How to Install GNOME in Arch Linux

March 9, 2021

Introduction

Arch Linux remains one of the most popular Linux distributions owing to its versatility and low hardware requirements. The command line environment can, however, be challenging for beginners.

GNOME is a desktop environment offering a stable GUI solution for Arch Linux, making it more convenient to use.

In this tutorial, we offer a step-by-step guide to installing and setting up GNOME in Arch Linux.

How to install GNOME in Arch Linux

Prerequisites

Arch Linux GNOME Installation Guide

Follow these steps to install GNOME on Arch Linux:

Step 1: Update Arch Linux

Read up on the latest version of Arch Linux on the official website. Make sure that no manual intervention is required to upgrade from your current version.

1. To apply the update, use:

sudo pacman -Syu

Update your Arch Linux system

2. Reboot the system for the update to take effect:

sudo reboot

Step 2: Install X Window System (Xorg)

1. Start the X Window System (Xorg) install process with:

sudo pacman -S xorg xorg-server

2. Press Enter to select all of the components available for installation.

Select all components for Xorg installation

3. When prompted, type Y and press Enter to proceed with the install process.

Confirm the Xorg installation


Note: If you are running an Ubuntu system, learn how to install a GUI on Ubuntu.


Step 3: Install GNOME Desktop Environment

1. Install the GNOME desktop environment by running the following command:

sudo pacman -S gnome

2. Press Enter to select all of the available components.

Select options for the GNOME installation

4. If you are missing any dependencies, GNOME offers a choice of provider for the download. For each prompt, select the appropriate provider and press Enter to proceed.

Choose providers for downloading installation dependencies

5. When prompted, type Y and press Enter to proceed with the installation.

Confirm the GNOME installation

Step 4: Start and Enable gdm.service

1. Once GNOME is fully installed, start the gdm service by using:

sudo systemctl start gdm.service

Starting the gdm service enables the GNOME GUI.

2. Log in with your account credentials and open a terminal window.

3. Use the following command to set the gdm service to run on system boot:

sudo systemctl enable gdm.service

Alternate Option: Choose a DM (Display Manager)

Arch Linux also allows you to use other popular display managers, such as LXDM, MDM, SDDM, or XDM.

1. Start by installing the display manager you want to use. For instance, install LXDM by using:

sudo pacman -S lxdm

Installing the LXDM display manager

2. When prompted, type Y and press Enter to proceed with the install process.

3. Stop the currently-running gdm service by using:

sudo systemctl stop gdm.service
sudo systemctl disable gdm.service

4. Start the LXDM display manager with:

sudo systemctl start lxdm.service
sudo systemctl enable lxdm.service

Step 5: Reboot the System

Reboot your Arch Linux system for the changes to take effect:

sudo reboot

Step 6: Install Applications

Use the pacman package manager to install any additional applications you require. For instance, use the pacman command to install Firefox, VLC Player, and Leafpad:

sudo pacman -S firefox vlc leafpad

Customize GNOME Desktop Environment with GNOME Tweak Tool

To customize the GNOME desktop environment, install the GNOME Tweaks application.

1. To install GNOME Tweaks, run the following command:

sudo pacman -S gnome-tweaks

Installing the GNOME Tweaks Tool

2. Open the Tweaks application to start setting up your version of GNOME.

Change Background and Lock Screen Wallpaper

1. Under the Appearance tab, find the Background and Lock Screen sections:

Background and lock screen image options

2. Click the Image button to open the image selection window:

Click the Image button to open the background select window

3. Once you select the image you want to use, click Open to confirm:

Selecn an image and click Open to confirm

4. Use the Adjustment dropdown menu to select the way you want the new background to fit:

Set up the background fit in the Adjustment menu

Disable Animations

Navigate to the General tab to turn the animations on or off by using the toggle on the right-hand side:

Turn animations on and off in the General tab

Customize Fonts

1. Use the Fonts tab to select which fonts are used for the interface, documents, monospace text, and legacy window titles.

Select system fonts

2. You can also change hinting and antialiasing settings.

Change hinting and antialiasing settings

3. Finally, scale on-screen text up and down using the Scaling Factor setting.

Scale text size up or down

Add Applications to the Startup

1. The Startup Applications tab lets you set up applications that start on system boot by clicking the + button:

Use the + button to add a new application to the startup

2. Select the application you want to add from the list and click Add to confirm.

Select an application and click Add

Enable Dark Theme

Under the Appearance tab, open the Applications dropdown menu in the Themes section. Select the Adwaita-dark option to switch to the dark theme.

Select Adwaita-dark to enable the dark theme

Enable Extensions

Switch GNOME extensions on or off under the Extensions tab.

Turn GNOME extensions on or off

Add new extensions by visiting the GNOME extensions website.

Conclusion

After following this tutorial, you should have a fully set-up and customized copy of Arch Linux using the GNOME display manager.

Aleksandar Kovačević
Aleksandar Kovacevic is an aspiring Technical Writer at phoenixNAP. With a background in both design and writing, he aims to bring a fresh perspective to writing for IT, making complicated concepts easy to understand and approach.
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