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Fedora 15 includes GNOME 3. It brings the first major overhaul of the GNOME user experience in 10 years. As with the GNOME 2.0 platform, the GNOME 3.0 release is the starting point and several enhancements are planned for upcoming revisions.

Many of the following notes are reproduced in the online help for GNOME 3. To start the help application, move your mouse to the Activities hotspot at the upper left. Then type "help" to find the application, or choose Applications and locate Help in the menu.


The new GNOME Shell is a new way for users to interact with their systems and be productive. The shell features a completely redesigned interface and tools for elegance and ease of use:

  • A top bar that provides immediate access to settings, calendar, and major hardware
  • An Activities hot corner on the top left provides easy access to all applications and searching, as well as a dock for favorite apps
  • Notification improvements, such as messaging support without having to switch context to another application
  • Access throughout the shell for keyboard-centric as well as point-and-click users
  • A control panel that integrates system and personal settings in one location
  • Many other improvements; complete information is available at and

The following wiki pages describe the major changes and explain different workflows.

The new GNOME 3 user experience requires a video card capable of 3D acceleration. Fedora 15 supports the widest possible range of these cards through free software drivers, including the nouveau driver for NVidia graphics cards, the radeon driver for AMD graphics cards, and the intel driver for Intel graphics cards. In situations where properly supported 3D acceleration is not detected, GNOME 3 offers a fallback mode that models the GNOME Shell behavior. 3D support in Nouveau is now available by default, and the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package no longer needs to be installed.

How do I find applications?

Go to the top left corner to activate the hotspot and then click on Applications. Alternatively, click on the Super key (also known as the Windows key) or Alt+F1, and start typing the name of the application or a related term.

How do I change settings?

Click on the user menu at the top right and select System Settings. For more advanced preferences, install the gnome-tweak-tool package.

How do I shutdown/power off or restart the system?

Hold down the Alt key and click on the user menu. The Suspend menu item at the end of the menu will change into Power Off.... While holding down the Alt key, click on that item. You will get options to shutdown or restart the system .

How do I change the behavior on laptop lid close?

The default behavior when a laptop lid closes is for the system to suspend. This default can be changed (and made different depending whether the system is running on battery or mains power, if desired) using gnome-tweak-tool.

You can also use one of the following commands:

  • gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power lid-close-ac-action "blank"
  • gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power lid-close-battery-action "blank"

How do I maximize or minimize windows?

Owen Taylor from Red Hat, one of the primary developers of GNOME Shell, explains the rationale here for removing these buttons by default. Minimize and maximize are still available on the context menu if you right click on the window title or hit Alt+Space. You can also maximize by double clicking on the window title, or dragging the window over the top edge of the desktop. If you want to configure button appearance, use gnome-tweak-tool.

Is there any way to tile windows?

You can tile windows by dragging them against the left or right side of the desktop. The window is automatically sized to take up that half of your desktop.

How do I make the panel display the full date/time?

Use gnome-tweak-tool or use either or both of the following commands:

  • gsettings set show-date true
  • gsettings set show-seconds true

What happened to applets?

Traditional GNOME panel applets are not supported in gnome-shell as explained here. The general design of GNOME 3 puts more emphasis on full applications, instead of squeezing too much into a small strip or space at the edge of your screen. There are, however, people working on an extension mechanism for the shell, similar to Firefox extensions. The code lives in this git repository. We don't expect this to be available in polished or packaged form for GNOME 3.0, though.

Any existing applets that have been adapted to use the new libpanel-applet will be available in fallback mode. However, fallback is not considered the default mode of operation and will not be actively developed in the future. For more information on applets and transitioning to gnome-shell, see this GNOME wiki page.

Some applets support a -w switch that allows them to run in a dedicated window if needed.

How is multi-monitor support?

Great! Refer to this blog post for more details.

What about themes?

GNOME Shell does not support theming by default. There are extensions that support themes via CSS, however. Themes can be changed system-wide or per user. As an example, a reference for a theme is provided below and instructions on using them:

Advanced users:

For system-wide theme changes, you can use this third-party tool. For per-user changes, a GNOME Shell extension is available. If the extension is installed, you can use gnome-tweak-tool to change the themes.

What about hardware/drivers without acceleration support?

For such users, GNOME offers a fallback mode that uses Metacity and GNOME Panel, and works without any hardware acceleration. Fallback mode is automatically activated if GNOME Shell cannot be started. Note that fallback mode is not the same user experience as GNOME 2.x. It follows the user experience of GNOME Shell as much as possible. Adam Jackson from Red Hat has been working on making GNOME Shell work just using software acceleration and made some progress already.

Does GNOME Shell work under a virtual machine?

It your virtualization solution supports hardware acceleration, then yes. Otherwise it would automatically use fallback mode.

How can I force fallback mode?

Click on the user menu on the top right, Select System Settings -> System Info -> Graphics and toggle the Forced Fallback Mode switch to on.

What happened to the Fedora 14-vintage GNOME shell design?

It was an experiment that was part of the iterative design and learning process leading to the final GNOME 3 design. The code has developed beyond that design to make the GNOME Shell more usable.

Where is the desktop?

The desktop workspace no longer displays the contents of the user's ~/Desktop directory. That directory and its content are still accessible through the Files application. To access the Files application, move your mouse to the Activities hotspot, use the Super key, or use the Alt+F1 key combination to see the overview. Then type "files" or select the Application menu and choose Files. You can attach the Files application to your dash, the set of favorite applications on the left side, if desired.

