GNOME/Guide

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GNOME is a popular desktop environment capable launching Xorg and Wayland sessions. This guide attempts to describe all aspects of GNOME, including installation, configuration, and usage.

Since version 3.30, GNOME on Gentoo is able to once again run on OpenRC.[1] See Mart Raudsepp (leio)'s blog post for more detail.

What is GNOME?

The project

The GNOME project is a free software organization dedicated to the development of GNOME, a Unix/Linux desktop suite and development platform. The GNOME Foundation coordinates the development and other aspects of the GNOME Project.

The software

GNOME is a desktop environment and a development platform. This piece of free software is the desktop of choice for several industry leaders including Canonical (Ubuntu) and Red Hat (Red Hat Linux, Fedora, Centos).

The community

Like with any large free software project, GNOME has an extensive user and development base. GNOME Planet is a popular blog aggregator for GNOME hackers and contributors whereas developer.gnome.org is for the GNOME developers. GNOME Library contains a huge list of GNOME resources for end users.

Prerequisites

Historically speaking, the Xorg display server was the standard display base for all desktop environments on Linux. With GNOME 3 and beyond, a shift to the Wayland, a newer display server protocol, has begun. Systems other than NVIDIA will have no problem running GNOME sessions over Wayland.

That said, as a general fall back, it is a good idea to first read and follow the instructions in the Xorg guide to setup a X environment.

According to GNOME upstream, GNOME 3 is written with the systemd init system in mind. Because of this, it is a good idea for systemd users to read and comply with all necessary kernel settings from the systemd article.

Installation

Before installing the GNOME suite, editing the system's USE variables is a good idea. Gentoo developers provide a GNOME profile in order to aid system-wide tuning for the GNOME software stack. Select the latest stable GNOME profile before emerging GNOME.

OpenRC users using logind can select this profile:

root #eselect profile set default/linux/amd64/17.1/desktop/gnome

systemd users will want to select the following profile:

root #eselect profile set default/linux/amd64/17.1/desktop/gnome/systemd

Make sure that X, gtk, and gnome are in the USE variable located in /etc/portage/make.conf. It is recommended to enable support for D-Bus system-wide. systemd includes this system message bus. Add systemd to the USE variable as well (D-Bus is a system message bus that GNOME uses extensively). If no KDE support is required, remove qt5 and kde from USE. USE flags can be removed by adding a minus sign (-) in front of them. See the example below for the minus sign used properly.

FILE /etc/portage/make.confExample global USE flags for a GNOME desktop environment
USE="-qt5 -kde X gtk gnome systemd"
Note
When using the desktop/gnome/systemd profile, these USE flags will be set automatically. It is possible to check the system profile by running eselect profile list. Modifications can be made by running eselect profile set <profile-name> as root. Be sure to replace "<profile-name>" with the number or name of the desired profile.

Once finished, begin the GNOME installation by emerging GNOME:

root #emerge --ask gnome-base/gnome

For a minimal GNOME installation install the gnome-base/gnome-light package. This option provides a lightweight GNOME installation without pulling in the full GNOME desktop environment. Most users may desire to install additional packages afterward.

root #emerge --ask gnome-base/gnome-light

This will take a while, so start reading some other parts of our wiki. Done? Great, now update environment variables:

root #env-update && source /etc/profile

Next the remaining services and user groups will be cleaned.

Verify the plugdev group exists. If it does, it is advisable to make each GNOME user member of that group, but step this is optional (the group is not common anymore).

root #getent group plugdev
plugdev:x:104:

Substitute <username> in the next command with each GNOME user's user name:

root #gpasswd -a <username> plugdev

First impressions

It is time to take a look at what was just built. Either configure the session manager to run GNOME when the startx command is invoked (see using startx in the Xorg guide for more information), or enable the GDM service, for a more convenient way to start GNOME.

Enabling GDM

Note
Help on troubleshooting issues with GDM can be found in the GNOME/GDM article.

systemd

To start GDM upon boot:

root #systemctl enable gdm.service

To start GDM immediately, run:

root #systemctl start gdm.service
Tip
The following command both enables and starts GDM immediately:
root #systemctl enable --now gdm.service

Another suggestion is to activate Network Manager, in case no other network managing service is activated.

Using startx

Exit the root shell and log in as a regular user. The next step is to configure the session manager to run GNOME when the the startx command is invoked (see using startx in the Xorg guide for more information).

user $echo "exec gnome-session" > ~/.xinitrc

Starting with gnome-base/gnome-session-2.26.2, users will need to prepend the XDG_MENU_PREFIX variable to get the GNOME menus when using the ~/.xinitrc method to start the desktop. If ~/.xinitrc is not being used it will be handled automatically; no additional configuration is needed.

user $sed -i '1i\export XDG_MENU_PREFIX=gnome-' ~/.xinitrc

Now start the graphical environment by issuing startx:

user $startx

If all goes well GNOME should happily provide a greeting. Congratulations on setting up GNOME!

