Chimera offers a variety of desktop environments.

The primary/official desktop is GNOME, but others are available:

  • KDE Plasma 6
  • Xfce
  • Various smaller window managers/compositors

In general every comprehensive desktop has a metapackage you can install:

  • For GNOME, it’s gnome
  • For KDE, it’s plasma-desktop (in contrib)
  • For Xfce, it’s xfce4 (in contrib)

Other available packages include (in contrib repository):

  • enlightenment
  • sway
  • wayfire
  • labwc
  • pekwm
  • icewm
  • kde1 (in user)

and a variety of others.

For Xorg-based environments, you will also need to install an appropriate version of X11, see Xorg.

Display manager

Every desktop session can be started with a display manager, or it can be started manually. Using a display manager is recommended, especially with something like GNOME where it facilitates lock screen integration.


When using GNOME, it is pulled in by default. Otherwise, you can install it:

# apk add gdm

Typically, all you need to do after that is enable the service:

# dinitctl enable gdm

That will make it start on every boot. If you want to run it just once, you can also do:

# dinitctl start gdm

After that, you only need to log in.

GDM with Xorg

Normally, GDM will default to Wayland. There are some specific cases where Wayland is disabled, most of them not relevant to Chimera, but e.g. when missing modesetting.

Other people may want to disable Wayland manually for other reasons.

To force-disable Wayland in GDM, edit the /etc/gdm/custom.conf file and uncomment the WaylandEnable=false line.

Note that this will not make GDM with Xorg work right away, as Chimera’s Xorg setup is unprivileged and the X server started by GDM will not be allowed to switch VTs, see Xorg.


The easiest way is by using the gnome metapackage:

# apk add gnome

This is a complete session by default, which includes auxiliary apps. If you wish to use only the core desktop and have better control over what apps are included, the gnome-apps package is an optional dependency that you can mask:

# apk add '!gnome-apps'

This leaves just the core desktop with mandatory applications. You can install other applications manually as needed.


Keep in mind that GNOME requires elogind. In a typical setup, this is enabled by default, i.e. requires explicit masking to avoid. You do not need to manually enable elogind if you have not removed its service link. Likewise, it requires dbus, both system and session bus, see D-Bus.

You can start GNOME either manually, or from a display manager, typically GDM.

Manual startup

This is not recommended as some functionality will not work, such as the lock screen, but it can still be useful for debugging and specific setups. However, do keep in mind that this will also interfere with management of graphical user services and so on at a later point (and these instructions will change).

For Wayland (recommended), you need to log in on the desired tty and run something like:

$ gnome-shell --wayland

This will give you a shell, but for example the settings app will not work. You can fix that by exporting the following variable first:


For X11, you can create an .xinitrc script, and put the following inside:


Then you need to give it appropriate permissions (must be executable by your user). Then you can simply use startx.