I am using Debian 6 with two desktop managers (Gnome and KDE). During installation, I chose KDE as the default desktop. But, now I want to change the default desktop to Gnome. How do I change it?


I have found the solution by editing the file default-display-manager in the path /etc/X11/:

#vim /etc/X11/default-display-manager

For Gnome, edit as:


For KDE, edit as below:


Once updated, reboot the computer. You can find it updated the display manager.

You can also do it by executing the below command:

$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm
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    Also update-alternatives --configure x-window-manager should allow you to select which one do you want to be the system default. – Wolfer Oct 6 '13 at 17:58
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    @Wolfer You mean update-alternatives --config x-window-manage – Mike Sep 25 '14 at 6:08
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    @Mike On my system update-alternatives --display x-window-manage outputs update-alternatives: error: no alternatives for x-window-manage whereas update-alternatives --display x-window-manager reports what one would want to see... For reference this is on sid... – Wolfer Oct 4 '14 at 17:20
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    @Wolfer Sorry, that was a typo on my part. My point is that it is "config" and not "configure". – Mike Oct 4 '14 at 17:42
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    x-window-manager is not a X display manager (or "X Desktop Manager", as in question) – Giacomo Catenazzi Dec 5 '16 at 16:38

Run sudo update-alternatives --config x-window-manager

This uses Debian's built-in mechanisms to choose "alternatives" for default commands.

  • Answer is taken from nearby comments of Wolfer and Mike. Since this is the preferrable solution, it'd better be posted as one. – VasyaNovikov Oct 12 '17 at 19:32

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