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From Wikipedia:

"'GNOME' (pronounced /ɡəˈnoʊm/) is a desktop environment—a graphical user interface which runs on top of a computer operating system —composed entirely of free and open source software. It is an international project that includes creating software development frameworks, selecting application software for the desktop, and working on the programs which manage application launching, file handling, and window and task management.
GNOME is part of the GNU Project and can be used with various Unix-like operating systems, most notably those built on top of the Linux kernel and the GNU user-land, and as part of Java Desktop System in Solaris.
According to the GNOME website:
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.
The GNOME project puts heavy emphasis on simplicity, usability, and making things “just work”. The other aims of the project are:
  • Freedom—to create a desktop environment that will always have the source code available for re-use under a free software license.
  • Accessibility—ensuring the desktop can be used by anyone, regardless of technical skill or physical disability.
  • Internationalization and localization—making the desktop available in many languages. At the moment GNOME is being translated to 166 languages.
  • Developer-friendliness—ensuring it is easy to write software that integrates smoothly with the desktop, and allow developers a free choice of programming language.
  • Organization—a regular release cycle and a disciplined community structure.
  • Support—ensuring backing from other institutions beyond the GNOME community."
Note: Version 2.30 has been released to [extra]. Be sure to see the Gnome 2.30 Changes article, which makes an attempt to document some changes/bug-fixes. Also some of the Gnome 2.28 Changes tips still apply.


Install xorg dependency

# pacman -S xorg

Install the base GNOME desktop

# pacman -S gnome

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-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.)
  • 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.

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

# pacman -S gnome-extra

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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-terminal a GUI terminal, if you prefer your own terminal application like xterm or aterm then this package is not needed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • nautilus-cd-burner allows the burning of files to CDs by dragging-and-dropping in the GNOME file manager, Nautilus. The only reason not to install this package is if you do not have a CD burner on your computer.
  • 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:

# pacman -S gnome-system-tools

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:

# pacman -S gksu

Make sure you have already configured Sudo properly.

Daemons and modules needed by GNOME

The GNOME desktop requires two daemons, FAM and HAL for proper operation. The File Alteration Monitor FAM daemon allows real-time representation of file alterations; i.e. give the GUI instant access to recently installed programs or changes in the file system. The Hardware Abstraction Layer HAL daemon, among other things, will automate the mounting of disks, optical drives, and USB drives/thumbdrives for use in the GUI.

To start the HAL and FAM daemons:

# /etc/rc.d/hal start
# /etc/rc.d/fam start

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 network crond hal fam)
Note: You may instead want to remove FAM and install gamin, which does not require a system daemon to be running.

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.:

# /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 and does not go in the same array as HAL and FAM.

Running GNOME

To start GNOME from the console, run:

$ gnome-session

If you add the following to your Template:Filename file (and make sure it is the only line that starts with "exec"):

exec gnome-session

or this if you have problem with auto-mount:

exec ck-launch-session gnome-session

To make it a global setting which has effect on all users instead of only one, instead of Template:Filename add the line to the file Template:Filename:

exec gnome-session
Note: Only needed for gnome 2.14; gnome 2.16 and up do this automatically:
exec dbus-launch --exit-with-session /opt/gnome/bin/gnome-session

GNOME will start when you enter the following command.

$ startx

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:

# pacman -S gdm

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.

If you are used to using the Template:Filename file to pass arguments to the X server when it is started, such as xmodmap or xsetroot, you should note that you can add the same commands to the Template:Filename file. A ~/.xprofile looks like this:


# ~/.xprofile
# Executed by gdm at login

xmodmap -e "pointer=1 2 3 6 7 4 5" #set mouse buttons up correctly
xsetroot -solid black                #sets the background to black


You can no longer use the gdmsetup command to configure GDM as of version 2.28. The command has been removed and GDM has been standardized and integrated with the rest of gnome.

Note: Although the following commands use sudo, you actually need to run them as root! ("su -" works)

To configure the GDM theme use this command:

sudo -u gdm dbus-launch gnome-appearance-properties

For more configuration options, use this command:

sudo -u gdm dbus-launch gconf-editor

And modify the following hierarchies:


If these commands fail with an error such as "Cannot open display" you can bring the two windows up when GDM starts by adding them to GDM's autostart. To do this first create the entry (run as root):

cp -t /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/ /usr/share/applications/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop /usr/share/applications/gconf-editor.desktop

Then logout of your user back to GDM. After the login window appears the two windows should also appear. Configure GDM how you want, then close the windows and log back in. When you're done and want the window to stop opening with GDM run this (as root):

rm /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/gconf-editor.desktop
Note: By using the logout/configure method you can view changes while you're making them.

