[SOLVED] Multiple Desktop Environments

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spaarks
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[SOLVED] Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:51 pm

Mint 13.
Is it possible to install several desktop environments, or do I have to install a complete system for each one?
If the latter, do they share a common Home directory and common applications?
Can I later remove each system separately, without destroying my data?

Thanks
Denis
[SOLVED]
Last edited by spaarks on Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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lahirdenganselamat
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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby lahirdenganselamat » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:15 pm

spaarks wrote:Is it possible to install several desktop environments

yep, they will available on login screen, but your menu can be ugly, and the removal wasn't easy (or maybe that just me? :D)
spaarks wrote:do I have to install a complete system for each one?
If the latter, do they share a common Home directory and common applications?

I prefer this method, one DE one root partition, but with same /home partition. This way, you still have "fresh" look on the DE, still have your files on one partition, and you can just remove the system without worries. Just make sure you use different username on each system installation.
It's like:
LM13 cinnamon on sda1, LMDE XFCE on sda2, sda3 extended partition, LM13KDE on sda4, and sda5 as /home. Cinnamon's /home is /home/cinnamon, xfce on /home/xfce, and kde on /home/kde.

This way, if you want to access the files, just use the file manager to /home and you'll find it. If you think that the DE wasn't for you, just format that DE's root partition, remove the /home/theDE, and run update-grub.

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:22 pm

Many thanks, I will give that a go.

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby HughT » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:23 pm

Hi Denis, it depends on the particular desktop environments. I read somewhere that it is possible to use either Mate or Cinnamon on the same OS (you'd select which at the log-in screen). But adding kde to a Cinnamon OS is not such a good idea.
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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:41 pm

I haven't got very far! I know very little about partitions.

Here's what I've done so far:
Booted from a LM Mate live dvd.
Clicked Install.
I then get a message asking if I want to unmount a partition that is in use - I choose NO
I get three choices, first being to install LM alongside LM13. If I choose this option there seems to be no option of creating a new partition.
If I choose the third option I just get /dev/sda1/ ext4 and /dev/sda5/ swap.

Should I be using a different method of installing?

Now what?!

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby lahirdenganselamat » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:01 pm

Its better if you unmount all the partition on the target disk (e.g. sda). Choose the 3rd option, the "do something else". on the partition view, you can see all the partition, just chane one partition and set the mount point as "/" and another partition to set as "/home".
IF you want to add another system with different DE (like KDE), choose different partition as the "/" and same partition as "/home", but remember to type different username. :D

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby bimsebasse » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:26 pm

I run Unity, Cinnamon and Gnome Shell (+ fallbacks) and it's very easy and simple, each shell creates its own Login Session. Things get a bit more complicated when you install a completely different DE, all the login sessions mentioned share a lot of packages as they are all Gnome 3 shells, if you want something like KDE you pull in a whole different DE but it should work the same way and create a new separate login session.
Thank you for this thread. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this forum into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases. Thanks!

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby MALsPa » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:37 pm

HughT wrote:But adding kde to a Cinnamon OS is not such a good idea.


Why not, exactly?

Just wondering, because a few years ago, I had KDE, GNOME, and Xfce all installed in Linux Mint. The only real issue was that apps from all three DEs showed up in the menus. That was no big deal to me, but it was easy enough to simply edit the menus. I could choose which DE to log into at the log-in screen.

I haven't tried this recently, but I'm not sure why it wouldn't still work with Linux Mint.

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby HughT » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:07 am

Hi MALsPa, well the proof of the pudding is in the eating, you tried it and it worked. I didn't justify why I said it's not such a good idea. Again it's something I read - possibly in this forum, but I can't find the reference now.
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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:38 pm

Thanks for the advice, but I am no further forward!

LM13 cinnamon on sda1, LMDE XFCE on sda2, sda3 extended partition, LM13KDE on sda4, and sda5 as /home. Cinnamon's /home is /home/cinnamon, xfce on /home/xfce, and kde on /home/kde.


This sounds like the best option for several DE's, but I still don't know how to do this. Do I create the partitions in advance, or does the installation do it for me?

I tried installing LM13 XFCE (from live DVD) alongside LM13 Cinnamon (using the first install option). It created a partition about half the size of my hard disk. There was no notification of the installation completing (after two hours!) so I shut the computer down. There is no choice of DEs shown on booting up.
So.... I tried deleting some of the new partitions. I thought this might uninstall xfce.
I had another go at installing XFCE from the live DVD but nothing happens at all.
Cinnamon still boots OK but my HD does not appear on the desktop. GParted reports it is still mounted.

Using GParted here is what I see on the HD:

/dev/sda1 ext4 81GB Used 27G Unused 54G Boot
/dev/sda2 extended 67GB -- -- --
unallocated 66GB
/dev/sda5 linux-swap 893MB

Can I get back to the original Cinnamon installation without having to re-format?

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby HughT » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:29 pm

Hi
This sounds like the best option for several DE's, but I still don't know how to do this. Do I create the partitions in advance, or does the installation do it for me?
It is a good option to try different desktops. I can't explain why your XFCE won't install. Might be worth checking the MD5 checksum to see if it's intact. You are right to assume that it's best to create the partitions first using GParted. You can make two new partitions in the un-allocated space, format to ext4. Only one swap partition is required which all the installed OSs will recognise and use.
Cinnamon still boots OK but my HD does not appear on the desktop. GParted reports it is still mounted.
If you have booted to Cinnamon, then it must be mounted, you can't boot to something that's not there! The HD would not appear on the desktop - you'd normally just have things like 'my computer' and 'my documents', but not the drive or partition. I'm not sure what you mean here
Can I get back to the original Cinnamon installation without having to re-format?
Aren't you using your original Cinnamon from sda1?
The most important thing for you to remember is that when you install another OS it will write its boot-loader to the drive's master boot record, over-writing the previous boot-loader. So if for example you install kde on one of your new partitions, you will not have access to Cinnamon at the first re-boot. All you need to do then is

Code: Select all

sudo update-grub
This will look for other OSs and include them on the menu, available for selection at the next boot.
hope this helps. regards
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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby lahirdenganselamat » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:24 pm

spaarks wrote:Thanks for the advice, but I am no further forward!

