This article will show you how to install GUI (Graphical User Interface) of your choice (gnome, kde, tde, Cinnamon, mate, enlightenment, xfce, or lxde) on debian 7. The two biggest players in the game are Gnome and KDE, but there are also many smaller GUIs, like Xfce and LXDE that have just as much to offer.
Download Debian 7 wheezy
For leaner and better control of what you install on your machine, I highly recommend you to download and install debian minimal CD or netinst.
When you are at “Software selection” screen, *unselect* all the option.
If you already have debian installed and you want to find out what your debian version is, you can use this command
$ cat /etc/debian_version
GNU Object Model Environment (Gnome) is a desktop environment and graphical user interface that runs on top of a computer operating system, user-friendly desktop for Unix operating systems, based entirely on free software.
You will need to install aptitude and tasksel before install gnome
Aptitude is an Ncurses based FrontEnd to Apt, the debian package manager.
Tasksel is a tool that installs multiple related packages as a co-ordinated “task” onto your system.
# apt-get install aptitude tasksel
Install gnome on debian
# tasksel install gnome-desktop --new-install
K Desktop Environment (KDE) is a free desktop environment and development platform built with Trolltech’s Qt toolkit. It runs on most Unix and Unix-like systems, such as Linux, BSD and Solaris.
# apt-get install aptitude tasksel# aptitude --without-recommends install ~t^standard$ ~t^desktop$ ~t^kde-desktop$
Or install KDE from the default repositorie
# apt-get install kde-standard
TDE (Trinity Desktop Environment) is a Linux desktop environment. TDE is a continuation of the KDE 3 series which look and feel the same with KDE 3.5 but it’s packages aren’t interchangeable with KDE. The first time you start TDE, Kpersonalizer will help you to configure the basic setup of Trinity desktop.
To install TDE on Debian 7 wheezy, you will need to add Trinity Repository to your system sources.list file
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
Add these lines to the end of your sources.list file
deb http://ppa.quickbuild.pearsoncomputing.net/trinity/trinity-v3.5.13/debian wheezy main
deb-src http://ppa.quickbuild.pearsoncomputing.net/trinity/trinity-v3.5.13/debian wheezy main
deb http://ppa.quickbuild.pearsoncomputing.net/trinity/trinity-builddeps-v3.5.13/debian wheezy main
deb-src http://ppa.quickbuild.pearsoncomputing.net/trinity/trinity-builddeps-v3.5.13/debian wheezy main
Now you can install TDE on Debian 7 Wheezy
# apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.quickbuild.pearsoncomputing.net --recv-keys 2B8638D0# apt-get update# apt-get install desktop-base-trinity kde-trinity
Compiz is truly one of the original compositing window managers for the X Window System which is capable to make use of OpenGL-acceleration. The integration enables it to run compositing effects in window management, for example a minimization effect and a cube workspace. Compiz conforms to the ICCCM standard together with replacement for the main Metacity in GNOME or KWin in KDE.
# echo "deb http://snapshot.debian.org/archive/debian/20120616T042917Z/ wheezy main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list# apt-get -o Acquire::Check-Valid-Until=false update# apt-get update# apt-get install compiz-gtk compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra -t wheezy# compiz --replace
You can configure Compiz via CCSM utility. located in System -> Preferences -> CompizConfig
Cinnamon is a Linux desktop which provides advanced innovative features and a traditional user experience. The desktop layout is similar to Gnome 2. The underlying technology is forked from Gnome Shell. The emphasis is put on making users feel at home and providing them with an easy to use and comfortable desktop experience.Cinnamon has rich visual effects enabled by new graphical technologies.
NOTE: This is broken. At the moment this method no longer works.
