I just downloaded debian ISO and installed it on an old machine.... boot brings me to a command prompt... I log in as root ... enter the command:

service gdm3 status

And get the response

Loaded: not-found (Reason: no such file or directory)

lsb_release -a

Tells me Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 (jessie) in the description

When I got into aptitude it shows that gnome is in the not installed packages ...

So I try:

apt-get install gnome

and I get a response that:

"Package gnome is not available, but is referred to by another package. This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or is only available from another source E: package 'gnome' has no installation candidate.

I would have assumed that had I downloaded the most recent stable iso from an official mirror, got version jessie which is supposed to include gnome... that it would just work... What am I doing wrong?

I'm a Linux novice to please go easy on me.


So I thought maybe I had done something wrong at install because every where I read, it is pretty clear that this version of debian has gnome...

I did a re install this morning... chose "graphical install" and was hyper aware of all of the options... it says nothing about gnome during install/setup. on the boot screen there are no options for booting into any type of gui.


I'm currently following advice to update the source.list and go from there... I used vi to update the list file and added the US ftp sites suggested. The original sources were pointing at CDROM.... when I finished that and ran:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y

It did all of the work that I think it would have been expected to do.

I then followed it up with:

apt-get install gnome

and it is currently in process of actually doing the install (at least I'm assuming that that is what it is doing) where before it gave me an error. I'm at 12% currently so I'll come back to this when that is finished.


In the end viktta had the right solution. It is working now and loads up to the UI desk top.

  • Which ISO did you download? Did you select the GNOME desktop at the end of the installation? Mar 6 '17 at 20:25
  • The most recent one ... i don't remember an option for gnome anywhere during the install...
    – Patrick
    Mar 6 '17 at 20:45
  • I've no doubt you got the most recent one :-). There are multiple flavours though, that's what I'm interested in; if you still have the original ISO, its filename should be enough for me to figure that out. Mar 6 '17 at 20:49
  • debian-8.7.1-amd64-CD-1
    – Patrick
    Mar 6 '17 at 20:58

First update your /etc/apt/sources.list: remove everything inside and put this. (I've choose Sweden servers (se) but feel free to choose any you like.)

############## Offical repositories
deb http://ftp.se.debian.org/debian/ jessie main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.se.debian.org/debian/ jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp.se.debian.org/debian/ jessie-proposed-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.se.debian.org/debian/ jessie-proposed-updates main contrib non-free

Update your system:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y

Install what you need:

apt-get install gnome
  • --install-suggests is overkill, I doubt anyone would want all the packages suggested by gnome and its transitive dependencies. Mar 6 '17 at 20:25
  • Stephen Kitt is right. I usually use --install-suggests so I ensure the proper working of the targeted package, but in this case the most appropiate thing is not to use it.
    – viktta
    Mar 6 '17 at 20:44
  • If this is what I need to do so be it... but I was hoping for a less "intrusive" way to do it
    – Patrick
    Mar 6 '17 at 21:04
  • That's not particularly intrusive, in fact the installation should have left you with a sources.list similar to the one given above (but without contrib and non-free). Mar 7 '17 at 7:46
  • my source list was completely off... it looks like it was pointing at the CDRom.... I just got done updating the list and i'm running the update/upgrade
    – Patrick
    Mar 7 '17 at 14:11

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