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This question already has an answer here:

Is there a way to retrieve the desktop environment name (e.g. Gnome, Unity, XFCE, LXDE, KDE...) from the command line or using Python?

marked as duplicate by terdon Sep 17 '15 at 10:44

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In a Terminal input:

echo $DESKTOP_SESSION 

if it does not help (it may be equal 'default'), try

echo $XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP
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    Note that this will not always work as sometimes DESKTOP_SESSION is set to "Default" or in some cases not set at all (I think it's gdm/kdm that set this variable). A better approach would be to check for the running session process. – don_crissti Aug 25 '12 at 17:39
  • I noticed there's also a varable XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP="LXDE" (or "Unity", in my two desktops), do you think it's reliable? – giuspen Aug 26 '12 at 8:58
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    @giuspen - discussed also here link. XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP is just a proposal, it's not part of the XDG spec and is discussed on various mailing lists, e.g. link. FIY I am on Gnome3/Arch64bit, I have all the xdg-* packages installed and this variable is unset. – don_crissti Aug 26 '12 at 13:11
  • @don_crissti - thanks I read in the other discussion that you linked that XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP is deprecated. I will try to look at the running processes. – giuspen Aug 26 '12 at 14:50
  • @giuspen: On Xubuntu 13.04, I get xubuntu for $DESKTOP_SESSION and XFCE for $XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP. – Alix Axel May 30 '13 at 7:19

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