May 20, 2018

Gnome 2.0 RC1--A Huge Step Toward World GNOMEination - page 3

A GNOME Primer

  • June 18, 2002
  • By Bill von Hagen

If the previous section and the general buzz about GNOME 2.0 on the Web has piqued your curiosity to the point where you'd simply like to see for yourself, there are as many ways to obtain and install GNOME 2.0 as you'd expect. This section provides highlights of the most accessible of these.

Before downloading and installing GNOME 2.0, remember that this is the next generation of GNOME and that it is a release candidate. As such, you will encounter bugs, and you may also no longer be able to use many of your existing GNOME 1.X applications or utilities if you install the GNOME 2.0 libraries and applications in the same directories as your existing GNOME 1.4 binaries. The GNOME 1.x and GNOME 2 libraries have different version numbers and, in some cases, names, but many of the GNOME 1.X and 2.0 applications have the same names and can therefore create a dangerously conflicting user environment if installed in the same locations. You should only install GNOME 2.0 on your daily desktop system if you know what you're doing and are comfortable enough with GNOME and building applications to back out of any problems you may encounter.

The easiest and safest way to install GNOME 2.0 RC1 is to build it yourself. With a complex environment like a desktop and the many applications and libraries that it depends on, this can be a daunting task. The best general resource for this task is Karsten Reincke's GNOME Installation Guide (GIG), which you can find at the URL This excellent site provides instructions on installing and using both GNOME 1.4.1 and GNOME 2.0 from source - you can find the link for each of these versions at the top of the page.

The GNOME 2.0 GIG provides instructions about preparing your system for compiling and installing GNOME 2.0, identifies where to download the components of GNOME 2.0 RC1, and highlights dependencies and the resulting order in which you must compile and install libraries, subsystems, and applications. The only drawback of the process described in this document is that it provides a mutually-exclusive view of installing GNOME 1.4.1 or GNOME 2.0 - the first step in the process is purging your system of all existing GNOME and GTK packages. Though the process he describes clearly works, This is appropriate for the truly wizardly, but not for more cautious and simply curious types as myself.

Malcolm Tredinnick's document "Porting applications to the GNOME 2.0 Environment", mentioned earlier in this article and available at, also provides information about obtaining and installing GNOME 2.0 RC1. It includes a similar discussion of dependencies and the implied installation sequence for GNOME 2.0.

The tremendous amount of information present in the documents at these two sites is very useful but can be overwhelming if you are simply curious about GNOME 2.0. If you are simply interested in building and experimenting with GNOME 2.0, the easiest way to do so is by using Ali Akcaagac's cvsgnome script, which you can download from

Cvsgnome is a truly impressive shell script that will automatically download and build either the stable or CVS version of GNOME 2.0 RC1 for you. Aside from the fact that the script encapsulates all of the download, dependency, and compilation steps, it also installs GNOME 2.0 RC1 and associated libraries under /usr/local, which makes it possible to have both GNOME 2.0 and GNOME 1.X installed on your system, switching between them by modifying your system's file and then modifying your .xinitrc or system X11 startup files to exec the appropriate version of gnome-session. I built GNOME 2.0 manually on one of my systems, and have used this script ever since. Building GNOME 2.0 RC1 using this script took approximately 1.5 GB on my test systems, with another 225 MB or so required for the installation, so make sure that you have a fair amount of disk space available before proceeding.

If you are interested in downloading pre-compiled packages for GNOME 2.0, you can obtain these from a variety of sources. Remember, however, that downloading and installing these packages may corrupt your existing system! One of the best sources for GNOME 2.0 is Ximian, Inc. (, from whom you can download and install GNOME 2.0 by using their Red Carpet software ( Ximian is focused on the commercial support and distribution of GNOME, and builds nightly snapshots of GNOME 2.0 that you can easily download and install using Red Carpet after subscribing to their "GNOME 2.0 Developer Snapshot" channel.

If you're running Red Hat 7.2 or 7.3, Havoc Pennington provides sets of GNOME 2.0 RC1 RPMs at the URL These are provided as a public service, are totally unsupported by Red Hat or Havoc himself, and are are accompanied by a README file that explains a significant number of caveats that you should be aware of before downloading and installing these packages (which install GNOME 2.0 in the same directories used by GNOME 1.x applications on Red Hat systems).

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