From GnomeShell - GNOME Live!:
- GNOME Shell is the defining technology of the GNOME 3 desktop user experience. It provides core interface functions like switching to windows and launching applications. GNOME Shell takes advantage of the capabilities of modern graphics hardware and introduces innovative user interface concepts to provide a delightful and easy to use experience.
This article covers the installation of the alpha version of the GNOME Shell using the official JHBuild tool. That way the current system is not changed and testing the GNOME shell is safe.
At the moment the only way to test the GNOME Shell is compiling it yourself. There are two possibilities: using the packages in AUR (gnome-shell-git) which still have problems with failing builds because of wrong dependencies or using the official GNOME JHBuild tool. Because JHBuild installs everything into your local home folder, your current system isn't touched in any way and the GNOME Shell is effectively sandboxed. This article therefore focuses on the second method but feel free to test the AUR packages and help developing them.
Although the JHBUILD tool works good in most cases, there are some Arch specific pitfalls that are also covered in the course of this article.
Preparing for build
First of all make sure that you have at least the following packages installed (they are all part of the official Arch Linux repositories):
# pacman -S base-devel gnome-common git mesa-demos pkgconfig gtk-doc gnome-common python2 python2-gconf intltool libpulse
Then go to your home directory, download the official build script for the GNOME Shell and execute it.
$ cd ~ $ curl -O http://git.gnome.org/browse/gnome-shell/plain/tools/build/gnome-shell-build-setup.sh $ sh gnome-shell-build-setup.sh
Having the installation system downloaded you need to change your python binary to link to python2 instead of python3. This is caused by the incompatibility of Arch Linux with most other distributions regarding the installation of python2 and python3.
# mv /usr/bin/python /usr/bin/python.backup # ln -s /usr/bin/python2 /usr/bin/python
Then you have to temporarily add ~/bin to your PATH environment variable. Do this by executing
Building GNOME Shell
The build process itself is straightforward. Just kick it of by executing
$ jhbuild build
which will guide then you through the installation. This will download all the necessary packages to run the GNOME Shell (a few hundred MBs get downloaded), compile them and finally install them in your local home directory. The compilation will take about 1-3 hours depending on the machine you are building.
There might be some errors complaining about missing packages like:
You must have intltool installed to compile gtk-engines *** Error during phase configure of gtk-theme-engines-clearlooks: ########## Error running ./autogen.sh --prefix /home/user/gnome-shell/install --libdir '/home/usr/gnome-shell/install/lib' --disable-static --disable-gtk-doc *** [10/33]
You should be able to resolve them by justing issuing
# pacman -S <packagename>
where <packagename> is the the package listed in the first line of the error message (in this case intltool). After installing the package in another terminal you can resume the process by selecting the first option:
 Rerun phase configure
After the build process
First of all, to restore python3 (to avoid possible problems with other packages) revert the commands from above:
# mv /usr/bin/python.backup /usr/bin/python
Edit the startup script of gnome-shell to use python2 instead of python (which is python3 again) and make the first line look like
To finally start the gnome-shell just execute the following command:
$ ~/gnome-shell/install/bin/gnome-shell --replace
In case it is starting you can probably ignore error messages. Otherwise refer to the Troubleshooting section.
To return to your normal gnome session just bring the terminal where you originally started the shell to the top and stop the execution by pressing Ctrl+C. This should bring back metacity and thereby restoring your original session.
libcanberra-gtk-module.so: undefined symbol: gtk_quit_add
if you are running arch x86_64.
configure: error: Package requirements (libxklavier >= 5.1) were not met
As of February 7, libxklavier 5.1 has not been released. However, it is possible to trick GNOME Shell in to thinking that it is installed by changing the version to 5.1 in
For more details, see Install Gnome Shell (From Git) in Ubuntu 10.10
GNOME Shell does not yet support proprietary graphics driver such as the catalyst (fglrx) or the nvidia driver. Try using the free alternatives if they provide 3d-accellerated graphic output for your card.
Refer to GnomeShell/SwatList - GNOME Live! for a list of other common problems or ask for help on the irc channel: irc.gnome.org:#gnome-shell