Difference between revisions of "GNOME tips"

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Photoshop alternative for linux, only better and open-source. A must-have if you ever do anything with graphics.
An open-source Photoshop alternative for linux. A must-have if you ever do anything with graphics.

Revision as of 23:03, 11 January 2009

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Configuration Tips

Better Video Performance

Some users report that, if they move the player window while playing a video file, a blue border appears around the video while it is moving. If you experience this, go to Desktop->Preferences->Multimedia Systems Selector, and under video change the "Default Sink" to "XWindows (No Xv)". When you click test, the blue border should be gone and on the whole, video should perform better.

Edit: This no longer applies to Gnome 2.20 and later (Evanlec)

Add/Edit GDM Sessions

To add or edit sessions to GDM: The GDM configuration file is located at /opt/gnome/etc/gdm/gdm.conf. The gdm.conf file links to the desktop/window manager sessions in the folder /etc/X11/sessions. The sessions are in the format *.desktop. To add a new session

  1. Copy an existing *.desktop file to use as a template for a new session:
cd /etc/X11/sessions
cp enlightenment.desktop waimea.desktop
  1. Modify the template *.desktop file to open the required window manager:
nano waimea.desktop

Alternatively, you can open the new session in KDM. This creates the *.desktop file. Then return to using GDM and the new session will be available.


If your gnome applications seem sluggish and gnome hangs at start-up after killing the previous session, it's likely you haven't set your /etc/hosts file correctly and your /etc/hosts file includes:       localhost.localdomain     localhost      YOURHOSTNAME

Then run "/bin/hostname YOURHOSTNAME" and "/sbin/ifconfig lo up" as root.

also see [1]

Misc Tips

Screen Lock

  1. Make sure that dbus is running (probably a good idea to add it to the daemons array in rc.conf).
  2. Install xscreensaver
 pacman -S xscreensaver
  1. Go to Desktop -> Preferences -> Screensaver
  2. Enable one or more screensavers
  3. Lock Screen will now start your screensaver and require your password to stop it.

or you can install gnome-screensaver

pacman -S gnome-screensaver

Unlock Gnome-keyring on Login

In /etc/pam.d/gdm, add lines like this at the end:

auth            optional        pam_gnome_keyring.so
session         optional        pam_gnome_keyring.so  auto_start

In /etc/pam.d/gnome-screensaver, add a line like this:

auth        optional     pam_gnome_keyring.so

In /etc/pam.d/passwd, add a line like this:

password        optional        pam_gnome_keyring.so


Easier way: Install SEAHORSE with "pacman -S seahorse". Now you find under "Applications-> Accessories-> Password and Encryption Settings" a nice GUI where you can set for the keyring "Automatically unlocked when user logs in".

Nautilus Tips

Get a certain path in spatial view? Just type:

control + L

Change Browser Mode (Spatial View)

  1. Start gconf-editor
  2. Browse to apps/nautilus/preferences
  3. Change the value of "always_use_browser" (it's a yes/no value and should be visible as a checkbox or say "false", for the later change the value to "true")

Or you can do this through the preferences:

  1. In a Nautilus window go to Edit>>Preferences
  2. Change to the Behaviour tab
  3. Check (or uncheck) Always Open in Browser Windows

Speed Up Panel Autohide

If you find that your panels are taking too long to appear/disappear when using the Panel Autohide feature, try this;

  1. Start gconf-editor
  2. Browse to /apps/panel/global
  3. Set panel_hide_delay and panel_show_delay to more sensible (integer) values. Note that these values represent milliseconds!

GNOME Menu Tips

Speed Tweak

You can remove the delay in GNOME menus by running this command:

echo "gtk-menu-popup-delay = 0" >> ~/.gtkrc-2.0

Or just add "gtk-menu-popup-delay = 0" (without quotes) to .gtkrc-2.0

Menu Editing

Most Gnome users complain about the menu. Changing menu entries system-wide or for one or several users alone is poorly documented.

User menus

Recent versions of Gnome (ie, v2.22) have a menu editor in which you can de-select menu entires, but not add new menu entries. Right-click on the menu panel and select Edit Menus. Unchecking the box next to a entry will prevent it from displaying.

To add new menu entries, create a .desktop file in the $XDG_DATA_HOME/applications directory (most likely $HOME/.local/share). A sample .desktop file can be seen below, or take a look at Gnome documentation.

Or install Alacarte, which makes it easy to create, change and remove menu entries with a GUI. Do this with:

pacman -S alacarte
Group menus, System menus

You will find common gnome menu entries as 'appname.desktop' objects inside one of the $XDG_DATA_DIRS/applications directories (most likely /usr/share/applications). To add new menu items for all users, create an 'appname.desktop' file in one of those directories.

