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Revision as of 16:54, 21 January 2014 by Pyromaniac (Talk | contribs) (Workaround for gala crashing right on start)

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Template:Article summary start 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:

Note: You will need to install at least one indicator, otherwise wingpanel will not launch.

Additionally, you may install the following packages:

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

Additional Info

Unofficial repository

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

SigLevel = Optional
Server =$repo/$arch

Github repository

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

Packages based on older evolution-data-server

dexter-contacts-bzrAUR and feedler-bzrAUR do not build because they are based on evolution-data-server 3.2. Arch Linux provides version 3.10 which uses a different Vala API.

Launching Pantheon

Via a Display Manager

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

Note: Either use the bzr version of cerbere or add 'gala' to the monitored processes for this to work.

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)
exec cerbere
Note: Either use the bzr version of cerbere or add 'gala' to the monitored processes for this to work.

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 before the exec cerbere line. 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.


Gala crashes on start

It appears that unconfigured gala tries to use default gnome wallpaper as a background. However, the corresponding file is absent unless you have gnome-themes-standard installed. Thus, install gnome-themes-standard to workaround the crash. It is safe to remove this package after you configure pantheon in a way you want.