LM13 cinnamon on sda1, LMDE XFCE on sda2, sda3 extended partition, LM13KDE on sda4, and sda5 as /home. Cinnamon's /home is /home/cinnamon, xfce on /home/xfce, and kde on /home/kde.


This sounds like the best option for several DE's, but I still don't know how to do this. Do I create the partitions in advance, or does the installation do it for me?

Its better to create the partition yourself using gparted from live CD. And I think your XFCE DVD (or the ISO) wasn't good, mint installation usually take ~15min, better use another ISO or DVD.
To do that kind of install, first you have to make several partition using live session, then install a mint system (and you have, with 13 Cinnamon) on sda1 and set the /home to another partition (lets say sda5). Then you boot another DE's live ISO, install the system on sda2, set sda5 as /home, set different username, and so on. The last OS installed is the grub owner (you can change that later) and the installation will autodetect other OS installed on that harddisk . You have to use the 3rd install option to do this.

spaarks wrote:I tried installing LM13 XFCE (from live DVD) alongside LM13 Cinnamon (using the first install option). It created a partition about half the size of my hard disk. There was no notification of the installation completing (after two hours!) so I shut the computer down. There is no choice of DEs shown on booting up.
So.... I tried deleting some of the new partitions. I thought this might uninstall xfce.
I had another go at installing XFCE from the live DVD but nothing happens at all.
Cinnamon still boots OK but my HD does not appear on the desktop. GParted reports it is still mounted.

Using GParted here is what I see on the HD:

/dev/sda1 ext4 81GB Used 27G Unused 54G Boot
/dev/sda2 extended 67GB -- -- --
unallocated 66GB
/dev/sda5 linux-swap 893MB


So your cinnamon installed on sda1, and the cinnamon's /home is on that partition too. The unlocated partition is the failed XFCE install.
spaarks wrote: but my HD does not appear on the desktop

of course! with just that partition, your root (sda1) is mounted, and the other partition (sda4) wasn't created yet, you wont get get any mounted disk icon on desktop that way.

If it possible, I'd suggest you to backup you data first then do a complete disk partitioning.
You can set the partition like this:
/dev/sda1 ext4 15 GB > use for cinnamon's /
/dev/sda2 linux-swap 893MB > use for swap
/dev/sda3 extended all the space remaining
/dev/sda4 ext4 15GB > use for xfce's /
/dev/sda5 ext4 15GB > use for the other DE's /
/dev/sda6 ext4 remaining space > use for /home

for most people that I know (use office, browser, some games), 15Gb for a system partition is enough
spaarks wrote:Can I get back to the original Cinnamon installation without having to re-format?

your cinnamon boot OK, so what do you mean with original cinnamon install?

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:47 pm

Many thanks to you both, your advice has been very helpful - I think I am beginning to understand a little!
What I meant to ask about the Cinnamon original install, as how could I get rid of the now empty space left by the faulty xfce install. Doesn't matter now as I wiped the disk and started from new.
As for mounting I thought it meant mounting on the desktop - I know now it is about attaching a device as a file in the file structure.

I tried installing Mint Cinnamon, Mate and KDE using the auto-install option, resizing each partition down to 15GB. This worked OK for Mint distros. I didn't try any other distro but I suspect there could be problems due to different installation apps.

Then I tried the method suggested by lahirdenganselamat, using Gparted to partition the disk in advance, then using the manual install option from each live dvd. Again the DEs installed and worked OK. I haven't yet tried a different distro.

The only problem is the Home directory which I created on /dev/sda8 with the label /home, and it appears on the desktop as a hard drive when i mount it. But each DE has its own Home directory within its own file structure. So I don't think I understand what you said about that.

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby lahirdenganselamat » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:24 am

spaarks wrote:The only problem is the Home directory which I created on /dev/sda8 with the label /home, and it appears on the desktop as a hard drive when i mount it. But each DE has its own Home directory within its own file structure. So I don't think I understand what you said about that.


That's because you only selected the / partition at installation. Look here:
Image
on your installation dialog, you should change your /dev/sda8, use it as ext4, and set /home as mount point.

So, on every installation, you should change 2 partition: one as root, one as /home. On the next distro installation, don't check the format box when editing /home partition.

Hope that help :D

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:19 pm

Thanks. I did that with two more installations and all OK. Each DEs home appears on it's own desktop.

Then I tried reinstalling Xfce (in the primary partition) changing to / and /home as before. At some point during the install it reinstalled previously installed packages (without asking).
Then I did a update-grub and rebooted. The install I had done for Xfce opened up as KDE ! I had installed KDE previously but had repartitioned the drive several times and installed other DEs - not including KDE.

Perhaps I need to format the drive and reinstall all the DEs. First I will try formatting the primary partition and see what happens.

Well,at least my hard drive is getting a good work-out :roll:

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Re: Multiple Desktop Environments

Postby spaarks » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:43 pm

Well I did reformat - again - and installed cinnamon, xcfe and lxde, as advised by lahirdenganselamat.
All worked fine. I am now mostly using cinnamon.

On Cinnamon I have installed several shells - Gnome, Gnome/openbox and KDE Plasma, and they work fine.


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