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Date:      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 05:11:27 +0100
From:      Polytropon <>
To:        Jesse Feinman <>
Subject:   Re: Desktop environments
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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On Wed, 25 Mar 2009 23:17:51 -0400, Jesse Feinman <> wrote:
> I am planning on using FreeBSD on a new computer i am building but i would
> like to know if there is a way that i can install multiple desktop
> environments and easily switch between them, preferably without restarting.

That's no problem. First of all, install the desktop environments and
window managers that you want. As far as I know, the "big two", KDE and
Gnome, come with a means to select what DE / WM to use at login time
through their kdm and gdm.

Additionally, wdm offers you to choose the DE / WM at login time.

This simply requires a login / logout procedure, no restarting of the

You can even have it more simple: Don't start X along with the system,
login at the console. Modify the "exec <DE or WM>" statement in your
~/.xinitrc and type "startx" to perform the DE / WM startup you have
in this file (you can put comment signs infront of those you don't
like, "enabling" the one you want to run). Or you could have several
aliases / commands to start X with the DE / WM you want, each with
a specific ~/.xinitrc file to fit your needs.

> The primary purpose for this is to gain complete functionality over the
> system utilizing all possible tools [...]

In principle it's not required to run a specific DE in order to run
a program that comes with this DE. For example, you can perfectly run
K3B within WindowMaker, as long as all the dependencies of K3B are
installed on your system. You can run Gmplayer without Gnome, you can
run Koffice in XFCE and so forth...

> [...] and also to evaluate the different
> environments to determine which one works best for me.

Then, if you won't change the DE / WM every five minutes, you can go
with the ~/.xinitrc approach. Short example:

	[ -f ~/.xmodmaprc ] && xmodmap ~/.xmodmaprc
	xsetroot -solid rgb:3b/4c/7a
	xset b 100 1000 15 &
	xset r rate 250 30 &
	xset s off &
	xset -dpms &
	#exec gnome-ession
	#exec fvwm
	#exec startkde
	#exec xfwm
	exec wmaker

This will start WindowMaker.

> Lastly, i am wondering how Compiz-fusion would interact in this case because
> to my knowledge Compiz is essentially an add on to the KDE and Gnome
> environments and i am wondering as to how it would function if i were to
> switch desktops constantly.

It would be no problem, as far as I know. I'm not very familiar with
Compiz because I'm already tired of eye-candy. :-)

You can even use Compiz with XFCE, or use its own compositing

As far as I understood, Compiz is an addition to the respective
DE / WM, and while the DE / WM will run happily without Compiz,
those that don't utilize it won't have problems.

If Compiz needs specific settings in ~/.xinitrc, you can put some
kind of conditional into this file, loading Compiz only with the
DE / WM you want.

>From Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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