  • Edit one of them to fit your needs for a new application, then save it.
  • Save it as a menu entry for all users
    Most often, you will set this files permissions to 644 (root: rw group: r others: r), so all users can see it.
  • Save it as a menu entry for a group or user alone
    You may also have different user permissions; for example, some menu entries should only be available for a group or for one user.

Here is an example how a Scite menu entry definition file could look:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=SciTE editor

Custom Icon

This is a quick guide on changing the gnome "foot" icon of your main menu to the icon of your choice.

  • Open the configuration editor in gnome (it should be in System Tools of your main menu) or run gconf-editor
  • In the configuration editor go to apps > panel > objects > find the object for your menu (an easy way to spot the correct object is that it will have "Main Menu" in the tool tip section).
  • Set the path to your icon in the "Custom_Icon" field.
  • Check "Use_Custom_Icon" a little ways down.
  • To see the change without having to restart X, open a terminal window and type:
killall gnome-panel

Useful Add-ons


FAM allows gnome to do such useful things as automatically update the menu when new applications are installed, and refresh nautilus when a directory it is viewing is changed.

See the FAM Wiki for instructions on how to install it.

Gnome System Monitor

This application appears when the "System Monitor" applet is clicked, and displays the processor/memory usage of all running applications. It is not installed by default in the GNOME group, so you need to install it separately using:

pacman -Sy gnome-system-monitor

Burning CDs from Nautilus

pacman -Sy nautilus-cd-burner

Gnome System Tools

This adds several Gnome menu items under System->Administration, specifically user management, date and time, network configuration, runlevels, and shared folders through samba or NFS. See Gnome documentation.

pacman -Sy gnome-system-tools

Pay attention to the post-install message from pacman.

Gdesklets: Desktop Candy

Put a clock, calendar, weather report, and more onto your desktop

pacman -S gdesklets

You can find more desklets at gdesklets.org. To install them, download the files. Next, in the Gnome menu, open Applications->Accessories->gDesklets. When the gDesklets Shell appears, drag the new gdesklet file onto the shell. If you want gdesklets to load when you log in, click on the Gnome menu under System->Preferences->Sessions. Choose "Startup Programs", click "add", and type in the data. The command should be /usr/bin/gdesklets. You can always find such a path by typing "whereis gdesklets".

Other Applications

These are some other nice applications and utilities for gnome, most of which can be downloaded all at once with:

pacman -Sy gnome-extra

This is a group, so it is quite easy to choose not to download some of the packages, such as the documentation.


Install this application before logging into gnome for the first time unless you prefer to use xterm.

Drop Down Consoles

Gnome has a few dropdown consoles inspired by the ones found in FPS's such as Quake and Half-life (ie pressing the ~ key) These follow Yakuake from KDE, below are a few ones native to Gnome.


Guake requires Python, it can be installed via the following command. F12 is the default to toggle the terminal. Guake features mutiple tabs and by default Cntrl+PgUp and Cntrl+PgDown can be used to switch between these terminals.

pacman -S guake

You can set transparency and other settings by first toggling to the terminal via F12, right clicking and selecting Preferences.

Guake can be started automatically by adding the following to Gnome Sessions via
System -> Preferences -> Sessions
Select Add, and these settings can be used:
Name: Guake
Command: guake &
Comment: Guake Dropdown Terminal.


Tilda is another dropdown terminal for Gnome, I discontinued using it after discovering Guake but here it is. Kindly add to this section if possible.

pacman -S tilda


A text editor with syntax highlighting.


Eye-of-Gnome, a handy, fast little image viewer which can re-size and rotate photos.


An archive manager which supports many different formats. (Install unrar, unzip, ... to get the respective formats)


A calculator, what else?


An iTunes like audio library and player.


CD Ripper, integrates with rhythmbox.

To enable default mp3 profiles in preferences menu:

pacman -S gstreamer0.10-lame gstreamer0.10-taglib

Note: This should not be necessary anymore, since these packages now are included in gstreamer0.10-ugly-plugins and gstreamer0.10-good-plugins.

If you're having other problems with SoundJuicer , click here


A video player which uses gstreamer for decoding its input.


An open-source Photoshop alternative for linux. A must-have if you ever do anything with graphics.


An nice little FTP client for gnome.


A small, fast, .doc compatible word processor.


A very nice, excel like spreadsheet editor.

Leave message feature in gnome screensaver

This is a cool feature provided by gnome-screensaver 2.20, somebody can leave a message for you when you are not at your desk. Please install notification-daemon to make this work.


A very useful application that can be run as a daemon within gnome. It manipulates windows allowing you to start programs on a desired desktop or in a size of your choice among many other things. Brings a whole new level of control into the metacity engine. There's a pretty good HOWTO on their homepage,

See also