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GNOME (/(ɡ)noʊm/) is a desktop environment that aims to be simple and easy to use. It is designed by The GNOME Project and is composed entirely of free and open-source software. GNOME is a part of the GNU Project. The default display is Wayland instead of Xorg.


Two groups are available:

  • gnome contains the base GNOME desktop and a subset of well-integrated applications;
  • gnome-extra contains further GNOME applications, including an email client, an IRC client, GNOME Tweaks, and a set of games. Note that this group builds on the gnome group.

The base desktop consists of GNOME Shell, a plugin for the Mutter window manager. It can be installed separately with gnome-shell.

Note: mutter acts as a composite manager for the desktop, employing hardware graphics acceleration to provide effects aimed at reducing screen clutter. The GNOME session manager automatically detects if your video driver is capable of running GNOME Shell and if not, falls back to software rendering using llvmpipe.

Unstable releases

See Official repositories#gnome-unstable.

GNOME Sessions

GNOME has three available sessions, all using GNOME Shell.

  • GNOME is the default which uses Wayland. Traditional X applications are run through Xwayland.
  • GNOME Classic is a traditional desktop layout with a similar interface to GNOME 2, using pre-activated extensions and parameters. [1] Hence it is more a customized GNOME Shell than a truly distinct mode.
  • GNOME on Xorg runs GNOME Shell using Xorg.


GNOME can be started either graphically with a display manager or manually from the console (some features may be missing). The display manager included in gnome is GDM.

Note: Support for screen locking (and more) in GNOME is provided by GDM. If GNOME is not started with GDM, another screen locker may be used. See List of applications/Security#Screen lockers.


Select the session: GNOME, GNOME Classic, or GNOME on Xorg from the display manager's session menu.


Xorg sessions

  • For the GNOME on Xorg session, add to the ~/.xinitrc file (see here for details):
    export XDG_SESSION_TYPE=x11
    export GDK_BACKEND=x11
    exec gnome-session
  • For the GNOME Classic session, add to the ~/.xinitrc file:
    export GNOME_SHELL_SESSION_MODE=classic
    exec gnome-session --session=gnome-classic

After editing the ~/.xinitrc file, GNOME can be launched with the startx command (see xinitrc for additional details, such as preserving the logind session). After setting up the ~/.xinitrc file it can also be arranged to Start X at login, e.g. on tty1 by adding to .bash_profile:

if [[ -z $DISPLAY && $(tty) == /dev/tty1 ]]; then
  XDG_SESSION_TYPE=x11 GDK_BACKEND=x11 exec startx

Wayland sessions

  • An X server—provided by the xorg-server-xwayland package—is still necessary to run applications that have not yet been ported to Wayland. Applications using certain graphics libraries, such as Qt, can be forced to use Wayland by setting environment variables. See Wayland#GUI libraries for more information.
  • When using the proprietary NVIDIA driver, non-Wayland-native applications suffer from poor performance because of the lack of hardware accelerated XWayland. This is expected to be resolved in Spring 2020 but there is no committed timeline from NVIDIA.

Manually starting a Wayland session is possible with XDG_SESSION_TYPE=wayland dbus-run-session gnome-session.

To start on login to tty1, add the following to your .bash_profile as not all applications respect XDG_SESSION_TYPE, add a variable for firefox, QT applications:

if [[ -z $DISPLAY && $(tty) == /dev/tty1 && $XDG_SESSION_TYPE == tty ]]; then
  MOZ_ENABLE_WAYLAND=1 QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland XDG_SESSION_TYPE=wayland exec dbus-run-session gnome-session

GNOME applications in Wayland

When the GNOME session is used, GNOME applications will be run using Wayland. For debugging cases, the GTK manual lists options and environment variables.


To learn how to use the GNOME shell effectively read the GNOME Shell Cheat Sheet; it highlights GNOME shell features and keyboard shortcuts. Features include task switching, keyboard use, window control, the panel, overview mode, and more. A few of the shortcuts are:

  • Super + m: show notification list
  • Super + a: show application grid
  • Alt + Tab: cycle active applications
  • Alt + ` (the key above Tab on US keyboard layouts): cycle windows of the application in the foreground
  • Alt + F2, then enter r or restart: restart the shell in case of graphical shell problems (only in X/legacy mode, not in Wayland mode).

