How to Install the Lumina BSD Desktop on Linux

There’s certainly no shortage of desktop environments on Linux. We’ve got Mate, LXDE, LXqt, XFCE4, Gnome Shell, Unity, Pantheon, KDE Plasma, and the list could probably keep going. The reason? Everyone has their own unique and interesting case to use their Linux machine a certain way.

Introducing Lumina: a Qt framework 5 desktop built specifically for the BSDs. It has a lot of interesting features and promises to be light on computer resources. For a while this desktop wasn’t available on anything but a few BSD-based operating systems. As it has grown older, this has changed, and it can now be run on everything from FreeBSD, to Fedora, to Ubuntu and even Arch Linux.


Installing the Lumina desktop is different for each operating system. Let’s start with Fedora, as it’s the simplest of the bunch.



Usually when talking about Linux distributions that make it easy to install things, Ubuntu is the center of attention. Not in this case. It seems as if the Fedora project has taken notice of Lumina and as a result has included it in the official Fedora repositories. Fedora users can get the Lumina desktop very easily by opening a terminal window and entering this simple command.

sudo dnf install lumina-desktop

Arch Linux


You’ll find Lumina in the AUR along with its file manager if you’re a fan of Arch. If you’re running Arch, head over here to get Lumina. Alternatively, point your favorite AUR package installer to “lumina-desktop-git” and “insight-fm” to get it going.


Sadly, there is no PPA or repository out there for Ubuntu fans looking to try out Lumina. To get this desktop working, the source code and the tools used to compile it will need to be done by hand. Luckily, this isn’t as hard a process as it looks. It starts by opening a terminal window and installing all of the Qt5 framework tools and various other things that Lumina depends on.


Note: these same instructions apply to Debian.

sudo apt-get install build-essential git qt5-default qttools5-dev-tools libqt5gui5 qtmultimedia5-dev libqt5multimediawidgets5 libqt5network5 libqt5svg5-dev libqt5x11extras5-dev libxcb-icccm4-dev libxcb-ewmh-dev libxcb-composite0-dev libxcb-damage0-dev libxcb-util0-dev libphonon-dev libxcomposite-dev libxdamage-dev libxrender-dev libxcb-image0-dev libxcb-screensaver0-dev qtdeclarative5-dev fluxbox kde-style-oxygen xscreensaver xbacklight alsa-utils acpi numlockx pavucontrol xterm sysstat git

All the various libraries and building materials have been installed, so it is now possible to grab the Lumina desktop source code directly from github.

git clone

The compiling can finally begin. First, enter the source folder.

cd lumina

Inside the source code the Lumina desktop will need to be built twice. First by building the desktop’s Qt5 framework files together, and then to build the desktop entirely and install it to Ubuntu. Start this process by running the qmake command. This will get all of the Qt5 framework items together.

Note: For Debian, change qmake to qmake LINUX_DISTRO=Debian.


With the Qt framework items taken care of, these last two commands will place Lumina on the system. After that it’ll be accessible and usable just like any other desktop environment.


sudo make install


Though there are many lightweight desktop environments on Linux already, few are very competitive. Yes, many people can rightly point out the Mate desktop. This is the exception. Other than that the lightweight desktops on Linux are very lackluster, like LXDE (a mostly dead project), or XFCE4, a stagnating project without any decent updates in a very long time.


This sort of thing is the reason why more people should consider Lumina – it is fresh and constantly evolving with new features. While it’s true that there are other QT-based desktops like LxQt and RazorQT, they’re not nearly as exciting or as competently made. For example: on OpenBSD (now TrueOS), Lumina has built-in ZFS file system features which allow users to manage a complicated file system with ease.


Obviously things are different on Linux. Different software is at play here, and things can’t be the same as they are on FreeBSD or TrueOS. However, considering we have ZFS for Linux, some key Lumina features may already be on their way over for Linux fans. Though it may be a bit of a “to do” to install, Lumina is worth it, and those looking for a serious lightweight desktop should take notice in this project!

Would you try Lumina on Linux? Tell us below!

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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