As a Linux Distribution often used on servers, CentOS finds itself a bit of a niche choice for desktop users. However, given its stable and thoroughly-tested base and access to confined Flatpak applications, the opportunities for use as a workstation are only confined by your imagination. However, with a relatively heavy desktop like GNOME being the default, you may want to install something lighter or more extensible. You’ll learn here how to install the KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on your CentOS workstation.
Setting Up Your Workstation
Regardless of your hardware, you’ll want a fully-updated CentOS 8.2.2004 system up and running. I’m using a minimal install, but you can start with whatever you’d like. You’ll want to run a full, unaltered
dnf update before you start with this guide.
You’ll need to enable a couple of additional repositories on top of the default repos. The first one is the EPEL 8 repo. You can do this by running the following command:
sudo dnf install epel-release
You’ll also need PowerTools. You can enable it by running the following command:
sudo dnf config-manager --set-enabled PowerTools
Installing KDE Plasma
To ensure that everything is showing up correctly, you’ll want to check your DNF Groups by entering the following command:
dnf grouplist -v --hidden
That will show you everything available as a DNF group. It’s pretty cool to see the different groups, and you may want to mess around and see what you’ve got available to you. However, the main one we’re looking for is right here.
From there, you should be able to simply install the DNF Group that contains KDE Plasma. To do that, enter the following command:
sudo dnf groupinstall "KDE Plasma Workspaces" "base-x" -y
It’s a large download (1.8 GB+), so you’ll want to have a coffee break planned while that downloads.
If you hit any errors, there may be some repository issues or GPG key issues that you may have missed. That’s why the
-y flag makes sense here to take care of any of those pesky questions that may pop up in the process of installing the packages.
Configuring Your System
Once everything is installed, you’ll need to make a quick change to your system before you can boot into your KDE Plasma desktop. To tell
systemd to boot into the graphical session target, you’ll have to run this command:
exec "/usr/bin/startkde" >> ~/.xinitrc startx
That should bring you right to your KDE Plasma Desktop. It’s an incredibly lean setup that only uses about 6.5 MB RAM, which should give you plenty of headroom on a workstation or server that you want a GUI on.
This may seem a little cumbersome, having to manually start the X server every time you want to boot into your desktop. However, the alternative is installing GDM and using an extra 200 MB RAM and a bunch of extra storage space for all the GNOME dependencies. Your mileage may vary, but personally, I’d rather just manually start X.
Now that you know how to install KDE Plasma on your CentOS machine, make sure to check out some of our other CentOS content, like how to install CentOS on a Raspberry Pi and our comparison of Fedora vs. CentOS vs. RHEL.
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