How do I switch to gnome-shell on a Librem 5?

I want to try GNOME Shell on a Librem 5 device. I installed gnome-shell with dependencies with apt. When booting, I see GDM for a few seconds, but it is quickly replaced by the usual numeric password screen. Could someone suggest what else I need to change to login via GDM?


I am not positive hear, but I think sudo systemctl disable phosh and rebooting will get gdm to display properly.
Since Phosh doesn’t use a Login Manager, I think what is happening is that gdm is starting up and then Phosh is starting over top of it.

To be clear though, I am not sure how well gdm/GNOME will work though and you may need to re-enable and re-start Phosh if you want the phone to go back to normal. (and maybe also disable gdm)


Thank you. The phosh service disabling allowed access to GDM.

By default, GDM logins to Phosh. When the cursor is in the password field, the “:gear:” menu appears as usual in the bottom right corner. If I hide the on-screen keyboard, I can see it. The other option was “System X11 Default”, however, looping back to GDM.

I installed mutter, but it seemingly had no effect. Installation of the gnome meta package added the usual “GNOME” (which implies “GNOME on Wayland”), “GNOME Classic”, and “GNOME on Xorg” sessions to the “:gear:” menu. I am not sure what dependency helped. Only the Wayland option worked.

The result looks promising, but it inherits some tweaks from Phosh, which I do not know how to turn off or reset. The screen is scaled to 200%. I can scale it back in “Display” settings to 100% in Phosh, but not in the GNOME session. Another issue is that the windows have no title bars and cannot be dragged or closed (unless from the tasks view).

I suspect that I need to go to the Librem 5 part of the forum if I decide to discuss possible fixes.


This is the desktop gnome-shell? May I ask why you want to do this?

1 Like

I am used to GNOME Shell, so I wanted to try it instead of Phosh.

The opponents often criticised GNOME for designing the interface with an option for touch input instead of saving the screen real estate and focusing on mouse-only workflow. GNOME highlights software supporting mobile devices on their verified apps list with a special icon. So, they aim to support mobile. I wonder whether there is a plan stating just that.

One of the selling points of Librem 5 is convergence, which I understood as a promise of an uninterrupted and homogeneous experience across the built-in and external displays. Now, I use it as a phone and an ultra-portable desktop computer. When I heard about the convergence, I expected Purism to build on top of the GNOME shell instead of developing a new one. Understandably, Phosh represents a familiar GUI following mobile industry practices.

The GNOME Shell worked quite well. However, I did not have enough time to test it diligently before I had to reflash my device due to an unsuccessful attempt to update to Crimson. Anyway, I would prefer testing the latest stable release of the GNOME Shell instead of whatever is considered stable in PureOS or Debian because it would allow reporting the bugs upstream.

On the other hand, considering that it is advisable to close applications on a Librem 5 instead of switching between them whenever possible to preserve system resources, a lighter shell, which is Phosh, serves better.

I want to switch to a different distribution. However, the distribution that I want to switch to does not have Phosh packaged yet. I must decide whether I need Phosh packaged or go on with the GNOME Shell.


Thanks for the explination it was interesting, I did not know gnome shell could be used on mobile, I was quite confused at first haha

1 Like