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documentation.suse.com / SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Documentation / GNOME User Guide / Introduction / Customizing Your Settings
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP2

3 Customizing Your Settings

You can change the way the GNOME desktop looks and behaves to suit your own personal tastes and needs. Some possible changes of settings are:

These settings and others can be changed in the GNOME Settings dialog. It focuses on look and feel, personal settings and preferences of your GNOME desktop.

To change some system-wide settings, you need to use YaST instead. This is the case for administrator settings (including most of the hardware, the graphical user interface, Internet access, security settings, user administration, software installation and system updates and information). For information about using YaST, refer to the integrated YaST help texts or to the Deployment Guide.

To access the GNOME settings dialog, right-click the desktop and choose Settings.

3.1 Changing the Desktop Background

The desktop background is the image or color that is applied to your desktop. You can also customize the image shown when the screen is locked.

To change the desktop background or the lock screen:

  1. Right-click the desktop and choose Change Background.

  2. Select one of the wallpapers (preconfigured images distributed with your system) and choose either Set Background and Lock Screen>, Set Background, or Set Lock Screen.

  3. Alternatively, click Add Pictures to select an image from your Pictures directory (~/Pictures) or from another location in your file system. After adding it, you choose to set it as background, as lock screen, or for both as described above.

3.2 Configuring Language Settings

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server can be configured to use any of several languages. The language setting determines the language of dialogs and menus and can also determine the keyboard and clock layout.

To configure your language settings right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Region & Language.

Here you can choose:

  • Language. Choose a language from the list. To make the change take effect, you will be prompted to Restart the desktop session. To do so, you must log out of your session and log back in afterwards.

  • Formats: To change the formats for date, number, currency and related options, choose a country from the list. To make the change take effect, you must log out of your session and log back in afterwards.

  • Input sources (keyboard layout). Change your keyboard layout here or add another one. If you use more than one keyboard layout, you can switch keyboards by clicking the language code in the Activities Bar.

Note: Settings Made Using ibus-setup Do Not Take Effect

On GNOME, settings made using ibus-setup do not take effect. ibus-setup can only be used to configure IceWM. Instead, always use the Settings application:

  • To change input methods, use Region & Language.

  • To change the key combination that switches between input methods, use Devices › Keyboard Shortcuts. In there, choose the category Typing and the entry Switch to next input source.

3.3 Configuring the Keyboard

Refer to Section 4.4, “Keyboard and Mouse” for additional settings, such as key autorepetition and cursor blink rate, and accessibility features. To configure your keyboard layout, refer to Section 3.2, “Configuring Language Settings”.

To modify keyboard shortcuts, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Devices › Keyboard Shortcuts.

Keyboard Shortcut Dialog
Figure 3.1: Keyboard Shortcut Dialog

This dialog shows the keyboard shortcuts that are configured for your system. To edit a key combination, click the entry that you would like to change. To set a new key combination, press the respective keys. To disable a shortcut, press <— instead.

3.4 Using XCompose to Type Special Characters

GNOME supports fast input source (keyboard layout) switching (Section 3.2, “Configuring Language Settings”). However, if you are using xmodmap to create custom keymaps, it may not work correctly when you switch between multiple input sources. For example, you have two input sources, English and German. Your xmodmap commands work fine in the first input source you select, but when you switch to the second input source the same xmodmap commands produce incorrect output. xmodmap is an older protocol and does not have a full view of the keyboard layout, so in more complex situations it causes errors.

An alternative method is to use xcompose to assign special symbols to sequences of key presses. This should work with any input source. Install xcompose by installing the libX11-devel package.

Next, assign a compose key with the Tweaks tool in Activities. You will press this key in sequence with one or two additional keys to print a special character. The keys must be pressed in the correct sequence, starting with the compose key.

In the Tweaks tool, navigate to Keyboard & Mouse › Compose Key and select your command key (Figure 3.2, “Enabling the Compose Key in Tweaks”).

Enabling the Compose Key in Tweaks
Figure 3.2: Enabling the Compose Key in Tweaks

Next, create a ~/.XCompose file. This is the default per-user configuration file. Enter your keymappings in this file, like in this example:

include "%L"

<Multi_key> <a> : "α"
<Multi_key> <b> : "β"
<Multi_key> <exclam>  : "¡"

include "%L" includes the default compose file for your locale, for example /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8.

The remaining lines specify the compose key, the other keypresses, and the symbols they are intended to print. After you make changes to your compose file, you must log out of your session and log back in to activate the changes.

Your key assignments are case-sensitive. ~/.XCompose overrides the system files. Use the compose file for your locale to see what is already configured, and to copy symbols from it into your personal compose file. (These files may have a lot of whitespace at the beginning; they are not empty so keep scrolling.) As always, watch out for conflicts with the other keymaps on your system.

For additional information see man xcompose.

3.5 Configuring Bluetooth Settings

The Bluetooth module lets you set the visibility of your machine over Bluetooth and connect to available Bluetooth devices. To configure Bluetooth connectivity, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Bluetooth.

  2. To use Bluetooth, turn the Bluetooth switch on.

  3. To make your computer visible over Bluetooth, turn the Visibility switch on. The computer will start searching for other visible Bluetooth devices in the vicinity and display any found devices in the Devices list. At first, the list may be empty.

    Note: Temporary Visibility

    The Visibility switch is meant to be used only temporarily. You only need to turn it on for the initial setup of a connection to a Bluetooth device. After the connection has been established, turn off the switch.

  4. On the device you want to connect, turn on Bluetooth connectivity and visibility, too.

  5. If the desired device has been found and is shown in the list, click it to establish a connection to it.

    You will be asked whether the PINs of the two devices match.