How I start programs automatically when logging in?

Install gnome-session-properties and use it to configure programs to start automatically. You can also create a desktop file or copy one from /usr/share/applications to ~/.config/autostart in your home directory.

How can I turn caps lock into an additional control?

Click on the user menu on the top right. Select "System Settings"

Region and Language -> Layouts -> Options -> Ctrl key position -> Make Caps Lock an Additional Control

Screen recording

The Shell includes a built in screencast recording function. To activate recording, hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R and a recording icon appears at the lower right hand corner of the screen. To finish recording, hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R again. By default screencasts are recorded in a file named shell-YYYYMMDD-N.webm, where YYYYMMDD represents today's date and N is incremented for each additional screencast.

GSettings and dconf

GConf is a legacy system for storing application preferences used in previous versions of GNOME. It has been replaced by GSettings in GNOME 3.0, and many core programs have already migrated. Fedora 14 was the first Fedora release to include GSettings. GSettings supports multiple backends, and the default in Fedora 15 is dconf. The gsettings command line utility is the equivalent of gconftool-2 in previous releases, although gsettings is more functional since it supports automatic completion of schemas and keys at the command line. The dconf-editor provides a graphical editor for managing settings similar to gconf-editor in previous releases.

Some examples of using gsettings follows:

  gsettings COMMAND [ARGS...]

  help                      Show this information
  list-schemas              List installed schemas
  list-relocatable-schemas  List relocatable schemas
  list-keys                 List keys in a schema
  list-children             List children of a schema
  list-recursively          List keys and values, recursively
  range                     Queries the range of a key
  get                       Get the value of a key
  set                       Set the value of a key
  reset                     Reset the value of a key
  writable                  Check if a key is writable
  monitor                   Watch for changes

Use 'gsettings help COMMAND' to get detailed help.

gsettings list-schemas

 gsettings list-schemas | grep shell
gsettings list-keys

Example: Using gsettings to tweak the digital clock on the top panel to show the date and seconds

  • gsettings set show-date true
  • gsettings set show-seconds true

GTK+ 3.0

GTK+ 3.0 is also part of Fedora 15, which features numerous enhancements for application developers. Changes in the toolkit include:

  • Modernized handling of input devices
  • Improved and simplified drawing through Cairo rather than wrappers around old X11 methods
  • A new theming API with a familiar CSS syntax
  • Early stages of easier application support, such as window tracking and ensuring uniqueness


Fedora 15 features the updated KDE 4.6 Software Compilation. The Software Compilation contains three parts:

  • Plasma Workspace: What you see when you log in to KDE.
  • Applications: Applications maintained by the KDE project.
  • Platform: Software that helps the plasma workspace and applications. The platform is not directly visible to desktop users.

Plasma Workspace

  • Activities are easier to use. An activity is a number of different applications that open and close at the same time. In Fedora 15 with KDE 4.6, you can add an application to an activity by right-clicking on the window title. You can also manage activities by clicking on the Plasma Toolbox in the top-right corner of your desktop.
  • The "Power Management" panel in System Settings is easier to use. The power management program has been rewritten so that it is faster and has fewer bugs.
  • The KDE window manager, KWin, has a new scripting interface. KWin detects graphics hardware and adjusts performance to suit your computer.
  • You can "pin" open applications to the Task Manager. When you close "pinned" applications, the Task Manager will still show them.
  • The Plasma Netbook interface works better with touch-screen monitors.


  • Dolphin offers a search bar and "filter" sidebar. Now you can easily search your files with Nepomuk and "Semantic Desktop" tags.
  • Kate is available in the kdesdk package. There are many new plugins for Fedora 15:
    • GDB (GNU Debugger)
    • Add scripts to the menu
    • SQL database connection
    • Recover unsaved data if Kate crashes
  • Gwenview, KSnapshot, and other graphics applications can export photos directly to social networking websites like Facebook and Flickr.


  • The platform relies less on other software, so it uses less memory. This is useful for low-power computers like netbooks and smartphones.
  • Users can backup the Nepomuk library. Nepomuk is the file indexing and search utility.
  • UPower, UDev, and UDisks are used instead of HAL. This change does not affect users now, but there will be more features in future releases.
  • You can use the new Oxygen-GTK theme for GTK+ applications. KDE-designed and GNOME-designed applications will look the same when you log into KDE.


Sugar has been updated to the latest version 0.92 in Fedora 15. This version provides major usability improvements for the first login screen and the control panel, as well as new features such as support for 3G networks.


Fedora 15 sees the introduction of Xfce 4.8. This new release remains true to Xfce's goal of providing a fast, lightweight yet user-friendly desktop environment, while adding a range of new features and incremental improvements:

  • Remote share browsing: Thunar, Xfce's file manager, now has support for GVFS, allowing easy remote access to files and folders on Windows shares and FTP, Webdav and SSH servers;
  • New Xfce Panel with improved positioning and size handling, alpha transparency, a new item editor and drag'n'drop launcher creation;
  • New Panel plugins such as window buttons, which merges the features of the icon box and the tasklist into a single configurable plugin, and directory menu, allowing quick browsing of a folder's tree structure;
  • Easy application menu editing with any Freedesktop-compliant menu editor, such as Alacarte;
  • Improved multihead display configuration including a quick setup dialog;
  • Improved keyboard layout selection - wave goodbye to cryptic langauge/variant codes, and select the keyboard layout for your language in your language!
  • And, in the venerable tradition of Xfce releases, a new clock mode - fuzzy clock mode!