How to Install Elementary OS’s Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux

4 min


Pantheon is the default desktop environment for the elementary OS. This quick guide explains the steps to install the Pantheon desktop environment in Arch Linux.

Pantheon is a beautiful desktop environment and used by the elementary OS. It is based on GTK3 and Vala and is a nice and clean desktop that provides you a refined experience of a Linux desktop. The desktop is primarily used by the elementary OS. Elementary OS provides a modified version of Pantheon desktop which is based upon GNOME software base.

The elementary OS is based on the Ubuntu LTS release, hence it super easy to install Pantheon desktop in ubuntu-based distributions. That means if you want to experience Pantheon, without installing elementary OS – it’s just one or two commands to install it in Ubuntu.

But, installing Pantheon in Arch Linux requires some work. It is not straightforward with a simple pacman command and won’t work out-of-the-box at all. Some configuration is required and might break your system.

Here I give you the guideline and steps to install Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux.

Warning: Things may not go well the first time, so I would suggest you do it in a virtual machine first, before installing it in a physical system. Because, installing Pantheon in Arch is not as streamlined as installing GNOME, Xfce, KDE Plasma desktop in Arch Linux. It requires some additional manual configuration as well.

Here are the steps to install Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux.

Install Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux

Step 1: Install Base System

Make sure you install the Arch Linux base system by following this guide. If you’re already running an Arch installation, you can skip this step and follow the next step.

Step 2: Update Your System

Open a terminal in your Arch installation. And make sure the system is up to date by running the below command:

pacman -Syu

Step 3: Instal yay AUR Helper

Many packages that are required for Pantheon, not available in the Arch official repository. They are available in Arch User Repo (AUR), hence you need to install yay for additional packages. Follow this guide to install yay AUR helper.

Step 4: Install Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux

Install the following packages using the below command. These are required packages available in the Arch official repository consisting of all necessary components, wingpanel, icons, and wallpapers.

  • pantheon
  • lightdm-pantheon-greeter
  • sound-theme-elementary
  • switchboard
  • lightdm-gtk-greeter
  • elementary-icon-theme
  • elementary-wallpapers
  • pantheon-applications-menu
  • wingpanel-indicator-session
  • wingpanel-indicator-datetime
pacman -S --needed pantheon lightdm-pantheon-greeter sound-theme-elementary switchboard lightdm-gtk-greeter elementary-icon-theme elementary-wallpapers pantheon-applications-menu wingpanel-indicator-session wingpanel-indicator-datetime

Install the following packages from the user repository. These are some additional packages that are not available in the Arch official repository. And these might take some time to install.

  • pantheon-session-git
  • gnome-settings-daemon-elementary
  • pantheon-default-settings
  • switchboard-plug-pantheon-tweaks-git
  • urutau-icons-git
  • pantheon-dock-git
yay -S pantheon-session-git gnome-settings-daemon-elementary pantheon-default-settings switchboard-plug-pantheon-tweaks-git urutau-icons-git pantheon-dock-git

The next step is to install the display server and manager. Use lightdm as the display manager for Pantheon in Arch. I tried using other display managers with Pantheon but that didn’t end well.

pacman -S --needed xorg lightdm

Step 5: Configure

The default greeter needs some modifications. Run the below command to check the available sessions.

ls -1 /usr/share/xgreeters
greeters list
greeters list

Open the lightdm configuration file and change the greeter-session to io.elementary.greeter.

sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
greeter-session = io.elementary.greeter

Save and close the file (CTRL+W and CTRL+O).

lightdm conf
lightdm conf

Enable the display manager and network manager in systemd.

systemctl enable lightdm
systemctl enable NetworkManager

Reboot the system.

systemctl reboot

If all went well, you should be seeing the following login screen (I know, it doesn’t look cool at all, anyways). Change the session from the top dropdown and login with the username and password.

Login screen - Pantheon in Arch
Login screen – Pantheon in Arch

Step 6: Post Install Configuration

When I first logged-in to my test system, honestly many things didn’t work. Here’s a list of items and their possible solutions.

SEE ALSO:   Elementary OS Juno Released! Here’s What’s New

a) Wallpaper: The wallpaper module seems not working at all. So, there was no wallpaper by default. Even the “Change Wallpaper” option is not opening. If you face this, install dconf editor and change the wallpaper via the below steps.

pacman -S --needed dconf-editor

Then Launch the dconf editor from the menu. Navigate to "org > gnome > desktop > background > picture-uri". Turn off the default value and add the custom value file:////usr/share/wallpapers/elementary/Ashim DSilva.jpg. You can use any other image as well. Save and close.

Wallpaper change via dconf editor
Wallpaper change via dconf editor

b) Icons: Change the icons via Settings > Tweaks. Then change the icon and cursors to urutau-icons.

After all the configurations and installation, you should be all set with the Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux. Here’s a screenshot of my test machine.

Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux
Pantheon Desktop in Arch Linux

Closing Notes

I hope this guide helps you eventually install the Pantheon desktop in Arch Linux. It took me a couple of days to finally able to fit the pieces together and make them work. Although some small features are still not working as of now, still a workable Pantheon desktop. I will fix them and update them here. The only thing that surprises me is the performance of Pantheon in Arch. In my same test machine, the elementary OS installation is not that fast. But the Pantheon base is faster in Arch than a vanilla elementary OS. However, if you would like Pantheon, give it a go.

If you face any error, let me know using the comment box below.


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Arindam

Creator of debugpoint.com. All time Linux user and open-source supporter. Connect with me via Telegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or send us an email.
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