Per-user Gnome 3 configuration

Gnome 3 just hit the official ArchLinux repos a few days ago. It’s new, it’s slick, it’s shiny… but I don’t think it’s ready for general use just yet. It seems stable enough, but there’s just a few too many things missing to make it feel like it’s complete. Anyway, running Arch means that at times one has to live with not-quite-release-ready software anyway :-)

The biggest issue I’ve come across with Gnome 3, and especially Gnome Shell and the window manager, is configuring the themes. I was pointed to a fairly good article on customising the Gnome Shell, but it suggests modifying system files which is a bad thing to do even on single-user systems. So this post should be read as an addendum to that one.

First of all install the User Theme Gnome Shell Extension. The AUR packages available pull the source from its git repo because there doesn’t seem to be any releases of the extensions just yet. When using the bleeding edge source I ran into problems with Gnome Shell crashing so I advise against using it. I’ve had success with the source tagged at 3.0.1, you can find an Arch source package for Gnome Shell User Theme that I put together based on one of the AUR packages. Build and install that, then restart Gnome Shell (Alt-F2, r, return). Then verify that the extension has been loaded by using Looking Glass.

Then create copies of the default themes using rsync:

% rsync -a /usr/share/themes/Adwaita ~/.themes
% mv ~/.themes/Adwaita ~/.themes/Adwaita2
% mkdir -p ~/.themes/Default/gnome-shell
% rsync -a /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme ~/.themes/Default/gnome-shell

Then modify the file ~/.themes/Adwaita2/index.theme so that each mention of Adwaita says Adwaita2 instead, except for the cursor theme.

Make sure gnome-tweak-tool is installed (it’s in a package with the same name). Run it and change the shell theme to Default,the windows theme to Adwaita2, and the interface gtk+ theme to Adwaita2 as well.

Now you return to the article on configuring Gnome Shell, but instead of modifying the system files modify the ones in your ~/.themes.

Leave a comment