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When I was running Debian, I was able to start a remote session over x11 by just typing gnome-session

However, with Ubuntu 12.04, this only seems to result in my desktop and background being forwarded over x11 -- the top bar (where the clock is) and dock are both missing. I tried starting all of unity by executing unity, but that just resulted in a segfault.

How can I start a Unity 2D session over x11?

Edit: I prefer x11 as I need to tunnel the connection over 2 other servers. I would need to do a good amount of port forwarding within SSH to get any other connections back. Of course, if someone has any other suggestions, I'm willing to listen.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I got it working with:

gnome-session --session=ubuntu-2d

This will automatically start unity-2d-panel and unity-2d-shell.

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In order to make this a slightly more forward compatible, I'll add that you can find the sessions in /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/. You'll see files like ubuntu-2d.session, gnome-classic.session, etc. You'll then use gnome-session --session=ubuntu-2d. In other words, you'll just drop the ".session" from the name.

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Looks like one solution is just to install gnome-classic and use that:

Install gnome-panel:

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Start gnome-fallback session:


It works, it's fast, quick, and functional. I would still be curious about Ubuntu 2D, although I prefer classic anyways.

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Just out of curiousity: did you try with gnome-session --session=ubuntu2d (that should also call unity-2d-panel if installed) – Takkat Jun 29 '12 at 6:43
@Takkat I had not -- but just did. A little box appears which says "Failed to load session 'ubuntu2d'" in my x11 session. If you want a screenshot let me know. Any other ideas? – BSchlinker Jun 29 '12 at 6:50
Yes, it's called ubuntu-2d, not ubuntu2d. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Nov 13 '12 at 10:25

I had the same problem on an esxi-server. With ubuntu-2d session it doesn't work. So I have defined in .xsession file gnome-session --session=gnome-classic.

Be sure the file gnome-classic.session exist in /usr/gnome-session/sessions.

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