Just like the title says. I don't want just Gnome Shell I want to know how to install the whole entire desktop, with the latest GDM(not the 3.0.4 currently in the repos), all the default apps, all of it. I want to have a gnome desktop as pure as the latest Fedora, but of course I don't actually want to use fedora I been a Ubuntu user for years.

Any ideas? or am I crazy? I cant find anyone else doing this, though I have found a few other people who want to do it.

I currently have Gnome Shell 3.4, but I cant figure out how to install the new login screen, and I don't know what apps install by default other than epiphany and empathy, I also don't know if there is still more missing than just those things listed.

I would really enjoy the full Gnome 3 experience.


It depends upon what you understand by "pure gnome-3". Obviously each distro pulls in components its developers consider makes up a great combined release.

Fedora and Ubuntu have different views. The Gnome-Shell developers work on a core set of applications that each distro either includes by default or is available in their respective repositories.

Since you mentioned Fedora and its default applications- then you should consider the following:

  1. Install gnome-shell - How do I install and use the latest version of GNOME?
  2. Remove Unity - How can you remove Unity?
  3. Install GDM and remove lightdm - How do I switch from LightDM to GDM?
  4. Install Default Applications - evolution Install evolution, epiphany Install epiphany
  5. Remove applications - consider removing Gwibber, Remmina, Firefox, and Thunderbird.
  6. Other GNOME goodies - consider installing the gnome Install gnome package

As an aside - for the most part, the Ubuntu developers have been very conscious to not (as far as reasonably possible) to change the gnome-shell experience. For example PrintScr in gnome-shell doesnt prompt you for the save location whereas in Unity it does. Therefore - out-of-the-box Gnome-Shell in 12.04 Ubuntu is much closer to the Gnome 3 developers vision.

Behind the scenes - Fedora contains elements such as SystemD which you will not have in Ubuntu (Upstart).


Ubuntu does in fact squash GNOME's beautiful defaults. It also offers up alternate defaults in place of "GNOME Desktop" applications (Firefox and Thunderbird, instead of Epiphany and Evolution, for example). Meanwhile, Boxes (a new application introduced with 3.4) is nowhere to be found; a PPA existed briefly, but has since disappeared. If those trade-offs are OK with you, following the steps below should get you a nice Debian-style GNOME 3.4 environment:

From a terminal, issue this command to install GNOME Tweak Tool and the GNOME default font, "Cantarell":

    sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool fonts-cantarell

Open System Settings > Appearance:

  • Background: Should be the first option (blue stripes, with clock icon).
  • Theme: Adwaita

Launch the program named "Advanced Settings" (this is the GNOME Tweak Tool). On the left, click "Fonts":

  • Text scaling factor: 1.0
  • Default font: Cantarell | 11
  • Document font: Sans | 11
  • Monospace font: Monospace | 11
  • Window title font: Cantarell Bold | 11
  • Hinting: Medium
  • Antialiasing: Grayscale

On the left, click "Theme":

  • Window theme: Adwaita
  • Cursor theme: Adwaita
  • Icon theme: Gnome
  • GTK+ theme: Adwaita

(these settings came from an untouched installation on Arch Linux I just did this afternoon)

Ubuntu absolutely squashes the default GNOME sound theme. The drum sounds are completely out of place, I would at least switch to something else (Sonar seemed to be a good trade off). You might be able to extract the original sounds from an archive and overwrite them, or better, create and import a new sound scheme. I haven't looked into this.

GNOME's default browser is packaged as "epiphany-browser", and a useful extension pack is packaged under the name "epiphany-extensions" (including an ad blocker that seemed to work well enough when I tested it). Epiphany is a bit underdeveloped compared to Firefox or Chrome, but if you don't need all the extensions and addons, it's worth checking out simply for the cohesive desktop experience.

I'll leave you to explore the rest of the default GNOME applications: http://www.gnome.org/applications/

I hope this information was helpful!

  • Dude, I keep using the latest version of gnome with an Ubuntu installation since the beginning of version 3. The outcome of the combination of the font settings is unbearable, you saved my sanity. – topless Jun 15 '12 at 0:03

You'll have to see if you can find a PPA, or you can make one yourself. If you want the most bleeding edge software, I don't think Ubuntu will ever be quite what you want. Particularly in LTS versions of Ubuntu, the focus is on stability, which means using more mature software.

Of course, Ubuntu has never been a pure Gnome distro. It uses Firefox, for instance, instead of Epiphany, and it uses LibreOffice instead of Gnome Office, etc. I don't think that's going to change.


Ubuntu-Gnome is Gnome with some Ubuntu features. As an official derivative since Saucy, it updates on the same timetable as Ubuntu. It boots even faster than Lubuntu which I had previously had installed on my old laptop with a 1.5gHZ processor and 1.5GB of RAM.

Most other distros I've tried - including Mint I've tired of pretty quickly but Ubuntu Gnome has become my favourite: al least for now ;).


If you would like to install many of the GNOME packages not available in the official Ubuntu repositories, you can add the official Ubuntu GNOME stable PPA, ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3, to your software sources by running sudo apt-add-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3 in a terminal. Don't forget to run sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get upgrade, sudo apt-get dist-upgrade, and sudo apt-get autoremove once you have added the PPA.

Edit: Check out https://wiki.gnome.org/Design/Apps/ for applications that you might want to install.

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