Install GUI on debian 7 wheezy

This article will show you how to install GUI (Graphical User Interface) of your choice (gnome, kde, 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


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.

Install gnome on debian


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.

Or install KDE from the default repositorie


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.

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.

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add these to the file

Change the content of /etc/apt/preferences like this

Install linuxmint-keyring package or GnuPG key from Linux Mint repository

After that change /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/80mintupdate-debian


Finally we can install cinnamon on debian 7 wheezy now


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

Install MATE on debian

# apt-get install mate-archive-keyring

# apt-get update

# Now to install MATE choose 1 of the 3 apt-get lines below.

# this installs the base packages

# or this to install mate-core and more extras

#or this to install mate-core + mate-desktop-environment and even more extras.


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.


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

To install extra XFCE packages

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

add these code to the end of the .bashrc file


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

complete set of elements

complete Debian LXDE desktop environment


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 before FluxBox

After you installed X, you now can install FluxBox on debian wheezy.

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


  1. Abscissa says:

    I tried the instructions above, and it seemed to install, but nothing changed.

    • Which one are you trying to install? Some will auto load without startx command, some after you login at the terminal, you have to type in “startx” to load the GUI.

  2. Following this method to install Cinnamon just gives a mass of dependency errors.

  3. Spent three days trying to get debian installed with KDE GUI and nothing works. Boots to console.

    • you need to run startx to start gui

      If you want to start kde automatically, edit /etc/inittab file



    • Which debian version are you using? I tested with debian wheezy 7.5, KDE starts automatically

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