How to install XFCE on Debian 10/11


On this post we are going showcase the steps on how to install XFCE on Debian. XFCE is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems and it’s good choice for PCs/Laptops that don’t have powerful hardware. We are going to show two ways how to install XFCE on Debian… one method is with the tool called tasksel, other is with the apt package manager using the terminal. We’ll be installing the XFCE 4 version of the desktop environment.

Install XFCE on Debian with tasksel

Tasksel is a tool available for Debian and Ubuntu. It’s a tool that has software list with all packages included for each software. Essentially, it automates the entire installation process. Tasksel also has all major desktop environments(Gnome, KDE, XFCE, MATE, Cinnamon ) ready to install. If you don’t have tasksel, you can install it using the command bellow:

sudo apt install tasksel

Taskel is a terminal based software, so it runs within the terminal once you start it. Also, tasksel requires sudo to install some of the software, such as the desktop environments.

sudo tasksel

When you run the tasksel, first a software selection will show up. Here you need to choose which desktop environment to install.

In the selection screen, the first option - Debian desktop environment must be selected, otherwise tasksel won’t work. Then select the XFCE and navigate to OK to run the installation.

install xfce desktop debian

The installation process will take couple of minutes to install and during the installation process, you may get a prompt where it will ask you to choose which display manager to choose to run and manage the XFCE desktop on Debian if you have multiple desktop managers installed. I have that case and I choose the “lightdm”.

install xfce debian

Select the display manager to finish the installation. Once the installation is complete, the tasksel will close and return to the regular terminal. When you see that, that means that the installation is done and after that you need to restart your PC/Laptop.

On the next boot and when you reach the login screen/lock screen, you choose which desktop you want to run. And that is it.

Install XFCE on Debian using apt package manager

The installation process for XFCE on Debian from terminal is pretty simple. We just need to run one command:

sudo apt install xfce4

During the installation process, the same display manager prompt from above will appear here as well if you have more than one display manager installed. Choose the display manager you want and after the installation is complete, restart the PC/Laptop and on login screen select which desktop to run.


We covered two methods how to install XFCE on Debian 10 and on Debian 11. Both methods are pretty simple and easy to use in order to install XFCE on Debian. In the end, you choose which method you prefer and more familiar with.

One note to take in - Debian will not have/install the latest version of XFCE desktop. At the moment, Debian runs the XFCE version 4.12.

Thank you very much for your time…