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documentation.suse.com / A SUSE Linux Enterprise Server dokumentációja / GNOME User Guide / Introduction / Getting Started with the GNOME Desktop
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP5

1 Getting Started with the GNOME Desktop

This section describes the conventions, layout, and common tasks of the GNOME desktop as implemented in your product.

GNOME is an easy-to-use graphical interface that can be customized to meet your needs and personal preferences. This section describes the default configuration of GNOME. If you or your system administrator modify the defaults, some aspects might be different, such as appearance or key combinations.

Note: Included Session Configurations

Some versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise ship with as many as three different session configurations based on GNOME. These are GNOME, GNOME Classic, and SLE Classic. The version described here is the default configuration of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop called SLE Classic.

1.1 Logging In

In general, all users must authenticate—unless Auto Login is enabled for a specific user. In this case, a particular user will be logged in automatically when the system starts. This can save some time, especially if a computer is used by a single person. It may impact account security. Auto Login can be enabled or disabled during installation or at any time using the YaST User and Group Management module. For more information, refer to Chapter 17, Managing Users with YaST.

If your computer is running in a network environment and you are not the only person using the machine, you are usually prompted to enter your user name and password when you start the system.

GNOME Login Screen
Figure 1.1: GNOME Login Screen
Procedure 1.1: Normal Login
  1. If your user name is listed, click it.

    If your user name is not listed, click Not listed?. Then enter your user name and click Next.

  2. Enter your password and click Sign in.

1.1.1 Switching the Session Type Before Logging In

If you want to try one of the additional GNOME session configurations or try another desktop environment, follow the steps below.

  1. On the login screen, click your user name or enter it, as you normally would.

  2. To change the session type, click the cog wheel icon. A menu appears.

    GNOME Login Screen—Session Type
    Figure 1.2: GNOME Login Screen—Session Type
  3. From the menu, select one of the entries. Depending on your configuration there may be different choices, but the default selection is as follows.


    A GNOME 3 configuration that is very close to the upstream design. It focuses on interrupting users as little as possible. However, starting applications and switching between them works differently from many other desktop operating systems. It uses a single panel at the top of the screen.

    GNOME Classic

    A GNOME 3 configuration that is designed to appeal to former users of GNOME 2. The desktop has two panels, one at the top and another at the bottom.


    A very basic desktop designed to use little resources. It can be used as a fallback, if other options do not work or are slow.

    SLE Classic (default)

    The default desktop of SUSE Linux Enterprise, designed to appeal to users of older versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise and users of Microsoft* Windows*. This desktop is a GNOME 3 configuration and uses a single panel that is placed at the bottom of the screen.

  4. Enter your password into the text box, then click Sign In.

After switching to another session type once, the chosen session will become your default session. To switch back, repeat the steps above.

1.1.2 Assistive Tools

In the top right corner, there are status icons and the assistive technologies menu. By clicking the status icons, open a menu that allows you to set the sound volume and restart or power off the machine.

1.2 Desktop Basics

The GNOME desktop appears after you first log in. It displays a panel at the bottom showing the following elements (from left to right):

Applications menu

Click Applications in the left corner to open a menu with all the installed programs. These are classified under different categories for a better overview. Sub-items open automatically when you place the mouse above them.

Click Activities Overview in the bottom part of the Applications menu to open Activities Overview where you can start programs and manage those already running.

The Activity Overview is described further in Section 1.2.1, “Activities Overview”.

Places menu

Click Places to open a menu with shortcuts to your personal directories, connected storage media, and network resources.

Task switcher

All applications currently open on the desktop (on the active workspace) appear in the middle part of the panel. You can bring these applications to the foreground by clicking their names.

Notification indicator (not always visible)

When there are notifications, for example, for new chat or e-mail messages or concerning system updates, an indicator will appear. The indicator is a blue circle with the number of available notifications displayed in the middle. Click the indicator to open the Message Tray where you can interact with all the notifications.

Workspace switcher

This menu lets you select a workspace (also called a virtual desktop) to work on. This feature can help you work with many windows. For example, you could move windows needed for one project to workspace 1 and windows needed for another project to workspace 2.

Date and time

The current day of the week and time are shown to the right from the workspace switcher. Click it to open a menu where you can access a calendar and adjust date and time settings.

Status icons

In the right corner of the panel, icons showing the current status of the network connection, sound volume and power/battery status are displayed.

