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.
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:
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:
If you are starting X with
startx, the same line would go in your
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.