In the GNOME desktop, there is no obvious way to tell which version you’re running by way of the GUI. Instead, we need to consult the command line and try out a couple of commands to find out more. Here’s how.
Let’s open a Terminal session and do some hacking.
If you’re running GNOME 2.x (under CentOS 6 for example), you need to run the following command:
You may need to prefix this command with sudo, otherwise it will tell you that you’re alrady running a GNOME session.
Should the above not work, you’re likely on GNOME 3 (see next).
GNOME 3 uses a different command, namely this one:
If you don’t know which version of the GNOME panel you’re using (which is likely), try both commands. One of them will work, the other one won’t.
By default, CentOS 7 will display a list of all users on the system. Click on it, type in the password, and you’re in. This works well when you have a handful of users on the system.
However, on systems with a lot of users, not everyone can be displayed in that list – and scrolling up or down is impossible (and even if it was, it’s impractical at best). The solution is to replace that list with a box to type in a user, much like what would happen when you choose the “Not Listed” option.
Here’s how to do it:
From the command line, login as root and create a file called /etc/dconf/db/gdm.d/00-login-screen. By default it does not exist.
Now add the following lines to it and save the file:
# Do not show the user list
This will tell GNOME not to display the list anymore, and instead bring up a text box as shown below. For the change to take effect, we need to update GNOME with the following command:
If you’ve read my previous article about how to enable automatic logins on CentOS 6, and it sounded a little daunting, you may be pleased to hear that it’s a little easier to accomplish the same thing on CentOS 7.1.
If you’re using GNOME in a single user environment, and you’re confident that nobody else will use your system, you can enable auto-logins without the password questions like this:
Login to GNOME as usual
Find your name at the top right and click on it
Now select Settings
In the new window that opens, find Users
Click on Unlock at the top right
Select your own user and turn on Automatic Logins
You need supervisor privileges to make this change. Next time you restart your system, you’re logged in automatically.
I was researching auto login options for CentOS today. I thought those would come in handy when GNOME is used as a standard desktop, so that the computer starts straight into the desktop environment without the need to provide a password.
It’s also a handy feature to have if the machine lives in another room and needs GNOME to login to the wireless network when I issue a remote restart.
Turns out there are two parts to the puzzle: providing auto logins and removing a pesky Keyring Dialogue that appears to come up when those are enabled. Let’s tackle both of them here.
Now when you restart your system, youruser is automatically logged in when GNOME starts.
Disabling the Keyring Dialogue
However, you may experience a Keyring Dialogue which will ask for your root password every time after a restart. This isn’t much better than the login screen. This may or may not happen, depending on your current configuration:
One article I found suggested to head over to System – Preferences – Startup Applications and simply remove the Keyring Daemon from the list. Turns out this doesn’t actually make a difference, so don’t do that (although it doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect either):
– head over to the Network Connections Icon at the top of the screen
– and right-click it
– select Edit Connections…
– pick your current wireless connection and select Edit
– provide the root password (only necessary this once)
– check the tick box Available to all users
In CentOS 7, choose the little gear icon to bring up a window. You can find the available to all users tick box in the Identity section on the left hand side.
And that’s it! On subsequent logins, GNOME will now start with youruser already logged in and your wireless network connected.
Wait! My system boots into the Command Line interface, even though I have GNOME installed. What gives?
You can tell your system in which mode to start. To do this, edit your /etc/inittab file:
his suggests that a configuration file needs to be created somewhere. However I found that there’s an easier solution which – at least on the NC10 – works with just one click. I assume this will work for other latops too:
With the WiFi card on my NC10 enabled, I struggled to connect to my actual WiFi network from the command line (WPA2). After an entire day of research, trial and error I had to admit to myself that setting this up on a minimal CentOS 6 installation is simply beyond me.
Likewise, monitoring the levels of my new battery had me greatly puzzled.
But those two points aside, I also wanted to install a Desktop type environment on my NC10 so it would be more useful – now that it has a new battery and all.
As it turns out installing GNOME – almost as a side effect – will take care of both those problems in a flash: easily connecting the NC10 to my WiFi network, monitoring my battery, and so much more.
Let me show you how I did it.
My machine has a minimal CentOS 6.5 installation on it and I’ve installed the Atheros driver as explained in my previous article. I’m on a wired network connection to install the additional GNOME packages.
I didn’t know this but yum is even more magical than I always thought: not only can it install single packages and resolve their dependencies; yum can also install entire sets of packages called groups.
To see what’s available type
This will show you a huge list of available and installed groups. We’re interested in the following:
X Window System
To install all those without being asked for every group, type
Now that my NC10 is more of a laptop rather than a remote web server, I like the idea of booting into the desktop environment by default. To do this tweak a single number in /etc/inittab:
// to edit the file
// change this line
Above this line you’ll see an explanation of what each ID will do at boot time. Realistically you’ll only ever need to worry about 3 and 5. Save the file and restart your system – and upon next boot you’re prompted to create a new user, or login with existing credentials.
Change it back anytime you like.
NC10 – meet GNOME
I had looked at GNOME many years ago on an old and long retired slow Sony Vaio laptop – and was surprised how relatively slick it runs on the NC10’s underpowered hardware.
To my surprise things like the integrated Samsung Function keys for screen backlight and volume were working out of the box without the need for additional drivers or patches! Just like the touchpad – it just works. Same with monitoring my battery level.
Bravo, CentOS! Here’s what the NC10 looks like running GNOME:
Connecting to your WiFi Network
GNOME isn’t all that different from other desktop OSes and reminds me of Windows and Mac OS X. You connect to your local network simply by clicking the “antenna” type symbol at the top of the screen, pick your network from the list and enter the password.
If you’ve ticked the relevant box, you’ll be connected automatically on subsequent logins.
Why CentOS on the NC10? Why not use Windows?
My NC10 came with Windows XP back in 2009 when I first bought it – because Vista was such a joke and nobody wanted it.
Later models of the NC10 came with Windows 7, but 2GB of RAM are highly recommended – and mine only has 1 GB. “Recommended” doesn’t mean that the experience is going to be great though. Windows 8 isn’t even an option on the NC10.
But more importantly, XP is has ended extended support in April 2014 – and Windows 7 is going to exit mainstream support in January 2015. At the time of writing that’s in 6 months.
CentOS 6 will be around until 2020 and copes extremely well with the NC10’s hardware.
I’m confused: X11, GNOME, KDE… what’s all this?
You and me both, brother! As I understand it, GNOME and KDE are both desktop systems that show you a graphical user interface (GUI) – much like Windows and Mac OS X. They both look slightly different and are developed by different teams.
X11 is the actual engine that allows apps to interact with content in windows. This wasn’t always the case, especially in the early age of computers which were text and column based. X11 is a breakthrough and allows for processing to happen on a remote machine, while graphics are rendered on the local system.
As with many things in Linux, you have a choice of which GUI you’d like to run: GNOME or KDE. You can even install both on your system and boot into the one you fancy:
Or, from GNOME, head over to System – Administration – Add/Remove Software and search for KDE, then install it from there.
Once the install is complete, log out (top right) and log back in, selecting your desired interface from the drop down at the bottom. Here’s what it looks like on the NC10:
Both systems get the job done and it really comes down to personal preferences and needs.
GNOME is a more “barebones”, while KDE contains accessories like a calculator, games, different web browser and a whole lot of other stuff by default.
I found that on the NC10 I much prefer GNOME over KDE – perhaps because GNOME reminds me of Mac and KDE of Windows. As I said, it’s really about personal taste.