I just want to install a minimal GNOME desktop without all the Thunderbird/Firefox and any other packages that may come with full CentOS Live Cd. Is there something like yum groupinstall base-desktop? Ideally, I just want Xorg/GNOME and then add any other packages manually. No gdm also, I just want to run startx.


There's the basic-desktop group which is described as

A minimal desktop that can also be used as a thin client.

It includes the following packages:

  • at-spi
  • control-center
  • control-center-extra
  • dbus
  • eog
  • gdm
  • gdm-plugin-fingerprint
  • gdm-user-switch-applet
  • gnome-applets
  • gnome-media
  • gnome-packagekit
  • gnome-panel
  • gnome-power-manager
  • gnome-screensaver
  • gnome-session
  • gnome-terminal
  • gnome-vfs2-smb
  • gok
  • gvfs-archive
  • gvfs-fuse
  • gvfs-smb
  • metacity
  • nautilus
  • NetworkManager
  • NetworkManager-gnome
  • notification-daemon
  • openssh-askpass
  • orca
  • polkit-gnome
  • pulseaudio-module-gconf
  • pulseaudio-module-x11
  • rhn-setup-gnome
  • vino
  • xdg-user-dirs-gtk
  • yelp

It includes gdm which is arguably part of a basic desktop but does not include Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. If you still want less, you'll want to pick the packages out of the above list you want and do a yum install on the specific ones you for your desired desktop.


Centos will install Gnome as default Gui.

# yum groupinstall basic-desktop desktop-platform x11 fonts


# yum groupinstall "Desktop" "Desktop Platform" "X Window System" "Fonts"

To install KDE

# yum groupinstall "KDE desktop"

from http://namhuy.net/475/how-to-install-gui-to-centos-minimal.html


The stuff you are talking about won't amount to much on disk, maybe 1/2 GB or so at most. If your space is so that tight this is a concern, then you will need to find a minimal install sans X and build up from there. If you want to end up with anything involving GNOME at all though, this probably won't make much difference, and it is a hassle.

That said, I notice this remark here under "CentOS 6 Releases":

There is also a minimal install CD that will get you a very small base install that you can add to.

With regard to booting to console and using startx, this is just a matter of setting the default runlevel. CentOS still uses a SysV style init system. Look in /etc/inittab for this line:


There are probably some comments that go with it. Change the 5 to a 3 and you will no longer boot straight into X.

Installing gnome without gdm will be impossible, but that does not mean you have to use it. startx will obey the directives in ~/.Xclients if it exists (it does not by default). Try creating this file and saving it in your $HOME as .Xclients:

  • Yes, CentOS still uses sysvinit-style setup. As things look right now, RHEL 7 will use systemd, but that is just a guess on my side. – vonbrand Jan 25 '13 at 12:38
  • @vonbrand : cheers, I edited the "maybe" parts out ;) – goldilocks Jan 25 '13 at 22:54

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