As far as I understand, both Unity and the new Gnome Shell are both running on new Gnome code base. There's some name confusion because talking about Gnome seems to refer to both the code underneath and the shell. Just to be clear, I'll use Gnome3-Code and Gnome3-Shell to separate out the code from the UI.

Now, if I have that straight, the new Gnome3-Code is a serious improvement over the old Gnome2-Code. I can actually tell that it is significantly more responsive and I presume more stable and rational. So that's good.

And, if I'm right about all this, Unity and Gnome-Desktop are both just shells on top of the new Gnome3-Code. It's on the shell layer that (questionable) decisions, like having a "launcher" that can only be on the left side, are made.

So my question is this: Would it not be possible to use the new Gnome3-Code and make a new shell that is basically the same UI as the Gnome2-Shell?

Aren't all the UI level decisions essentially arbitrary? Is there some reason why you couldn't have panels and Compiz effects and all that jazz?

I notice that Gnome3-shell is not compatible with Compiz, but Unity is. So, surely it would be possible to make a shell that recreated Gnome2-shell.

Of course, I have absolutely no coding expertise in this area whatsoever. But is there a place or a way I can plant the seed of suggesting that someone fork a Gnome2-shell for Gnome3-code?

From what I have seen, while Gnome3-Shell and Unity have their supports, it seems to me the base of that support comes mainly from people close to the project, and the dislike for Unity and Gnome3-shell is pretty significant. I bet if someone went in the direction of a new Gnome2-like-shell, it would soon become a de-facto standard.


Absolutely! Check out gnome-session-fallback in the Software Centre, which gives you a Gnome Classic login session with Gnome Panel 3 and Metacity. (As before, you can swap Metacity for Compiz if you are so inclined). (see here: How to revert to GNOME Classic Desktop? )

As well as using the new Gnome libraries, Gnome Panel 3 is changed from the last version of Gnome Panel 2:

  • There is a new panel applet library that panel applets must use. (I think it was introduced in the last version of Gnome 2).

  • Applets are positioned relative to each other instead of in absolute screen coordinates. This fixes a long-standing bug where applets would be jumbled after changing screen resolution.

  • To edit a panel, you must hold Alt and right click. This makes it a little harder for people to accidentally break the panel. (And, of course, harder to edit the panel if you don't know the trick).

  • The Main Menu applet has the Applications and System sections combined, to be a little more consistent with Gnome Shell.

Other than that, it really is the same panel as before, with a lot of the same applets as before. The ones that aren't there just need to be updated.

  • I can't find a gnome-fallback-session in Synaptic or the software centre. Does it have a different name or do I need an extra repository? – Questioner Oct 18 '11 at 7:18
  • Sorry... extra question: Is gnome-fallback-session different from Gnome "Classic"? – Questioner Oct 18 '11 at 7:19
  • The package is called gnome-session-fallback – Florian Diesch Oct 18 '11 at 7:32
  • Okay, got it installed and running it. However, Compiz does not seem to be working. Is the fallback session not compatible with Compiz? – Questioner Oct 18 '11 at 8:36
  • 1
    Got Compiz working with help here: askubuntu.com/questions/68711/… Gnome Classic now rocks. – Questioner Oct 19 '11 at 2:47

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