Running 7 as a desktop

Monday, 20, January 2014 Jim Perrin desktop, General 40 Comments

In the interest of preparing for the el7 release, I've decided to attempt to migrate my primary machine to the el7 beta. For the most part this seems like it will be a reasonably easy transition, though admittedly I play with fedora frequently so the gnome2 to gnome3 transition is something I've already handled. If you find that you absolutely must have the wobbly windows, and desktop cube effects which are available in el6 then you're in luck. All you have to do is transition from gnome to KDE, where these features are alive and well.

Apart from the gnome adjustment, there are a few things that I use regularly which just aren't in the beta. Nearly all of these packages can rebuild cleanly for el7, using mock and the f19 srpms. For me these packages were transmission, pidgin-otr, thunderbird and its assorted plugins. The 'fedora' chrome packages google offers work flawlessly as well.

I was even able to get skype working in the el7 beta reasonably easily. The fact that skype is 32bit only complicated things slightly, as I had to borrow  qt-mobility.i686 and qtwebkit.i686 from fedora to deal with the install dependencies. Once the i686 sig build of el7 is ready for additional packages, this rpm abuse shouldn't be needed any longer.

I've been asked already about posting the rpms that I've built for the 7 beta, but I don't want to do this. I don't have an interest in maintaining them long-term, and I'm certain they'll end up in epel or another repository  shortly.

40 thoughts on "Running 7 as a desktop"

  1. I've played around with running 7 as a desktop as well and sadly the hardware I'm running on doesn't support dual monitors with Gnome 3 ( ). After a few tweaks, I don't mind the Gnome 3 changes too much, but the lack of dual monitor support is a show stopper for me until I finally get around to getting newer hardware.

    1. Steven Drinnan says:

      I am a bit surprised, I have had some problems with dual monitors even from 3.0. but a little persuasion it end up working, aggreed that needs to be addressed and is not for the novice and once working it seems to remember the monotor and my prefered settings. I think most of my problems related how X11 automagicly detects monitors and my low performance intel chipset.
      I have noticed a problem when you use a 4:3 mon with 16:9 mon. Or any monitor with a different aspect ratio, I think it assumes that both monitors should be the same size and never resolves.

      1. D. Charles Pyle says:

        I can relate. I hit that problem in Gnome 3, too. It also caused my favorites dash to push itself below the bottom edge of the 16:9 monitor and enlarge itself automatically to fit the 4:3. I switched to MATE-Desktop and the problem ceased. Even Cinnamon seems to handle the situation, so the problem exists somewhere in Gnome 3.

        I now recently upgraded the 4:3 to another 16:9, so if I should ever switch back I shouldn't see this again. Trouble is, I am liking the return of the transparent terminal with compositing, plus button and menu icons, all of which Gnome developers threw out, so I am not sure I will be going back anytime soon.

    2. keithpeter says:

      Would the KDE desktop environment meet your needs?

    3. Joost Ringoot says:

      I seem to remember similar issues with the first editions of gnome 3 (fedora 15, 16 or 17 I think). Problems with dual screen support. But I have no such issues anymore since fedora 18, now using 20 with dual screen.

      Could be due to the videocard drivers as well, I seem to remember to have it resolved back then with installing a binary driver blob from AMD. And for another system with NVIDIA card with it's respective binary driver blob.

      I'll wait a while for updating my Centos 6.5 system to rhel7 until someone confirms it is resolved.

  2. hvn says:

    I intend to run 7 on 2 laptops because of newer drivers compared to 6 for additional hardware. Although Gnome3 will be able to run, I prefer Gnome2. Will this be an available option for 7 ?

    1. keithpeter says:

      Pretty certain not as the underlying libraries are different and mutually exclusive.

      Have you tried the Gnome Classic environment (which was the default when I installed RHEL7 beta with Gnome desktop)? Any use to you?

      I'm sure external repositories will have XFCE4 or MATE eventually.

      Have you had a look at the KDE destop?

      1. hvn says:

        I'd rather have XFCE4 or Mate, but will those be available from the start or (as you put it) eventually ? Although I'm not a KDE fan, which version will be available ?

  3. Michael Torrie says:

    I installed EL7 beta a while ago and was successful in bringing in the Mate desktop and Compiz from Fedora 19 and it works great. No need to migrate to KDE if Gnome2 worked for you.

    In fact a lot of packages from F19 work without any change or problem on EL7 beta. You can't just mix the repos though, since F19 is actually slightly ahead of EL7 in a few libraries.

    1. Dong says:

      That is great. Could you post your experience somewhere so that people like me can refer to?

      1. Michael Torrie says:

        Probably won't get around to it, so I'll just write a few things here.

