I have Debian. I was installing it from netinst to save disk space and network transfer (small partition, UMTS connection).

I decided to install Gnome. When I typed:

apt-get install gnome

it started downloading big things like Libre Office, Gimp...

I really don't like it.

  1. Why Debian developers assume I need Libre Office or Gimp when I'm installing Gnome? Or I missed something?
  2. How can I install Gnome and only REALLY required packages?

3 Answers 3


When you install gnome package, you're installing a "Desktop environment" which includes Libre Office and some others things like Gimp, Rhythmbox, Oregano, etc.

If you want to install a "clean" gnome, use the gnome-core package.

Here you can see what each package includes:


That's because gnome is a meta-package that brings in the full Gnome desktop environment which includes many, many things:

$ apt-cache show gnome
[ ... ]
Description-en: Full GNOME Desktop Environment, with extra components
 This is the GNOME Desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive
 desktop, with extra components.
 This meta-package depends on the standard distribution of the GNOME
 desktop environment, plus a complete range of plugins and other
 applications integrating with GNOME and Debian, providing the best
 possible environment to date.

What you're after is probably the gnome-core package:

$ apt-cache show gnome-core
[ ... ]
Description-en: GNOME Desktop Environment -- essential components
 These are the core components of the GNOME Desktop environment, an
 intuitive and attractive desktop.
 This meta-package depends on a basic set of programs, including a file
 manager, an image viewer, a web browser, a video player and other
 It contains the official “core” modules of the GNOME desktop.

As a general rule, you should always use apt-cache show PACKAGENAME before installing to make sure you know what the package is.


Regarding your last question, if you use the aptitude package manager, you can control quite carefully which extra dependencies are installed. This will not prevent the GNOME meta-package from installing LibreOffice, as that is a required dependency, but can help you to avoid getting lots of additional dependencies added in.

In aptitude, go to "Options" --> "Preferences". Under "Dependencies" uncheck "Automatically resolve dependencies of a package when it is selected" and uncheck "Install recommended packages automatically". Once these settings are made, when you go to install a package, it will report unresolved dependencies, but also offer you alternative choices. Sometimes some choices may have fewer packages and require less hard-drive space.

If you install all of the packages you do want all at the same time, you can additionally reduce how much is installed by aptitude. If you install them at the same time, the algorithm will select a more optimal collection of packages fitting your choices. For instance, if you install a window manager requiring a terminal emulator be first installed, then later install your favorite terminal emulator, you'll have two terminal emulators on your system. If instead, you select the software you want and the window manager you at the same time as installing your favorite terminal emulator, you'll end up with just one terminal emulator on the system.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .