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Installing desktop environments on CentOs 5.x February 3, 2011

Posted by Tournas Dimitrios in Linux.

A desktop environment integrates various X clients (display-manager , Xfont server etc…) to create a common graphical user environment and development platform . Of cource you must have an X-server installed , desktop environments can’t “talk” to the underlying hardware (vga) , so the X-server handles the translation for the communications .

Desktop environments have advanced features allowing X clients and other running processes to communicate with one another, while also allowing all applications written to work in that environment to perform advanced tasks, such as drag and drop operations.

Linux provides a plethora of  desktop environments , the three most known desktop environments for CentOs are :

  1. GNOME — The default desktop environment for Red Hat based Linux distributions ,  based on the GTK+ 2 graphical toolkit.
  2. KDE — An alternative desktop environment based on the Qt 3 graphical toolkit.
  3. XFCE — Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems  (based on  the GTK+ library ) . It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

Although CentOS is a very robust server targeted distribution , it can also be used as a desktop workstation for your every day use . Usually a CentOs server is configured to work without a graphical environment , but it can easily transformed to a workstation with a nice graphical look . All desktop environments supports advanced productivity applications, such as word processors, spreadsheets, and Web browsers; they also provide tools to customize the look and feel of the GUI. Additionally, if both the GTK+ 2 and the Qt libraries are present, KDE applications can run in GNOME and vice-versa. Let’s see how to install these environments from the terminal , with just a couple of commands :

  • yum  install  switchdesk : This utility let you  define the default  desktop environment (configuration take place next  log-in)  .
  • yum groupinstall “X Window System” : The X-server handles the translation between the underlying hardware and the desktop environment
  • yum groupinstall  “GNOME Desktop Environment”
  • yum  groupinstall   XFCE-4.4
  • Reboot your system and log-in to your graphical environment , at log-in you have the option to select a desktop environment from a list . If you are already logged-in  then use the command ” switchdesk ” from the terminal . It will ask you to select a default desktop environment for the next log-in .
    Use “CTL + ALT + Backspace ” to  log-out from the graphical environment , the next log-in will take your configurations .


1. Luís - March 19, 2012

It works, but I have something to add..

before yum groupinstall ”X Window System” do yum update

after reboot write switchdesk GNOME and init 5 to change to graphical environment

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