Customizing Gnome in Arch Linux on a PineBook Pro

In a previous blog post, I showed how to install Arch Linux on a PineBook Pro.

In this blog post, I’m showing how I customize Gnome on that installation.

First, Gnome 43 has “Gnome Console” as the default terminal application. I wouldn’t say I like it since it’s too basic. So I install the traditional “Gnome Terminal”:

Then, I set “Ctrl+Alt+T” as a shortcut for opening the terminal:

Then, I install an AUR helper. I like “yay,” so I first installed the needed dependencies:

And then

I install, by using “yay”, the helper the “Gnome Browser Connector” to install Gnome extensions from Firefox (Some extensions are already installed by default as system extensions. You can use the “Extensions” application to enable/disable extensions):

Now I can navigate to and install and enable a few extensions (you also need to install the Firefox extension add-on when asked). For example, “AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Support” and “X11 Gestures”.

The last extension helps enable Touchpad gestures in the X11 session (Gnome Wayland already provides touchpad gestures, but I prefer to use the X11 session). This extension relies on “touchegg” that must be installed. For ARM, we need to install the AUR package:

You will get this warning, but proceed anyway: it compiles and works fine:

Let’s start “touchegg” and verify that gestures work

And then let’s enable it so that it automatically starts on the subsequent boots:

Let’s move on to ZSH, which I prefer as a shell:

Since I’m going to install “Oh My Zsh” and other Zsh plugins, I install these fonts (remember from the previous post that I had already installed “noto-fonts” and “noto-fonts-emoji”) and finder tool (“curl” is required for the installation of “Oh My Zsh”):

Let’s install “Oh My Zsh” by running the following command as documented on its website:

When asked, I agreed to change my default shell to Zsh. In the end, we should see the prompt changed to the default one of “Oh My Zsh”:

I then install some external plugins:

And I enable them by editing the ~/.zshrc, in particular, the “plugins” line (I also enable other plugins that are part of the OMZ distribution):

Once saved, you have to start a new terminal with zsh to see the plugins in action (remember that, until you log out and log in, the default shell is still BASH, so you might have to run “zsh” manually to switch to ZSH in the currently logged session).

Besides the syntax highlighting for commands, you have completion after “cd” (press TAB), excellent command history (with Ctrl+R), suggestions, etc.

Let’s switch to the “Starship” prompt. Let’s run the documented installation program:

Now, let’s edit the ~/.zshrc file again; we comment out the line starting with “ZSH_THEME,” and we add to the end of the file:

Opening another ZSH shell, we should see the fantastic Starship prompt in action, e.g.,

To quickly search for file names from the command line, I install “locate”, enable its periodic indexing and run the indexing once the first time (if you’re on a BTRFS file system, you might want to have a look at this older post of mine):

Then, you should be able to look for files with the command “locate” quickly.

Gnome uses “Tracker” (in the current version, the command is “tracker3”) for file indexing and searching, e.g., from the “Activities” view. I like it, and it quickly keeps the index up to date. However, the “tracker extract” service also indexes the file contents, and that uses too many resources, so I disable that service:

I also use the “guake” drop-down terminal a lot:

I run it once (it’s enabled by default by pressing “F12”), and I configure it to start automatically when Gnome starts (by running “Guake Preferences” -> “Start Guake at login”).

I hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

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