Click the icons to open a menu where you can adjust sound volume, display brightness, network connection, and power settings. Click the name to display the options for logging out or for switching to another user.

The three icons in the lower part of the menu allow you to, from left to right, open the GNOME settings dialog, lock the screen, and power off or restart your computer.

GNOME Desktop—SLE Classic
Figure 1.3: GNOME Desktop—SLE Classic

1.2.1 Activities Overview

Activities Overview is a full screen mode that comprises all the ways in which you can switch from one activity to another. It shows previews of all open windows and icons for favorite and running applications. It also integrates searching and browsing functionality. Opening the Activities Overview

There are multiple ways to open the Activities Overview:

  • Open the Applications menu on the bottom panel and select Activities Overview.

  • Press Meta.

  • Forcefully move the pointer to the top left corner (the so-called hot corner). Using the Activities Overview

In the following, the most important parts of the Activities Overview are explained.


The Dash is the bar positioned on the center left. It contains favorite applications and all applications with open windows. If you move the mouse pointer over one of the icons, GNOME will display the name of the corresponding application nearby. A light glow indicates that the application is running and has at least one open window.

Right-clicking an icon opens a menu which offers different actions depending on the associated program. Using Add to Favorites, you can place the application icon permanently in Dash. To remove a program icon from Dash, select Remove from Favorites. To rearrange an icon, use the mouse to drag it to a new position.

Search box

On the top, there is a search box that you can use to find applications, settings and files in your home directory.

To search, you do not need to click the search box. You can begin typing directly after opening Activity Overview. Search starts immediately, you do not need to press Enter.

Workspace selector

On the right, there is an overview of available workspaces. To switch to the selected desktop, click the preview of it.

To move a window from one workspace to another, drag a window preview from one workspace preview to another.

1.2.2 Starting Programs

To start a program, you have several options:

  • In the bottom panel, click Applications and select the desired program from the hierarchical menu.

  • Open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta. Now click an application icon or search for an application. If you do not know the exact application name, you can search for generic category names such as image editor.

    Further information about the activities overview can be found in Section 1.2.1, “Activities Overview”.

  • If you know the exact command to start the program, you can press AltF2, enter the command into the dialog and press Enter.

    Note that the only button displayed in the window is labeled Close and will indeed close the window.

1.3 Pausing or Finishing Your Session

When you have finished using the computer, there are multiple ways to finish the session. Which one is right in a given situation depends on how long you will be away and whether you are worried about energy consumption, among other things.

  • Locking the Computer.  Pause your session, but keep the computer on. Make sure that nobody can look at or change your work while you are away on a break. Other users can log in and work in the meantime. Other users can shut down the computer, but a prompt will warn them that you are still logged in.

  • Logging Out.  Finish the current session, but leave the computer on, so other users can log in.

  • Shutting Down.  Finish the current session and turn off the computer.

  • Restarting.  Finish the current session and restart the computer. Restarting is necessary to apply some system updates.

  • Suspending the Computer.  Pause your session and put the computer in a state where it consumes a minimal amount of energy. Suspend mode can be configured to lock your screen, so nobody can look at or change your work. Waking up the computer is generally much quicker than a full computer start.

    This mode is also known as suspend-to-RAM, sleep or standby mode.

1.3.1 Locking the Screen

To lock the screen, click the status icons on the right of the main panel and click the padlock icon.

When you lock your screen, at first a curtain with a clock will appear. After some time the screen turns black. To unlock the screen, move the mouse or press a key to display the locked screen dialog. Enter your password, then press Enter to unlock the screen.

1.3.2 Logging Out or Switching Users

  1. Click the status icons on the right of the main panel to open the menu.

  2. Click your user name.

  3. Select one of the following options:

    Log Out

    Logs you out of the current session and returns you to the Login screen.

    Switch User

    Suspends your session, allowing another user to log in and use the computer.

    Account Settings

    Takes you to the user settings where you can change your password.

1.3.3 Restarting or Shutting Down the Computer

  1. Click the status icons on the right of the main panel to open the menu.

  2. Click the power off icon in the lower right part of the menu.

  3. Select one of the following options:

    Power Off

    Logs you out of the current session, then turns off the computer.


    Logs you out of the current session, then restarts the computer.

1.3.4 Suspending the Computer

  1. Click the status icons on the right of the main panel to open the menu.

  2. Hold Alt pressed. The power off icon in the lower right part of the menu turns into a pause icon. Click the pause icon.