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Gnome Initial Setup and Welcome Tour | How it Works?

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This is part of the core Gnome OS, that tries to offer a consistent experience from the time we install the system, till we shut it down. More over is a nice addition for rookies in Gnome to get familiar with App Launchers, WorkSpaces etc.


..that I didn’t manage to run it. I tried 5-6 times and every time I end up to be locked out from Fedora 18. Of course, I was in a VirtualBox, so it wasn’t big deal ..but was annoying. So I didn’t see the “pages”, but I just read the documentation and I saw a bit the code.

Initial Setup is currently at version 0.2, and is far from ready.


Gnome Initial Setup (GIS) -between other- requires GDM and GOA and that means that we won’t see it in Ubuntu, Mint and other distros that use either LightDM or don’t ship the latest GOA (and maybe the whole GCC).

Other than this, GIS seems to be part of the distro installer, as it is responsible to create the very first user account of the system. Anaconda in Fedora 18 has  gained a major face lift (in Live and normal installer) and of course it will migrate with the Gnome Installer. So we don’t really know if and when other distros (openSUSE, Mageia) will adopt this. Arch Gnomers obviously they won’t have any issues to run this, but they also don’t need it :)

how it works

After installation is completed, GDM starts a special session in a temporary account (“/home/gnome-initial-setup” -as there isn’t any user at the moment) and fires Gnome Shell with “–mode=initial-setup” flag, which is basically similar to Login Screen.

Then a Dialog Window pops up, and helps us to insert our details inside 7 pages. After the whole procedure is done, gnome-initial-setup account is removed and GDM starts a normal session with our account. So if I am not wrong, GIS will only work for the very first account we will make, and not for a second one.


Creation of an account contains 7 steps.

1. Language Selection

First we select our language. That means that the actual installation language can be different. Obviously this is a nice feature for OEMs.

Normal windows for workstations, full screen for laptops

I didn’t include the other screens here, you can watch them in Gnome Live, but they are quite old and I don’t know if they’re reflecting the current state of the project. I hope I can run it sometime in the near future :)

2. End-user license agreement

Then is the well known EULA, that is in the discreet choice of each distributor what will include.

3. Location Page

Here we set our location and timezone, while an automatic detection will be provided with GeoClue a Geoinformation Service.

4. Account Page

Create our account (name and password), set our account mode (Default, Administrator) and choose an avatar. Of course at that time we don’t have any photos in the system to choose from, so we either have to pick one from the defaults, or a web-cam screenshot will come here -with cheese?

5. Network Page

What else? Setting a network connection. Of course it supports Wireless, but is Fedora supports our possible proprietary wireless drivers? :)

6. Set up Online Accounts

Here we can set our Gnome Online Accounts and sync the system with the online services. This is pretty handy, because there is no way for a new user to discover this feature afterwards.

7. Summary and finish

We review our details, and we can go back if we want to change something and.. oops did I say finish? Oh, well this is where the good thing just begin! So you can either Finish and start using your fresh system, or you can press the Welcome Tour button!

At the moment the only thing that does, is to open an Epiphany Brower (did they forget that Fedora doesn’t ship Epiphany? :) ) in page. But it seems that Jimmac has a differend opinion!

Note that this is nothing more than a mockup! But it looks cool, so I share it! Original Videos can be found in Fedora People, but I had to YouTube it, for embedding it.

Another Great set of animations by Jimmac and also multi-language! This is just an application launcher demonstration, but my guess is that more will follow!

GIS is cool!

Ok, most of us we don’t need that. But for newcomers in Gnome is a must. You realize that there are people that using computers and they can’t even tell the difference between Internet and Firefox. More over Gnome3 feels weird till you used to Overview and Workspaces. Not mentioning the OEMs, that can easily ship an account-less/un-localized box to their customers that is ready to work after 7 steps!

Learn more [at] Gnome Initial Setup && Gnome Installation pages.


The readme file that has some additional useful info. Noting that it isn’t fully updated.

Initial setup

The first time a new system is booted is a special situation. There is no user account yet, and a few basic setup steps need to be performed before it can be considered fully usable. The initial-setup mode is an attempt to solve these problems.

When in initial-setup mode, gdm does not bring up the regular greeter for the login screen, but instead starts the gnome-initial-setup application in a special session. gnome-initial-setup offers a series
of steps to

1. Select your language
2. Connect to the network
3. Create a new user account
4. Set the right location/timezone
5. Set up online accounts

In terms of the user experience, we want the initial setup to seamlessly switch to the regular user session. In particular, we don’t want to make the user enter his credentials again on the login screen.

We can’t run the gnome-initial-setup application with the correct user, since the user account does not exist yet at that time. Therefore, gdm creates a temporary gnome-initial-setup user, and runs gnome-initial-setup as that user. When gdm-inital-setup is done, it then initiates an autologin for the newly created user account to switch to the ‘real’ session. gdm removes the temporary gnome-initial-setup user before switching to the real session.

Due to this arrangement, we need to copy all the settings that have been changed during the initial setup session from the gnome-initial-setup user to the real user.


To enable the initial-setup functionality in gdm, set


in the [daemon] section of /etc/gdm/custom.conf. To actually trigger the initial-setup, gdm additionally looks for the file /var/lib/gdm/run-initial-setup. gdm removes this file after the initial setup has been performed.

The session that gdm starts for the initial-setup session is defined by the file /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/gdm-setup.session. Like the regular greeter session, it uses the desktop files in

Before starting the initial-setup session, gdm copies the file /usr/share/gdm/20-gnome-initial-setup.rules into the polkit configuration to provide suitable permissions for the gnome-initial-setup user. The rules file is removed again together with the gnome-initial-setup user account.


- Network login is not implemented

- Automatic detection of location/timezone is not implemented

- Configuration of input sources

- Figure out how to unlock the copied keyring after the autologin into the newly created session.

- Split the setup/teardown for the temporary account into a helper binary, to make selinux happy.

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  • Brian Robles

    I don’t think a video is the best way to best way to do a welcome tour, because people forget or don’t pay attention. I think an interactive welcome dialog, like the one introduced in Android ICS, is the best way to go. Like, the activities button should be highlighted, with some text explaining what it does, and the user has to click on it first before doing anything else.

    • alex285

      These are “getting started” guides. I don’t know if they will include them in welcome tour, but nevertheless is positive that they spend time to make such demonstrations!

  • Jeremy Bicha

    I don’t understand why this isn’t just part of the installer. I much prefer how Ubuntu’s ubiquity installer asks all of the questions at once instead of splitting the questions into some before installation and other questions after first boot. Ubiquity also has an OEM mode which I guess is the real purpose of this tool.

    • foobar

      I haven’t seen the video yet, but certain settings are user specific and not installation specific.

  • chenxiaolong

    Nice article :)

    Hopefully, this will be translated a little better :) (I’d gladly help if there are instructions) “使用中国” literally means “Use China” (as in the country). Even if that was fixed, the phrase is still grammatically incorrect :D

    • foobar

      German version is broken as well. “Shooting apps”. However, the video is just a mockup. The creator obviously simply used google translate / a random dictionary to translate the strings to show his idea. Gnomes translation teams are quite good. :)

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