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Re: programmatically determining the desktop environment of a system

> Could i identify the environment by inspecting the file system (for
> example)?  (I imagine the answer there must be 'no', because different
> users could have different environments but necessarily share the same
> file system, but maybe i'm making some unjustified assumptions?)

That's right.  Most of my systems have both Gnome and XFCE installed at
the same time, and some of them have both active at the same time (for
different users running on different virtual terminals).

Also, the meaning of "desktop environment" is not completely clear
anyway: I've used the same programs (mostly ctwm, Emacs, Xterm, and
Firefox) for many years now, first without a so-called desktop
environment, then under Gnome2, then shortly under Gnome3 and now
under XFCE.  To the untrained eye, all 4 situations result in pretty
much the exact same behavior and the exact same appearance.