For more information and advanced settings read this.

You may also want to read about GNOME 2.28 Changes.


Note that with version 1.6.1 of xorg-server, Template:Keypress+Template:Keypress+Template:Keypress will NOT restart gdm anymore. For instructions on re-enabling this behavior, see the this section of the Xorg wiki article.

For more information about Graphical Logins (DMs), see this excellent page.

GDM legacy

If you want to fall back to the old GDM, which also has a tool for configuring its settings, compile and install gdm-old on AUR.

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:

# pacman -S xdg-user-dirs

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.
# nano /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults

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

$ xdg-user-dirs-update

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:

$ nano ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs


If you want to enable passwordless login in gnome (bypass the password promp in GDM):

Simply add the following line to Template:Filename:

auth sufficient user ingroup nopasswdlogin

Make sure it goes right before the first line that contains "pam_unix" in it (If you're not using Arch Linux, it may have to reside before/after some other line, but nonetheless, you still need this line).

That's it! It took me WEEKS to figure this out for you. ;)

Now, when you use System > Administration > Users and Groups (command: users-admin) and set your user for "Password: not asked at login" (by checking the "Don't ask for password on login" option), your user will be automatically added to the "nopasswdlogin" group and viola, you will now simply and only have to click on your username and you will log right in, password bypassed entirely!


Your computer crashes and GNOME will not startup anymore.

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

mv ~/.gnome2/session ~/.gnome2/session.old

Gnome/Xorg crashes randomly when the enter key is pressed

If you find Gnome, GDM and Xorg crashing randomly when you press the enter key, you are probably experienceing this bug: [1]

As a work arround, edit /etc/rc.conf and move Gdm to the end of the DAEMONS list

e.g. Run this command in terminal:

sudo vi /etc/rc.conf

Edit the last line of the file so it looks something like:

DAEMONS=([...] gdm)

Panels do not work correctly

Sourced from this forum page

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

for d in .gnome* .gconf*; do mv "$d" "$d.old"; done

GDM will not start

If you get this message: "The greeter application appears to be crashing. Attempting to use a different one"

One possible reason is that your /tmp folder has the wrong permissions set. Run:

# chmod 1777 /tmp

As root and try again.

GNOME lags

If opening programs in GNOME takes an unusual long time. You may be able to fix this by editing Template:Filename and adding your host name.

# nano /etc/hosts

Now, you should add the host name you have defined in Template:Filename or your network profile if you have one (if you do not know, you probably do not).

The Template:Filename file usually looks like this:

# /etc/hosts: static lookup table for host names

#<ip-address>   <>   <hostname>               localhost.localdomain   localhost

# End of file

Add your host name (in this example the host name "example_hostname" was picked) to the end of the line which starts with "". Now it looks like this:

# /etc/hosts: static lookup table for host names

#<ip-address>   <>   <hostname>               localhost.localdomain   localhost example_hostname

# End of file

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:

$ gconf-editor


/ → 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 will be corrected, the same problem will occur. Change to brightness_ac value from 0 to 100 to solve this problem if it will occur again.

X server drops out randomly and GDM reloads

If your X server is crashing semi-frequently, try this fix Sourced from this forum page

Edit your /etc/gdm/custom.conf and locate the [servers] section and add:

0=Standard vt7

No shutdown in GNOME menu

Before you do anything else make sure you are in the group "power". You can make sure by typing this in a console:

cat /etc/group | grep power | grep ${LOGNAME}

You can replace "${LOGNAME}" by any user on your pc. If you leave it like ${LOGNAME} it will look for the current user logged in.

If you are in the power group you should get a return line like this:


if not then you need to add yourself to the power group by typing this as root:

sudo gpasswd -a username power

Replace username by the user you want to add to power unless you want to add the currently logged in user.

Now that you made sure you are in the power group you just need to make sure your login manager is good. 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):

gconftool-2 -s /system/storage/default_options/vfat/mount_options --list-type=string -t list [shortname=lower,uid=,utf8]

There is already a bug report for that.

Ctrl+Alt+Fx do not work

This is a X11 config problem, but the cause can be seen in GNOME optimized xorg.conf files. The terminals are disabled in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. To fix it open the file and change the DontVTSwitch to No:

Section "Serverflags"
   Option "DontVTSwitch" "no"

External links