Installing the Gnome Desktop Environment on Debian 7.5

Desktop Environments

Debian supports a number of graphical environments from fully-featured desktop environments like Gnome and KDE to lighter environments like Xfce and LXDE to even lighter window managers like Openbox and tiling window managers like Wmii.

Installing the Desktop Environment

Gnome is an attractive and useful desktop environment that is both free and one of the most widely used desktop environments on the GNU/Linux operating system.

To install the complete set of elements of the Gnome Desktop Environment, we execute the following command in a “root” shell.

apt-get install gnome

This will install the recommended environment for Debian.

To install the recommended environment, minus a few packages, we execute the following command in a “root” shell.

apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment

To install the minimum elements, we execute the following command in a “root” shell.

apt-get install gnome-core

When opting to install only the minimum set of elements, no X server or X display manager is installed.

Running the Desktop Environment

GDM / KDM / LightDM

For either GDM, KDM and LightDM, no additional configuration is needed and you can just select the Gnome option at the login screen.

XDM

For XDM, you will be required to have the .xsession file in your home directory. If such a file does not exist, create it by executing the following command:

touch ~/.xsession

XDM reads this file as a script – for more information regarding the format of this file, see the XDM documentation. The final line in your ~/.xsession file should read:

exec gnome-session

If you are starting X with startx, the same line would go in your ~/.xinitrc file.

An alternative way to change the default session manager system-wide is to update the link defined in /etc/alternatives/ by executing the following command:

update-alternatives --config x-session-manager

You will be given a list of options. Select gnome-session to select Gnome as your default session manager.

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