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I resurrected a broken laptop today. I took out the HDD, put it in a USB 3.0 enclosure, and created a VM that would use it.

It was running Lucid. I took a screenshot of the desktop before I started do-release-upgrade, because from experience, I will never have my GUI back the way I want it again.

I know how to install gnome-panel to get back the "Gnome Classic" session option. I know how to put my minimize, maximize, and close buttons back in the upper-right hand corner of windows (where they belong). I know how to use gdm instead of lightdm.

Unity gets worse in every version (and the other desktop OS is going to be even worse with Metro).

Here's what I don't know (in order of importance):

  1. How do you make the panels in gnome (gnome-panel, to be precise) customizable again (like they were in older versions of Ubuntu)?**
  2. How do you install applets in the panels now (right-click is now ignored)?
  3. How can you customize all of the window elements (like you could in older versions of Ubuntu)?

I can't remember much about Maverick, Natty, or Oneiric (except their names), so I don't know exactly when I lost these capabilities.

Take a look at the panels in the screen shot. They are nice, compact, and very functional (disk mounter applet, frequently used shortcuts, workspaces, show desktop, kill window, and trash icons, etc.) Notice how small the fonts (and how little real estate they waste). You can't notice the compact title bars, fonts, and window icons in this screen shot (since I redacted the rest of the desktop), but it's the same story there.

Please help. I don't want to learn another distro, but Ubuntu gets less customizable with every "upgrade."

i.stack.imgur.com/puoUT.png

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You cannot get exactly what you had on 10.04 in 12.04 as they use different desktop environments i.e. GNOME3 and GNOME2. There are some modifications available to gnome-fallback mode in 12.04 and you can access it by Alt+right click . Other than that you can use indicators. AFAIK you cannot modify the positions of indicators but you may find the previous applets you were using to be indicators.

What Application Indicators are available?

Also look here for some more customization option to gnome classic session.

How to customize the gnome classic panel

OMGUbuntu blog post regarding gnome classic session

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