I have OpenBSD 5.7-amd64 installed and patched with all the latest available fixes.

I would like to have a minimal Gnome desktop environment and I did the following to my user account (not root account):

sudo pkg_add -vi gnome-session nautilus gnome-terminal gnome-menus gnome-system-monitor

After installation of the above packages, I

sudo nano /etc/rc.conf.local

and modified/added the following:


I rebooted my box and logged in to my user account.

After logging in, I am still presented with OpenBSD's default Fvwm manager, Xterm, etc.

Before making this post I had consulted the following tutorials and discovered the instructions they contained to be unworkable.

"Building an OpenBSD desktop"


"Display Manager on OpenBSD 4.7"



Ideally, you should install the gnome meta-package to ensure that you have all of the required packages installed, particularly DBus - I'd highly recommend you do that.

Once you've installed the gnome meta package, follow the post-installation instructions in /usr/local/share/doc/pkg-readme for the GNOME version you installed (check the file gnome-{version} where {version} is the GNOME version).

At a high level you need to do the following post-installation steps (all detailed in the aforementioned instructions):

  1. Add dbus_daemon to pkg_scripts in /etc/rc.conf.local and start dbus_daemon
  2. Configure GDM (which it appears you've done)
  3. (Optionally) Install avahi_daemon and enable multicast by adding multicast_host=YES to /etc/rc.conf.local.

If you enable multicast, either restart networking (using /etc/netstart) or reboot your machine. When you login again (via GDM), you should be using a GNOME desktop.

  • Thanks for your prompt reply. I don't wish to install the gnome meta-package because it will install lots of applications that I have no use for, eg. zenity, zeitgeist, pulseaudio, multimedia, brassero. I know for a fact that in Debian, the gnome-core package will only install the most basic Gnome applications. – virvegto Jul 12 '15 at 17:35
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    @virvegto Fair enough. If you want to pick n' choose packages, I'd take the gnome package dependencies as a starting point. Perhaps download the package file, extract it manually and then check the +CONTENTS file to see what else you've missed. It may well just be that you've missed the post-installation steps, so check the package readme too. – mjturner Jul 12 '15 at 19:30
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    You know what? I installed the gnome meta-package and only after the installation was I able to read the relevant pkg-readmes. According to the gnome pkg-readme, there ARE two choices available to users to install: gnome or gnome-extras. The gnome meta-package only installs the standard applications. (The pkg-readme didn't elaborate the meaning of standard.) The gnome-extras installs the complete suite of Gnome applications. – virvegto Jul 13 '15 at 1:19
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    Well, after installing the gnome meta-package, I discovered that it installed far fewer applications on OpenBSD compared to the gnome-core meta-package on Debian Wheezy (7) or Jessie (8). [After all, I wish to install only the barest minimum of Gnome.] I'm pleased with what Gnome developers have done for OpenBSD. If you're one of them, kudos to you. – virvegto Jul 13 '15 at 1:22

As root, execute these following 4 commands into the terminal...

pkg_add gnome
rcctl disable xenodm
rcctl enable multicast messagebus avahi_daemon gdm


(pkg_add gnome will take some time, it has many dependencies.)

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