Configuration

Tweaking GNOME

For extra configuration options in GNOME 3 install the gnome-extra/gnome-tweak-tool package. The tweak tool allows customization at a deeper level than the standard Settings frame.

Widgets in GNOME 3

By default on Gentoo GNOME 3 does not support widgets. For users who wish to obtain widget functionality a separate package is available:

root #emerge --ask gnome-extra/gnome-shell-extensions

After the shell extensions are installed, eselect can be used to control defaults on a global level:

root #eselect gnome-shell-extensions list
Available extensions (* means enabled for all users by default):
  [1]   alternate-tab@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [2]   apps-menu@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [3]   auto-move-windows@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [4]   drive-menu@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [5]   launch-new-instance@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [6]   native-window-placement@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [7]   places-menu@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [8]   screenshot-window-sizer@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [9]   user-theme@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [10]  window-list@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [11]  windowsNavigator@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com
  [12]  workspace-indicator@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com

Enable click-to-install Shell Extensions through the web browser

For web browsers such as Google Chrome, Chromium, and Vivaldi be sure to get the required browser add-on through the Chrome store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gphhapmejobijbbhgpjhcjognlahblep

Firefox users can get it here: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/gnome-shell-integration/

Opera users will have to snag it here: https://addons.opera.com/extensions/details/gnome-shell-integration/

After the add-on has been installed for the browser of choice, a backend must also be emerged:

root #emerge --ask gnome-extra/chrome-gnome-shell

It should now be possible to install, manage, and uninstall shell extensions at https://extensions.gnome.org/

If things are not working as expected check the upstream installation instructions for news.

Non-root user authentication for dialogs

Certain GNOME dialogs such as Printers, adding wireless networks, and Users require administrator authentication. This is handled through sys-auth/polkit and operates independently from app-admin/sudo. By default in Gentoo, the root account is the only administrator, and so even if a user account can run root commands through sudo, authentication in these GNOME dialogs will fail.

If you would like all users of the group wheel to be administrators, create a copy of /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/50-default.rules starting with a number lower than 50, and edit the line return ["unix-user:0"] to the following:

FILE /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/49-wheel.rulesAdministrator wheel group
polkit.addAdminRule(function(action, subject) {
    return ["unix-group:wheel"];
});

The Polkit wiki page provides more details on rules configuration.

GNOME Hotspot

In order for gnome-hotspot to work, your wireless card must support AP (access point) infrastructure mode. The following package USE flags are also needed:

FILE /etc/portage/package.useConnection Sharing and Access Point Support
net-misc/networkmanager connection-sharing
net-wireless/wpa_supplicant ap

In addition, the following kernel options are necessary:

KERNEL NAT options (locations for kernel 4.14)
Networking support (NET [=y])
    Networking options --->
        Network packet filtering framework (Netfilter) (NETFILTER [=y]) --->
            IP: Netfilter Configuration --->
                <*/M> IPv4 NAT (CONFIG_NF_NAT_IPv4)
                <*/M> IPv4 masquerade support
                <*/M> IP tables support (required for filtering/masq/NAT) (IP_NF_IPTABLES [=y])
                <*/M> iptables NAT support

Removal

Unmerge

A possible way to completely remove a GNOME installation is by explicitly uninstalling the gnome-base/gnome package, then cleaning the dependencies of that package.

In order to do this sanely make sure the main ebuild repository has been synced:

root #emerge --sync

Next, run a world update so that the system is fully up-to-date:

root #emerge --ask --update --newuse --deep --with-bdeps=y @world

Unmerge the GNOME base package:

root #emerge --ask --depclean gnome-base/gnome

Finally, depclean the system:

root #emerge --ask --depclean

GNOME should now be removed.

Troubleshooting

Login failure with message "Oh no something has gone wrong"

One source of this error can be the permissions for the video device. When logging in fails and a message appears that says "Oh no, something has gone wrong", then try to become a member of the video group. Add the user to the video group with gpasswd like so:

root #gpasswd -a <user> video

GNOME on Wayland session is not launching with NVIDIA

Attempting to launch GNOME on Wayland sessions is a known issue. Unfortunately the NVIDIA binary blob drivers are not presently compatible with Wayland. Systems that simply have the NVIDIA binary blob driver installed, but are not using it can see this workaround.

External resources


This page is based on a document formerly found on our main website gentoo.org.
The following people contributed to the original document: Lars Strojny,
They are listed here because wiki history does not allow for any external attribution. If you edit the wiki article, please do not add yourself here; your contributions are recorded on each article's associated history page.