This question pretends to be a central place where people share info about compiling the latest and greatest GNOME-Shell environment in Ubuntu 10.10.

As GNOME-Shell now depends on gtk3 and in a lot of other new modules, and the GNOME-hell PPA is no longer around, it's actually quite difficult to test it without, as I've read somewhere,

"compiling half of the GNOME desktop"

I've tried with jhbuild just yesterday and only some modules were built, but gnome-shell and gtk3 weren't included in those that built.

As some solutions posted here may seem get quite dangerous, I was thinking about setting up a VM w/ Ubuntu 10.10, and I think that most of you will agree with me.

So, in conclusion, questions that need to be answered:

  1. Is there any new GNOME-Shell PPA for Maverick?
  2. Can jhbuild gnome-shell install script be fixed in order to allow a clean build?

  3. If not, any other easy ways to get it, excluding manual compilling?

  4. When installed, will GNOME-Shell work with Virtualbox emulated graphics stack?

Ladies and gentleman, the question is now yours. Let the answering begin...


5 Answers 5


Unfortunately, you do need to "compile half of the GNOME desktop" to get the most up-to-date git snapshots of GNOME-Shell. Well maybe a quarter. Luckily, there is a set up script and JHBuild moduleset that you can use to build it and satisfy the dependencies fairly easily.

First, download and run the setup script:

curl -O http://git.gnome.org/browse/gnome-shell/plain/tools/build/gnome-shell-build-setup.sh
/bin/bash gnome-shell-build-setup.sh

Then build GNOME-Shell and its dependencies by running:

jhbuild build

More detailed information on the process can be found on the GNOME wiki.

If this isn't working, you might want to check the list of common problems on the wiki. Work-a-rounds can often be found there.


have you tried the steps in the following article at WebUpd8?

  • 1
    Yes, I've already read it. I thought about posting it here, but in the meantime forgot. Thanks ;) Oct 24, 2010 at 13:01

I'll focus on question #2 -

You said "I've tried with jhbuild just yesterday and only some modules were built, but gnome-shell and gtk3 weren't included in those that built" and then asked

"Can jhbuild gnome-shell install script be fixed in order to allow a clean build?"

I would think so. First, http://live.gnome.org/JhbuildDependencies/Ubuntu tells you what Ubuntu packages you need installed - use the Lucid installation, keeping in mind the comments from the Maverick section.

Then - what is the moduleset in you're .jhbuildrc? The default is gnome-3.0 so I'll assume is that. The rc file points to the moduleset you'll be using.

Usually people doing a full "jhbuild build" skip certain packages and put that skipping in their .jhbuildrc. You can read elsewhere, but building mozilla within an environment just to test gnome is something most people skip.

Actually, if you're having problems, I would suggest you not do an argument-less "jhbuild build" at all. "jhbuild build" without arguments builds everything in your moduleset, which I'll assume is gnome-3.0 (look in your .jhbuildrc to see). Better to do "jhbuild build gnome-shell", which builds only gnome-shell and its dependencies (I believe gnome-shell currently has a total of 36 dependencies in jhbuild - that includes a count of not only dependencies, but the dependencies of the dependencies and so forth). Once it's built, you can do a "jhbuild run gnome-shell" to run gnome-shell using the libraries etc. you have built.

I should note, if you're doing a jhbuild off of recent code, it can be rough sailing, although it's still the easiest way to go if there's no PPA for Ubuntu that you like. I just did a fresh jhbuild. gtk+ broke on some calls, so I browsed git, saw that that had been changed in the day before I installed git, so I git reset that directory to one from 24 hours before. I then worked. Also, the package I wanted to build would not build. I searched the Bugzilla page for patches which updated some calls which had been deprecated long ago and recently removed by the gtk+ dependency. I applied them and it then my gtk+ 3 dependent built. So it was not automagic, I had to fix two broken builds. But it finally built.


There likely won't be a PPA for 10.10. For 11.04 here are the instructions:


gnome-shell can be found from ubuntu's repositories

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

and think it is good enough for testing purposes. You can try it within terminal by (after install) typing gnome-shell --replace. You will get version 2.31.5 in Maverick. (That version seems to be also 2nd-latest tagged version in http://git.gnome.org/browse/gnome-shell/ )


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