        First grab the fedora-release rpm from the fedora 19 installation tree. I normally just download odd rpms from here:

        Then use the mc utility to open the rpm (yum install mc). Go into the virtual CONTENTS.cpio folder and into etc/pki/rpm-gpg and copy all the gpg keys to your local folder of the same name. '*' selects all, F5 copies.

        Finally create the repo files in /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora.repo (notice I replace some variables with 19, since el7 would set the var to 7):
        name=Fedora 19 - $basearch

        name=Fedora 19 - $basearch - Updates

        Note that these repos are disabled by default. So to use them do:
        yum --enablerepo=fedora --enablerepo=fedora-updates install mate-session-manager caja marco

        You might have to install other packages too like maybe mate-terminal and any of the mate-* stuff you want.

        1. hvn says:

          The driver I'm particularly looking at is libsane. On CentOS6.5 this is 1.0.21 while F19 has 1.0.24. I built this one on 6.5 and xsane works fine, but simple-scan fails to work properly showing garbled output. So I wonder which version will come with 7.

          1. radonx says:

            Probably ugly libusb IMHO v. 1.5. Tip - downgrade to 1.4. Hint - google "fedora 19 libusb scanner bug".

        2. mc says:

          mc is garbage.

  4. Dong says:

    I tried RHEL 7 beta, and was a little disappointed. Gnome panel could not be customized. I was using RHEL 6 as my desktop until now. I like configuring the Gnome panel the way I like. It would be great if MATE Desktop Environment can be migrated into RHEL 7.

    1. Steven Drinnan says:

      You now use extensions, these expand the defaults to make it to you liking.

      1. yl says:

        But that's still really a regression if you just cannot right click to customise it... or drag&drop a menu element you use very often. I had expectations on classic mode pushed by RH, but if it stills fall short compared to gnome 2 that's a problem.

        I don't want to go KDE (preference for a 1 application doing 1 task and doing it right, naming is also a problem : Just can't remember which Ksomething does what...).

        Maybe I'll stick to 6.5 for this reason. Maybe in 2020 Gnome will be back to the desktop paradigm that resulted from decades of maturation. Or XFCE and others will just be on par with a good old gnome 2.

    2. Evandro says:

      MATE is a suite of legacy and old code, you could simply use gnome-panel (which was ported to the GNOME 3 platform libraries) with metacity or mutter as the window manager.

  5. Brandon Lozza says:

    Spot (Tom Callaway) from Redhat makes Fedora packages of Chromium - which is a much better to use browser due to the lack of spyware from Google in the binary files.

  6. cybernet says:

    @evandro - unfortunatly MATE works ten times better than gnome3

  7. Steve Alder says:

    MATE is nice and very workable (how long will it be around is the question I am concerned with). The classic extensions are NOT worth the time.

    I prefer to use Cinnamon with Fedora and EL7. Create the repo file for F19; groupinstall cinnamon-desktop from the F19 repo. Poof! The vast majority of the features I was missing from Gnome 2 (like a screensaver, a real taskbar, etc. duh). Mileage may vary. Though it is built on top of Gnome 3 libraries, so I have a better than not chance it will continue to run for some time to come.

    Oh well. I have no desire to restart the DE "Holy Wars", you like what you know.

    Gnome "Classic" at least a step toward admitting Gnome 3 is the steaming pile of &%)*&# it is.

  8. Jaroslav Henzely says:

    if it's possible, (I'm sure it is) include the old gnome2 as option,
    that could be selected during installation or installed additionally.

    The original gnome2 works better for me, than MATE.

    Thank You

    BTW: I use older X server for backward compatibility with my ATI 4650 with no problems.

    1. Ugene says:

      You have a idea there. I believe that Point Linux runs on this option as a rolling release. Good suggestion.

  9. Rob says:


    Does anyone already tested the install on a laptop with a nvidia videocard with optimus?
    I am curious is powermanagement is included in the new kernel.


  10. Michael Torrie says:

    A snag I ran into using el7 beta on my desktop is that the stock kernel doesn't have the forcedeth drivers for my Nvidia chipset motherboard so ethernet didn't come up. I put in the latest Fedora 19 kernels and now things are fine.

  11. Thanks for this post. It is helpful in figuring out which distro to use.

    If you replace this line:

    "If you find that you absolutely must have the wobbly windows, and desktop cube effects which are available in el6 then you’re in luck."

    with this one, I'm interested:

    "If you find that you absolutely must have a task bar, a minimize button, the ability to delete files with a keystroke, ability to open multiple terminal/file browsers/web browsers at once, and access to basic OS information which are available in el6 then you’re in luck."

    Gnome 3 is so completely dumbed down and impenetrable that it is unusable. I was hoping that CentOS would have Gnome2. It's not that I love Gnome2, it's that I can't use Gnome3. I may try Steve Alder's approach.

