GNOME easy lazy small installation for modern amd64 Debian.

STATUS: Frozen (2019-11-17)

No more updates for this guide.

Please refer to the TOC page.

This guide shows how to install GNOME as possible as small, without complicated method.

We do not want to install GNOME selecting packages one-by-one just to make it smaller.


You should add non-free and contrib on APT sources for drivers if you use modern NVidia or AMD graphic cards.

In this guide, we basically assumes using Intel Core iGPU only.


Debian Stretch 9.9 feedbacks. Minor tweaks.


This is because X.org server could run as non-root only with gdm3, GNOME Display Manager.

The Xorg server no longer requires root

Only the gdm3 display manager supports running X as a non-privileged user in stretch.

-- Release Notes for Debian 9

So, let us use gdm3, at least.

Install GNOME essentials

This is easy,

root# apt install gnome-core # includes gdm3 and firefox-esr

However, we have to remove legacy xorg video driver for Intel iGPUs.

  • It is harmful for video motion quality with modern Intel Core iGPU.
  • If you use Intel 6th generation Core architecture, you must do it.

Take a look at what xserver-xorg-video-intel says.

The use of this driver is discouraged if your hw is new enough (ca. 2007 and newer). You can try uninstalling this driver and let the server use it's builtin modesetting driver instead.

—from "xserver-xorg-video-intel" package, Debian GNU/Linux

It's for old Intel iGPUs, about 12 years ago.

We assume modern Intel Core CPU. Let us remove it for better quality.

root# apt purge xserver-xorg-video-intel

Debian Buster status : Rev2

It seems standard nouveau driver can barely display with GeForce 10x0 series.

It' very slow. You have to install non-free nvidia-driver for them (even Buster).


There are other ways to install GNOME suite.

  1. task-gnome-desktop package
    • This contains almost everything; it is too large, though it is simple.
  2. gnome package
    • This might be smaller than above, but it still contains games, etc.

Hence, as a GUI for workstations (terminal, browser, office suite, and etc.), gnome-core is better than gnome package.

Applications (optional)

Mozilla Firefox-ESR is included in the gnome-core package.

So, it is almost about GUI-MUA and Office suite, etc.

We recommend Mozilla Thunderbird and LibreOffice.

root# apt install thunderbird # Mozilla Thunderbird
root# apt install libreoffice{,-gnome} # LibreOffice

Those are our favorites. Choose what you want.


With Mozilla Firefox ESR, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice as shown above, /usr is used 1.9GB and /usr/share is used 2.4GB.

Minor tweaks (optional)

We use GNOME almost defaults.

UI Animations

  1. Hit SUPER and type tweak, launch Tweak Tool.
  2. Appearance -> Enable animations OFF.
    • This makes responses quick and nice.


If you can increase Intel Core CPU iGPU memory by BIOS, say 1GB, this is not significant.

UI animations are smooth with that video memory amount.

Internationalization (optional)

For better Unicode (especially Japanese) font display,

root# apt install ttf-unifont fonts-{ipafont,noto}

Debian Buster status

These fonts are not installed by gnome-core. It seems you need to install them manually if you want.

Set Firefox font settings with Google Noto.

  • Launch Mozilla Firefox ESR
    • General -> Language and Appearance -> Font & Colors
    • Advanced -> Fonts for "Japanese"
      • Serif/Sans-serif: "Noto Sans CJK JP"
      • Monospace: "Noto Sans Mono CJK JP"

This is beautiful, and covers all Unicode characters.

Great thanks, Google and IPA!

published: MODIFIED: