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I'm used to GNOME Classic and personally don't want to change to anything else, but it seems there is no more GNOME Classic in the Oneiric release. After apt-get installed gnome-session and all, though there comes back the GNOME Classic option in the session listbox, however, after logged in, it seems not the expected one.

There is no System menu in the top bar, and I couldn't customize panels at all. I want to change the appearance(theme), but I can't find Appearance menu at all. And much more differences to my previous experience of GNOME classic shell.


There are multiple valid answers for this question spanning over several versions of Ubuntu. For your convenience an index of each below:

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You have ubuntu gnome remix for 12.04 ubuntu-gs-remix.sourceforge.net/p/home Ubuntu gnome remix is now Ubuntu gnome wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuGNOME –  damien Feb 4 at 6:14
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12 Answers

up vote 149 down vote accepted
+250

11.10 Overview

The older GNOME 2.x experience has been retired in GNOME, however you can use the GNOME 3.x classic mode (as shown below) to make an approximation of the older experience.

enter image description here

install prerequisites

In the software center you have the option to install Gnome Shell Install gnome-shell:

enter image description here

Similarly - search for CompizConfig Settings Manager Install compizconfig-settings-manager and install this package - we'll need that later.

Whilst you are there you can also install gnome-tweak-tool Install gnome-tweak-tool to further customise your desktop.

enabling compiz

Now perhaps the tricky part - getting gnome classic to function with compiz:

In a terminal copy and paste the following:

gksudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/gnome-classic.session

Now edit the file shown to contain this line entry:

enter image description here

How to login to Gnome-Classic

Save, logout and in your session options choose Gnome Classic

enter image description here

Changing the theme

You'll notice that the default Ubuntu Ambiance theme doesn't look great in Gnome Classic. We can correct this by changing to a Gnome 3 friendly theme.

enter image description here

... and choosing Appearance enter image description here

Change the theme to Adwaita... enter image description here

Note - see the linked questions below for other theming options.

Changing Icons

Launch gnome-tweak-tool via the menu option:

  • Applications --> Other --> Advanced Settings

Change the icon theme as shown:

enter image description here

Restructure the desktop layout

Now lets get back the panels to something that we are familiar with...

Press Alt+Win and right-click the top menu bar - N.B. Win is the Windows Symbol key

enter image description here

(If you are using Gnome Classic (No Effects) i.e. gnome fallback mode then to add to the panel use Alt and right-click)

Choose Add to Panel

enter image description here

Click the option shown and click the button Forward

enter image description here

Repeat the Alt+Win + Right Click the date and choose Delete to delete the clock.

Repeat this delete procedure for the other applets on the top-panel.

Note - if an error appears indicating that the Panel has reloaded you can safely ignore this.

Repeat the Alt+Win + Right Click the top panel - add the applet Accessibility.

Repeat the Alt+Win + Right Click on bottom panel - add the applet Show Desktop and move to the bottom left.

Repeat the Alt+Win + Right Click on bottom panel - add the applet Wastebasket and move to the bottom right.

Now we need to change the number of workspaces back to two.

Navigate to Applications - Other - CompizConfig Settings Manager - General Options - Desktop Size and change the Vertical Virtual Size value to 1

enter image description here

Install the indicator-applet

Now lets install the indicator-applet:

To add to the panel:

Alt+Win+Right click the panel and choose Add To Panel and add the following indicator

enter image description here

Finish off by Alt+Win+Right click the indicator-applet and move it to the right side of the top panel.

Optional:

  • You can install fonts-cantarell Install fonts-cantarell if you want to use the default upstream GNOME font

Linked Questions:

  1. Delete extra toolbar on top of the screen in GNOME fallback mode?
  2. How do I revert Alt-tab behavior to switch between windows on the current workspace?
  3. How do I change to a theme not listed in the Appearance screen?
  4. If you use autologin you need to do this: How do I set the GNOME Classic login to be the default with autologin?
  5. How to re-add indicator-applet for 11.10
  6. How to customize the gnome classic panel
  7. Warning: What are some of the issues with ccsm and why would I want to avoid it?
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In Ubuntu 14.04, the MATE desktop environment is available for the first time in the Ubuntu Software Center. MATE is a lightweight desktop environment that uses the traditional panel desktop layout used in pre-Unity Ubuntu. The MATE desktop environment can be configured to have either one or two panels.

For more information about the MATE desktop environment take the Coding Studio's Linux Mint 16 MATE Screenshot Tour (one panel MATE desktop) or visit the openSUSE MATE Screenshot Portal (two panel MATE desktop).


These are the instructions for installing MATE on Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10, 13.04 or 13.10.

