How to Install Desktop Environments on CentOS 7

In this article, we look at installing different desktop environments on Centos 7 minimal installation. This is for the GUI  lovers who love exploring the look and feel of  GUI environments. We have installed GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon, Mate and Xfce desktop environments.

Installing GNOME Desktop environment

GNOME is the most popular environment in the latest distributions of Linux. It's the default environment in CentOS 7 GUI, Fedora 21 and later and Ubuntu 17.10.

To install GNOME Desktop run the following commands.

# yum -y groups install "GNOME Desktop

After the installation run the command below to start the GNOME environment


The GNOME environment will start thereafter. After a reboot, The GNOME setup will prompt you to set up the following parameters.

  • System Language
  • Keyboard type
  • System Language
  • Online Accounts
  • System Language

Finally, click on Start using CentOs 7. The default GNOME Desktop is the GNOME Classic. If you prefer to use the GNOME shell, type the following command before the startx command.

echo "exec gnome-session" >> ~/.xinitrc

gnome desktop environment

Alternatively, after a reboot, you can select your preferred environment at the login screen.

desktop environment options

gnome desktop environment

Installing KDE Desktop environment

To install the KDE desktop environment, run the following commands.

# yum -y groups install "KDE Plasma Workspaces"

After the installation completes, run the commands below

# echo "exec startkde" >> ~/.xinitrc

kde desktop environment

Installing Cinnamon Desktop environment

For installation of a Cinnamon environment, install EPEL repo

yum -y install epel-release

then type the following commands

# yum --enablerepo=epel -y install cinnamon*

When the installation concludes, type,

# echo "exec /usr/bin/cinnamon-session" >> ~/.xinitrc
# startx

cinnamon desktop environment

Installing MATE Desktop environment

To install MATE, type the following

# yum --enablerepo=epel -y groups install "MATE Desktop"

Run the commands below after the installation finishes

# echo "exec /usr/bin/mate-session" >> ~/.xinitrc

mate desktop environment

Installing Xfce Desktop environment

Install the xfce environment by running the command below

# yum --enablerepo=epel -y groups install "Xfce"

After installation, input the commands below

echo "exec /usr/bin/xfce4-session" >> ~/.xinitrc

xfce desktop environment

Installing i3 Windows manager environment

i3 is a tiling windows manager which is versatile and supports tiling, stacking and tabbing layouts. It's low on resource consumption, highly customizable and does not require high-end hardware. Let's see how to install i3 on centos 7


yum --enablerepo=extras install epel-release

Then run

yum install i3

Graphics setting up for Systemd

Systemd can be used to change run levels to achieve a graphical interface. To check the target you are in, run the command below.

systemctl get-default

Sample Output

Changing to graphical
To change to a graphical output type the command below

systemctl set-default

If constantly working in the minimal environment get's too boring, you can explore the wide variety of desktop environments that CentOS 7 has to offer. You'll have pleasant varieties to choose from and experiment with. Feel free to share your experience with different environments,  and opinions with us.

Jamie Arthur 4:05 am

About Jamie Arthur

Hey, I’m James, a passionate Linux Systems administrator, and a tech enthusiast. I derive immense gratification in conducting research on Linux systems and keeping myself up to date with the latest in the technology world.

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