Adding XFCE to Plasma on OOB Pinebook Pro

I’m quite new to Manjaro and ARM, having received my first PinebookPro some months ago. While I’m happy with KDE Plasma it came with, and have set it up to my liking. However, I’d like to explore other DEs. In particular I like XFCE and want to add it to my PBP and be able to choose it from the existing sddm greeter. I might also try E or LXQt, just to see how all these run on the PBP compared to Plasma. Ideally I could be able to revert/remove them weeks later without impacting the state of Plasma as it stands.

I am fairly comfortable doing this sort of thing with Ubuntu or CentOS, but wanted to check first to see if anybody has done this and if there is any PBP & ARM specific wisdom or cautions aside from section 2.1 (“Risks…”) of the wiki.

https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php/Install_Desktop_Environments#XFCE

Safest bet is to use sd card where you will keep the alternative DE for this experiment.

But I’m sure you are just as eager to make experiments so… :smile:
You can install XFCE, Gnome, Wayfire, Sway or i3 easily. The usual problems come from colliding programs that do the same job. It’s can be a pain so it’s a good idea to use different users (dangerously close to using sd card :grinning: ). Installing the environment of choice will show up on sddm. Gnome likes its gdm and it can be handy in some cases.

Checking the configurations on the Manjaro GitLab repo can give you a good idea on how to adjust the DEs if something is missing.

I haven’t seen LXQt, I’m not sure it’s available for aarch64. I haven’t seen much about E either (with good reasons).

Be careful with pamac remove . It can be overzealous with removing packages that you didn’t intend to remove. Read the wiki to make sure when you want to remove something, it won’t wipe half of your main DE as well.
I’m using pacman by habbit and haven’t gotten in such situation myself though I’ve seen it mentioned one or twice in the #pinebook channel (you can search the history of the messages in it if you are interested).

[Update]:
Forgot a couple of things:

  • When you add a new user, you can use same permission as the one from the installer: wheel,sys,audio,input,video,storage,lp,network,users,power as you can see here
  • If you go with multiple DEs, you may find that you don’t get the prompts for authentication when installing new software. To resolve this, make sure polkit is started along with the secondary DE. For example, I’ve had to add the following to my Wayfire setup that I’m primarily using alongside Plasma:
[autostart]
...
...
# Enable Polkit at the start of the session. Allows for GUI package manager to function as expected.
a1 = /usr/lib/polkit-kde-authentication-agent-1

[command]
...
  • Not sure about other DEs but I used brightnessctl at the end to control the display backlight on Wayfire. XFCE and Gnome shouldn’t have the same issue, maybe i3 or Sway would. You can use light as well but you have to manually set the permission for it.
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