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For GNOME 3, the GNOME Project has started from scratch and created a completely new, modern desktop designed for today's users and technologies. In GNOME 3:

  • There is a new default modern visual theme and font
  • The Activities view which provides an easy way to access all your windows and applications
  • Built-in (integrated) messaging desktop services
  • A more subtle notifications' system and a more discreet panel
  • A fast Activities' search feature
  • A new System Settings application
  • ... and more features like: window tiling (Aero Snap like), an improved Nautilus etc.

[more details on the GNOME3 website]


GNOME3 comes with two interfaces, gnome-shell(standard) and fallback mode. gnome-session will automatically detect if your computer is capable to run gnome-shell and it would start the fallback mode if not.

Fallback mode is the old GNOME2 layout and is using gnome-panel(gtk3 port) + metacity

Using fallback mode you can still change the window manager with your preferred one.

Upgrade from the current gnome 2.32

Enable testing repo. Edit /etc/pacman.conf and uncomment testing.

Warning: It's very important for the new repo to be on the top, otherwise pacman will not upgrade GNOME
 #testing uncommented
Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Warning: The session might crash during update and is recommended running the update command in a screen session or from tty
# pacman -Syu 

You will end up with a system that has gnome 3.0 fallback mode. To install the new shell:

# pacman -S gnome-shell

Installing to a new system

Enable testing in the same way as above.

# pacman -Syu testing/gnome

For additional applications

# pacman -Syu testing/gnome-extra

Daemons and modules needed by GNOME

The GNOME desktop requires one daemon, DBUS for proper operation.

To start the DBUS daemon:

# /etc/rc.d/dbus start

Or add these daemons to the DAEMONS array in Template:Filename so they will start on boot up, e.g.:

DAEMONS=(syslog-ng dbus network crond)

GVFS allows the mounting of virtual file systems (e.g. file systems over FTP or SMB) to be used by other applications, including the GNOME file manager Nautilus. This is done with the use of FUSE: a user space virtual file system layer kernel module.

To load the FUSE kernel module:

# modprobe fuse

Or add the module to the MODULES array in Template:Filename so they will load at boot up, e.g.:

MODULES=(fuse usblp)
Note: FUSE is a kernel module, not a daemon.

Running GNOME

For a better desktop integration is recommended GDM.

# pacman -S gdm

Check out Display_Manager to learn how to start it correctly.

If you prefer to start it from console, add the following line to your Template:Filename file, making sure it's the last line and the only one that starts with exec (see xinitrc):

exec ck-launch-session gnome-session

Now GNOME will start when you enter the following command:

$ startx

Using the shell



Using Gnome-tweak-tool

# pacman -S gnome-tweak-tool

This tool can customize fonts, themes and some other useful settings like action when lid is closed.

Changing the GTK3 theme using settings.ini

You can change the GTK3 (Gnome 3 ) theme through the ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME}/gtk-3.0/settings.ini (it's like the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 for GTK2+).

For example, you may insert:

 gtk-theme-name = Adwaita
 gtk-fallback-icon-theme = gnome

in there. The defined theme will then be used when logging in another DE or WM.

Enabling fallback mode

Your session would start automatically to fallback mode if gnome-shell is not present. If you want to enable it while having gnome-shell installed, open gnome-control-center. Open System Info > Graphics. Change Forced Fallback Mode to ON.

Enabling hidden features

Gnome 3.0 hides a lot of useful options and you have to use dconf-editor to customize them.

How to shutdown through the Status menu

For now, the Shutdown option seems to be hidden if the user presses the Status menu on the upper right. If you want to shutdown your system through the Status menu, click on it and then press the Alt button. The "Suspend" option will instantly turn into "Power off...", as long as you press the Alt button, which will allow you to properly shutdown your system.

Enabling integrated messaging

Empathy, the engine behind the integrated messaging, and all of the system settings based on your messaging accounts will not show up unless the telepathy group of packages or at least one of the backends (telepathy-gabble, or telepathy-haze, for example) is installed. These are not included in the default Arch GNOME installs and the Empathy interface doesn't give a nice error message, it just fails to work silently. You can install them:

# pacman -S telepathy

Enabling extensions

Gnome Shell can be customised to an extent with extensions that have been written by others. These provide functionality like having a dock that is always present, and being able to change the shell theme. More details on the functionality of currently available extensions is given here You can use the gnome-shell-extensions-git package in the AUR to install them. Restart Gnome to enable them.

If installing the extensions causes Gnome to stop working then you must remove the user-theme extension and and the auto-move-windows extension from their installation directory (could be in ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions or /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions or /usr/local/share/gnome-shell/extensions). Removing or adding extensions to these directories will remove or install them form the system. More details on Gnome Shell extensions are available here.