I did not find it in backports. The situation should be rather stable, tracking here, but I cannot find instructions for the installation in Debian. I cannot use Ubuntu's instructions like here, because they do not work. There are general installation instructions in Debian's wikipage Gnome. There are possible some complications of Gnome 3.14 in some applications (etc Matlab 2016a/b here), which is the reason, I need to test and run the newer Gnome. I do

# https://wiki.debian.org/Gnome
$ apt-get install aptitude tasksel
$ tasksel install gnome-desktop --new-install

$ gnome-session --version
gnome-session 3.14.0

I contacted #debian-gnome in Irc, and they say you cannot install Gnome 3.20 in Debian 8.5 stable. You can do it however in Debian 8.5 testing.

  • you cannot switch back-and-forth between stable and testing Debian. It seems you have to make a new installation separately for Debian testing.


  • Fixed at least when Debian 9 is released with GNOME 3.22 i.e. next year (Feb. 2017).

OS: Debian 8.5 64 bit
Linux kernel: 4.6 (backports)
Current Window manager: 3.14

  • 1
    You don't need a separate installation for Debian testing, you can upgrade from stable to testing — but that's not appropriate for most users (see the Debian wiki). If you describe the actual issues you're hoping to fix by upgrading GNOME, you might get more helpful answers. (Don't ask how to apply a fix you've thought of, describe the problems you're trying to fix.) Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:54
  • @StephenKitt It is because of Matlab 2016a/b here unix.stackexchange.com/q/307426/16920 Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:56
  • 1
    Backports sometimes exist but can be buggy and can be problematical to use. Unfortunately for you, GNOME is a complex software suite it would probably take you weeks to learn how to install correctly yourself. If you do not wish to run sid or testing (which, since they are not stable, many do not wish to run), and if there is not a backport that suits your needs, then you're probably out of luck -- unless you undertake to create the backport yourself!
    – thb
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 15:29
  • @thb Do you have any other window manager -recommendation that suits for scientific computation? - I do not like to have bugs all the time. - - Maybe, Gnome is not the right choice for me. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


GNOME 3.20 is only available in Debian testing, so you can:

  • update to testing (which isn't recommended as it isn't stable)
  • install only gnome from testing (which can create new problems as gnome has many dependencies and mixing releases isn't recommended (see Debian Wiki)
  • use a different distribution which is using a newer GNOME version.
  • try to find out if you really need GNOME 3.20 or you can resolve your problems with 3.14
  • wait until the current debian testing (stretch) becomes stable
  • As you can see here, debian is only providing 3.14 and 3.20. So as long as you stay with debian this doesn't help.
    – lw1.at
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:53
  • 1
    (I really would recommend to only do this on a testing PC). You need to replace jessie in /etc/apt/sources.list with stretch and do a sudo apt-get dist-upgrade (which can take quite a long time).
    – lw1.at
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:57
  • 2
    apparently it will be released next February.
    – lw1.at
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 15:02

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