Making GNOME on Debian slim.

STATUS: Frozen (2019-11-17)

No more updates for this guide.

Please refer to the TOC page.

GNOME is a big package, even we install it by gnome-core.

This guide shows how to slim it, especially system daemons.

Rev 5

Add GNOME tracker, gnome-sushi, and gvfs sections.

Fix GNOME share section.

Network management

Most of us connect PC and/or workstations via routers, except mobile devices.

Hence, If you do not change network configuration using GNOME panel, you may uninstall network-manager package.

root# apt purge network-manager


You can remove the package before you install GNOME, but there are network-manager-gnome.

You should remove it after GNOME installation.

Same is modemmanager package.

root# apt purge modemmanager

Removing on your demand


Be careful when you uninstall GNOME related packages; it could uninstall gnome-shell and/or gdm3 and you would lose your Desktop.

plymouth (buster)

Debian buster gnome-core installs plymouth, boot animation, logger and I/O multiplexer.

In most cases it makes boot sequence better, but requires KMS, which could be potential issue under some problems.

In addition to that, LVM-over-LUKS passphrase be shown by hidden characters. It means you and other people can see the length of your passphrase.

So, we recommend removing plymouth.

root# apt purge plymouth


If you do not use any Bluetooth devices, especially keyboards and mice,

root# apt purge bluez{,obexd}

This would remove gnome-core, though Desktop left intact.


If you do not play videos on local storage, consider removing Totem.

root# apt purge totem

Online Accounts Management

If you do not manage your online accounts by GNOME setting panel, you could remove related packages.

root# apt purge gnome-online-{accounts,miners}

GNOME sushi

This is a preview feature by left-click and hit space on nautilus.

These features are provided by JavaScript and it could read PDF files. We consider this as a potential security hole (suppose you got malicious PDF and accidentally preview it before you scan it).

root# apt purge gnome-sushi

GNOME Search (aka. tracker)

If you do not want GNOME trackers work background to provide some searching features, you could remove these.

They consume read/write IO operation resource AND reads your contents. From both performance and security reason, we recommend to purge these.

If you do need file content search feature, leave them.

root@stretch# apt purge tracker{,-extract,-gui,-miner-fs}

Debian buster has bit different dependency. We cannot remove tracker (nautilus would be gone, too).

root@buster# apt purge tracker{-extract,-miner-fs}

GNOME sharing (Apache WebDAV / ObexFTP)

It would be a potential security hole if you do not use public file sharing over your local network.

root# apt purge gnome-user-share

gvfs backends

gvfs-backends provides many protocols. Someone needs them, the others do not.

Take a look at what is, and decide whether you purge it or not.

root# apt show gvfs-backends
root# apt purge gvfs-backends # if you do not need them.


You also do not need help support packages?

root# apt purge gnome-user-guide yelp # (buster) gnome-user-docs


After above removals, then,

root# apt autoremove --purge # WATCH WHAT WOULD BE REMOVED!
(Is there gdm3, gnome-shell? then you MUST cancel it!)

If you do all the above, then /usr be in 1.8 GB and /usr/share in 2.2 GB.

Software Management Notes

GNOME provides software management.

However, using Debian stable release, we should NOT use it.

We have APT and Debian security updates.


If you want install apps by GNOME Software, you should use Debian testing release and/or some other Linux distributions.

Thank you for your reading this series.

tier1.jp will write another series about other topics.

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