    1. Michael Torrie says:

      Yeah Mate works as well as gnome2 did, in my opinion. And it is being moved forward. It already has been moved to use gsettings instead of gconf, and uses Gnome3's network manager applet. So it has a definite path forward to the future, while staying with the traditional gnome2 panels and way of doing things.

      Mate rpms from Fedora 19 install on rhel7beta with a minimum of dependency problems. I told yum to always prefer rhel7beta repos when there is a same version of a package in the fedora repo. This way it's as close to clean rhel7beta as possible. (I use the yum priorities plugin to do this). Lots of packages I need to just make my desktop usable (media players, utilities like gnome-do, etc), as well as software I want to use, I pull from fedora. So my core is still 95% rhel7beta but I have a lot of Fedora 19 stuff installed, including from rpmfusion. EPEL 7beta is available, but it doesn't yet have a lot of stuff in it. I pull from EPEL when I can, RPMFusion when it's not there.

      I wouldn't take much to get Mate 1.6 into EPEL I think. That'd be the ideal place for it. Or stock CentOS 7. Not sure if RHEL7 will have it in their main repo or not. There might be demand, given the target audience of RHEL7.

      1. Michael Torrie says:

        Oh and I had very bad luck with the latest NVidia drivers from RPMFusion for F19's kernel that I'm running on rhel7beta. I'm using Mate with Compiz, and every driver I tried crashed or refused to start X until I went back to version 304.119. There might be an rpm for the kmod of this version, but I just installed from the nvidia web site as I was tired of messing with it. Not sure where the problem is, because I'm sure the latest driver probably works for most people in F19 (maybe there are few compiz users out there).

  12. johan law yaw waw yaw says:

    good to hear running centos 7 on dekstop, buat i am already run centos 6.4 on notebook, use it for everyday work and fun

  13. jan johnson says:

    The install and general usability for CentOS 6 is absolutely horrible (in comparison to CentOS 5). Hopefully RH (and by extension, CentOS) have taken the innumerable user community comments into consideration as things move forward to return to a more user friendly system.

  14. GnomeDevelopers AreIdiots says:

    Hi! First of all sorry for my bad English!
    I can't install el7 without formating partition. This is a big issue for me. So far, when i've tested any beta system, i just was moved already installed os in backup folder and was installed the beta on the same partition. This probably affect from stupid Gnome3, but really hope, that will be changed, or just non graphic installation mode will be included! Also i really hope, the developers will integrate Mate or Cinnamon in el7.

  15. Richard Lloyd says:

    Jan Johnson claims "CentOS 6 is absolutely horrible", which I completely disagree with. It's basically a continuation of CentOS 5 with newer package versions/kernel. As such, it's the best "serious" desktop out there at the moment, IMHO.

    However, CentOS 7 will be a *radical* change - systemd, GRUB 2 and GNOME 3 are all apparently "improvements", but this is highly debatable. Having played a bit with the RHEL 7 beta, I would say that it's actually a bit of step back in ease of management/desktop usability myself compared to CentOS 6.

  16. GnomeDevelopers AreIdiots says:

    So, i've compiled and installed Cinnamon and it works well so far.The packages are here, if somebody wants to try.
    NOTE: Some of packages are not installation needed, just was created itself with main package!

  17. ConnyLo says:

    @Areldiots great! thank u 4 that packages! hope them will work later with centos 7 stable later. otherwise i must use Mate with less eyecandy & fun :-/

  18. Hypersphere says:

    Somehow, CentOS and Gnome 2 seemed to go together. I have also used Mint 13 with KDE and Xfce, and I have tested Cinnamon and MATE. I find that KDE works best for multi-monitor support, but my current favorite is the Mint implementation of Xfce. Without the Mint settings and artwork, MATE might be the best bet. Cinnamon was unstable in my testing and not as intuitive to configure as MATE.

  19. Hill Billy says:

    You Linux people are in a dream world. The average yokel will never be able to use Linux.
    Linux NEVER fails to present problems with recognizing hardware.

    1. deandownsouth says:

      @Hill Billy: I don't think you understand the target audience for RHEL, CentOS and other binary compatibles. Hint: The "average yokel" is not the target audience. Most use cases for it are servers and other uses that require a stable, long term OS (i.e. I know of a few security appliances and a few SAN Service Processors that use it as its base, stuff like that). Some of us (who also use it as our servers) use it as a desktop and since we are not 'average yokels' we are able to get around any problems including hardware drivers (although I will absolutely disagree with you as Linux has drivers for most hardware, and often is quicker to support new hardware than even Windows).

  20. Eng Sysamouth says:

    Do you need to be registered with linux in order to use the CentOS 7L

  21. Dragan says:

    Pidgin packages are missing from centos 7 for some reason. To make it even more weird libpurple is available. Can'f find any explanation why it was droped from 7.

  22. Lawrence says:

    Mate Compiz and Docky on Centos 7

    You might want to check out

    for the above mentioned item.

    Just a thought.

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