There is a thread which discusses the use of extramod cheatcode to change the desktop environment. However, I cannot get the finger on it thru google. Here is how I use extramod to use different desktop on the same porteus installation from one bootup to the other. Here the xfce.xzm or kde.xzm is in their respective folder and not into the /porteus/base folder, and in addition I have separate save change folders for each desktop environment:
This is grub legacy, but it could be converted to syslinux or grub2 easily.
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title porteus on sda5 32 BIT v30 KDE root (hd0,4) kernel /32bit_v30/boot/syslinux/vmlinuz from=/dev/sda5/32bit_v30 extramod=/mnt/sda5/32bit_v30/kde changes=EXIT:/32bit_v30/kde login=root initrd /32bit_v30/boot/syslinux/initrd.xz boot title porteus on sda5 32 BIT v30 XFCE root (hd0,4) kernel /32bit_v30/boot/syslinux/vmlinuz from=/dev/sda5/32bit_v30 extramod=/mnt/sda5/32bit_v30/xfce changes=EXIT:/32bit_v30/xfce login=root initrd /32bit_v30/boot/syslinux/initrd.xz boot
But maybe this what not you were talking about. 8)