Note: This question has the potential to cause unneccessary debate about the merits and demerits of Unity, Gnome3, and Gnome Classic. I would like to avoid that and concentrate solely on the issue of future support for Gnome Classic. Thanks for your help!

I am using Gnome Classic, which suits me more than either Unity or the Gnome3 shell.

I think it has the potential to be the best of all possible worlds, in that it has the new Gnome3 code base which appears to be faster and more stable, and also approximates the things that I feel made the Gnome 2.2 shell great.

However, it is not perfect. There are some minor faults in the way panels, the desktop, and other details are handled.

Over time, by asking questions and hopefully getting help, maybe I could resolve those issues and arc towards a UI that I fully enjoy. Also, I would hope that simultaneously, there are big fixes and development happens.

However, I am unsure about whether or not this is worth the effort. Is Gnome Classic just the remnants of Gnome 2.2, and will not be supported or developed further?

Is there a chance it will be forked and possibly expanded upon?

Is there anyone who is working to make Gnome Classic equal in priority to the other shells?

In order to make decisions about whether or not it's worth asking questions, I'd like to know if Gnome Classic is a living, breathing, project, or, is it dead on arrival? Will it cease to even exist in Ubuntu 12.04?


3 Answers 3


The Gnome Classic in 11.10 is Gnome Panel 3. It has been ported to GTK 3, so there's no reason not to support it. The question of development is mostly a question of popularity. Gnome Panel 2 have been very popular, but I'm not entirely sure that's because of the panels themselves, but because of the large number of available applets that is available for it. From a users perspective, these were quite nice, but from a developers perspective, the technology they were based on, are horribly outdated. So the question remains if anyone is going to actually port them to the new platform. If that happens, then I think Gnome Panel 3 can have a good future, but it requires quite a bit of effort and somebody has to do the work.

Because of this, I am a little bit sceptical that it will "take off". It seems more likely to me that people who want a similar environment to Gnome 2 will move on to Xfce, which already has a community and some momentum. I don't think Gnome referring to it as a fallback helps create enthusiasm to rebuild the Gnome 2 experience on Gnome 3.

But this is pure speculation. It's impossible to tell how this will unfold.

  • 1
    I would disagree that people who want a similar environment to Gnome 2 would go to Xfce, because if Xfce were that similar, then it's likely it would have already acheived parity. People don't want to move to another shell just to have something "similar" to what they want, they want what they want. So those who liked Gnome 2 shell want a Gnome 2 shell experience. Anyway, thank you for explaining the situation. I'll be rooting for Gnome Classic ;)
    – Questioner
    Oct 27, 2011 at 12:03
  • The thing is that Gnome 2 was designed in the nineties and had serious flaws. There was no way to switch orientation in applications, for example. You had to rebuild the entire user interface. The panels themselves were absolutely horrible from a developers point of view, which is why there was so very few applets being developed for it. As a practical example, consider that Unity has gotten about as many indicators in the last six months as Gnome 2 got during the last ten years. Gnome 2 wasn't replaced for the bling. Oct 27, 2011 at 15:53
  • 2
    With respect, it sounds like solving a lot of problems I never had. I appreciate that the code might have been difficult for developers, but as an end-user, it worked great. Which is why I think improving the code underneath is a good thing, but changing the shell at the same time was a miss. As for Unity getting as many applets in a shorter time - I think it's too early to say that indicates success. After all, it could just be that developers were keen to make the applets already available in Gnome Panel available in Unity. Just taking the roadmap already followed, as it were.
    – Questioner
    Oct 28, 2011 at 0:37
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    This is the classic mistake of UI designers - to declare that something simply is more user friendly. Users are simply not a constant. I tried Unity and Gnome3-shell over a period of days each, and it didn't work for me. Emphasis on for me. Maybe some people dig Unity or G3. That's nice, and they should be offered as choices. So should Gnome-Classic, which to me is the best of all worlds. Updated code and the interface I like. So my bottom line question is: Is there something about Gnome-Classic with the new G3 code that makes it hard to develop for? Or has that issue gone with Gnome2?
    – Questioner
    Oct 28, 2011 at 16:31
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    @DaveMG: You are right. It is always necessary to give choices rather than dictating. Also, arguing to move to another env like xfce which is similar to gnome classic is also not good as they do not have the same usability and consistency. They could have evolved the gnome classic panel as KDE did in Linux environment and Windows did from XP to 7.
    – Ubuntuser
    Oct 30, 2011 at 14:20

Perhaps Gnome Classic should be renamed Gnome Panel or Gnome Expert Mode. I don't want to use Gnome Classic as a way of holding onto the past but as an approach I prefer. Others may prefer Gnome 3 or Unity and I am happy for them.

  • Yeah, "Classic" smacks of being a holdback, which is not the reality (though it does make sense as a transitional name). So I think you're onto something that the naming could be better. However I wouldn't want to go with "Expert", because that smacks of the stigma that Linux in general often suffers, which is that it's for uber-geeks and gurus. I'm neither. I do graphics and social networking and stuff. I simply think Gnome Classic is by far easier to use than the others. "Gnome Panel" is not bad, though a little arbitrary if you don't already know what panels are (I'm still a bit unclear).
    – Questioner
    Oct 31, 2011 at 1:53
  • I believe Gnome calls it "Fallback", even :) Nov 1, 2011 at 1:11
  • It appears that the answer is yes. I found the following launchpad.net/ubuntu/precise/+package/gnome-session-fallback entry. Hope this helps. It would be good to have this confirmed.
    – Peter M
    Nov 2, 2011 at 17:17
  • Nothing wrong with Gnome Classic, except that it's not really the same as the original. Fallback mode, though, is misleading, and sounds like something for underpowered machines. Fallback mode should mean no 3D, whether Unity or Gnome's hell. Gnome Panel is also misleading, because to me, Gnome 3 shell has panels, just they behave and look different. Personally, if Unity were more like AWN, and not so dictatorial, I'd like it fine, especially with the various add-on menus you can get. Mar 3, 2012 at 21:31

Your question calls for speculation. So here's mine...

I would wager that, with time, Unity shell and Gnome shell will add back the menu features found in Gnome2 so that users can use whichever approach is most efficient for a given task. Or at least I hope that's what will happen. But in the meantime, I'm using Gnome shell along with Cairo Dock (cairo-dock), which offers a Gnome2-like menu among many other goodies. That way, I get the best of all worlds.

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