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GNOME (wikipedia:en:GNOME) is available as a module (and also especially as a module for services.xserver.desktopManager).

GNOME (/(ɡ)noʊm/) is a desktop environment that aims to be simple and easy to use. It is designed by The GNOME Project and is composed entirely of free and open-source software. GNOME is a part of the GNU Project.


To use GNOME, add this to your configuration.nix:

services.xserver.enable = true;
services.xserver.displayManager.gdm.enable = true;
services.xserver.desktopManager.gnome.enable = true;

Excluding some GNOME applications from the default install

Not all applications that come pre-installed with the GNOME desktop environment are desirable for everyone to have on their machines. There's a way to edit configuration.nix to exclude these kinds of packages, for example as follows:

environment.gnome.excludePackages = (with pkgs; [
]) ++ (with pkgs.gnome; [
  cheese # webcam tool
  gedit # text editor
  epiphany # web browser
  geary # email reader
  evince # document viewer
  totem # video player
  tali # poker game
  iagno # go game
  hitori # sudoku game
  atomix # puzzle game


Managing extensions

GNOME extensions are managed and configured by the program "Extension" that comes with GNOME.

Extensions to be installed system-wide by adding them to NixOS configuration in environment.systemPackages or per-user, or from the GNOME extensions website using a Web browser extension.

Dark mode

Change default color theme for all GTK4 applications to dark using Home Manager. Change myuser to the user you want to apply the configuration to.

home-manager.users.myuser = {
  dconf = {
    enable = true;
    settings."org/gnome/desktop/interface".color-scheme = "prefer-dark";

Tips and tricks

Running GNOME programs outside of GNOME

While we are packaging GNOME platform-based applications to be largely self-contained, they still depend, for one reason or another, on some global configuration. The gnome.nix module sets all the necessary options for you but if you are running customized set-up, you might need to replicate that yourself.

For instance, if you see the following error:

 dconf-WARNING **: failed to commit changes to dconf: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.ServiceUnknown: The name ca.desrt.dconf was not provided by any .service files

you should enable dconf module:

programs.dconf.enable = true;

Many applications rely heavily on having an icon theme available, GNOME’s Adwaita is a good choice but most recent icon themes should work as well.

environment.systemPackages = [ gnome.adwaita-icon-theme ];

Systray Icons

To get systray icons, install the related gnome shell extension

environment.systemPackages = with pkgs; [ gnomeExtensions.appindicator ];

And ensure gnome-settings-daemon udev rules are enabled :

services.udev.packages = with pkgs; [ gnome.gnome-settings-daemon ];

Running ancient applications

Long ago, in the GNOME 2 era, applications used GConf service to store configuration. This has been deprecated for many years but some applications were abandoned before they managed to upgrade to a newer dconf system. If you are running such application and getting an error like:

GLib.GException: Failed to contact configuration server; the most common cause is a missing or misconfigured D-Bus session bus daemon. See for information

you need to add gnome2.GConf to the list of dbus packages in your configuration.nix:

services.dbus.packages = with pkgs; [ gnome2.GConf ];

After applying the update one also has restart their desktop session to refresh the user-specific dbus session.

Dynamic triple buffering

Big merge request against Mutter improves the performance of the window manager by a lot (and is already used by Ubuntu). Not merged into nixpkgs due to philosophy of nixpkgs, but users are free to add this overlay to get it too.

Currently it's adapted for Gnome 45.

nixpkgs.overlays = [
  (final: prev: {
    gnome = prev.gnome.overrideScope' (gnomeFinal: gnomePrev: {
      mutter = gnomePrev.mutter.overrideAttrs ( old: {
        src = pkgs.fetchgit {
          url = "";
          # GNOME 45: triple-buffering-v4-45
          rev = "0b896518b2028d9c4d6ea44806d093fd33793689";
          sha256 = "sha256-mzNy5GPlB2qkI2KEAErJQzO//uo8yO0kPQUwvGDwR4w=";
      } );

You might need to disable aliases to make it work:

nixpkgs.config.allowAliases = false;

Profiling (with sysprof)

Install sysprof as a system package (it won't work properly if installed against users). Then enable the associated service with

services.sysprof.enable = true;


Change user's profile picture

Currently there is no way to change the user's profile picture using Gnome Control Center (see this issue) and currently there is no plan to support it officially in NixOS. However, you can modify it by copying the profile picture that you want to the path /home/$USER/.face as a workaround, i.e.

$ mv /path/to/image.jpg ~/.face

automatic login

If you have enabled auto login (with GNOME) with something like

grep autoLogin /etc/nixos/configuration.nix
services.xserver.displayManager.autoLogin.enable = true;
services.xserver.displayManager.autoLogin.user = "account";

than add the following (as a workaround for a current (2023)[1] problem)

# nano /etc/nixos/configuration.nix"getty@tty1".enable = false;"autovt@tty1".enable = false;


Also see