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Linux Tips

Add GNOME to a CentOS Minimal Install


by Jeff Hunter, Sr. Database Administrator
Contents
Introduction
CentOS 6
About the Author
Introduction
In most instances, the Linux servers I setup are used to host the Oracle database software and only require using
the Command-Line Interface (CLI) for the OS. This is beneficial because I only need to perform a minimal installation
and can add only those required Linux packages (RPMs) needed to support the database. However, there are
situations where I need to access a graphical desktop in order to install or run certain Graphical User Interface (GUI)
applications.
This guide provides the steps needed to add the GNOME Desktop to a CentOS minimal installation where the OS
was installed without the X Window System.
CentOS 6
In this section, the GNOME desktop will be added to a new server running CentOS 6.2 (x86_64) after performing a
"Minimal" install.
Install Desktop Packages
# yum -y groupinstall "Desktop" "Desktop Platform" "X Window System" "Fonts"
You can also install the following optional GUI packages.
# yum -y groupinstall "Graphical Administration Tools"
# yum -y groupinstall "Internet Browser"
# yum -y groupinstall "General Purpose Desktop"
# yum -y groupinstall "Office Suite and Productivity"
# yum -y groupinstall "Graphics Creation Tools"
Finally, if you wanted to add the K Desktop Environment (KDE).
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# yum -y groupinstall kde-desktop
When using yum groupinstall, the groupinstall option only installs default and mandatory packages from
the group. There are times when you also want to include optional packages within a group. I have not figured out
(yet) how to control which package types to install (group package "policy") from the command-line using yum. The
only method I know of to also include optional packages is to edit the /etc/yum.conf file and add the following to
the [main] section:
group_package_types=default mandatory optional
The reason I mention this is because I wanted to install "Terminal emulator for the X Window System" (xterm) which
is under the group "Legacy X Window System compatibility". xterm happens to be an optional package and did not
get installed until I added group_package_types=default mandatory optional to /etc/yum.conf.
# yum -y groupinstall "Legacy X Window System compatibility"
I did find a plug-in for yum that allows users to specify which package types within a package group should be
installed when using yum groupinstall.
http://projects.robinbowes.com/yum-grouppackagetypes/trac
Enable GNOME
Since the server was previously running on CLI mode, we need to change the initialization process for the machine to
boot up in GUI mode.
Open /etc/inittab using a text editor and change following line:
id:3:initdefault:
To:
id:5:initdefault:
After making the change, reboot the machine.
# init 6
Note that you can switch from GUI to CLI mode manually by using following method:
GUI to CLI: Ctrl + Alt + F6
CLI to GUI: Ctrl + Alt + F1
Installing Additional Applications
After logging in to the GNOME Desktop, you can now go to System > Administration > Add/Remove Software to
manage application in CentOS.
By using this wizard, you can install various applications similar to yum but through a GUI. Applications installed using
this method will appear in the Application menu list.
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