How to Install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian [16 Easy Steps]

Written by

Reviewed by

Last updated: July 16, 2023

Expert verified

SVG Image


To install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian, you can follow these steps:

  1. Running sudo apt update command updates the local package index, ensuring you have the latest information about available packages.
  2. Executing sudo apt upgrade command upgrades the installed packages on your Debian system to their latest versions, providing bug fixes, security patches, and new features.
  3. Using sudo apt install tasksel installs Tasksel, a utility that simplifies package and software management tasks, making it easier to handle complex installations like the GNOME Desktop Environment.
  4. Launching Tasksel with sudo tasksel allows you to navigate its interface using arrow keys and spacebar to select GNOME. Pressing Tab, followed by Enter, initiates the installation process.

To configure GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian, use GNOME Tweaks for customization. Common errors when installing GNOME on Debian include startup issues, missing icons, dependency problems, slow performance, and difficulties switching between desktop environments. Ensure graphics drivers are up to date, resolve dependencies, optimize performance, and check display manager settings for a smooth installation and usage experience.

Continue reading the guide below to explore the step-by-step guide to install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian, how to configure it, and common errors with troubleshooting tips.

The GNOME Desktop Environment is a popular and user-friendly interface for Linux systems, known for its sleek design and intuitive user experience. Installing GNOME on your Debian system can significantly enhance your desktop environment and provide you with a seamless and feature-rich user interface. In this article, I will walk you through the step-by-step process of installing GNOME on Debian, along with configuration tips and troubleshooting advice.

How to Install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian

To install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian, your system should meet the following requirements: an Intel Pentium 4 processor or equivalent, 2GB of RAM (recommended), 20GB of free disk space, and an active internet connection. These specifications ensure smooth installation and optimal performance of GNOME on your Debian system.

  1. Open the command window.
opening terminal 19
  1. Execute the following command to update the package lists:
<strong>sudo apt update</strong>
  1. This command will update the package lists on your Debian system.
updating system package list 10
  1. Once the update is complete, upgrade the installed packages by running the following command:
<strong>sudo apt upgrade</strong>
  1. This command will upgrade the installed packages to their latest versions.
upgrading system packages to the latest version 3
  1. Tasksel is a convenient tool that simplifies the installation process. Follow these steps to install GNOME using Tasksel. Open the terminal and run the following command to install Tasksel:
<strong>sudo apt install tasksel</strong>
  1. This command will install Tasksel on your system.
installing tasksel on debian
  1. After installing Tasksel, execute the command below to launch the Tasksel interface:
<strong>sudo tasksel</strong>
  1. This command will open the Tasksel interface.
launching tasksel interface 1
  1. In the Tasksel interface, navigate using the arrow keys and select GNOME by pressing the spacebar.
  2. Press Tab to highlight the OK button and hit Enter to start the installation process.
installing gnome on debian
  1. Tasksel will download and install the necessary packages. This may take some time, depending on your internet connection and system specifications.
  2. Once the installation is complete, restart your system by executing the following command:
<strong>sudo reboot</strong>
  1. This command will restart your system.
restarting system
  1. Checking current login environment by running the command:
<strong>echo $XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP</strong>
  1. The output will be:
checking current logged in environment

How to Configure GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian

After successfully installing GNOME, you can further enhance your experience by configuring and customizing various aspects of the desktop environment. GNOME Tweaks is a powerful tool that allows you to customize various aspects of the GNOME Desktop Environment. Follow these steps to install and use GNOME Tweaks:

  1. Open the terminal and run the following command to install GNOME Tweaks:
<strong>sudo apt install gnome-tweaks</strong>
  1. The command will install GNOME tweaks.
installing gnome tweaks on debian 1
  1. Launch GNOME Tweaks from the Applications menu.
launching tasksel interface
  1. In GNOME Tweaks, explore the different categories, such as Appearance, Extensions, and Workspaces, to customize various aspects of GNOME.
configure gnome through gnome tweaks

5 Common Errors When Installing GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian

Installing the GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian can sometimes pose challenges, leading to various errors during the installation process. Being aware of these common errors can help you troubleshoot and overcome any hurdles that may arise. Here are five common errors that you often encounter when installing GNOME on Debian.

