Adding a graphical interface

Author: Peter Boy (pboy) | Creation Date:2022-05-10 | Last update: 2022-03-08 | Related Fedora Release(s): 35,36

Some users install Fedora Server Edition and then manually add a graphical user interface. Sometimes it is a matter of more convenient administration of a locally accessible server, sometimes it is a kind of off-label use, and desire for a server hardened runtime environment as a workstation with special requirements.

  1. Determine available graphical desktops

    To get an overview of available graphical user interfaces, simply list all installation groups and search through them. Unfortunately, the current naming is not consistent enough to allow a simple filtering by term.

    […]# dnf group list

    You will find

    • KDE Plasma Workspaces

    • Xfce Desktop (@xfce-desktop-environment)

    • LXDE Desktop

    • LXQt-Desktop

    • Cinnamon Desktop

    • MATE Desktop

    • Sugar Desktop Environment

    • Deepin Desktop

    • i3 desktop

    • Pantheon Desktop

  2. Installation of a graphical desktop

    You may either use the groups pretty name as shown in the group listing or the canonical name. As an example, to install the Cinnamon desktop you can use either use

    […]# dnf groupinstall "Cinnamon Desktop"

    or

    […]# dnf install @cinnamon-desktop-environment
  3. Adjustment of systemd to start in graphic mode

    To boot into graphical mode by default, you have to adjust the default target.

    […]# systemctl set-default graphical.target

    With some desktop you may also need:

    […]# systemctl enable gdm.service

    Try it, but you may get a "Service not found" message with some desktops. No need to worry, the installed desktop will come up without that.

  4. Reboot your server

    […]# reboot

    Your system will start with the selected graphical desktop.

Additional options

You may install multiple desktops. The utilities switchdesk and switchdesk-gui can be used to switch the desktop GUI.

[…]# dnf install switchdesk switchdesk-gui

In a terminal window, you can directly switch to another desktop:

[…]# switchdesk cinnamon

Without naming the new desktop, a window with the available options will be displayed.

The graphical Desktop Switcher is included in the Systemadministration menu group. It always displayx a list of available desktops you can choose from.

You can switch back to booting to a text console:

[…]# systemctl set-default multi-user.target
[…]# reboot

After having switched back into text mode, you can switch to the selected desktop just for the current session using

[…]# startx

However, this does not work flawlessly for every available desktop.

These nice people helped write this page:

Peter Boy, Jan Kuparinen

Want to help? Learn how to contribute to Fedora Docs.