How to Install KDE Plasma on Debian 11 Bullseye

The name KDE comes from “K Desktop Environment.” For those not familiar with KDE Desktop, it is a free, open-source desktop environment. It provides Linux users with an alternative graphical interface to customize their desktop environment and applications for everyday use enhancement.

In Debian’s case, this is GNOME. Besides the graphical enhancements and changes, it is also a lightweight, fast, smooth environment with superior performance compared to native shipped desktops with some Linux Distributions.

In the following tutorial, you will have learned how to install KDE Desktop Environment on your Debian 11 Bullseye Desktop.


Update Operating System

Update your Debian operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.

To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@debian~]$ sudo whoami

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Debian.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.


The tutorial will utilize the terminal for the installation found in Activities > Show Applications > Terminal.


How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Important Notice Before Installation

Before installing the KDE desktop, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back. Removing any Desktop Environment is challenging and will lead to system instabilities, and there are typically always remnant applications to remove, among other things.

Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments won’t hinder your system. Often people have several and switch between, and it is advised to keep all the alternative desktop environments you install or reformat your system altogether.

Do not install the following desktop environment on your Debian desktop if this sounds too difficult or risky.

Install KDE Plasma on Debian

Begin the installation of KDE by using the following in your terminal.

sudo apt install task-kde-desktop

Example output:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Type Y, then press the ENTER KEY to proceed with the installation.

The desktop environment installation may take a while as it requires downloading close to 700MB of data and requires an additional 2.4GB of space after installation.

During the installation, you will see the “Configuring sddm.” KDE Plasma is recommended to run on using sddm. To proceed, press the TAB KEY to select <Ok> and hit the ENTER KEY.


How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Next, press the TAB KEY to select <sddm> and then press the TAB KEY again to select <Ok> and press the ENTER KEY to proceed and complete the installation.


How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Once complete, reboot your system, which can be done by typing the following directly into your terminal.


First Look & Verifying KDE Plasma

Once you have restarted your desktop, you will arrive at your login screen.


First, you need to verify the desktop environment. This is done by clicking the configuration button, which is now located in the top right-hand corner.

Next, select “Plasma” instead of the default “GNOME (Wayland).”

Example (Click Image Expand):

Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes. The taskbar is now similar to a more windows type of taskbar, along with more integrations in the bottom left-hand and right-hand corner of services where the time display is.

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install KDE Plasma on Debian 11 Bullseye

Example Screenlock (Click Image Expand):

How to Install KDE Plasma on Debian 11 Bullseye

To confirm the installation, a handy package to install is Neofetch which is featured in Debian’s repositories.

To install this package, use the following command in your terminal.

sudo apt install neofetch -y

Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.


Example output (Click Image Expand):

How to Install KDE Plasma on Debian 11 Bullseye

And that is it, and you have successfully installed the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

How to Update KDE Plasma Packages

Run the standard apt update && upgrade commands for future updates for the KDE Plasma desktop environment and any default APT packages.

sudo apt update

When updates are available, run the standard upgrade command as you would with any other apt package.

sudo apt upgrade

Switching Default Display Managers

In the future, if you want to change the default display manager back to LightDM to use Cinnamon or even GDM for GNOME and so on from the KDE and SDDM display manager.

Open your terminal, then re-run the pop-up to configure the default display manager using the following command.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure ssdm

Make sure to reboot if you are switching Display Managers and Desktop Environments.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye. Overall, KDE is a great community project for those wanting a more stable and Ideal for those who want the most out of their desktops, laptops, and netbooks and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor.

For more information on using KDE Plasma, visit the official documentation guide.


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