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Is it possible to add a lightweight DE, say LXDE of XFCE, to fedora so that I can choose to boot into either?
Would I be able to select in grub or would there be an intermediate step?

That way I have an option to not have to wait for GNOME to start if I want to just to a little light browsing.

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2 Answers 2

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Yes, you can add another DE to your Fedora system. It is quite simple actually. Just install the other DE via your package manager.

No, you will not be able to choose it via Grub. But you can install a login manager, I guess one is already installed in Fedora. So, once you boot from Grub, your machine will give you a choice of the various DE's installed on your system and you can login to any of them.

I personally use about 4-5 different DE's on my Arch System each configured for a specific purpose.

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This is possible, but you'll have to do a bit of work. From the Grub prompt, you can pass arguments to the kernel; then, when you log in, read the kernel arguments and start the specified desktop environment.

For the kernel argument, be very sure to pick something that doesn't conflict with existing arguments. For example:

linux /vmlinuz root=/dev/sda1 ro jake223.de=startkde

You can make multiple Grub entries with different values of jake223.de.

When you log in, pick a “custom session” that executes your ~/.Xsession. In that file, start a desktop environment based on the kernel parameter if it's present.

#!/bin/sh
kernel_argument=$(</proc/cmdline awk -vRS=' ' 'sub(/^jake223.de=/, "")')
if [ -n "$kernel_argument" ]; then
  exec "$kernel_argument"
fi
exec default-window-manager

This is a lot of work for little gain. You can select your desktop environment at the login screen, not long after the bootloader screen. You might save a few seconds, especially if you also enable auto-login, but this is marginal.

A more effective way to go quickly from off to logged in would be to hibernate your PC. This saves the current system state to disk; when you boot again, the system state is loaded back in a few seconds. You get not only an already-booted system but all your files and applications open as you left them.

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"This is a lot of work for little gain. You can select your desktop environment at the login screen, not long after the bootloader screen. You might save a few seconds, especially if you also enable auto-login, but this is marginal." - agreed –  Jakob Weisblat Jul 25 '12 at 1:02

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