Saturday, 1 September 2012

How-to: Fallback to Gnome Panels on Ubuntu 12.04 UPDATED

Fallback to Gnome Panels on Ubuntu 12.04 UPDATEDThe controversy remains around Ubuntu's Unity, with it's Launcher, Dashboard and Hub. As Gnome Shell appears to be fading as the successor to the classic Gnome 2 desktop, other Linux distributions are going glossy with KDE (Red Hat) or Gnome 2 retro-style with Cinnamon and MATE (Linux Mint)

Meanwhile I still prefer the look and feel of Gnome 2 panels and menus; fast and lightweight and do just what I need to do. They are also easy to achieve thanks to a couple of small package installs, which gives me the desktop shown.

Firstly, install the package gnome-fallback-session from the Ubuntu Software Centre. This one package does the heavy lifting.
Log out of your desktop back to the LightDM login manager and choose ‘GNOME Classic (No Effects)’ session from session drop-list - hit the cogwheel next to your user name to choose it before you log in.

This loads a desktop with a classic 2-panel desktop, in a Gnome-2 'stylee'.

You can change the Panel backgrounds (or not) to suit yourself.

The critical change in operation is the ALT and right-click combination for making changes to panels. It's an accessibility-busting key plus mouse combination but that's what Fallback has to work with. So:
  • Alt+Right click on the top panel,
  • choose ‘Properties’
  • The basic options are for expand, size, positioning, auto hide and so on. From the dialog, you can select the ‘background’ tab to change background colour or apply an image.
Add Ubuntu indicators
There is now a supported package containing a compatible indicators applet for Ubuntu; also in the Software Centre, search for Application Indicators. It will be listed under Technical Items in the search results. Click install and USC does the work (note this pulls in dependent packages).
  • Alt+right-click on the top panel
  • Choose ‘Add Applets’
  • Add ‘Indicator Applet Complete’
Customise To add, remove and move panel items is very easy, Gnome-2 style:
  • ALT+Right click on a panel or item to add, move or edit it
Fix for Compiz Compositing
By default, the GNOME Classic Session grates with Compiz compositing in Ubuntu 11.10, so the fix is to edit the gnome-classic.session configuration file. The fastest way is via the terminal:
gksu gedit /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/gnome-classic.session

In my file I have one entry:

[GNOME Session] 
Name=GNOME Classic

Where I amended the line:

by removing notifications; from the end of the line:

Save the file, log out and you can log back into Gnome Fallback using the ‘GNOME Classic’ option instead of ‘GNOME Classic (No effects)’. RC


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  3. Thanks for the article Robin. I use Ubuntu as my primary environment but highly dislike GNOME 3. The lack of panel icons hurt in the fallback environment but your article saved me here.


    John Deal


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