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
Add these to the file
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import
deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest testing main contrib non-free
deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest/security testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest/multimedia testing main non-free
Change the content of /etc/apt/preferences like this
Pin: release o=linuxmint
Pin: origin packages.linuxmint.com
Pin: release o=Debian
Install linuxmint-keyring package or GnuPG key from Linux Mint repository
# apt-get install linuxmint-keyring
Now import the GPG key
# gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 3EE67F3D0FF405B2
# gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv-keys 3EE67F3D0FF405B2# gpg --export 3EE67F3D0FF405B2 > 3EE67F3D0FF405B2.gpg# apt-key add ./3EE67F3D0FF405B2.gpg
To install Cinnamon on debian 7 wheezy
# apt-get update# apt-get install cinnamon
The MATE Desktop Environment, a non-intuitive and unattractive desktop for users, using traditional computing desktop metaphor. MATE is based on old Gnome 2, which is stable, tried and true. Because of it has been around for so much longer, tools have been developed for it which makes Gnome 2 highly compatible with most software and also highly configurable (for example, you can run Compiz on it).
Add one of MATE repositories to your source.list
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
# main repository
deb http://repo.mate-desktop.org/debian wheezy main
deb http://packages.mate-desktop.org/repo/debian wheezy main
deb http://mirror1.mate-desktop.org/debian wheezy main
Install MATE on debian
# apt-get update# apt-get install mate-archive-keyring# apt-get update
You will need to install X Windows System before install MATE
# apt-get install lightdm
You can choose to o install MATE with three options
To installs MATE base packages
# apt-get install mate-core
To install mate-core and more extras
# apt-get install mate-desktop-environment
Or to install mate-core + mate-desktop-environment and even more extras.
# apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-extra
Enlightenment is not only one desktop environment for Linux, but it has an entirely libraries to assist you to produce gorgeous end user interfaces together with a lesser amount of computer resource as compared to doing it the particular traditional way, it also helping together with classic toolkits, not forgetting an old-fashioned window manager.
We are going to install Enlightenment from debian testing repository, so we have to add the testing repository to the sources.list file
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
Add these lines to the end of the sources.list file and save it
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ testing main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ testing main contrib non-free
I’m going to use LightDM instead of Gnome GDM3 desktop manager. If you have installed gdm3, remove it and install lightdm.
# service gdm3 stop# apt-get remove gdm3# apt-get install lightdm# service lightdm start
Now we can install Enlightenment with this command
# apt-get update# apt-get install e17
To start Enlightenment, you can use this command, or Enlightenment should starts automatically after you do reboot
# exec enlightenment_start
Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.
To install Xfce on debian 7 wheezy
# apt-get install xorg xfce4 xfce4-goodies thunar-archive-plugin synaptic gdebi wicd
To install extra XFCE packages
# apt-get install xdg-utils xfce4-power-manager xfce4-goodies htop bzip2 zip unzip unrar-free
To start xfce
Once the xfce installation is done, reboot your sytem, login with your username and password, then type
To start xfce automatically when you login to tty1
edit .bashrc in your user directory
$ cd /home/yourusername$ nano .bashrc
add these code to the end of the .bashrc file
if [ "$(tty)" = "/dev/tty1" -o "$(tty)" = "/dev/vc/1" ] ; then
The LXDE or “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment” is an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM than other environments. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications, such as netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed on many Linux distributions including Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu.
minimum set of elements
# apt-get install lxde-core
complete set of elements
# apt-get install lxde
complete Debian LXDE desktop environment
# apt-get install task-lxde-desktop
Fluxbox is a extremely minimalistic and fast window manager for Linux and Unix systems. Based on the Blackbox 0.61.1 code, FluxBox uses very little resources and memory compare to KDE or Gnome which is great for older or low-powered machines. To install FluxBox on debian 7 wheezy.
You will need to install X Windows System before FluxBox
$ su -# apt-get update# apt-get install xorg
After you installed X, you now can install FluxBox on debian wheezy.
# apt-get install fluxbox
The fluxbox package from debian contains:
- fluxbox: window manager
- fbsetbg: setup script for rootwindow’s background
- fbrun: small RunApplication tool
- startfluxbox: Fluxbox starter that reads session information from ~/.fluxbox/startup
Similar to Xfce, LXDE, and Fluxbox, Openbox is very light weight and minimal window manger (not a desktop environment) for Debian or any Linux and Unix system. Openbox is developed from Blackbox 0.61.1 source code. Since Openbox is light weight, it uses very little resources yet very functional.
# apt-get install xorg openbox menu obconf obmenu
To start openbox
Last Modified: 06/23/2014