Unity has been both praised and hated by different people for various reasons. Mark Shuttleworth for example says that it's designed for widescreens as an example. I do fully agree with that statement, however due to the fact that I do not have a widescreen (1280x1024) Unity simply doesn't function smoothly for me.

That's what it's important for me to have a good alternative. Since I really loved Gnome 2, I'd like to ask if it's possible to keep using that in Ubuntu 11.10 or would you guys suggest another alternative and if so why?

  • I use a narrow screen as a read screen. It's a 24" 1080x1920 (tilted) screen and Unity is really nice on it. The argument about screen width simply isn't valid. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Dec 27 '11 at 5:32

If you want something similar to, and relatively compatible with, Gnome 2, then I suggest you try XFCE. It's a nice environment and it supports many Gnome Panel applets and such. It's actively developed. Gnome 2 is deprecated and is going away from all distros.

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  • Thanks for that comment. I've been looking into that, but I haven't been able to find a distro with XFCE that feel right for me. For example, Xubuntu appears to be very bloated from what I heard. – RevenNL Oct 10 '11 at 11:29
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    Try it. You certainly shouldn't trust people who simply say that something is bloated. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Oct 10 '11 at 15:41
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    Well. That's that then. Time to find a new distro. – Daniel Bingham Oct 29 '11 at 16:09
  • Ubuntu supports Gnome 2 until 2013. Perhaps Debian will support it for a little longer, I don't know. RedHat Enterprise Linux 6 uses it and can be used until 2021. It's very expensive though. But that might be a good choice. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Oct 29 '11 at 19:16

GNOME 2.x has been replaced by GNOME 3.x, you can't really roll back the entire thing in 11.10. You can however, run it in fallback mode:

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If you really want Gnome 2, your best bet is to install the stable version of Debian. Debian Squeeze. Or stick with the LTS (Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu, 10.04. Both will be supported for several years with security updates, etc.

Ubuntu, after all, is based on Debian, so perhaps its a good time to switch to the real deal. On the other hand, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will have more out of the box features already configured. Linux Mint 11 (Katya) is also an option, although I don't know for how long it will be supported (you could look it up).

The fallback mode in Gnome 3 superfically appears to be like Gnome 2, but lacks much of the functionality of Gnome 2. Why take a step "forward," which is really only a step backward?

Those are pretty much your options. The Gnome 2 interface has for all intents and purposes been abandoned. Unless someone forks Gnome 2, someday you'll be stuck with the backwards and shortsighted "advances" (confusing eye candy for usability) of Unity or Gnome Shell. Or as others suggested you can switch to XFCE, which is a nice, more light weight system, but not really as full featured or comparable to Gnome 2.

(By the way, there is a fork of Gnome 2 available in the AUR depository of Arch Linux, called the Mate Desktop; if you want to switch to Arch. But I'm not sure everything works properly. And there is the Fedora based Project Blue Bubble, trying to keep Gnome 2 alive, but that also I think is limited in many ways.)

Edit: It looks like the next version of Linux Mint, 12 (Lisa), coming in November, will support Gnome 2. So this is pretty good news. It would certainly offer the most up-to-date system you could have with Gnome 2. In addition, they are working with the developer of the Mate Desktop fork of Gnome 2, to keep it alive. So that's very good news, since he was working on it alone.

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in 11.10, you have already two DE's,

  • unity
  • gnome 3 (classic) or (fallback mode)

gnome 3, is not gnome shell, it is the basic interface of gnome 3 with no shell above it.which is the closest to gnome 2 like. as you will have the traditional menu, in the panel to search for applications,you can customize the panel by holding alt and right click, but also lack some features. this is the closest to gnome 2.x. more info. about the gnome 3 fallback mode you can find here

you also can install with no problems at all:

  • gnome shell
  • kde
  • xfce
  • lxde

and use them instead of unity by choosing them in the lightdm manager when you log in.

there are a lot of choices of course, but if you are a gnome guy, i would like to recommend the gnome 3 classic with no shells (no unity and no gnome shell).

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    Thank you for your reply. However would you have a screenshot for gnome 3 without gnome shell? This because I'm afraid that it's the unfamous gnome-fallback-mode, which lacks a lot of functionality. – RevenNL Oct 10 '11 at 11:18
  • Please stop comparing Unity to Gnome 3. They're completely different things. Unity is a shell for Gnome 3, like Gnome Shell is. What you are referring to, is probably Gnome Panel 3. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Oct 10 '11 at 11:19
  • yes, a video i found here. youtube.com/watch?v=Kdwpgyc2kiI it gnome 3 without shells, unity or gnome 3 shell. what it is called i don't know. jo-erland, feel free to edit my answer if there are any mistakes. – suli8 Oct 10 '11 at 11:26
  • That video seems to be the fallback mode I mentioned earlier. – RevenNL Oct 10 '11 at 11:31
  • yeah i didn't know it's called like that. i edited the answer. thx for the info. – suli8 Oct 10 '11 at 11:33

I've been testing out Xubuntu 11.10 and it's actually very nice and quick but it lacks integration with Ubuntu One which is a real bummer as I've become very dependent on it. So, what I've been slowly doing is going back to 11.04 and avoiding the Version upgrade. Fortunately, Ubuntu One makes it easy to go back to 11.04.

So in short if you don't use Ubuntu One I'd try Xubuntu as it works and looks a lot like the old Gnome 2 interface.

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    Oh, and since you are already on 11.10 you can upgrade right to Xubuntu: psychocats.net/ubuntu/purexfce – user37841 Dec 14 '11 at 0:42
  • Ubuntu One does not depend on what shell you use. Xubuntu supports unity indicators, which means that the Ubuntu One indicator will also work nicely with the panels. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Dec 27 '11 at 5:30

If you still want your ubuntu-installation to be both flexible and user-friendly, download MATE-desktop.

It looks and works exactly like the good old gnome-desktop.

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