Eight Glorious Different Desktops for Fedora and The way to Set up Them

There are over 30 different desktop environments and window managers available for Fedora Linux. We'll show you how to install and switch between them in minutes.

In general, the most popular desktop environments are probably GNOME and KDE Plasma. GNOME is the default desktop environment for Fedora, but you can install the operating system with KDE (as well as some other desktops) using one of the many Fedora spins.

Advantages and disadvantages of Fedora spins

While Fedora spins are a quick and easy way to set up a system with an alternate desktop, only a handful of spins are available – eight at the time of this writing. This may seem like a ton of additional options, but there are actually more than 30 different desktop environments and window managers that you can install on Fedora in a matter of moments.

Best of all, when you install new desktops yourself, you have the option to switch between them whenever you want. When you install a spin, you only get the desktop that comes with that particular spin. For example, if you install the KDE Spin, you only have the KDE Plasma desktop. You can't just switch to GNOME when you need or want to.

However, if you set up your system with the standard GNOME version of Fedora and then use this guide to install the KDE and Cinnamon environments, you can choose from any of the three desktops each time you log in. You can switch your desktop at any time as you wish or just as you like. You can even try out some of the most popular desktops made for other Linux distributions.

How to install Fedora desktop environments from the command line

To install a new desktop next to the one you are currently using, you need to open a terminal and use Fedora's DNF package manager. You can get a quick overview of the available desktop environments by entering the following command:

sudo dnf group list -v

At the top of the output is a list of the different desktop environments that can be installed.

To tell DNF which of the desktops you want to install, follow the normal installation command with “@” plus the name of the desired desktop as shown in brackets in the list. For example, if you want to install Cinnamon Desktop, you would type:

sudo dnf install @ cinnamon-desktop-environment

For KDE the command would be:

sudo dnf install @ kde-desktop-environment

If you later find that you don't like one of your new desktops, you can simply remove it. Just go back to your terminal and replace the word Extinguish instead of the word To install in the above commands.

sudo dnf remove @ cinnamon-desktop-environment

After installing (or removing) a desktop, you should restart your computer to ensure that all required components are fully installed and loaded. It is also a very good idea to back up your current system before installing new desktops, just in case any conflicts arise.

How to switch between installed desktop environments on Fedora

After you've installed and restarted one or more alternate desktops, you can select the desktop you want to use on the login screen. Click on your name as if you were entering your password and a little gear icon will appear in the lower right of your screen. Click this icon to choose which desktop to load for your session.

After choosing the desktop you want to use, enter your password as you normally would. In a few moments your new desktop will load and be ready to use.

Complete desktop environments available in Fedora

Both alternative window managers and desktop environments are available in the Fedora software repositories. What sets a desktop environment apart from a window manager is the inclusion of apps and utilities.

For example; GNOME and KDE each have their own applications such as terminal programs, file explorers, calculators, email clients, and more. When you install one of these environments, you also get all of the apps that go with it. Below is a list of eight of the most popular desktop environments available to you as a Fedora user, along with the DNF commands to install (or remove) them.

1. Fedora's Cinnamon desktop environment

The Cinnamon Desktop is based on an earlier version of GNOME and was specially developed for the Linux Mint distribution. It is known for delivering a high-end audiovisual experience with a fast and responsive user interface.

sudo dnf install @ cinnamon-desktop-environment

2. Fedora's Deepin desktop

The Deepin Desktop was developed for the Deepin Linux Distribution. Many Linux users seem to agree that Deepin offers one of the most aesthetically pleasing desktop experiences ever made for Linux.

sudo dnf install @ deepin-desktop-environment

3. KDE Plasma desktop environment for Fedora

KDE is one of the oldest and most customizable desktop environments for Linux. It is possible to download new versions of almost everything in KDE. Originally known as the K Desktop Environment, it has evolved into what is now KDE Plasma. The team behind KDE has also developed its own distribution based on plasma called KDE Neon.

sudo dnf install @ kde-desktop-environment

4. LXDE desktop for Fedora

The LXDE Desktop was specially developed for use with older hardware and / or mobile devices with below average computing power. It is extremely light and does not require a lot of resources to run well and provide a pleasant user experience. It is based on the GTK libraries that power the GNOME desktop.

sudo dnf install @ lxde-desktop-environment

5. Fedora's LXQt desktop environment

LXQt is also designed to be lightweight and to function smoothly on older or underperforming hardware. LXQt actually started as a spin-off from LXDE when the lead developer decided to rebuild the desktop using the Qt libraries (which support KDE) instead of GTK. The experience on both desktops is very similar.

sudo dnf install @ lxqt-desktop-environment

6. MATE desktop environment for Fedora

MATE (pronounced ma-tey) was developed in response to the massive rejection of the changes introduced in GNOME 3 by the Linux community. The MATE team decided to split GNOME 2 into another project that would preserve the GNOME 2 experience so many users wanted. The MATE desktop environment is still actively evolving and has evolved to use the modern GTK 3 libraries, but continues to provide users with a more traditional desktop experience.

sudo dnf install @ mate-desktop-environment

7. Fedora's Sugar Desktop Environment

Sugar is a highly specialized desktop designed for educational use with children. The system is simplified into games and puzzles that can be customized depending on the grade level. It is particularly suitable for use with touchscreen devices.

sudo dnf install @ sugar-desktop-environment

8. XFCE desktop for Fedora

XFCE is another desktop specifically designed to be lightweight and run well on less powerful hardware. The team behind XFCE aims to provide a versatile, configurable, and productive desktop that runs well on minimal hardware. XFCE is the standard desktop environment for many minimalist Linux distributions designed for older or slower computers.

sudo dnf install @ xfce-desktop-environment

You can have any desktop on Fedora

From high performance to extreme customization and everything in between, you can find the desktop of your dreams in Fedora. If you take a little time to explore the options, you will surely discover how to truly make your desktop yours.

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About the author

JT McGinty
(2 articles published)

JT is a technology industry veteran with over 25 years of experience. From technical support and programming to system administration, he did everything. He especially enjoys teaching new users the freedom and power of Linux.

By JT McGinty

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