How to install GNOME Desktop in Debian

When it comes to selecting an operating system for server, Debian is one of the most popular choices, thanks to its stellar stability, well-tested ecosystem. By default, the Debian Server installation doesn’t come with a graphical desktop of its own, leaving the choice to the users. GNOME Desktop is an attractive and useful desktop environment. GNOME is both free and one of the most widely used desktop environments on the GNU/Linux operating system.

In this article, we will show you how to install GNOME Desktop on Debian. The guide is applicable to older versions of Debian and many as well as Linux distros based on Debian, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Pop! OS.

If you have another graphical desktop environment installed on Debian, such as KDE or MATE, you can also follow this article to install GNOME 3 and GNOME classic desktop environment on your Debian system.

GNOME 3 and GNOME classic desktop environment on your Debian

Update the system

Before installing any new package or application, it is recommended that you update your system, GNOME Deksktop is no exception. To do this, run the commands below which invoke apt package manager to fetch a fresh package list from Debian repository.

sudo apt update

There are three GNOME options for you to choose in Debian:

  • GNOME desktop task (tasksel) : Debian’s own applications package, usually includes applications that do not really integrate with GNOME, like LibreOffice, Firefox, etc. This is what chosen by default in normal, desktop, freshly installed Debian installation.
  • gnome – GNOME desktop: The full GNOME environment, including applications that are not officially part of the Upstream GNOME releases. It provides the recommended GNOME environment for Debian.
  • gnome-core – minimal GNOME desktop : The package contains only the official “core” modules of the GNOME desktop. The two packages mentioned above (gnome and tasksel) depend on this one.

For an ordinary user, we recommend installing tasksel to avoid strange errors or missing applications.

If you haven’t install sudo yet (i.e. freshly installed Debian), you have to run su - to elevate to a root shell. After that, run the command below to install GNOME Desktop:

apt-get install task-gnome-desktop

GNOME Desktop installation in Debian

The GNOME Desktop task (task-gnome-desktop) is what installed by Debian-Installer’s Desktop "task" during OS installation.

For those who didn’t know, tasksel is a package provides a simple interface for users who want to configure their system to perform a specific task. The program is used during the installation process, but users can also run tasksel at any time.

Now have a cup of coffee and wait until the installation completes itself, it may take a long time if you have a slow internet connection. Once successfully installed, run the following command to start GNOME on startup :

sudo systemctl set-default graphical.target

Reboot your system, you should see GNOME log in screen once the system fully started up.

We hope that the information above helped you successfully install GNOME Desktop on your Debian system. We’ve also covered other software installation for Linux, such as How to install Chromium browser in Debian, How to install CMake, Airflow and ADB/fastboot on Debian, in case you’re interested. If you have any suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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