How to Install XFCE on Debian 10


Usually, the Debian distribution is installed with the Gnome desktop environment. However, if after installing the system you change your mind and want something lighter and simpler, then you can always install XFCE. This is a very lightweight, yet not bad environment. XFCE has a full desktop, a panel with windows of running applications, and a dock with shortcuts to programs that you can launch.

Debian works great with many environments, including XFCE. In this short tutorial we will look at how to install XFCE on Debian 10. We will talk about the latest version of the environment.

Installing XFCE on Debian 10

The first step is to update the package lists in the repositories and the system itself to the most recent version. To do this, run the following commands:

sudo apt update

sudo apt full-upgrade

In order to install XFCE on Debian, available in the official repositories, just run the following command:

sudo apt install task-xfce-desktop

With it, you install a metapackage that pulls in all XFCE dependencies. During installation, you will need to select a login manager, you can leave gdm3, which is used by default:

If you do not want to install all dependencies, but want to install only the main environment packages, use the following command:

sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies

After the installation is complete, you will need to restart your computer or simply end your current session. In the login menu, select the XFCE session. In my case, for some reason it is empty, but I guess that this is it:

Then you will boot into the XFCE shell and start using it.

When you start XFCE for the first time, it will prompt you to customize the panel, you can leave the default settings.

By default, the repository contains version XFCE 4.12, but version 4.14 is already available on other distributions. If you want to get this particular version, then you have to add the repository from MX Linux and install a few components. Install GnuPG first:

sudo apt install gnupg

Then add this line of repository configuration to the file /etc/apt/sources.list:

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

deb buster main non-free

To install the repository key, download and install this package:


sudo dpkg -i mx19-archive-keyring_2019.5.31_all.deb

Then update the package lists and install XFCE 4.14 as described above. You will now get version 4.14. This can be verified by running:


After installing the shell, it is advisable to remove this repository from the system so that no system packages are loaded from there, because this can cause problems. As you can see, installing XFCE on Debian is not that difficult. What kind of environment do you like to use? Write in the comments!