Install multiple desktop environments on postmarketOS

Say you already installed Phosh on your postmarketOS, now you wanna try Plasma Mobile or the real GNOME. Well, there is no need to reflash the OS. It is possible to install multiple desktop environments on postmarketOS.

WARNING: It would be needed to check if your deivce supports GPU acceleration before launching a wayland session. Devices such as Pinephone, OnePlus 6T, Xiaomi Poco F1 have better supports for Wayland. If not please choose X11 DEs instead.

1. Setup Display Manager

The display manager of Phosh should be TinyDM. And you can install display manager such as LightDM or GDM which allows you to choose which DE you want to login at lock menu.

  1. First, install GDM:
sudo apk add gdm
#Or lightdm
sudo apk add lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter
  1. Remove Phosh and tinydm from auto-start services
sudo rc-update del phosh
sudo rc-update del tinydm
  1. Enable GDM at boot
sudo rc-update add gdm

After reboot you shall see GDM at lock screen. While you are typing the password, you would see a gear at bottom right for choosing the DE sessions.

2. Install and switch desktop environments

Apart from Phosh, there are many desktop environments packages available in postmarketOS and Alpine Linux’s repos. Here I choose the three most common DEs.

2.1. GNOME (X11, Wayland)

The mobile version of gnome-shell is under heavly developing. It would auto change layout accroding to the screen size. And the design is become more and more freindly for mobile devices.

Install GNOME on postmarketOS. And choose GNOME session from login menu.

sudo apk add gnome-desktop
# For those who want to install Phosh
sudo apk add phosh

2.2. Plasma Mobile (X11, Wayland)

Plasma Mobile is almost the same as Plasma Desktop. However the UI is optimized for mobile devices. On the other hand, Plasma Desktop has some gestures supports however the button is too small and the layout is not suitable for mobile phone.

Install Plasma Mobile on postmarketOS. And choose it from login menu.

sudo apk add plasma-mobile

2.3. XFCE (X11)

XFCE is for devices whose GPU acceleration do not function well. XFCE can use software rendering. While installing XFCE during pmbootstrap init, the pmbootstrap will also setup a floating keyborad for the system.

Install XFCE and onscreen keyboard:

sudo apk add  xfce4 xfce4-terminal xfce4-screensaver dbus onboard

You may increase the DPI of font size in Settings Manager → Appearance → Fonts.


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