From the terminal run the following command to add the MATE PPA to your software sources:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://packages.mate-desktop.org/repo/ubuntu raring main"

This is assuming you have Ubuntu 13.04 installed in VirtualBox. For Ubuntu 12.04 substitute precise for raring. For Ubuntu 12.10 substitute quantal for raring.

For Ubuntu 13.10 you need to add a different software source than for Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10 and 13.04. So don't run the previous command. Instead run this command:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://repo.mate-desktop.org/ubuntu saucy main"  

Run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install mate-archive-keyring
sudo apt-get update   
sudo apt-get install mate-core  # this installs base packages
sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment  # this installs more packages

Instead of lightdm use lightdm-gtk-greeter for the login display manager as recommended by the MATE team:

sudo apt-get install lightdm-gtk-greeter  
sudo shutdown -r now  # reboot 
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To switch to gnome and completely remove unity:

 apt-get install gnome-desktop
 apt-get remove --purge unity
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There is no need to remove unity. Just install gnome and use it. –  Misery Feb 4 at 9:52
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Installing Mate (Gnome 2 Fork)


Ubuntu Precise Pangolin (12.04) repository

Add ONE of the following repos to /etc/apt/sources.list via the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://packages.mate-desktop.org/repo/ubuntu precise main"
sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://repo.mate-desktop.org/ubuntu precise main"
sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://mirror1.mate-desktop.org/ubuntu precise main"

or using a text editor of your choice add the ONE following mirrors to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://packages.mate-desktop.org/repo/ubuntu precise main
deb http://repo.mate-desktop.org/ubuntu precise main
deb http://mirror1.mate-desktop.org/ubuntu precise main

Then

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends mate-desktop-environment mate-desktop-environment-extra mate-archive-keyring caja-gksu caja-sendto mate-bluetooth mate-conf-editor mate-indicator-applet mate-media-gstreamer mate-icon-theme-faenza

Replacing unity with Mate (Gnome 2)

http://wiki.mate-desktop.org/replace_unity_by_mate

It is too much to put.


Consort (Gnome # Panel Fork)

https://launchpad.net/~consort-packagers/+archive/daily


**Gnome 3 Panel

sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback
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13.04 and up

With Ubuntu 13.04 you can install the Gnome classic desktop in exactly the same way as for Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10.

But now ...

Ubuntu GNOME has become an official derivative.

The first official release will be 13.04, which will be available by the end of April 2013. If you're itching to try it now, check out the daily images here.

Ubuntu GNOME (formerly Ubuntu GNOME Remix) is a mostly pure GNOME desktop experience built from the Ubuntu repositories. As the 12.10 release was our first release, there are still a few minor issues, but we proudly recommend Ubuntu GNOME to anyone interested in using Ubuntu with the best of what GNOME has to offer.

You can install this the same as any other Ubuntu from a live DVD and forgo anything related to Unity. Or install it as a dual boot alongside Ubuntu.

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Can you add instructions how people can install the desktop on their existing computers? This makes it sound like you need to reinstall a new ISO to use GNOME Classic. –  Jorge Castro Apr 22 '13 at 13:46
    
It does not sound like it... it is a new ISO install ;) –  Rinzwind Apr 22 '13 at 13:47
2  
Ok so what about people with upgrades and who don't want to reinstall? Does the 12.04 and newer answers still work? –  Jorge Castro Apr 22 '13 at 13:59
    
13.04 & UP ? Fallback session will be removed in 13.10 (because of its gnome-settings-daemon dependency). On 13.04 anyone can install by running sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback. –  Khurshid Alam Apr 27 '13 at 12:19
    
I installed Ubuntu Gnome yesterday. I like it but it is nothing like the "Gnome Classic" desktop. –  Warren Hill Apr 28 '13 at 13:11
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For 11.04 Ubuntu Classic


I don't know why, but 'Ubuntu Classic Desktop' session disable any Compiz effects for me

So in order to get my personal "Classic" version (with Compiz) I've done the following


How to disable Unity and start gnome-panel at each login:

  • start a 'Ubuntu' session (with Unity)
  • open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T)

  • install ccsm

    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
    
  • start ccsm

    ccsm
    
  • disable Unity plugin

    disable Unity plugin

  • start Startup Applications Preferences

    gnome-session-properties
    
  • add a gnome-panel entry

    enter image description here

  • log out and log in

    gnome-session-save --kill
    

Note 1: If you have a nvidia card and run some trouble starting Unity, you may want to

  • install Additional Drivers NVIDIA accelerated driver (version 173)
  • and force Unity start

    sudo sh -c "echo 'UNITY_FORCE_START=1' >> /etc/environment"
    

Note 2: If you want to restore default Unity settings run

unity --reset
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12.04 Overview

The older GNOME 2.x experience has been retired in GNOME, however you can use the GNOME 3.x classic mode (as shown below) to make an approximation of the older experience.

enter image description here

Install the prerequisites:

Install via the software center

Similarly install myunity:

Install via the software center

How to login to Gnome-Classic

Save, logout and in your session options choose Gnome Classic

enter image description here enter image description here

Restructure the desktop layout

Now lets get back the panels to something that we are familiar with...