See Keyboard navigation for more shortcuts.

Tip: To make Alt+Tab switch applications only in current workspace, you can set current-workspace-only to true:
$ gsettings set current-workspace-only true

Legacy names

Note: Some GNOME programs have undergone name changes where the application's name in documentation and about dialogs has been changed but the executable name has not. A few such applications are listed in the table below.
Tip: Searching for the legacy name of an application in the Shell search bar will successfully return the application in question. For instance, searching for nautilus will return Files.
Current Legacy
Files Nautilus
Web Epiphany
Videos Totem
Main Menu Alacarte
Document Viewer Evince
Disk Usage Analyzer Baobab
Image Viewer EoG (Eye of GNOME)
Passwords and Keys Seahorse
GNOME Translation Editor Gtranslator


The GNOME System Settings panel (gnome-control-center) and GNOME applications use the dconf configuration system to store their settings.

You can directly access the dconf database using the gsettings(1) command line tools. This also allows you to configure settings not exposed by the user interfaces. Command line tool dconf(1) can directly modify the underlying database, bypassing validation.

Up until GNOME 3.24 settings were applied by the GNOME settings daemon (located at /usr/lib/gnome-settings-daemon/gnome-settings-daemon), which could be run outside of a GNOME session.

GNOME 3.24 however replaced the GNOME settings daemon with several separate settings plugins /usr/lib/gnome-settings-daemon/gsd-* which were later moved to /usr/lib/gsd-*. These plugins are now controlled via desktop files under /etc/xdg/autostart (org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.*.desktop). To run these plugins outside of a GNOME session you will now need to copy/edit the appropriate desktop entries to ~/.config/autostart.

The configuration is usually performed user-specific, this section does not cover how to create configuration templates for multiple users.

System settings


The daemon colord reads the display's EDID and extracts the appropriate color profile. Most color profiles are accurate and no setup is required; however for those that are not accurate, or for older displays, color profiles can be put in ~/.local/share/icc/ and directed to.

Night Light

GNOME comes with a built-in blue light filter similar to Redshift. You can enable and customise the time you want to enable Night Light from the display settings menu. Furthermore, you can tweak the kelvin temperature with the following dconf setting, where 5000 is an example value:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.color night-light-temperature 5000
Tip: To change the daytime temperature in a Wayland session install this extension.

Date & time

If the system has a configured Network Time Protocol daemon, it will be effective for GNOME as well. The synchronization can be set to manual control from the menu, if required.

GNOME supports automatic time zone selection (can be enabled in Date & Time section of the system settings, given that location services are enabled (see Privacy section of the settings).

To show the date in the top bar, execute:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface clock-show-date true

Additionally, to show week numbers in the calendar opened on the top bar, execute:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.calendar show-weekdate true

Default applications

Upon installing GNOME for the first time, you may find that the wrong applications are handling certain protocols. For example, totem opens videos instead of a previously used VLC. Some of the associations can be set from system settings via: Details > Default applications.

For other protocols and methods see Default applications for configuration.

Mouse and touchpad

Most touchpad settings can be set from system settings via: Devices > Mouse & Touchpad.

Depending on your device, other configuration settings may be available, but not exposed via the default GUI. For example, a different touchpad click-method

$ gsettings range org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad click-method

to be set manually:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad click-method 'fingers'

or via gnome-tweaks.

Note: The synaptics driver is not supported by GNOME. Instead, you should use libinput. See this bug report.


NetworkManager is the native tool of the GNOME project to control network settings from the shell. Install the networkmanager package and enable the NetworkManager.service systemd unit.

While any other network manager can be used as well, NetworkManager provides the full integration via the shell network settings and a status indicator applet network-manager-applet (not required for GNOME).

Note: Hidden wireless networks set up with networkmanager's nmtui do not connect automatically. You need to create a new profile using GNOME control center in order to restore auto-connect capabilities for that network.

Online accounts

Backends for the GNOME messaging application empathyAUR as well as the GNOME Online Accounts section of the System Settings panel are provided in a separate group: telepathy. See Unable to add accounts in Empathy and GNOME Online Accounts. Some online accounts, such as ownCloud, require gvfs-goa to be installed for full functionality in GNOME applications such as GNOME Files and GNOME Documents [2].


