same thing happens with Kubuntu! They mess-up your normal Ubuntu installation.

    I simply would like the option to to boot into KDE or XFCE sometimes.
    Install should be something simple like:
    sudo apt-get install xfce-desktop
    sudo apt-get install kde-desktop

  8. JimVan Damme

    I’ve tried XFCE, but it didn’t appreciably speed up my system. From what I’ve read, it really doesn’t make a huge difference and could actually use more memory under some circumstances. I’ve been investigating the LXDE desktop for my laptop which has 256M and is only marginally better with LinuxMint (gnome) than it was with Windows XP. Supposedly, LXDE runs fine on 128M. See https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu. If they get their act together, it will save tons of computers from the recycling bin.

  9. calebstein

    @Adam: When you get asked whether you want to use kdm, gdm, or xdm, you have to say gdm if you want to keep the default gnome spash and login screen. And now you’ll have to edit /etc/rc.conf to restore it (at least you do on FreeBSD).

  10. Col.Darby

    Am Ubuntu newbie’s perspective:

    This sounds great at first, but after trying it myself (twice), I would never recommend it. Maybe (probably) I’m just a perfectionist, but the two different environments do *not* stay isolated from each other so doing this really can throw things off if you have a nicely set-up single environment already going, and it takes forever to get things straightened out.

    Let’s say you add XFCE to an Ubuntu/Gnome installation –
    Doing this can very easily throw off your splash and login screens. I found it insanely frustrating to have to learn the hard way how to (sort of) fix my Plymouth and Login settings. Also, you get the default applications that come with each environment – so you now have at least two applications for absolutely everything sitting in the application menus for both environments.

    This probably isn’t a deal-breaker for everybody – it just was for me, because I’m “OCD” about such things and not an experienced Linux/Ubuntu user. This seemed, from the various different websites that showed how to do it, like a great way to take the alternate desktops for a spin – and I guess for the most part it is, it’s way better than doing three full installs haha. But it can get a lot messier than it would seem at first glance. Be warned.

  11. James

    Just found this command on https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/LowMemorySystems

    Install XFCE alone, without Xubuntu, with this command:

    sudo aptitude install xfce4

  12. Wallace

    How do I go back to my gnome desktop by removing xfce-desktop?

  13. Anish

    Hi wallace, at the logon screen, you can select between gnome/xfce/kde any thing you have installed at the bottom panel

  14. Mark

    I did “sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop” on top of a Ubuntu 11/Unity installation. It works except my Plymouth boot changed to XFCE boot splash and GUI. Is there a way to keep the xfce desktop options but keep the Plymouth boot (original boot)?

  15. Ken

    I installed xubuntu-desktop on 11.10 and the splash screen changed but when I logged in Unity was still there. The gear wheel now appears when you click login on the right of the name, you can change your setting to XFCE there.

    If you want to keep boot sequence the same but use XFCE as an option then you can try installing xfce4 package.

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