Most Linux distributions have a "main" desktop environment they use - the one that comes installed by default in the distro's most popular download. For Kali Linux, it's Xfce.

If you prefer GNOME over Xfce or are just looking for a change of scenery, it's quite simple to switch desktop environments on Kali. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to install the GNOME desktop environment on Kali Linux.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to install GNOME desktop on Kali Linux
Running GNOME desktop environment on Kali Linux
Running GNOME desktop environment on Kali Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Kali Linux
Software GNOME desktop environment
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Install GNOME Desktop Environment


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Follow the step by step instructions to install GNOME and learn how to switch between Xfce and GNOME desktop environments once both are installed. We'll also see how to remove Xfce completely, in case you want to make a permanent switch to GNOME.

  1. Open a terminal and type the following commands to install GNOME.
    $ sudo apt update
    $ sudo apt install kali-desktop-gnome
    
  2. If you receive a notification that asks you what display manager to use, select gdm3, as that is the display manager for GNOME.

    Select gdm3 as the display manager
    Select gdm3 as the display manager
  3. Installation may take some time, as many packages and their dependencies will have to be downloaded and installed. But once installation has completed, reboot the computer.


    $ reboot
    
  4. When Kali finishes loading back up, you'll be presented with the option to select GNOME or Xfce from the login screen (note that you must first select your user).

    Select between GNOME or Xfce when logging into Kali
    Select between GNOME or Xfce when logging into Kali
  5. If you like GNOME so much that you want to get rid of Xfce completely, which will get rid of the option to select it from the login screen, execute the following commands in terminal. The second command will remove any lingering packages that were part of Xfce.
    $ sudo apt remove kali-desktop-xfce xfce4* lightdm*
    $ sudo apt autoremove
    

That's all there is to it. Now, you can use GNOME on your system, and optionally remove Xfce if you don't intend to use it again. After installing or removing a GUI, make sure you reboot for all the changes to take effect.

Closing Thoughts

In this guide, we saw how to install the GNOME desktop environment on Kali Linux. We also saw how to remove Xfce from the system, which isn't necessary if you want to switch between the two environments sometimes. Kali makes it easy to install new desktop environments by having all related software neatly packaged into a single download.

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