GNOME tips

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Configuration Tips

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

2. 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.

See also [1]

Slow Performance

Due to an improper coded GNOME drawing library, some actions in GNOME can slow the system. If the theme icons are in SVG format, they make the system slower. A very fast improvement is to either use icons in PNG format or to convert the used icons into the PNG format.

Default applications

You may want to configure system-wide default applications and file associations. This is extremely useful when you have some KDE applications installed, but still prefer a GNOME ones to be launched by default.

To do that you can install gnome-defaults-list from AUR. It will place your configuration file at /etc/gnome/defaults.list.

If you want to do everything manually, create /usr/share/applications/defaults.list with the following format:

[Default Applications]

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.

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

Fonts Seem Skewed

You can alter the DPI of your fonts in Gnome with Right-click on the desktop>change desktop background>fonts>details>Resolution

Resolution: [96] dots per inch

On my x86_64 system, the default was set to 89 dots per inch for some reason. I upped it to 96 and everything looks 'normal' again.

Change the Default Background Image

The default background is that zoomed in picture of a green leaf. It appears for newly created users, but more importantly, this is the image shown when the screen is locked. As of 25-Apr-2009, you can find this image here


To change it, simply copy your favorite image to this locate (as root) and rename it.

Make Shell Windows Open to a A Larger Size

Once you add a launcher for your gnome-terminal, you can modify it such that the terminal is larger than the standard. Right-click the launcher>properties. Now under the "Command" section, add the following

Command: gnome-terminal --geometry 105x25+100+20

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
  3. Go to Desktop -> Preferences -> Screensaver
  4. Enable one or more screensavers
  5. Lock Screen will now start your screensaver and require your password to stop it.

or you can install gnome-screensaver:

# pacman -S gnome-screensaver

Also you can find here how to replace gnome-screensaver with xscreensaver.

Unlock Gnome-keyring on Login

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

auth            optional
session         optional  auto_start

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

auth        optional

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

password        optional

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 press:

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

Music Information Columns in List View (bitrate etc.)

Nautilus lacks the abillity to display metadata for music files in list view mode, a python script was written to add collums for:

  • Artist
  • Album
  • Track Title
  • Bitrate

First, install the requirements.

sudo pacman -S mutagen

And, from AUR, [python-nautilus]

tar -zxvf python-nautilus
cd python-nautilus
sudo pacman -U *.pkg.tar.gz

Now, create a directory called python-extensions in ~/.nautilus. Place the following script, named, in this newly created folder. You may download the script here: [] (please drop --stefanwilkens a line if this goes down)

Restart nautilus, you can now configure this new functionallity in Edit -> Preferences -> List Columns

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" to .gtkrc-2.0

However, this setting is reported to crash banshee, and possibly other programs.

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

Change the Gnome Foot Icon to an Arch Icon

Note: Thanks to arkham who posted this method in [this forum post] which I have typed up here.
  • Download [this Arch icon] (filename is Template:Filename)
  • Alternatively get the artwork package using "pacman -S archlinux-artwork", this puts all artwork in the /usr/share/archlinux directory, and resize your desired logo to 24x24px
  • Figure out which icon set you're using (right-click desktop>Change Background Image>Theme>Customize>Icon). For example, Crux, *GNOME, High Contrast, High Contrast Inverse, Mist, etc.)
  • Now make a backup of your current gnome icon in the correct directory. In the example below, I'm using the GNOME icons but adjust the directory structure accordingly for your icon set:
# mv /usr/share/icons/gnome/24x24/places/start-here.png /usr/share/icons/gnome/24x24/places/start-here.png-virgin
  • Copy Template:Filename you just downloaded to the same directory renaming it start-here.png
# cp /path/to/starthere.png /usr/share/icons/gnome/24x24/places/start-here.png
  • Restart your gnome-panels and the new Arch logo should be displayed
$ pkill gnome-panel

Change the Gnome Foot Icon to an Arch Icon (without root access)

  • Download [this Arch icon] (filename is Template:Filename)
  • Alternatively get the artwork package using "pacman -S archlinux-artwork", this puts all artwork in the /usr/share/archlinux directory, and resize your desired logo to 24x24px
  • Figure out which icon set you're using (right-click desktop>Change Background Image>Theme>Customize>Icon). For example, Crux, *GNOME, High Contrast, High Contrast Inverse, Mist, etc.)
  • Duplicate that icon set's directory structure for 24x24/places in your home directory under .icons.
$ mkdir -p ~/.icons/gnome/24x24/places
  • Copy your 24x24-pixel icon into that directory
$ cp starthere.png ~/.icons/gnome/24x24/places/start-here.png
  • Restart your gnome-panels and the new Arch logo should be displayed
$ pkill gnome-panel

Custom Icon Method 2

Note: I couldn't get this method to work at all using Gnome 2.26.2 but I didn't want to remove this procedure from the page.

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

  1. Open the configuration editor in gnome (it should be in System Tools of your main menu) or run gconf-editor
  2. 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).
  3. Set the path to your icon in the "Custom_Icon" field.
  4. Check "Use_Custom_Icon" a little ways down.
  5. To see the change without having to restart X, open a terminal window and type:
$ killall gnome-panel

Removing default icons from desktop

I like to keep my desktop clean, and perhaps someone else too. So here is how to remove home folder, computer and trash from desktop:

  1. Open terminal
  2. On terminal type: gconf-editor
  3. Configuration Editor opens. From there navigate to: apps --> nautilus --> desktop
  4. Untick all the icons you dont want to see
  5. You are done, the icons should dissappear immeadiately

Disabling scroll in taskbar

For years there is "bug" in Gnome taskbar: the mouse scroll switches the windows. The annoying feature if you have a good mice turns to be a real pain if you have the touchpad. It is impossible to scroll precisely using touchpad, so if you accidentally touch it when your mouse is on the taskbar, then all the windows will flash/switch wildly. There is no setting in gconf/preferences, that can disable this functionality. This is true for KDE 3, I don't know if problem persist in KDE 4. The solution was to install xfce4-panel, which hasn't scrolling at all and looks like default gnome panel. The bug is better described here [2].

This bug will be probably never fixed, but we have ABS, so we can build custom software. Install ABS (+70Mb), then

cp -r /var/abs/extra/libwnck /home/{your name}/Desktop/somewhere

Navigate to that dir, then

makepkg --nobuild

This will download and extract the sources. Go to src/libwnck-{version}/libwnck. Edit tasklist.c, search for "scroll-event". You will see somethign like

g_signal_connect(obj, "scroll-event", G_CALLBACK(wnck_tasklist_scroll_cb), NULL);

This line enables scroll-event handler, comment the line out (place /* before and */ after the line). Now go back to /home/{username}/Desktop/somewhere and

makepkg --noextract --syncdeps

You will need sudo to be able to install missing dependencies (intltool), but you can always 'pacman -S' them apart if you don't want --syncdeps automatically. The --noextract option tells makepkg to not extract sources and use existing src/

pacman -U libwnck-{version}.pkg.tar.gz

Then logout/login, enjoy. Delete dir with the sources from you desktop, you may also uninstall abs if you want. Next step will be to add gconf option, but I will leave this for Gnome gurus. I just don't need this "feature", not even if I use the mouse (alt+tab is better anyway).

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 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 Ctrl+PgUp and Ctrl+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. 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 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. DevilsPie brings a whole new level of control into the metacity engine. There's a good HOWTO on their homepage,

See also