The GNOME shell has a search that can be quickly accessed by pressing the Super key and starting to type. The tracker package is installed by default as a part of gnome group and provides an indexing application and metadata database. It can be configured with the Search and Indexing menu item; monitor status with tracker-control. It is started automatically by gnome-session when the user logs in. Indexing can be started manually with tracker-control -s. Search settings can also be configured in the System Settings panel.

The Tracker database can be queried using the tracker-sparql command. View its manual page tracker-sparql(1) for more information.

Advanced settings

As noted above, many configuration options such as changing the GTK theme or the window manager theme are not exposed in the GNOME System Settings panel (gnome-control-center). Those users that want to configure these settings may wish to use the GNOME Tweaks (gnome-tweaks), a convenient graphical tool which exposes many of these settings.

GNOME settings (which are stored in the DConf database) can also be configured using the dconf-editor(1) (a graphical DConf configuration tool) or the gsettings command line tool. The GNOME Tweaks does not do anything else in the background of the GUI; note though that you will not find all settings described in the following sections in it.



GNOME uses Adwaita by default. To apply Adwaita dark only to GTK 2 applications use the following symlink:

$ ln -s /usr/share/themes/Adwaita-dark ~/.themes/Adwaita

To select new themes (move them to the appropriate directory and) use GNOME Tweaks or the GSettings commands below:

For the GTK theme:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme theme-name

For the icon theme:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface icon-theme theme-name
Note: The window manager theme follows the GTK theme. Using org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme is deprecated and ignored.

See GTK#Themes and Icons#Manually.

Titlebar height
Note: Applying this configuration shrinks the titlebar of applications that do not use GNOME-style CSD. Native GNOME applications with CSD are not affected.
headerbar.default-decoration {
 padding-top: 5px;
 padding-bottom: 5px;
 min-height: 0px;
 font-size: 0.8em;

headerbar.default-decoration button.titlebutton {
 padding: 0px;
 min-height: 0px;

See [3] for more information.

Titlebar button order

To set the order for the GNOME window manager (Mutter, Metacity):

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout ':minimize,maximize,close'
Tip: The colon indicates which side of the titlebar the window buttons will appear.
Hide titlebar when maximized
Note: The above extension does not work for gnome-shell version 3.32 or higher [4].
GNOME Shell themes

The theme of GNOME Shell itself is configurable. To use a Shell theme, firstly ensure that you have the gnome-shell-extensions package installed. Then enable the User Themes extension, either through GNOME Tweaks or through the GNOME Shell Extensions webpage. Shell themes can then be loaded and selected using the GNOME Tweaks.

There are a number of GNOME Shell themes available in the AUR. Shell themes can also be downloaded from

Icons on menu

The default GNOME schema doesn't display any icon on menus. To display icons on menus, issue the following command.

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xsettings overrides "{'Gtk/ButtonImages': <1>, 'Gtk/MenuImages': <1>}"

Apps grid folders

Tip: The gnome-catgen (gnome-catgen-gitAUR) script allows you to manage folders through the creation of files in ~/.local/share/applications-categories named after each category and containing a list of the desktop files belonging to apps you would like to have inside. Optionally, you can have it cycle through each app without a folder and input the desired category until you Ctrl-c or run out of apps.

In the dconf-editor navigate to and set the value of folder-children to an array of comma separated folder names:

['Utilities', 'Sundry']

Add applications using gsettings:

$ gsettings set apps "['alacarte.desktop', 'dconf-editor.desktop']"

This adds the applications alacarte.desktop and dconf-editor.desktop to the Sundry folder. This will also create the folder

To name the folder (if it has no name that appears at the top of the applications):

$ gsettings set name "Sundry"

Applications can also be sorted by their category (specified in their .desktop file):

$ gsettings set categories "['Office']"

If certain applications matching a category are not wanted in a certain folder, exclusions can be set:

$ gsettings set excluded-apps "['libreoffice-draw.desktop']"

For more information, see [5] and [6].


GNOME implements XDG Autostart.

The gnome-tweaks allows managing autostart-entries.

Tip: If the plus sign button in the Tweaks's Startup Applications section is unresponsive, try start the Tweaks from the terminal using the following command: gnome-tweaks. See the following forum thread.
Note: The deprecated gnome-session-properties dialog can be added by installing the gnome-session-propertiesAUR package.


