Installing XFCE Desktop on Debian 11

Linux provides extensive support for multiple desktop environments such as: GNOME, KDE 5, Unity, LXQt ,. In addition, desktop environments are mainly divided into two types: heavy and light. Some desktop environments can look very interactive, but they can be ignored because they use more memory and processing power to run Linux. For example, the GNOME and unity desktop environments are in the heavy category, while Xfce is in the light category, so it is better suited for older machines. This article demonstrates how to install the Xfce desktop environment on Debian 11:

Why the XFCE desktop environment

This section highlights the importance of the Xfce desktop environment over others: Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment supported by many Linux distributions: for example, there are several Linux distributions that come with the default Xfce desktop environment, such as Zorin OSlite, MX Linux, Xubuntu, Manjaro Linux. The Xfce desktop consumes very little memory (less than 200MB of RAM) and uses the minimum amount of CPU memory (300MHz). It is noticed that each tool / package has its own advantages and disadvantages, as well as several main advantages and disadvantages of XFC:


  • Lightweight making it suitable for older cars
  • Modern and visual looking
  • Interface like windows


  • Doesn’t provide advanced setup

How to install the Xfce desktop environment on Debian 11

First, update your package list by running the command below:

                      $ sudo apt update

At this point, you are ready to install Xfce: the command below will install the Xfce environment with all its packages: task-xfce-desktop

Note The command below contains the task package that is used to install the Debian desktop in the Xfce environment; this metapackage consists of several packages that will be installed with Xfce for ease of use:

                      $ sudo apt install task-xfce-desktop

Installation will take a few minutes depending on your internet speed; in addition, during installation, a prompt window will appear containing two well-known display managers: GNOME Display Manager (gdm) and Light Display Manager (LightDM). You can install any of them; however, it is recommended to use “LightDM” as it should be lightweight and fast compared to “gdm”.

Once the environment is installed; check the default download target using the command given below:

                      $ sudo systemctl get-default

And if the download target is not graphical; you can install it using the command given below:

Note In our case, this is already configured for a graphical purpose:

                      $ sudo systemctl set-default

Now reboot your Debian system to see the changes: when the system is on the lock screen after reboot; You have to select “Xfce session” from the sessions available: you can do this by clicking on the settings icon located in the upper right corner, as shown below:

After changing the session, enter your username and password to login:

If we go to applications and open them; you will see a completely different interface compared to the GNOME desktop environment in Debian 11:


Linux has a long list of supported desktop environments, which attracts users because other operating systems do not provide such support. The various desktop interfaces satisfy users who have to spend a lot of time in front of the screen, but they can also consume resources, so you must choose wisely. In this post, a detailed tutorial on how to install the Xfce desktop environment on Debian 11: I noticed that Xfce has an interactive interface and also consumes fewer resources than some other environments. Although Xfce has a graphical interface; GNOME is much more graphically rich in Debian 11.

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