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Notes: As of now Pantheon runs on Arch Linux with a few rough edges. This wiki article intends to support porting Pantheon to Arch. (Discuss in Talk:Pantheon#)
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Template:Article summary text Template:Article summary heading Template:Article summary wiki: A DE which is also based on GTK3. Template:Article summary end

Pantheon is the default desktop environment originally created for the elementary OS distribution. It is written from scratch using Vala and the GTK3 toolkit. With regards to usability and appearance, the desktop has some similarities with GNOME Shell and Mac OS X.


Pantheon is split into several packages which are available in the AUR. To get a minimal desktop interface, you may start by installing pantheon-session-bzrAUR. This will pull the following core components:

Additionally, you may install the following packages:

Note: You will also need to install plugs, look for "switchboard-plug-*" in the AUR.

Additional Infos

Unofficial repository

I have set up an unofficial repository for pantheon packages: Add the following lines at the top of your sources in /etc/makepkg.conf:

SigLevel = Optional
Server =$repo/$arch
Note: This repository only contains some stable packages atm. A bug in devtools makes it impossible to build bzr packages. Patch has already been submitted, but since the build server cannot be patched, we need to wait for the next devtools release.

Github repository

All Pantheon related PKGBUILDs can be found on my GitHub repository:

You will need to build at least bamf from there because the AUR package is out of date. Some other packages which do not belong to me can be found in the AUR, you should build those packages from the GitHub repo if available as they are packaged differently.

Packages based on older evolution-data-server

dexter-contacts-bzrAUR, feedler-bzrAUR and maya-calendar-bzrAUR do not build because they are based on evolution-data-server 3.2. Arch Linux provides version 3.8 which uses a different Vala API.

Wallpaper drawer

The pantheon wallpaper drawer, pantheon-wallpaper-bzrAUR, has been deprecated in favor of the GNOME drawer. This used to be handled by nautilus, but since GNOME 3.8 it is handled directly by gnome-shell, which means we can't have GNOME drawing the wallpaper anymore.

Somehow, we can't use nitrogen either because gala seems to paint a black background all over it (kill gala and the wallpaper appears). Please keep using the deprecated drawer until a solution is found.

Note: There is a branch of gala which supports mutter 3.8. This branch enables gala to draw the wallpaper specified by the GNOME gsettings key directly. You can install gala-mutter38-bzrAUR from the AUR to try it out.

Launching Pantheon

Via a Display Manager

pantheon-session-bzrAUR provides a session entry for display managers such as gdm or lightdm.

Note: Currently, pantheon-session-bzrAUR uses a custom gnome-session with desktop files in /etc/xdg/autostart. This method will not work with the current version of GNOME (this is the same for the GNOME/Openbox session too).

Via .xinitrc

You can also use ~/.xinitrc with slim to launch the Pantheon shell. The following code will successfully launch a Pantheon session:

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ]; then
  for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/*; do
    [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
  unset f

gsettings-data-convert &
xdg-user-dirs-gtk-update &
/usr/lib/polkit-gnome/polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1 &
/usr/lib/gnome-settings-daemon/gnome-settings-daemon &
/usr/lib/gnome-user-share/gnome-user-share &
eval $(gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=pkcs11,secrets,ssh,gpg)
cerbere &
exec gala

Autostart applications

Pantheon, when launched via ~/.xinitrc, does not support XDG autostart. However, there are 2 other ways to achieve this for applications which do not provide a systemd unit:

  • You may add any program to your ~/.xinitrc, preferably right between the cerbere and gala lines. This is the better choice for one-shot programs.
  • Or you may edit the org.pantheon.cerbere.monitored-processes key using dconf-editor and add the programs of your choice. This method is best for applications which keep running in the background.
Note: Keep in mind that applications started via cerbere cannot be terminated, they will keep respawning.


Configuring Pantheon is done via switchboard-bzrAUR and its plugs, some of which are available in the AUR, but close to none work as intended for the moment. Instead, most pantheon settings can be altered via dconf, they are located in the org.pantheon key. Use dconf-editor for easy editing.

Also, part of the configuration is handled by gnome-control-center via a dedicated plug, which unfortunately does not support GNOME 3.8. Use gnome-control-center itself and gnome-tweak-tool instead.