Icons on the Desktop

Up until GNOME 3.28, icons on the desktop were provided by Files which would draw a transparent window over the desktop containing the icons. As of GNOME 3.28 this functionality has been removed and desktop icons are no longer available in GNOME. Possible workarounds include using Nemo (a fork of Files which still has desktop icons functionality) or installing gnome-shell-extension-desktop-iconsAUR, which replicates the desktop icon functionality available in GNOME 3.26 and prior, but with some minor differences. For more information, please see the following Arch forum thread.

Lock screen and background

When setting the Desktop or Lock screen background, it is important to note that the Pictures tab will only display pictures located in /home/username/Pictures folder. If you wish to use a picture not located in this folder, use the commands indicated below.

For the desktop background:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri 'file:///path/to/my/picture.jpg'

For the lock screen background:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.screensaver picture-uri 'file:///path/to/my/picture.jpg'
Disable top left hot corner

Starting from GNOME 3.34 you can disable it with this:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface enable-hot-corners false

or via gnome-tweaks, in Top Bar > Activities Overview Hot Corner


The catalogue of extensions is available at They can be installed and activated in a browser by setting the switch in the top left of the screen to ON and clicking Install on the popup window (if the extension in question is not installed). Installed extensions may be seen at, where available updates can be checked. Installed extensions can also be enabled or disabled with gnome-tweaks.

Note: Extensions from can be installed from browsers, for that it is required to install chrome-gnome-shell and the appropriate browser extension.

GNOME Shell can be customized with extensions per user or system-wide. Installing extensions with pacman makes them available for all users of the system and automates the update process. The gnome-shell-extensions package provides a set of extensions maintained as part of the GNOME project (many of the included extensions are used by the GNOME Classic session). Users who want a taskbar but do not wish to use the GNOME Classic session may want to enable the Window list extension (provided by the gnome-shell-extensions package).

To list currently enabled extensions:

$ gsettings get enabled-extensions

For more information about GNOME shell extensions, see [7].


Tip: If you set the Scaling factor to a value above 1.00, the Accessibility menu will be automatically enabled.

Fonts can be set for Window titles, Interface (applications), Documents and Monospace. See the Fonts tab in the Tweaks for the relevant options.

For hinting, RGBA will likely be desired as this fits most monitors types, and if fonts appear too blocked reduce hinting to Slight or None.

WEBP, thumbnails

Install pixbuf-webp-thumbnailerAUR to make GNOME's image viewer (eog) work with WEBP images, and add a thumbnailer which creates thumbnails for WEBP images to display them in GNOME Files.

Input methods

GNOME has integrated support for input methods through IBus, only ibus and the wanted input method engine (e.g. ibus-libpinyin for Intelligent Pinyin) needed to be installed, after installation the input method engine can be added as a keyboard layout in GNOME's Regional & Language Settings.


When you are using a laptop you might want to alter the following settings:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-ac-timeout 3600
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-ac-type hibernate
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-battery-timeout 1800
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-battery-type hibernate
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power power-button-action suspend
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.lockdown disable-lock-screen true

To keep the monitor active when the lid is closed:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xrandr default-monitors-setup do-nothing

GNOME 3.24 deprecated the following settings:

org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-hibernate
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-power
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-sleep
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-suspend
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power critical-battery-action
Don't suspend, when laptop lid is closed

The settings panel of GNOME doesn't provide an option for the user to change the action triggered when the laptop lid is closed. However gnome-tweaks can override the setting applied by systemd. On the tab General turn off the switch Suspend when laptop lid is closed. The system will then not Suspend to RAM (S3) on lid close.

To change the lid switch action system-wide, ensure that the setting described above is not turned off and edit the systemd settings in /etc/systemd/logind.conf. To turn off suspend on lid close, set HandleLidSwitch=ignore, as described in Power management#ACPI events.

Change critical battery level action

The settings panel does not provide an option for changing the critical battery level action. These settings have been removed from dconf as well. They are now managed by upower. Edit the upower settings in /etc/UPower/UPower.conf. Find these settings and adjust to your needs.


Use a different window manager

GNOME Shell does not support using a different window manager, however GNOME Flashback provides sessions for Metacity and Compiz. Furthermore, it is possible to define your own custom GNOME sessions which use alternative components.

See also