The GNOME desktop environment runs on top of the X Window System and is available in most Linux distributions usually as the default desktop environment or an option. The latest version GNOME3 represents a rather marked shift away from the conventional desktop environment with an altogether greater footprint that earlier versions.
Since I my machines are not exactly new I decided to see just how small a number of packages I could install and still have a reasonably functional system. First I did a basic install of Debian taking the usual default options, but when I got to the software selection screen I unchecked ALL the options.
The result is a minimal installation with not much of anything – a perfect starting point for a minimal system or a dedicated server. Though I’m not sure you can really call any installation that includes GNOME3 ‘minimal’ !
To install anything you need to be running as root.
$ sudo -i
# dpkg-reconfigure locales
Then comment out the entry corresponding to your default network interface, to allow GNOME to manage the network address later. (It is the last line in the file shown below).
# vi /etc/network/interfaces
# The loopback network interface
iface lo inet loopback
# The primary network interface
#iface eth0 inet dhcp
# vi /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10norecommends
# apt-get update
# apt-get install xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xfonts-base xinit
# apt-get install xfonts-100dpi xfonts-75dpi xserver-xephyr
# apt-get install gnome-panel gnome-session-bin gnome-session-common \
> gnome-settings-daemon metacity nautilus
# apt-get install gnome-session-fallback gnome-applets alacarte \
> gnome-themes-standard network-manager-gnome gnome-terminal
# apt-get install policykit-1-gnome gvfs gvfs-backends ntfs-3g
# apt-get install gdm3
# for ID in user1 user2 user3; do ( adduser $ID netdev);done
To be able to play sounds you need the following packages which now include the MP3 CODECs needed play and encode audio tracks as MP3 files and no longer need to be downloaded separately.
# apt-get install gnome-media pulseaudio
# apt-get install gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad \
> gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg
# apt-get install gnome-control-center
# wget -c libdvdcss2_1.2.10-1_i386.deb
# dpkg -i libdvdcss2_1.2.10-1_i386.deb
# apt-get install eog evince file-roller totem sound-juicer
# apt-get install gnome-screensaver
# apt-get install gnome-system-monitor
# apt-get install epiphany-browser evolution evolution-plugins pidgin
If everything went according to plan when you reboot you should get a graphical logon screen.