Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, July 26, 2019 at 10:59

Debian GNU/Linux 10 codenamed Buster released this July. I have collected all necessary download links here, install guide to USB here, and this is the time for the traditional post-installation tips. I mentioned 10 tips and tricks below to help you familiarize yourself with Debian 10 GNOME Edition including how to bring back tray icon & desktop shortcuts, change repository mirror location, switch between Wayland and Xorg, take care of Nautilus and other built-in programs, and more. I also mentioned two bonuses in the end so I hope you could learn more about Debian. Enjoy Debian Buster!
(Debian Buster GNOME running nicely)

[ On Debian 10: Install Guide | Downloads | Mozc/Hiragana ]

To make everything easier...

Before you perform tips and tricks below, it's better to put two tools, System Settings and GNOME Tweaks, on the left dock.

(Simply run the program and add it to favorites)


  • 0. Wayland and Xorg
  • 1. About printscreen
  • 2. Terminal
  • 3. GoldenDict
  • 4. Shotwell
  • 5. Firefox and Evolution
  • 6. LibreOffice
  • 7. Desktop icons
  • 8. Nautilus
  • 9. Desktop tweaks
  • 10. Software & repository
  • [Bonus #1]
  • [Bonus #2]

0. Switching between Wayland and Xorg

For decades, Debian always used Xorg as its default desktop session. But starting from 10.0, now, Debian uses Wayland by default while still having Xorg as side option. However in Wayland desktop session, you cannot run Synaptic Package Manager with administrator privilege. So, you would still need Xorg session for many cases. At least, for now. To switch to Xorg desktop session, logout > see the login screen > click the gear icon > select Xorg > and finally login.

1. PrintScreen Problem

On my installation, Debian seems to be crashed every time I pressed PrintScreen button. The GNOME Screenshot tool also crashes the screen if I run it manually. Apparently, this is happened when on the installation I selected Indonesia as region but United States as formats (see developers discussion here). You may encounter same problem too so:

Quick solution:
  • Go to system settings > Region and Language > change both two into United States > restart your computer.
  • Now try PrintScreen or Shift+PrintScreen. It should work.

Alternative solution:
  • 0) Install Scrot first by command line: sudo apt-get install scrot
  • 1) Go to System Settings > Device > Keyboard > find out Save Screenshot to Pictures > click it > press Backspace > now the original shortcut key is gone.
  • 2) Still on the Keyboard section > scroll down to bottom > click that plus button > give name to it My own screenshot tool > give it command scrot -d 5 > give it PrintScreen as the key > OK.
  • 3) Now when you press PrintScreen, Debian calls Scrot with delay 5 seconds, and saves the picture to your Home directory.

(The GNOME Screenshot tool)

2. Terminal

(GNOME Terminal logo)

Once installed, pressing Ctrl+Alt+T does not run Terminal Emulator, unlike we usually do on Ubuntu. So go to System Settings > Device > Keyboard > scroll down to bottom > click that plus button > give it name Terminal Emulator > give it command gnome-terminal > give it shortcut key Ctrl+Alt+T > OK.

3. GoldenDict Dictionaries

The awesome desktop dictionary, GoldenDict, does not installed with dictionary files so unfortunately you cannot find any word in it. The secret is, fortunately StarDict’s dictionary files are compatible to GoldenDict.

So here as example, we can import StarDict’s ones. Run GoldenDict > go to menubar Edit > Dictionaries (F3) > Dictionaries dialog opened > open the Files tab > click Add > navigate to the directory where you saved StarDict’s dictionary files > OK. Now try to find any word. Congratulations!

Download a lot of StarDict's dictionaries here:

(GoldenDict shows meaning of "buku" in Indonesian as "book" in English)

4. Shotwell by default

Debian opens photos with Image Viewer by default instead of Shotwell. If you often crop pictures, like me, you better make default opening to Shotwell instead. Go to System Settings > Details > Default Applications > Photos > change it to Shotwell. Now try to open any photo you will always run Shotwell.

(Shotwell features very handy crop tool)

5. Firefox and Evolution

As usual, it's better take care of Firefox as soon as you installed it.

  • HTTPS Everywhere: to force all browser connections to be secure (encrypted). It's a must for public wifi users.
  • uBlock Origin: to block all ads + online trackers and to toggle it on/off quickly at any time.
  • Privacy Badger: a really good complement to uBlock Origin in blocking online trackers automatically.
  • so your default search engine uses StartPage instead of Google.
  • GNOME Shell Connector: to enable installation of GSE.


You may choose to disable these to prevent Firefox takes up your bandwidth without your concern. Personally, I strongly prefer to disable all of them. Anyway, we can still update manually at any time. Set each one with the disable value provided.

