Category Archives: Tips-and-Tricks

Graphical Desktop Environments on Fedora 21 Server

There is no “official” Fedora Server desktop environment

There was a recent thread on the Fedora Server development mailing list entitled “Proposal for F22 Desktop Enviroment“. On this thread, the Fedora Server community came to two general conclusions:

  1. A graphical desktop on a server is an outdated interaction method
  2. We don’t need to “bless” a specific desktop because:

Any of them work!

It’s actually quite easy to install a graphical environment onto Fedora Server in just two steps.

  1. Install the yum package group for the graphical environment
  2. Configure the system to boot into graphical mode

Installing the graphical environment package set

First, decide which graphical desktop you want to use. You can get the available list of them from:

yum grouplist

At the time of this writing, the list of available graphical environments is:

Fedora Workstation
KDE Plasma Workspaces
Xfce Desktop
LXDE Desktop
Cinnamon Desktop
MATE Desktop
Sugar Desktop Environment

There are a few others in the list, but those are all of the complete desktop environments. So, to install one, we run this command (substituting your desktop environment of choice):

yum groupinstall "Fedora Workstation" --skip-broken

The reason for --skip-broken is that Fedora Workstation contains several variant packages that would otherwise conflict with the Server versions. By passing this argument, we’re letting yum know that it is okay to skip those packages that would have conflicts.


Configuring the system to boot into graphical mode

The last step is to tell systemd to boot the system into graphical mode rather than to the console:

systemctl set-default


A word of caution: this is still a Fedora Server system, with all that entails. That means things like the default firewall configuration will remain optimized for server use-cases. The resulting system will look a lot like a standard installation of the graphical desktop that you chose, but it may behave differently in subtle ways. Today, this should be limited to the firewall configuration. Updates or future Fedora releases may bring additional changes. Most of the time, this should work just fine, but if something seems like it’s operating more paranoid than you expect, it’s probably because it’s following a Server-targeted configuration choice rather than a desktop-user-targeted choice.