  6. If the PINs match, confirm this on both your computer and the device.

    The pairing is now established. On your computer, the device in the list is shown as Connected.

    Depending on the device type, it will now be available in other applications, for example as a storage device in GNOME Files, or a sound device in playback applications.

To connect to a paired Bluetooth device, select the device in the list. In the dialog that appears, turn the Connection switch on. You can send files to the connected device by using the Send Files button. If you are connected to a device such as a mobile phone, you can use it as a network device by activating the appropriate option.

To remove a connected device from the list on your computer, click Remove Device and confirm your choice. To completely remove the pairing, you also need to do so on your device.

3.6 Configuring Power Settings

Settings available in this dialog depend on your hardware. In the following we describe options that are typically available when using a laptop. On a workstation, many of the described options are not available.

  1. Right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Power.

  2. In the Power Saving section of the dialog, set after how many minutes to blank the screen (or to not blank it at all).

  3. In the Suspend and Power Button section of the dialog, configure a time after which the computer is set to do an Automatic Suspend.

3.7 Configuring the Mouse and Touchpad

To modify mouse and touchpad options, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Devices › Mouse & Touchpad.

Mouse and Touchpad Settings Dialog
Figure 3.3: Mouse and Touchpad Settings Dialog
  • In the General section of the dialog, you can set the Primary button orientation (left or right).

  • In the Mouse section of the dialog, use Mouse Speed to adjust the sensitivity of the mouse pointer. With Natural Scrolling you can set the direction in which the content moves, when scrolling with the mouse. When natural scrolling is turned off, the content moves up when pushing the scroll wheel down. When natural scrolling is turned on, the content moves in the same direction as the mouse wheel.

  • In the Touchpad section of the dialog, you can turn the touchpad on and off. Use Touchpad Speed to adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad pointer. You can also disable the touchpad while typing and enable clicks by tapping the touchpad.

    With Natural Scrolling you can set the direction in which the content moves, when scrolling with two fingers. When natural scrolling is turned on, the content moves in the same directions as your fingers. When natural scrolling is turned off, the content moves in the opposite direction.

  • To test your settings, click Test Your Settings and try the pointing device.

For configuration of mouse accessibility options, refer to the Section 4.4, “Keyboard and Mouse”.

3.8 Installing and Configuring Printers

The Printers dialog lets you connect to any available local or remote CUPS server and configure printers.

To start the Printers module, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Devices › Printers. For detailed information, refer to Chapter 6, Managing Printers.

3.9 Configuring Screens

To specify resolution and orientation for your screen or to configure multiple screens, right-click the desktop and choose Display Settings. The configuration options available in this dialog depend on whether you have a single or a multiple monitor setup.

3.9.1 Changing Settings: Single Monitor Setup

Single Monitor Settings Dialog
Figure 3.4: Single Monitor Settings Dialog

If you use a monitor which can change its orientation, you need to adjust the display before turning the monitor. Use Orientation to do this. Choose the orientation your monitor supports, close the selection box and click Apply. You have 20 seconds to Revert Settings, otherwise they will automatically be applied.


To change the screen resolution, click Resolution. Choose a new value, close the selection box and click Apply. You have 20 seconds to Revert Settings, otherwise they will automatically be applied.

Night Light

If you are working in a dark environment, your eyes can easily be strained by the monitor. To prevent this, change the screen's color palette to a warmer tone by turning on Night Light. Under Schedule you can automate this setting by specifying at which time Night Light should be turned on and off.

3.9.2 Changing Settings: Multiple Monitor Setup

Single Monitor Settings Dialog
Figure 3.5: Single Monitor Settings Dialog

In case you have a multiple monitor setup, identify each monitor by the number displayed in its upper left corner.

Display Mode

Choose how to use the monitors. With Join Displays you get a single desktop that stretches across all monitors. Mirror displays the same content on each monitor. Single Display deactivates all monitors but the one chosen.

Display Arrangement

Drag and Drop the monitor pictograms to order them so they match your physical setup. This is especially important when using joint displays, to ensure you can move from monitor to monitor in the correct order. You can also set the primary display here. This is the display that shows GNOME's activity bar.

Monitor Configuration

To configure orientation and resolution for each monitor, select a monitor by clicking its pictogram or its tab. For further instructions refer to Section 3.9.1, “Changing Settings: Single Monitor Setup”.

3.10 Configuring Sound Settings

The Sound tool lets you manage sound devices. In the top part of the dialog, you can select the general output volume or turn the sound off completely.

To open the sound settings, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Sound.

Configuring Sound Settings
Figure 3.6: Configuring Sound Settings

Use the Output category to select the device for sound output. Below the list, choose the sound device setting you prefer, for example balance.

Use the Input category to set the input device volume or to mute the input temporarily. If you have more than one sound device, you can also select a default device for audio input in the Sound input list.

Choose an Alert Sound.

3.11 Setting Default Applications

  1. To change the default application for various common tasks such as browsing the Internet, sending mails or playing multimedia files, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Details › Default Applications.

    Default Applications
    Figure 3.7: Default Applications
  2. You can choose an application to handle Web, mail, calendar, music, videos or photographs. Select one of the available applications from the drop-down boxes for the task of your choice.

3.12 Setting Session Sharing Preferences

To open a configuration dialog for allowing remote logins via ssh, right-click the desktop and choose Settings. Now choose Sharing.

Before you can share anything, you need to turn on the switch in the upper part of the dialog. The switch also helps you if you quickly need to disable all sharing options.

To enable logging in via SSH, click Remote Login.