How to install Cinnamon Desktop on Debian 11

One of the best features of Debian 11 is the support for different desktop environments other than the default option that it comes with. Besides the GNOME desktop environment (DE) that Debian 11 supports by default, you can install other DEs like Xfce, Cinnamon, Mate, etc.

You can choose to install any one or more of these DEs on your Debian 11 installation. So even if you already have the GNOME DE installed, do not worry; you can still install another DE (albeit you need to be careful when keeping multiple DEs on your Debian installation). 

Cinnamon is a fantastic choice for a desktop experience. It has many unique features, loads of themes, and incredible customizability. It is stable and is regularly supported by the community. Cinnamon is an open-source and free desktop environment with a core focus on adaptability, speed, and unambiguous clarity. We found Cinnamon a worthy Linux desktop environment due to its fantastic versatility and support for so many features. You can read all about that here.

So now that you have finally decided to install the Cinnamon desktop environment on your Debian 11 installation, then you have come to the right page. This article will describe how to install it in a few different ways. Whether you want to install Cinnamon in addition to a desktop environment already installed on your Debian 11, or you want to do a fresh installation of Debian 11 with Cinnamon, we will cover both methods in this article.

However, it is important to note that having multiple desktop environments can cause some minor bugs to surface. So let us first discuss these bugs and how to reduce them. Then we will dive right into the installation process.

Installing multiple DEs on Debian 11

It is not difficult to install multiple desktop environments on your Debian 11. However, complications can arise if you are looking to use various DEs or want to check out Cinnamon after having already installed another DE. Therefore, before we begin the installation, it is vital to note some of these issues that can occur, which may include any of the following ones: 

  • Multiple instances of the same applications
  • Settings and packages might get mixed up with each other.
  • Configuration files can also get mixed up, causing some issues with themes.
  • Multiple managers cause issues, and it requires some fiddling for a single manager to work with two or more DEs.

Having mentioned these possible issues, it is imperative to use different user accounts for every DE to mitigate the risk of the above problems. You would have to be willing to play around with various bugs and resolve such issues if you want to install multiple DEs. If you have a knack for different troubleshooting bugs, then go right ahead, but if the sight of an unexpected error seems daunting to you, then you should instead do a fresh install or avoid keeping multiple DEs.

Without further ado, we will install Cinnamon on Debian 11 using the tasksel tool.

1. Install Cinnamon on Debian 11 using Tasksel

Tasksel is a tool that makes installing any supported software and desktop environment like Cinnamon, GNOME, Xfce, etc. It retrieves all the required packages and files associated with the DE, and the whole process is entirely automated. If you do not already have it installed, then you can do so by running the following command:

sudo apt install tasksel
sudo apt install tasksel
sudo apt install tasksel

Once that is done, you can now execute the following command to run the program.

sudo tasksel

Tasksel will start within the terminal, and now you can install any DE you want by choosing the appropriate option. However, do note that Tasksel requires a sudo command to run if installing a DE. Once you execute the above command, a window will open, which will give you an option to install multiple DEs, as shown below. 

tasksel display
sudo tasksel

To install Cinnamon, you have to select ‘Cinnamon’ and ‘Debian desktop environment.’ Once selected, then press ENTER to let the installation begin. 

cinnamon de installation
Cinnamon DE Installation

Depending upon your internet speed, the installation will take some time to retrieve the packages from the web. Don’t worry, though. You can check out the ‘Top 5 key features of Cinnamon 20.3’ while it gets installed to find out what makes Cinnamon stand out. 

After the files are retrieved, you will be prompted to select the display manager.

display manager
Display Manager

This is required when more than one DEs are selected to be installed. You may choose the default ‘gdm’ option as it works just fine. After selecting, the installation will be resumed.

cinnamon installation
Cinnamon Installation

Now let the installation finish, and once that is done, you will be prompted to reboot your system.

cinnamon installation completed
Cinnamon Installation Completed

This means that Cinnamon has been successfully installed, and now you need to reboot your system by pressing ENTER.

Login page
Login page

Now you will see the option to select any of the installed desktop environments in the bottom right corner. Next, select Cinnamon from the GUI and enter your password to login into the DE.

cinnamon desktop
Cinnamon Desktop

Congratulations! You have now successfully installed Cinnamon on your Debian 11 using the tasksel tool.

2. Do a fresh Debian 11 installation along with Cinnamon

In many cases, doing a fresh installation of Debian 11 with your choice of DE is the best option as the process is relatively straightforward. You are also saved the hassle of fixing some minor bugs that may arise after installing additional DEs on Debian 11. 

You can have a detailed look at installing Debian 11 Minimal by clicking here or keep reading for a short overview of the installation as it is pretty much a straightforward process. 

  • You can download the ‘netinst’ (Net Install) version of Debian 11 from the official website. We recommend this method of installing Debian 11 as the ‘netinst’ version downloads all the required files automatically from the internet during installation, and it gets the most stable and updated packages. Here is the link for the latest stable 64-bit version of Debian 11 netinst version. 
  • After downloading the ISO image file, you need to create a bootable USB storage device. Then, you can use an ISO burning tool like balenaEtcher to burn the ISO image file onto the USB device.
debian 11 installation menu
Debian 11 Installation Menu
  • Once that is done, you need to boot from that USB, and you will get the Debian 11 Installation page as shown above. As you start the installation, it will prompt you to set up all the standard settings like your region, language, timezone, root and user accounts, passwords, etcetera. Next, you set up the root account, user account, and passwords and select the rest of the options as you would during a default installation.
  • Now you will be prompted to partition your drive(s).
partition disks select yes
partition disks select yes

You can choose the default option, automatically allocating the drive space to all the needed volumes.

partitioning select automatic
partitioning select automatic

It will automatically allocate the available free space and create the partitions required by default.

partitioning select automatic finish
partitioning select automatic

As you can see above, the disk has been partitioned.

  • Once all that is done, the base system installation of Debian 11 will start.
base system install
Base System Install
  • After the base installation, the system will automatically switch to the Tasksel interface and prompt you to choose your desktop environment(s) to install.
tasksel display
sudo tasksel
  • All the rest of the procedure is the same as detailed above in the first installation method. Therefore, you may follow the steps exactly as mentioned in that method, and you will have a successful installation of Debian 11 along with Cinnamon.
cinnamon installation completed
Cinnamon Installation Completed
  • Now, after rebooting, you will be directed to the login page.
Login page
Login page

You can see all installed DEs by clicking on the settings icon on the bottom right corner. Once again, congratulations!

3. Install Cinnamon through the apt package manager

The default apt package manager is a capable tool. It also makes it very easy to install Cinnamon. To install Cinnamon via the apt package manager, the following command needs to be executed:

sudo apt -y install task-cinnamon-desktop

This will retrieve the relevant packages and required files, and once the process is complete, Cinnamon DE will be installed. Now you need to reboot your system using the following command:

sudo reboot

Now you will be rebooted into the Cinnamon login page.

Final Thoughts

You have now learned to install Cinnamon on Debian 11 using three different methods. Let us know if this article did help you out or if there is anything further we can guide you on. What do you think of the Cinnamom desktop?

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