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Will there be a way to eliminate Gnome 3 in 11.10 and install Gnome 2 on that sytem?

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We should be clear about what we're talking about. "Gnome 3" is two things. It's a desktop environment, including the shell Gnome-Shell and it's a GTK framework and applications (similar to Gnome2's, just a newer version). Are you concerned about running GTK2-based things or do you just want to keep a "classic" (panel based, like Gnome 2) desktop? – Oli Jul 26 '11 at 22:07
This isn't GNOME 2, but if you install the gnome-session-fallback package and select GNOME Classic (or GNOME Classic (no effects)) as your session type at the login screen (click the gear icon to bring up the drop-down menu showing your various available session types), that pretty strongly (but not perfectly!) resembles GNOME 2 as it appeared in previous Ubuntu releases. – Eliah Kagan Nov 23 '11 at 2:51
up vote 9 down vote accepted

GNOME 2 will not be available in 11.10 as the entire stack (including GTK) has been upgraded to 3.x.

Though a new project has been made to reintroduce GNOME 2 to newer OSs called 'Mate' (Pronounced mah-te) and it's available now as an official distro...

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But gnome-panel (arguably the most important component of the Classic desktop) has already been ported to GTK3 if I'm reading things right. Is there a technical reason a Classic mode couldn't exist just using GTK3 components? – Oli Jul 26 '11 at 22:01
More on that in relation to Oneiric (back in May) – Oli Jul 26 '11 at 22:04
@Oli I am not sure, the question is about GNOME2 not classic mode. (Though I suppose one could do that) – Jorge Castro Jul 26 '11 at 22:07
I've just asked. "Gnome" means different things to different people. I personally thrive on a panel-based OS and quite dislike both Gnome-Shell and Unity, so this is extremely relevant to my interests. – Oli Jul 26 '11 at 22:09
That would be this one then, we might need a merge based on the OPs response:… – Jorge Castro Jul 26 '11 at 22:17

GDM is easy enough. Install it, open a terminal and run sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm. This will enable you to choose between LightDM and GDM.

As for Gnome 2 you can't get that in 11.10. They are incompatible systems. You'll have to install an earlier version of Ubuntu. Gnome 2 is dead and will never come back.

I would like to add, though, that a lot of people have the impression that the desktop that was used in the Gnome 2-based versions of Ubuntu, no longer is available. That impression is false. That desktop is called Gnome Panel, but unfortunately, the sessions have been renamed to things like Gnome Classic and Ubuntu Classic -- the new name is Gnome Fallback. It's the same software, except that you have to press and hold the alt-key when you right-click the panels to add applets, move applets, etc.

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:( that's really sad... – Martin Zeltin Nov 27 '11 at 12:31
Why don't you use the gnome fallback mode ? It feels like gnome2, with a bit of tinkering it looks like gnome2, most panel applets work and it doesn't use more resources. – severin Nov 27 '11 at 13:14
@MartinZeltin: Why sad? The older apps are still supported and available in earlier versions. Gnome 3 provides lots of great fixes to increase performance and make life easier for developers, which means more user friendly apps and faster development. It'll be bumpy for a little while, but it'll be great. I promise :) – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Nov 27 '11 at 14:07

Gnome 3.0's fallback mode (which looks and feels like GNOME 2.x), continues to be useful as an accessible desktop, on thin clients, on operating systems, platforms, virtual desktop environments, enterprise deployments or wherever else high bandwidth GPU rendering is neither available nor desirable. Some fat-client X86 focused distros such as Ubuntu may decide to drop it but I think the dependency of gnome-shell on clutter which depends on opengl which (for all practical purposes) depends on a local GPU-- will prevent this from being a "one size fits all" desktop as the previous GNOME and most other desktop operating systems are.

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Well, turns out Gnome2 won't be shipped in the next version as a "classical" option. Anyways, though I'm not a ubuntu hacker, it's almost certain someone will find a way of doing it. :)

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Gnome 2 is deprecated by Gnome, so except for a few... well, let's call them specialized distros, no new distros will use Gnome 2. We've seen these kinds of forks of Gnome before. They haven't lasted more than a few months. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Aug 30 '11 at 7:39
If anyone's truly curious (or stubborn to change), they might be interested in Mate, which is probably the best-known of these forks as of right now. Can't say what its current status is, though. – Christopher Kyle Horton Sep 5 '11 at 18:46

Just in case you don't really mean Gnome2, but Gnome Panel (the bars at the top and bottom that we've had in Ubuntu before) then yes:

  • gnome-panel | 1: | hardy | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.22.2-0ubuntu1.1 | hardy-updates | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.30.0-0ubuntu1 | lucid | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.30.2-0ubuntu0.2 | lucid-updates | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.30.2-1ubuntu3 | maverick | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.32.1-0ubuntu6.3 | natty | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:2.32.1-0ubuntu6.5 | natty-updates | source, amd64, i386
  • gnome-panel | 1:3.0.2-0ubuntu6 | oneiric | source, amd64, i386

As you can see, Oneiric (11.10) has Gnome Panel 3.0.2. :) You can use the application "rmadison" to find that information. It's in the devscripts package.

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Just to make it clear: I mean Gnome 2, as I have been liking and using it for years now, not the crippled Gnome 3 fallback Gnome 2 wannabe. I would not mind removing all Gnome 3/GTK-3 stuff to get Gnome 2 back as an useable, easily configurable Desktop Environment – Jeannie Jul 27 '11 at 6:40
Right. Gnome panel is dead. It used horribly outdated technologies that everyone else has dropped years ago, so it would be very difficult to support. If you like that kind of environment, I would strongly suggest Xfce, which actually does support Gnome panel applets. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Aug 30 '11 at 7:41

Not to be a shill, but if you're looking for a simple GUI interface (including an application menu similar to that of GNOME 2), you might want to consider installing Cairo Dock (cairo-doc from the software center) in 11.10, and then at the LightDM login screen, log in using the "Cairo-Dock (with Gnome and effects)" option. Have a look here for a discussion of some of the features of Cairo Dock:

How to remove non-working session entries in LightDM?

Note: My preference is to use Cairo Dock in conjunction with the latest GNOME Shell (gnome-shell from the software center). Some use it with Unity. Some as a standalone. To each his/her own.

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Oh, here's a link to Cairo Dock's homepage. And here's a link to a few screenshots demonstrating the flexibility of Cairo Dock. With this app, one could emulate most any environment desired, including the GNOME 2 environment. – Lexalt Nov 23 '11 at 8:34

There is this link that I found through a post on Ubuntu Community Forums:

Return to Ubuntu Classic Desktop in Ubuntu 11.10

Would that be what you are looking for?

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If you don't require strong Ubuntu One integration try out Xubuntu.

Instructions for upgrading your Ubuntu to Xubuntu are here:

Also, if you follow the above you can actually pick between Xubuntu and Ubuntu when you login so you aren't getting rid of Ubuntu doing this; just

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Those provided instructions are for removing packages that are not XFCE-related after installing xubuntu-desktop. – Christopher Kyle Horton Dec 14 '11 at 1:01

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