Difference between revisions of "GNOME 2"

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'''ATTENTION''': If you are looking for''' GNOME 3''' info, navigate to [https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GNOME_3 this page].
From [http://www.gnome.org/about/ GNOME: The Free Software Desktop Project]:
From [http://www.gnome.org/about/ GNOME: The Free Software Desktop Project]:

Revision as of 18:34, 19 April 2011

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ATTENTION: If you are looking for GNOME 3 info, navigate to this page.

From GNOME: The Free Software Desktop Project:

The GNOME project provides two things: The GNOME desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.
GNOME is free, usable, accessible, international, developer-friendly, organized, supported, and a community.

This article covers the GNOME desktop environment.



Note: Gnome requires Xorg server to be installed on your system. If you don't have it yet, follow the instructions in this article first.

Install the base GNOME desktop Template:Cli

This is a meta-package; which is a group of packages. An option will be given to install all or some of the packages in this group. All the packages can safely be installed and is highly recommended, but here is a list of some that may not be needed.

  • epiphany is a web browser that comes with GNOME. If you are planning on using a different browser e.g. Firefox then this package is not needed. It is recommended that you at least try Epiphany as it is an excellent browser that unfortunately gets over shadowed by Firefox.
  • gnome-backgrounds is a collection of desktop backgrounds (wallpapers) that the GNOME community has selected for you to use. If you already know what you will be using for your background e.g. a picture of your sweetheart, then this package is not needed.
  • gnome-terminal a GUI terminal, if you prefer your own terminal application like xterm or aterm then this package is not needed.
  • gnome-screensaver is a collection of screen-savers for the GNOME desktop. If you will not be using a screen-saver, i.e. using the GNOME power manager to shut the monitor off when not in use then this package is not needed.
  • gnome-themes is a collection of desktop themes. If you will be using a specific theme that you will be downloading separately then this package is not needed.
  • gnome2-user-docs and yelp are the help documents and help document reader for the GNOME desktop. If you are the kind of person that does not read documentation or you would rather use the large help documents known as Google, then there would be no need to install these packages. This is not recommended. (Ironically, if you are the kind of person that does not read documentation then chances are you won’t be reading this.)


Install the rest of the GNOME Desktop (highly recommended, see GNOME Tips)by: Template:Cli

Like before, this is a meta-package, and it is recommended to install all packages in this group, but here is a list of some that may not be needed. If you wish to simply install gnome-extra without installing Mono applications like Tomboy, visit the Mono page on details on how to block it.

