Desktop Environments


Phosh is the default desktop environment. This page is about alternatives…


GNOME Shell is the default desktop environment from GNOME. It uses mutter and Wayland or X11.

To install it on an existing Mobian installation, perform the following:

sudo apt update

sudo apt install gdm3

sudo systemctl disable phosh && sudo systemctl enable gdm3

Then reboot.

The GNOME onscreen keyboard can be summoned by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

With GDM/GNOME Shell, there is no limitation on your user password, unlike with Phosh.

To switch between Phosh and GNOME Shell, all you have to do is enable/disable the conflicting services by running the following:

To enable GNOME Shell:  sudo systemctl disable phosh && sudo systemctl enable gdm3 && sudo reboot

To enable Phosh:  sudo systemctl disable gdm3 && sudo systemctl enable phosh && sudo reboot

GNOME Shell is better with some tweaks to the top bar, which can be performed by doing the following:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface scaling-factor 1  (then log out and back in)

sudo apt update

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

wget   #(Icon Hider)

wget          #(Taskbar 2020)

wget       #(Improved Onscreen Keyboard)

gnome-extensions install --force

gnome-extensions install --force

gnome-extensions install --force

Then log out and back in, and run the Tweaks app (if you cannot see the tabs, i.e. left side menu, in the gnome-tweaks app then you could try to switch to landscape mode). Under Fonts, change the scaling factor to 1.5, and then under Extensions enable both of the extensions, and tap their gear icons to change their settings. For Icon Hider, hide dwellClick, a11y, and keyboard. For Taskbar 2020, tap Panels on the left, then change Top Panel/Panel Size to 48, and Panel Content Size to -10. For Improved Onscreen Keyboard, change Portrait height to 20, Landscape height to 33, and make sure the checkbox for Resize Desktop is checked. You may need to log out and back in for all changes to apply.

You can also show the battery percentage at the right end of the top bar by running Tweaks, tapping Top Bar on the left panel, and enabling Battery Percentage.

Pinetab landscape mode

Put your gnome-shell to landscape mode or put the following file to '~/.config/monitors.xml'. This file example is Pinetab only.

<monitors version="2">

If you want to have the gdm3 login in landscape too, do as root:

cp ~/.config/monitors.xml /var/lib/gdm3/.config/monitors.xml


GNOME Shell with default scaling on the Pinephone:

On the Pinetab with font scaling factor 1.20:


Lomiri is the desktop environment from Ubuntu Touch. It was originally Canonical's Unity desktop, but has been forked and maintained by UBports.



A Debian repo is available for Plasma Mobile packages. We can install it and switch to it with the following:

#. Install the GNU Privacy Guard and fetch the public key that is used to
   verify the installation packages::

      sudo apt install gnupg2
      sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys CF319275556E40EC

#. Add the following line to the `/etc/apt/sources.list` file::

      deb testing main pinephone

#. Update the package database::

      sudo apt update

#. Stop and disable `phosh.service` with a command like this::

      sudo systemctl stop phosh && sudo systemctl disable phosh

#. Install the base packages::

      sudo apt install kwin-wayland kwin-wayland-backend-drm plasma-phone-components plasma-settings plasma-phone-settings simplelogin

#. Enable the simple login service::

      sudo systemctl enable simplelogin

#. Modify the simple login service to use the ``mobian`` user instead of
   ``phablet`` by editing the ``/lib/systemd/system/simplelogin.service`` file.

#. Reboot.


LXDE is a lightweight X desktop. It is very fast on the Pinetab and usefull together with the keyboard / touchpad for the Pinetab. Here a picture with some tweaks (change font size at preferences, change panel hight and icon size).

The mousepointer is working out of the box in landscape mode, the touchpad does not rotate with the screen and need some tweaks. It is possible to install 'xinput' to use a command to rotate the touchscreen to the right position (270 degrees).

sudo apt install xinput # to install (only 1st time)
xinput list             # to verify the device name
# the next does the rotate to 270 degrees and the touchscreen is usable
xinput set-prop "pointer:Goodix Capacitive TouchScreen" --type=float "Coordinate Transformation Matrix" 0 1 0 -1 0 1 0 0 1

If everything is good this transform matrix can be used in a xorg .conf file to make it persistent.

sudo cp /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf

Edit the touchscreen part in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf to let it look like this (or your transform matrix).

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "libinput touchscreen catchall"
        MatchIsTouchscreen "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Driver "libinput"
        Option "TransformationMatrix" "0 1 0 -1 0 1 0 0 1"

Using LXDE together with 'lightdm' a reboot to Phosh is possible for using the Pinetab without keyboard.

Maybe 'onboard' on LXDE is an option for a keyboardless Pinetab.