  • [default: true] [disable: false]
  •     App.update.enabled [default: true] [disable: false]
  •     extensions.update.enabled [default: true] [disable: false]
  • [default: true] [disable: false]

Buster includes GNOME Evolution as the mail client program. It is a very nice mail reader and also a beautiful desktop calendar. You can read your Gmail (IMAP/POP3) with it. You can integrate your Google Calendar account with it. If Gmail and Calendar work well, then other similar online services should work as well. Last but not least, setup email encryption for it is easy.

6. LibreOffice ribbon

Buster brings LibreOffice version 6.1 which already featured with Notebookbar (Ribbon-like interface). However, it’s not enabled by default, so you need to enable it: go to menubar Tools > Options > Advanced > give check mark to Enable advanced featres (maybe unstable) > OK > Restart LibreOffice. Now, go to menubar View > Interface > Tabbed. Happy working!

(Writer, Calc, and Impress running with Notebookbar enabled)

7. Desktop icons

Okay, how to put shortcuts on the desktop area like we did on KDE or Android? Easy, first, install Desktop Icons extension from official E.G.O. website.

(Buster with GNOME 3.30 and active shortcuts on desktop)

Next, what you need to do is to put everything on your own ~/Desktop directory. You can place folders, files, audios and videos, and of course apps. For apps, see picture above, simply copy apps you want from /usr/share/applications to it.

8. Nautilus file manager

(Nautilus logo on Debian Buster)

Sorting: I love to sort files by newest on top, just like this blog, and your social media posts. To do so, click the black triangle on menu button > click Last Modified > all sorted nicely now. See picture below.

Shortcuts: I always create quick accesses on left panel to my frequently used folders on my other partitions. You can do so: go to the folder you want > go up one directory > drag and drop that folder to left panel > rename it as you wish. See picture below, I add name such as [p1] for partition number 1 and so on.

 (Left: sorting by latest on top; right: creating shortcuts to folders on other partitions)

9. Desktop tweaks

(The Tweaks logo)

Fortunately, GNOME Tweak Tool is included by default on Buster. More good news, it already preloaded with a lot of Extensions.

Enable minimize and maximize button by going to Tweak Tool > Window Titlebars > toggle Minimize on > toggle Maximize on > see the result.

You may interested in these ones:
  • Alternatetab: do not group same items on Alt+Tab anymore.
  • Applications menu: XFCE-like drop down start menu.
  • NetSpeed: as you may know from my previous articles, it's my favorite download/upload indicator for GNOME 3 desktop.
  • Places status indicator: quick drop-down menu to go to folders. Similar to GNOME2’s.
  • Top Icons Plus: to place on the top panel running apps like Telegram, Pidgin, Tomboy Notes, and such.
(NetSpeed showing its information)

10. Software and repository

  • Reload
  • Add/remove programs
  • Change repository mirror

Debian provides you more than 50,000 software packages for all computing purposes possible at no cost. In order to add more software to your system, you need to Reload first, and then use package manager to find and install them.

Reload: of course you will need to reload your repository index:
$ sudo apt-get update

(The reloading process)

Add/remove programs: once reloaded, now, you can see thousands of software packages available at Synaptic Package Manager or GNOME Software. They are actually stored in the internet (that place is called repository) so you will need network access to get them. If you don't have Synaptic yet, install it by:
$ sudo apt-get install synaptic apt-xapian-index

Repository setup: you can change the default repository server Debian headed to into server located in your home country. For example, I can change default U.S. located server source into Indonesia by using Software & Updates tool from the start menu. See picture below, I changed the U.S. server into Kartolo server in Indonesia.

(Repository settings)

[Bonus] Nice apps to have

KeePassX is a handy password storage so you could save multiple accounts' credentials there. When you forget some, you open KeePassX, as only you know KeePassX's master password.

(KeePassX logo)

Telegram (GPLv3+) is a popular chatting platform used by many libre software communities and suitable to replace either WhatsApp or Skype. I maintain online classes on Telegram since 2017 as my effort to educate about Libre Software and GNU/Linux in Indonesia. Several chat groups you can join at Telegram are:
(Telegram Logo)

[Bonus] External Resources

Interesting resources to find apps for Debian:

Useful resources to learn more about Debian:

  • Official wiki: this is where to start everything.
  • Official doc: all documentations maintained by Debian Project.
  • Official intro: basic knowledge about Debian for you.
  • FAQ: list of answers by Debian for your common questions.
  • Mailing lists: a lot of email channels of Debian users and developers. Including support and development ones.
  • IRC channels: chat groups on IRC networks talking about Debian. The community is most active on both mailing lists and IRCs worldwide.
  • Resources: list of a lot of learning sources maintained by Debian Project itself for you.


I am a long time StarDict user and even now I am still using it on my latest Neon Operating System. I recommend it to people I know. Thank you Huzheng for creating such truly useful and valuable program.

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.