  • alacarte is an editor for the gnome-menu, if you are planning on using the menu it is recommended to use this package, though it can be done manually.
  • bug-buddy reports bugs, if you do not want to report bugs this package is not needed.
  • cheese uses your webcam to take photos and videos; if you do not have a webcam then this package is not needed.
  • dasher is a text entry application that uses the pointer instead of a keyboard. If you and everyone that will be using this desktop can use a keyboard then this package is not needed.
  • deskbar-applet is an all-in-one search bar for the GNOME desktop. If you do not need a desktop search then this package is not needed.
  • ekiga is a VOIP/Videoconferencing application. If you have no need for VOIP or use a different application like Skype, then this package is not needed.
  • empathy is an all-in-one instant messaging client. This replaces Pidgin as the default chat client. Be sure to install all the relevant telepathy providers. View optdepends of pacman -Si empathy for a list of all providers.
  • eog views almost all types of images, you may choose to take your own image viewer.
  • evince is a simple document (e.g. pdf) viewer. If you are planning on using a different viewer e.g. Adobe Reader then this package is not needed.
  • evolution is a Personal Information Management PIM (e-mail, calendar, contacts, etc.) application for GNOME. If you are planning on using a different PIM; e.g. Thunderbird, or a web PIM like a Google or yahoo account then you have no need for this package.
  • evolution-exchange is a plug in for Evolution that allows Evolution to connect to Exchange. If you do not use Exchange or Evolution then you have no need for this package.
  • evolution-webcal is a web calendar plug in for Evolution. If you do not use Evolution then you have no need for this package.
  • fast-user-switch-applet is an applet that allows the switching of users without going through a log out, and log in screen, i.e. you can switch users fast. If there is only one user on your computer or you like seeing the log in screen then you have no need for this package.
  • file-roller is a GUI archive manager which works as winzip/winrar. If you prefer to (un)pack archives through the command-line this package is not needed.
  • gcalctool , a default calculator application with different views.
  • gconf-editor , the back-end editor for all GNOME settings.
  • gdm facilitates the starting of GNOME at boot up. If you like your computer to boot into a nice traditional command line and you will start GNOME only when you need it, then this package is not for you.
  • gedit is a GUI based text editor. If you plan on using a different text editor – as most people's devotion to their favorite text editor is religious you more than likely have an example in mind – then you have no need to install this package. Gedit however is a very good editor that offers useful features while keeping things simple and is especially well suited for beginning programmers who don't want the hassle of vim, emacs, or kdevelop(note these are all good programs also and well worth learning later on). It has many useful plugins such as commenting/uncommenting code, a color picker, and embedded terminal for quickly testing code among other things. Note that to use some of these plugins you will have to separately install the gedit-plugins package.
  • gnome-audio is a collection of sounds for events in GNOME. If you have your own sounds, do not want sounds or have no sound at all then this package is not needed.
  • gnome-games and gnome-games-extra-data is a collection of simple desktop games; e.g. Nibbles, Sudoku, etc. If you feel that childish games are a waste of your time, hard drive space and bandwidth then this package is not for you.
  • gnome-mag is a screen magnifier for people with visual impairment. You should know if you need to install this.
  • gnome-nettool and gnome-netstatus are collections of GUI based networking tools. If you do all your networking stuff from the command line then this package is not for you.
  • gnome-power-manager keeps track of battery status, and other power tracking tools. Only laptop users should use this package.
  • gnome-system-monitor , an application that displays computer hardware information, and system resource usage.
  • gnome-utils is a collection of utilities for GNOME, containing a file logger, log-viewer, search-tool, dictionary, floppy drive support and a application for taking screen-shots. It is recommended to take this package.
  • gucharmap lets you view Unicode characters.
  • gok is the GNOME on screen keyboard. If you and every one using this desktop plan on using a standard keyboard for all your keyboard needs then do not install this package.
  • hamster-applet is a time-tracking applet for the GNOME panel. If you have no need for a time-tracking applet, then do not install this package. You can visit its website for more info.
  • libgail-gnome is a GNOME accessibility implementation library used by the screen reader Orca. If there is no-one using this desktop that has a visual impairment then this package is not needed.
  • mousetweaks is accessibility software for users that have limited control of a mouse (e.g. can manipulate only one button). If you and every one that will be using this desktop have full control of the mouse then there is no need to install this package.
  • orca is a screen reader for the GNOME desktop to help users with a visual impairment.
  • seahorse and seahorse-plugins are packages for de/encrypting information. Do not take this package unless you know what you are going to use it for.
  • sound-juicer is a CD ripping application for GNOME. If you are planning on using a different application for ripping CD e.g. Banshee or do not have a CD drive then you have no need to install this package.
  • tomboy is a simple desktop note-taking application. If you want to avoid installing the large Mono libraries and use the Tomboy replica gnote (written in C++), or simply prefer the use of pen and paper, you do not need this package.
  • totem is the official movie player of the GNOME desktop. If you plan on using a different movie player e.g. VLC then you have no need for this package.
  • vinagre is a VNC client for the GNOME desktop. If you have no need for a VNC client then you have no need for this package.
  • vino is a remote desktop server for the GNOME desktop. You can use it to share your GNOME session desktop with other users. If you have no need for a remote desktop server then you have no need for this package.
  • zenity a tool that allows you to display GTK dialog boxes in command-line and shell scripts.

You may have noticed the GNOME admin tools (System → Administration) are not included in the extra package. You will need the Template:Codeline package which is installed in a discrete step:


As mentioned above, this and other helpful info can be found on the GNOME Tips wiki page which you should read through.

Note: Using Template:Codeline on older GNOME versions may require you to insert your user to the group Template:Codeline, otherwise you may encounter the "The configuration could not be loaded. You are not allowed to access the system configuration." error message. This should not be necessary any more, as version 2.28 of Template:Codeline does not need the Template:Codeline group; in fact, upgrading from a previous version will remove this group.

For normal users to use system tools, package Template:Codeline is needed:


To configure gksu to use Sudo rather than Su, use this command:


Make sure you have already configured Sudo properly.

Install gamin if you want changes to files or directories to be immediately detected:


You may already have the obsolete FAM installed, which gamin replaces, so go ahead and remove it if prompted.

Daemons and modules needed by GNOME

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

To start the DBUS daemon: Template:Cli

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

# /etc/rc.conf - Main Configuration for Arch Linux
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------
# Daemons to start at boot-up (in this order)
#   - prefix a daemon with a ! to disable it
#   - prefix a daemon with a @ to start it up in the background
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: Template:Cli

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

# /etc/rc.conf - Main Configuration for Arch Linux
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------
# MOD_AUTOLOAD: Allow autoloading of modules at boot and when needed
# MOD_BLACKLIST: Prevent udev from loading these modules
# MODULES: Modules to load at boot-up. Prefix with a ! to blacklist.
# NOTE: Use of 'MOD_BLACKLIST' is deprecated. Please use ! in the MODULES array.
#MOD_BLACKLIST=() #deprecated
MODULES=(fuse usblp)
Note: FUSE is a kernel module, not a daemon.