  • GNOME Not Starting After Installation: When you boot into your Debian system after installing GNOME, you may encounter a situation where GNOME fails to start. This can happen for various reasons, such as incompatible graphics drivers, incomplete installation, or conflicts with other software. To resolve this, ensure that your graphics drivers are up to date, try reinstalling GNOME, and check for any conflicting software.
  • 🔧 Missing Icons or Graphical Glitches: Another issue that users might face is missing icons or graphical glitches within the GNOME environment. This can occur due to outdated graphics drivers or compatibility issues. To fix this, update your system’s graphics drivers to the latest version and ensure they are compatible with GNOME. If the problem persists, try changing your GNOME theme or resetting the icon settings.
  • Dependency Issues During Installation: During the installation process, you may encounter dependency issues where required packages or libraries are missing or not compatible. This can prevent the successful installation of GNOME. To address this error, ensure that your system has all the necessary dependencies installed. You can manually install the missing packages or use the package manager to resolve the dependencies automatically.
  • 🐢 Slow Performance After Installation: After installing GNOME, you may notice a decrease in system performance or sluggishness. This can be caused by resource-intensive GNOME extensions, unnecessary startup applications, or insufficient system resources. To improve performance, disable unnecessary startup applications, remove or disable resource-intensive extensions, and consider upgrading your system’s hardware if needed.
  • 🔄 Unable to Switch between Desktop Environments: If multiple desktop environments are installed on your Debian system, you might encounter difficulties switching between them. This can occur if the display manager configuration is not set correctly. To resolve this, check your display manager settings and ensure that the appropriate options are available during the login screen.

To Sum Up

I hope this step-by-step guide has helped you to install GNOME Desktop Environment on Debian and how to configure it. Additionally, I have discussed common errors that may occur during the installation process, such as GNOME not starting, missing icons or graphical glitches, dependency issues, slow performance, and difficulties in switching between desktop environments.

However, the journey doesn’t end here. To further enrich your Linux experience and explore more about GNOME and Debian, consider diving into the following topics: GNOME Shell extensions, Advanced Debian package management and system configuration, and Mastering productivity tools within the GNOME ecosystem. Remember, Linux is a vast and ever-evolving ecosystem, and the more you explore, the more you’ll uncover exciting possibilities and customization options.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I switch between different desktop environments after installing GNOME on Debian?

To switch between different desktop environments, log out of your current session by clicking on the power icon in the top-right corner of the screen and selecting Log Out. Once you reach the login screen, you will notice a gear or settings icon. Click on that icon to reveal a dropdown menu of available desktop environments. Choose the desired environment from the list, and then enter your login credentials to access the selected desktop environment. This allows you to seamlessly switch between different desktop environments on Debian with GNOME installed.

Is it possible to install specific GNOME components without the entire desktop environment?

Yes, it is possible to install specific GNOME components without installing the entire desktop environment. GNOME consists of various components that can be installed individually based on your requirements. To install specific GNOME components, you need to identify the packages associated with those components. Use the apt package manager to install the desired packages individually. For example, if you only want to install the GNOME Terminal, you can run the command sudo apt install gnome-terminal in the terminal. This way, you can selectively install GNOME components without the need for the entire desktop environment.

Can I use GNOME extensions with other desktop environments on Debian?

No, GNOME extensions are specifically designed to work with the GNOME Desktop Environment and may not be compatible with other desktop environments on Debian. These extensions rely on specific functionalities and APIs provided by GNOME, which might not be present or work the same way in other desktop environments. While other desktop environments may have their own extension systems or similar features, they usually have their own unique set of extensions tailored to their environment. Hence, using GNOME extensions exclusively with the GNOME Desktop Environment is recommended for the best compatibility and user experience.



Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.



Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

How to Use the Journalctl Command to Tail Service Logs in Linux [4 Best Uses]

Next Post

How to Add a Repository to Debian – Explore 3 Effective Methods

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read next