GNOME Shell is the "official" shell developed for GNOME 3 by GNOME.
- It uses Mutter instead of Compiz for the window manager.
- GNOME Shell has an Activities view, similar to Unity's Dash, where you can drag windows between workspaces, search for applications, and more.
- By default, windows cannot be minimized in GNOME Shell, as the use of workspaces is supposed to replace that. This could need some getting used to at first, or alternatively the GNOME Tweak tool could be used to restore this functionality.
- GNOME Shell uses automatic workspace management; at any given moment, it only keeps open as many workspaces as you have active windows on, plus an extra empty one to start more windows. When you remove all the windows from a workspace, that workspace will be removed until you need it again.
- Indicators are kept hidden by default in the lower-right corner of the screen; this area is known as the Messaging Tray.
- GNOME Shell in Ubuntu 11.10 comes with the Adwaita GTK3 theme, which is the new default theme for GNOME replacing Clearlooks. This theme can also be used in Unity if one wishes.
- GNOME Shell's functionality and interface can be extended or modified through the use of extensions. For more information on how to install these extensions, see How do I install and manage GNOME Shell extensions?.
GNOME Shell requires hardware acceleration (from version 3.8 ownwards, it will not), and has roughly similar requirements to Unity. As of this writing, the GNOME developers aim to have GNOME Shell able to run on any hardware that is at most four to five years old.
How To Get It
Ubuntu GNOME Remix includes a full blow Gnome desktop enviroment instaled and used by default. This is the recommended method to get Gnome-Shell installed in Ubuntu, if you don't plan to use Unity, KDE or any other desktop manager.
GNOME Shell is available in 11.04 via a PPA.
In 11.10 onwards, GNOME Shell is natively installable from the official repositories. Click this link to install the gnome-shell package, find it in the Ubuntu Software Center, or type
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell in a terminal.
For more detailed information on how to install GNOME Shell (including how to compile the latest upstream version yourself), you may also refer to How do I install and use the latest version of GNOME?.
You can try it out by pressing Alt+F2 and entering