install gnome on arch linux 1

How to Install GNOME on Arch Linux

Arch Linux is known for being lightweight and fast. Although not everyone appreciates the command line environment, It is perfect for machines with low hardware specifications. In this article we will discuss how to install GNOME on Arch Linux.


GNOME is one of the most polished and widely used GUI solutions, not only for Arch Linux but also for other Linux distributions. With GNOME, users have several options for their desktop appearance. For our example, we’ll be going with GNOME on Xorg, this will run GNOME Shell on Xorg.

GNOME is a favored desktop environment that is a default for some top-ranking desktop-based Linux distros such as Fedora and Ubuntu. Essentially all distributions offer a GNOME GUI option.

The GNOME desktop is one of the many user-friendly and stable desktops available today; thus, it is popular with regular and advanced users. GNOME is the choice If you prefer a desktop that stays unnoticed while you do your tasks. It does not get in your way while working. Despite many controversies that GNOME 3 is quite slow and heavy on resources, it is still one of many’s most favored desktop environments.


  • Arch Linux is already installed and configured.
  • Internet connection.
  • A regular user account with sudo privilege.
  • Access to a Root account or a sudo privileged user account.
  • About 4000 MB of free space
  • About 1 GB of RAM
  • About 1 GHz CPU power

How to Install GNOME on Arch Linux

Update Arch Linux

The first thing we want to do before installing GNOME on Arch Linux is to update our Linux system. Use the command below to do that.


$ pacman -Syu

This is what you will see upon running the command above. As you may have noticed, the letter Y is capitalized, meaning Y is the default. You may press “enter” without typing in the letter y, which will proceed with the update.


This is what you will get once the update is completed.

Install the Xorg Package on Arch Linux

Next, we will need to install Xorg, and to do that, you may use the command below.


$ pacman -S xorg xorg-server

As you can see in the screenshot above, upon running the command, it will prompt you to enter a selection. You may press “enter” to select the default, which means all. Also, you may be prompted again if you proceed with the installation. You can simply hit “enter” again to select “yes” and proceed.


This is what it looks like once the Xorg installation has been completed.

Configure Time and Date

Find your Time Zone

The next thing we want to do is configure the time and date. To do that, we first need to determine the time zone we will use. For our example, we’ll use the time zone Asia/Hong Kong. Use the command below to find the time zone you prefer.


$ timedatectl list-timezones
install gnome on arch linux

Upon entering the command above, the screenshot below is what you will see. You will simply need to use the arrow keys to go up or down to find your time zone.

time zone

Set the Time Zone

Once you’ve found the correct time zone, note it since we will need it for the next command, which is to set the time zone. Use the command below to set your time zone.


$ timedatectl set-timezone <your time zone>


$ timedatectl set-timezone Asia/Hong_Kong
hong kong

Enable systemd-timesyncd

After you set the time zone, the next thing we need to do is to enable systemd-timesyncd. Use the command below to enable systemd-timesyncd.


$ systemctl enable systemd-timesyncd
install gnome on arch linux

Install Video Driver

Since, for this example, we are using an Intel GPU, we will be using the command below. This command is also what you will need to use if you use an AMD GPU.


$ pacman -S mesa
install gnome on arch linux

Install the GNOME Package on Arch Linux

Finally, we are ready to install GNOME on our Arch Linux operating system. Use the command below to initiate the installation for GNOME.


$ pacman -S gnome

Upon entering the command above to install GNOME, you will be asked to enter a selection or a number. For our example, we will be selecting the default options then you will be asked to enter Y to proceed. Just like what you see in the screenshot below.


The screenshot below is what you will get upon proceeding with the installation.


Here is what you will see upon completion of the installation.

Enable GDM then Reboot

After installing GNOME, we must enable GDM (GNOME Display Manager). Use the command below to do it. After enabling GDM, the next thing to do is to reboot your system.


$ systemctl enable gdm


$ reboot
install gnome on arch linux

GNOME Login Screen on Arch Linux

Finally, after rebooting your system, you should get a login screen that looks something like the screenshot below. For our example, the regular user account that we have created is dregs. We created this user account so that Linux does not use the root account for logging in to your desktop environment.


Click on your user account to log in, you will then be prompted for your password. It should look like the screenshot below.


Once you have entered your password to log in, you will be greeted by the default GNOME desktop, which looks something like the screenshot below.

install gnome on arch linux

Set Language in Settings

Once logged in to your desktop, you will want to set your Language settings. This is to avoid problems like applications, not opening. Open Settings by clicking on the “power icon” at the top right corner of your desktop and select Settings.


In this screenshot, you can see that Language has already been set to Filipino, but if you have just installed your GNOME desktop. It most likely will show that the language is “Unspecified”. This is common in newly installed GNOME, even though you have already set up your locale from the command line.

Optional: Install GNOME Tweaks

You may want to install GNOME Tweaks as well, this is optional since the GNOME desktop will work without this. However, if you install GNOME Tweaks on your Arch Linux system, you will get more control over your GNOME desktop environment. To install GNOME Tweaks, use the command below.


$ sudo pacman -S gnome-tweaks
install gnome on arch linux

In this screenshot, you can see that we have opened the terminal from the GNOME desktop environment. Since we are logged in as a regular user and not as root, we will need to sudo our command for it to work.

install gnome on arch linux

After entering your password correctly, you will be prompted if you would like to proceed with the installation.

install gnome on arch linux

This is what you should get upon completing the installation.

Permission Error

If in case you get any problems like applications not opening due to some permission denied creating a directory error. Like what we have in the screenshot below.

install gnome on arch linux

This may be because you have not yet created a folder for your user account in the Home directory. To resolve this issue, use the commands below to create a directory for your user account. For our example, the user account name is “dregs”, so we will use the same name for our account directory in the home directory.


$ sudo mkdir <account directory name>


$ sudo mkdir dregs
install gnome on arch linux

Follow the commands in this screenshot to verify that the account folder has not yet been created. 

First, type in the command “cd /home”, then use the “ls” command to check if your user account folder is present in the home directory. If not, create the folder for your account using the “mkdir” command. Use the “ls” command to confirm that you have successfully created a folder for your account.

Next, you need to provide permission for your user account to be able to create directories in the folder that you have just created. Use the command below to provide the needed permission.


$ sudo chown -v <account name> <account folder/>


$ sudo chown -v dregs dregs/
install gnome on arch linux

This screenshot shows that ownership of the dregs/ folder has been given to the user account dregs. Restart your system for the changes to take effect.

For this tutorial, we looked at how to install GNOME on Arch Linux step by step. We discussed the other important things to configure before and after installing GNOME. We addressed some errors you may encounter after the installation as well.

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