I want to use my Raspberry Pi as a HTPC mostly, hence I want it to be optimized for a HTPC. However, I also want to be able to add other uses, for eg: as a NAS, torrent client, backup server etc.

For this I've OpenElec, XBian and RaspBMC as options.

OpenElec is ruled out since it is optimized extremely for HTPC and terribly difficult to add a Desktop (LXDE). Between XBian and RaspBMC, I tried both and loved RaspBMC.


How do I install LXDE (just usable is good, nothing fancy) on RasBMC?

PS: Would be nice if the solution works on XBian too as that they Debian spinoffs and very similar.

  • OpenElec is that good as HTPC because it's heavily optimized. Going with less optimized solutions (XBian, RaspBMC), and especially adding some heavy cruft using apt-get (not recommended by RaspBMC author, BTW) leads to a system with a very poor performance in every area, that's very fragile and will most definitely break upon the next RaspBMC upgrade. Ideal solution would be to get two Raspberries, less expensive one is to get 2 SD cards. You're free to do whatever you like, though =)
    – lenik
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 4:24
  • @lenik as you said to each his own :). I'm planning to put desktop in a different run level so that it's isolated. anything based on linux (can be)is meant to be modified. Anyone saying otherwise is BSing. Breaking on upgrade, I need to test though. Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 5:54

2 Answers 2


Research. Research. Research.

After extensively researching this on the web. Trying out many solutions. Here's the one that worked for me.


1. Install lxde-core

sudo apt-get install lxde-core xserver-xorg xinit

2. Fix the Putty X11 proxy: wrong authorization protocol

Refer my own answer here on superuser

Bonus Tip:

Since a lot of packages needed to be installed I speeded up the installation by downloading the needed packages into the cache for apt-get using this:

sudo -i
cd /var/cache/apt/archives/
apt-get -y --print-uris install lxde-core xserver-xorg xinit > debs.list
egrep -o -e "http://[^\']+" debs.list | xargs -l3 -P5 wget -nv
apt-get install lxde-core xserver-xorg xinit

since you get a text editor and a neat icon theme (else icons are transparent) among a few basic things.

  • You can now switch to lxde desktop by exiting OSMC and press ESC before it restarts automatically, then login as user osmc password osmc and enter startx
    – rubo77
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 22:39
  • 1
    It is not really useful to not install recommendations here. Recommended are xscreensaver obconf xserver-xorg xinit where xserver-xorg and xinit are essential to start an X session! you would only save about 10 MB not installing the recommendations here, so apt-get -o apt::install-recommends=true lxde would be useful here
    – rubo77
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 4:15
  • install-recommends should be kept true unless in really unusual installations. You need at least the packages xserver-xorg and xinit to be able to use startx
    – rubo77
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 4:56
  • Wouldn't your Tip just download into the apt-archive like apt-get -d install ? Why did you do it?
    – rubo77
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 5:52
  • @rubo77 I don't understand apt-get enough to answer your question, sorry. Thanks for updating the answer. Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 16:41
  • On OSMC, you have to enter the terminal by clicking on Shutdown option and then on Exit. Wait until the loading screen re-appears, then press Esc.

  • log in using username oscm, default password oscm (should be changed later with passswd)

  • Install LXDE with

    sudo apt-get install lxde-core xserver-xorg xinit

    or to get some more usefull programs for a start (about 300MB) use

    sudo apt-get install lxde-core xserver-xorg xinit --install-suggests
    sudo apt-get install pidgin-otr haveged icedove
  • use startx to start the LXDE session

Note: I encountered a crash, when starting OSMC from within the lxde startmenu, so to use OSMC, I have to reboot then

Alltogether my installation with OSMC and LXDE just uses 1.9 GB so this is just a small fraction of my SD card.


add a select option at boot time to choose which surface to start

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