A “Desktop Environment” or “DE” is a bundle of different GUI components (icons, toolbars, and other desktop components) that integrate into Linux OS. The “Desktop Environment” allows its users to use their specific distribution graphically, just like in Windows or macOS. If your system has no “Desktop Environment” installed, you can only interact with it using the command line.

In Debian 12, the default (if you do not change it at the time of installation) desktop environment is GNOME. But, for many users (including myself) it may feel a bit outdated regarding the customizations, looks, and feature set compared to the “KDE”.

The “KDE” stands for “K Desktop Environment” and it offers a beautiful and customizable desktop environment and has a simple installation method.

Today’s guide explains the complete process of “Install KDE on Debian 12”.

Quick Outline

Let’s begin!

How to Install KDE on Debian 12

The “KDE” is available in Debian 12’s default repositories. However, there are two approaches for installing the KDE on Debian 12, i.e., using tasksel, and the default repositories:

Method 1: Using the Tasksel Tool

In Debian, there are some pre-defined packages referred to as “Tasks”, which are defined in the “Tasksel” tool. The “Tasksel” tool also contains the “KDE Task”. To install the “KDE” using the “Tasksel”, follow these steps:

Step 1: Install the Tasksel

The “Tasksel” is usually pre-installed on Debian-based distros, but if it isn’t, use the below command:

sudo apt install tasksel

Step 2: Install “kde desktop” Environment

Now, execute the below command to install the “kde desktop environment” utilizing the “tasksel”:

sudo tasksel install kde-desktop

It begins the automatic process to retrieve and install the required packages for the “kde desktop environment”:

Additionally, you can use the below command to select from a variety of other “Tasks” and automatically install them via the “Tasksel”:

sudo tasksel

After executing the above command, the following menu appears. Use the arrow keys to navigate and select using the “<Ok>” button:

Now to trigger the changes, restart the system via the below command:

sudo reboot

Bonus Tip: How to Remove KDE From Debian 12

Since the KDE takes a lot of space, it is necessary to remove it if not in use. To completely remove the KDE, use the following command:

sudo apt remove --purge kde*

Method 2: Using the Debian’s Default Repositories

Debian’s default repositories allow the users to install from the three versions of the “kde desktop environment”. Before moving on to their installation, let’s compare them side-by-side in the below table:

kde-fullkde-standardKde-plasma-desktop or minimal desktop 
It comes with all the packages and features of the kde.It comes with all the recommended packages and features of the kde.It comes with only the bare essentials like an internet browser, text editor, or file manager.
It demands about 4 GB of disk space for installation.It demands about 1.6 GB of disk space for installation.It demands about 1.2 GB of disk space for installation. 
It is more resource-intensive.It is less resource-intensive.It requires minimum resources among all versions.

The installation process of the above kde versions is the same; however, the commands to install each are different, as seen below:

  • Install “kde-full” on Debian 12

To install the “kde-full” version on Debian 12, execute the below command:

sudo apt install kde-full
  • Install “kde-standard” on Debian 12

For installing the “kde-standard” version on Debian 12, use the following command:

sudo apt install kde-standard
  • Install “kde-minimalist” or “kde-plasma” on Debian 12

The following command installs the “kde-minimalist” on Debian 12:

sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop

While installing each of the above “kde” versions, the following screen appears. Use the “<OK>” button to continue:

Now, choose the default display manager (sddm recommended because of its feature-rich profile):

After the installation process is complete, reboot the system and login using the desired desktop environment.

How to Switch Between the Desktop Environments in Debian 12

In Debian 12, you can freely switch between the installed desktop environments, but it requires you to log off. After logging off your system, select the user you want to log in with, and then click/tap on the below-highlighted option:

Now choose the desktop environment and enter your password to log in:

Final Words

To install the “K Desktop Environment” or “kde” on Debian 12, use the command “sudo apt install kde-version”. Replace the kde-version with “kde-full” for the full-fledged “kde” with all the applications and utilities. For a standard version that includes all the required applications and utilities, replace it with “kde-standard”. To install the minimalist version with only the basic applications and utilities, replace it with “kde-plasma”. Additionally, you can use the “Tasksel” to install the “KDE” on Debian 12, as seen in the above guide.