Setting up Alternative Desktops

I normally use a KDE desktop.

On several occasions in the past when sorting out my problems it has been recommended that I use IceWM and on at least one occasion this enabled me to demonstrate that a problem I had was with KDE.

I recall some time ago it was relatively easy to switch desktops but it seems no longer and I must decide during installation. Would it be possible for me to replicate the earlier method and have both desktops selectable at login?

I have great difficulty switching to IceWM at present because commands I use like highlighting, right click copy and paste etc. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V do not work in the manner to which I have become accustomed. I believe all these settings may be adjusted so what I wish is to have a IceWM desktop, or better Rox-IceWM set up and customised by me and available at login.

How do I achieve this please?

Are you asking how to install and then use different DEs?

Or are you already past this point and are you asking how to customize IceWM?

I ask, because I find your thread title confusing. In Linux (and openSUSE) you can use several Desktop Environments. None of them is AFAIK classified as Alternative. Once you have installed the appropriate Pattern, it is there to be used.
And I assume that every one of them has it’s own way to customize it. Thus when you want help with customizing IceWM, you better mention that in the title to drwa the attention of those who use IceWM.

Hi Henk and thanks for the reply. I need to start over because everything has changed (or I am even more forgetful than I thought).
I have used KDE desktop for a few years but the technology is moving away faster than I can afford and it is quite possible I may change to a simpler desktop as my default. I certainly need to be able to switch when trouble shooting display adaptors.

I have been making some hardware changes and this has required me adopting, at least for the time being, Leap 15.3 rather than TW so I shall be using 15.3 as a base OS.

Where should I start setting up an alternative DE? I am quite comfortable with Rox-IceWM which I use on Antix 32 bit laptop. It may not work with openSUSE but I am sure IceWM does.

I take your point about setting up and keeping a pattern but it used to be quite simple to switch DE. Less so now I see.

Grateful for your further advice.

Your installed desktop should be selectable at login (you have to logout to login if you have auto logon set). However the exact method for selecting the Desktop at logon time is dependant on your Display Manager. You should be able to check that quite easily with the following command, here shown with the output from my machine:

Cumulus:~ # ls -al /etc/alternatives/default-displaymanager
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 33 May 28  2018 /etc/alternatives/default-displaymanager -> /usr/lib/X11/displaymanagers/sddm
Cumulus:~ # 

I think this is now the prefered method of Display Manager selection and not YaST but I may be wrong.

To find out all the Display Managers you have available try (again with my machine output):

Cumulus:~ # ls -al /usr/lib/X11/displaymanagers/total 28
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 May 15 02:31 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Apr 10 02:31 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    0 Apr  6 15:12 console
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   40 May 10 19:14 default-displaymanager -> /etc/alternatives/default-displaymanager
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  683 May 10 19:14 gdm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  307 May 17  2020 kdm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  343 Oct  1  2016 lightdm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  360 Nov 11  2020 sddm
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  462 Mar  4  2014 xdm
Cumulus:~ # 

Again, you should be more specific.

Did you install the other DE(s) you want to try out or didn’t you and do you want help with that?

When you already did, are you able to choose (and thus use) them from the login screen? (@JulianB tries to help you with that, but I am not sure if that is your problem).

Or are you able to use one or more DEs and do you have trouble to configure them to your liking?

Please less talking and more precise information on what you do (exact what you type and click and no vague story), what you expect to get and what you got instead. As in every problem description.

I will offer the steps to add desktops to opensuse to get this thread moving. I use use yast for this. I have 6 or so desktops installed and each works fine. Zypper works also.

In your current desktop, open yast software management. Click on the view tab. You will see a list of graphical environments (desktops). The list includes icewm. Put a check mark in the one you wish to add. Then click accept and the selected desktop will be installed. Exit software management.

To switch to the new desktop, logout of your current desktop. In the re-login prompt select the newly installed one. Allow new desktop to start and see what you have.

To switch back to previous desktop simply logout and re-login to your old desktop.

Hope this helps. tom kosvic

You can set your default session with:

linux64:/home/stephan # LANG=C update-alternatives --config default-xsession.desktop 
There are 4 choices for the alternative default-xsession.desktop (providing /usr/share/xsessions/default.desktop).

  Selection    Path                                        Priority   Status
* 0            /usr/share/xsessions/plasma5.desktop         25        auto mode
  1            /usr/share/xsessions/gnome.desktop           25        manual mode
  2            /usr/share/xsessions/icewm-session.desktop   15        manual mode
  3            /usr/share/xsessions/plasma5.desktop         25        manual mode
  4            /usr/share/xsessions/xfce.desktop            20        manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[li], or type selection number: 
[/li]linux64:/home/stephan # 

If you have more DE’s installed…

Note: there are 3 variations of gnome installed with gnome. There are 2 flavors of plasma5 installed with plasma

Additionally mate is available. That is my current favorite.

Also the sle-classic desktop is available. Many alternatives

Too many alternatives to ecplore in detail

tom kosvic

Hi Henk,
I have started from bare metal and now have Leap 15.3 installed.
I seek advise on installing an alternative, I have mentioned Rox-IceWM but only mentioned as it may not be available.
I am reasonably sure IceWM is available so that may be a good place to start.
I wish therefore to install it as a switchable alternative before logging in.

I understand you have installed 15.3 and chose for KDE when asked if you want a DE, and when yes which one, installed during the installation.

I understand you now want to add more DEs (you could of course have done so already during install, but that does not make much difference).

I thought there was already much information posted above by several helping people, but I will try to repeat that. Reading the same thing composed by several people may help in understanding.

YaST > Software > Software Management. Then from the VIEW menu (somewhere up=left) choose Patterns. Scroll down to Graphical Environments and make your choice.

As far as IcwWM. I never used it, but I see (in YaST > Software > Software Manager, from the Search view searching for icewm) that at least part of it is installed by default. You can add more packages (like several configuration panels) to your liking. BTW AFAIK IceWM is NOT a DE, but a Windows Manager.

When you (as system manager) have installed what to need, your task as system manager is finished. It is now up to the individual user to make her/his choice of DE for the session at the login screen. Again information on where to make the choice on the login screen (better on the login screens of the several Diaplay Manger available) is posted above already.

Hi and many thanks. To date I have only used Yast and this is a new build and from earlier post I now see my system has sddm as its default.
Looking at the desktops listed IceWM is not listed. I do have XFCE, LXDE and MATE available but cannot find IceWM.
Where do I get this or how do I get it into my machine?

I am slightly confused by the difference between window manager and desktop and why IceWM was not shown in the Yast>Software view tab but it is shown and works when I use the suggestion from Sauerland. No idea why I am given sddm, which I have never heard of rather than Yast. I must live in a different world!
I shall press on and thanks to all who have guided me.

I think Henk has already explained this to you.

What is reported by the following?

ls -l /usr/share/xsessions/
zypper se -si icewm

These might help clarify…

Are you asking how to install and then use different DEs?

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Itr is indeed difficult to discus your wishes and problems when you confuse the different parts of the software and what their respective tasks are.

Apart from other sources (courses, books) the most obvious are of course:

Oh, and sddm is a display manager (explained in the second link above). YaST is a System Management Tool. I have no idea why you see any functional relation between them.