When I upgraded to 11.10 from 11.04, on first boot I was put into the Unity shell. However, since then, I have opted to use Gnome-Classic.

My question is, when Ubuntu 12.04 comes out next April, will it do the same thing and default to the Unity shell and I'll have to reinstall Gnome and Gnome-classic? Or will my Gnome-Classic interface and settings be preserved?

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    Yes, there is a Gnome fallback session for Gnome shell if you will install that,if you don't then Uunity 2D is your other option. There is no Gnome classic aka Gnome 2 in 11.10 and will not be in 12.04 either and you can't install it without braking your system. Nov 28 '11 at 6:06
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    @UriHerrera: I think you might be mistaken about what the question is asking. Also, I am running Gnome-Classic on 11.10 right now, so I think you are confusing Gnome2 and Gnome-Classic, which are different things.
    – Questioner
    Nov 28 '11 at 6:09
  • yeah, got it now. Nov 28 '11 at 6:14

Your GNOME Classic (i.e., Fallback) interface and your settings pertaining to it will almost certainly be preserved when you upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Ubuntu 11.04 used GTK+2 and GNOME 2. By default it provided three session types: Ubuntu (GNOME 2 with the GTK+2 version of Unity, which required 3D acceleration), Ubuntu Classic (a classic GNOME 2 interface), and Ubuntu Classic (no effects) (the same, but without any visual effects at all).

When you upgraded from Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal to Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, GTK+2 was replaced with GTK+3. The Unity interface existed for GTK+3, so while it changed a lot "under the hood" (for that and other reasons), the user experience only changed slightly. However, the classic GNOME 2 interface requires GTK+2. So it was replaced with Unity 2D, which behaves very much like Unity and very little like the classic GNOME 2 interface.

As you know (since you use it), a GNOME Classic session type (which provides the GNOME Fallback interface, which is a GNOME 3 interface with a shell that feels a lot like, though by no means the same as, GNOME 2's old shell) is available in Ubuntu 11.10. It is provided by the gnome-session-fallback package. The GNOME Classic session type is not really a logical continuation of any previous interface present in earlier Ubuntu releases, and it is community-supported rather than being supported by Canonical (that is, it is provided in the Universe component rather than the Main one). For these reasons, it would not make sense for it to be installed by default during a fresh installation or upgrade, and it is not. You had to install it yourself (by telling the package manager that you wanted that one particular package).

There are no plans to remove gnome-session-fallback for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin, so if you use the GNOME Classic session type in Ubuntu 11.10, there is no reason to think you will not be able to use it in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS either. Currently, this release is in alpha testing. gnome-session-fallback can be installed in Precise systems, and if you have an Oneiric system with it installed, it remains installed when you upgrade to the Precise alpha. If GNOME Classic is the default session type in an Oneiric system (either globally or for some user), it remains so when that system is upgraded to the Precise alpha.

When upgrading from one release to another, you should expect that the appearance and behavior of most applications will change. There will probably be changes in the GNOME Fallback interface provided in GNOME Classic sessions. However, the changes are unlikely to be very great, because this is designed as a fallback interface; it is not where bleeding-edge development is occurring. These changes may well not even be noticeable. And whether or not they are, your settings within this interface (such as the layout you use for your panels) should remain the same when you upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

As there is still some time remaining before Ubuntu 12.04 LTS comes out, it is of course possible for there to be major changes. However, especially considering that this is an LTS release with an emphasis on rock-solid stability and long-term usability rather than on making major changes or introducing large new features, it seems unlikely that any of the current interfaces will be changed enormously or made unavailable.

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    Thank you for this complete answer. That makes sense. So... if I understand you correctly, now that I have Gnome Classic, which didn't exist before, I should be able to keep it. I only was offered Unity because the slate was being wiped clean as far as shells go, so to speak. Also, I undersand there will be slight differences, I just don't want to be given an entirely new shell. (If any Ubuntu/Gnome developers are out there, don't leave us Gnome-Classic fans hanging ;) )
    – Questioner
    Nov 28 '11 at 7:03
  • Yes, that's correct. Though actually Oli has a good point in talking about the change in default DM. That would, separately, have probably been sufficient to reset all users' (and the global) default session types, as unfortunately GDM settings were not imported into LightDM in the Natty to Oneiric upgrade. (This doesn't change the answer, but I do want to credit Oli for mentioning that point.) Even without that, though, it would have been reset because Oneiric has no equivalent of Ubuntu Classic. Neither is expected to happen from Oneiric to Precise. Nov 28 '11 at 7:09

It's nigh on impossible to say exactly what will happen at this point but I can say this:

The reason you defaulted to Unity when you upgraded is because LighDM replaced GDM, and the actual gnome-classic desktop no longer exists (it's gnome-session-fallback now). Everything changed name and Gnome Shell (of which gnome-session-fallback is a part) was not a default install option.

These sorts of massive changes mean the upgrade process leaves you with the default. It could have been more clever about things but it wasn't.

Given that things are likely to remain fairly static in terms of nomenclature and stack, I can't see any good reason why you would lose your default settings again.

But it's early and Canonical do like to throw things in at the last minute.

Update 4/4/12: I'm happy to report that upgrading from Gnome Classic in 11.10 to 12.04 beta 2 has left me with my default desktop installation.

I'm leaving my initial post above because it highlights where the problems came in previous releases.


In 12.04 Unity will still be the default desktop, as you can do now you can install or re install Gnome Shell and it's fallback mode, you're settings will still be preserved after that.

  • I'm sorry, but you are still talking about Gnome2, which has nothing to do with what I am asking about. Nor am I asking about any "Fallback Mode". I thank you for taking the time to answer, but unfortunately, I think you're completely on a different track.
    – Questioner
    Nov 28 '11 at 6:16
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    Gnome-Classic session is the Gnome Shelll Fallback mode <-- full name. Nov 28 '11 at 6:18
  • As you can see here:askubuntu.com/questions/69576/… Nov 28 '11 at 6:26
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    the command installs package gnome-session-fallback which in LightDM is named Gnome -Classic. Nov 28 '11 at 6:27
  • Um... nope. I don't think so. Because it doesn't "fall back" to it when other options don't work. It emulates the Gnome2 interface, but does it with Gnome3 code. In any case, you're not answering the question, so thanks for your time, but I'll be awaiting other answers.
    – Questioner
    Nov 28 '11 at 6:27

I have been running 12.04 Alpha 1 for about 2 weeks now and have Gnome running.

  1. Gnome - lots of nifty moving bits, a bit flaky but works well.
  2. Gnome Classic. A bit similar to Unity but has the bottom panel so you can see what windows are open.
  3. Gnome Classic with no effects. Pretty much the same as Gnome Classic in 11.10

All work quite happily in 12.04.

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