Running GNOME

The package consolekit is required for the ck-launch-session command. Install with: Template:Cli

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: Template:Cli

Privilege Granting Under Gnome

Shutdown/Restart Privileges

If one user is logged in to Gnome and another user logs in (switched users) the 2nd user cannot shutdown or restart the box. The following window pops-up, "System policy prevents stopping the system when other users are logged in." The user is now challenged for the superuser password.

Discussion Thread: http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=641993

The fix for this is to:

# nano /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/shutdown.pkla
[system shutdown privs]
# nano /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/restart.pkla
[system restart privs]

Finally, restart hal and any of your users in the 'users' group will have the ability to shutdown or restart your system without the root password and whether others are logged into the box or not.

For more on this, see the manpage for pklocalauthority.

CPU Scaling Privileges

See the cpufrequtils article.

GDM (GNOME Display Manager)

If you want a graphical login, you will need to install GDM (which is also part of gnome-extra). To do so, type the following at a command prompt: Template:Cli

To make the graphical login the default method of logging into the system, edit your Template:Filename file (recommended). Alternatively you can add gdm to your list of daemons in Template:Filename. These procedures are detailed on the Display Manager page.

See GDM for additional information.

Eye Candy

By default, GNOME does not come with many themes and icons. You may wish to install some more attractive artwork for GNOME:

A nice gtk (gui widget) theme engine (includes themes) is the murrine engine. Install with: Template:Cli

And if you want more themes you can grab murrine-themes-collection from the AUR.

Once it has been installed, select it with System -> Preferences -> Appearance -> Theme tab.

The Arch Linux repositories also have a few more nice themes and engines. Install the following to see for yourself:


You can find many more themes, icons, and wallpapers at GNOME-Look.

But how do i get those really cool desktop effects I've been seeing on youtube? See Compiz. :)

MintMenu (Advanced [Alternate] Gnome Menu)

Install the package from AUR mintmenu using an AUR helper of your choice. Package name:


Mintmenu uses gconf to store its settings, including the menu icon to display. If your current value is /usr/lib/linuxmint/mintMenu/mintMenu.png, this may be due to previous version of this package, that stored this value in Template:Filename. On a fresh install the Template:Filename value defaults to Template:Filename. The value can be changed with gconf-editor, gconftool-2 or from the Preferences (Right click on menu -> Preferences -> "Main Button" -> "Button icon:".

XDG User Directories

Many Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint set up your default user directories such as your downloads directory, music directory, documents directory, and so on. This also gives these directories special identifying icons. To set XDG user directories up, run this command: Template:Cli

The default user directory settings are stored in Template:Filename. You can edit it to change the default settings for where you want users to have their directories with this:

Tip: You do not have to edit this file if you only want to set up XDG User Directories for one user or you accept the default settings.


Run this as a normal user to set up your directories: Template:Cli

This command creates the directories needed and sets them up so GNOME knows that is where those types of files should go by default. The folders also have special icons depending on what folder your configuration file tells GNOME they are.

To edit your user directories configuration file later, know that it is located in Template:Filename. You can edit it by running the following command or by using your favorite text editor: Template:Cli


General solution

Try with a fresh configuration by moving you old configurations out of the way: Template:Cli

Your computer crashes and GNOME will not startup anymore.

A possible solution is to renew the "session" directory in ~/.gnome2.


GNOME lags

See the FAQ page for a possible solution.

If gnome login is slow, you could try to disable any floppy drives in bios. This will prevent the "floppy" module from being loaded, and may reduce gnome login time.

Screen gets dark while GNOME loading

If screen gets dark while GNOME loading, you may correct this problem as following.

Open a terminal and run: Template:Cli


/ → apps → gnome-power-manager → backlight

and change the value of


from 100 to 0 by clicking on it. After restart the system, the problem should not be occur.

Tip: If the problem comes back again, change the brightness_ac value back to 100, which may solve this problem.

No shutdown in GNOME menu

You most likely do not have a shutdown button when you use SLiM as the login manager as it seems to work just fine with the other login managers supplied in arch core/extra. You need to open the users .xinitrc file (nano ~/.xinitrc) and make sure the exec line has ck-launch-session in it like this:

exec ck-launch-session gnome-session

That will fix your shutdown issue in GNOME when using the SLiM login manager.

File names with bad characters in FAT partitions

By setting this options in gnome-mount, your Linux systems will read and write file names with the same characters as the Windows systems (very useful for USB sticks): Template:Cli

There is already a bug report for that.

gnome-terminal doesn't support UTF-8 characters for me

Append these two lines to /etc/environment file:


Reboot your system, and gnome-terminal will work correctly.

External links