Press Alt+Win and right-click the top menu bar - N.B. Win is the Windows Symbol key

enter image description here

(If you are using Gnome Classic (No Effects) i.e. gnome fallback mode then to add to the panel use Alt and right-click)

Choose Add to Panel

enter image description here

Click the option shown and click the button Forward

enter image description here

After clicking Add, add the Universal Access applet.

Repeat the Alt+Win + Right Click on bottom panel - add the applet Wastebasket

Alt+Win + Right Click over the Wastebasket and move to the bottom right.

Now we need to change the number of workspaces back to two.

Launch MyUnity via its icon in System Settings

change the Vertical Virtual Size value to 1

enter image description here

Optional:

  • You can install fonts-cantarell if you want to use the default upstream GNOME font

Linked Questions:

  1. Delete extra toolbar on top of the screen in GNOME fallback mode?
  2. How do I revert Alt-tab behavior to switch between windows on the current workspace?
  3. How do I change to a theme not listed in the Appearance screen?
  4. If you use autologin you need to do this: How do I set the GNOME Classic login to be the default with autologin?
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There is another option. A small group of folks are working on a fork of Gnome 2 called Mate (pronounced MAH-tay, I think; could be wrong on the accent, but I'm reasonably certain it's meant to be two syllables). Its future is still uncertain, but the Linux Mint folks liked it enough to make it an option in their newest release. If you're willing to work outside the Ubuntu repositories, it's pretty easy to install. From the wiki:

Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot:

Add the repo to /etc/apt/sources.list via the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://tridex.net/repo/ubuntu oneiric main"

or using a text editor of your choice add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://tridex.net/repo/ubuntu oneiric main

To install MATE:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mate-archive-keyring
sudo apt-get install mate-core

Then simply log out and MATE should be a desktop option.

I tested it on Oneiric 32-bit, and it installs fine. Takes 310MB of storage, according to apt-get. Didn't require any packages to be removed or updated, so it should play well with others. Note that it's still a young project, though, so bugs and quirks are likely.

There's no Ubuntu branding/theming by default, but it takes the built-in themes (like Ambiance) reasonably well. And it includes the much-missed (for me, anyway) System menu!

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I haven't been able to find any differences between Gnome 2 and MATE. It seems to be a simple name change that enables you to run both Gnome 3 and Gnome 2 at the same time. That's why one man is able to do this as a hobby, whereas Gnome is based on the work of thousands of developers. The extreme hype this project has received, does not reflect reality. I would rather recommend using Gnome Panel in Gnome 3. Good answer, though. +1 :) –  Jo-Erlend Schinstad Dec 29 '11 at 20:16
    
Umm... I think GNOME 3 should rename to something else, though. Because there are so many changes. GNity? –  Xiè Jìléi Jun 2 '12 at 2:48
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Fixing the look of the panel in 11.10

As far as just the look of the panel goes, see my answer to How to customize the gnome classic panel for how to get back quite close to the original look. This is accomplished by, amongst other things, reducing the top panel's height and its icon sizes.

GNOME Classic:
orig

With fixes:
fixed-compacticons

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It depends on what you want instead. You can no longer use Gnome2, at least not as easily. You can do a sudo apt-get install gnome-session for Gnome3 (which is worse than Unity imo) or you can get the lightweight xfce4 desktop sudo apt-get install xfce4, which is older looking, but very similar in functionality to Gnome2 (possibly even better). Another popular alternative is KDE, which you would get with sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop. Removing unity should be possible with sudo apt-get purge unity, though be careful, as it could inadvertantly uninstall software you may want. I recommend against removing Unity completely, and instead using one of the above desktop managers along side it.

To switch which one you use, just hit the little gear icon above your password field on the login screen.

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You just need to download another desktop environment that you like the best and then switch to that environment on the login screen. I think it keeps your preference for the next time you get on, so you don't have to select your environment of choice every time.

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For 11.04

  1. Log in with the classic GNOME session by selecting your username and then selecting Ubuntu Classic:

    Screenshot 2

From then on GDM will remember your setting. To permanently make the Classic Session be the default, run the Login Settings tool and select the classic desktop:

enter image description here

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protected by htorque Oct 30 '11 at 10:34

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