Friday, September 16, 2011

Ubuntu Oneiric GUI Options - Gnome Shell, Gnome Fallback and XFCE

Ubuntu Oneiric ships with Unity 3D and Unity 2D by default. For those who don't have any love for Unity but they still love Ubuntu, they have got a few more options.

Gnome Shell

Aside from all the controversies, you should give it a try at least. They call it as an innovation and the future of desktop computing, lets see.

Installing Gnome Shell in older Ubuntu versions like Natty and Lucid always led to problems as Gnome Shell is based on Gnome 3 and GTK+ 3, whereas the older Ubuntu versions are based on Gnome 2 and GTK+ 2. But with Oneiric now being based on Gnome 3, Gnome Shell runs smooth. It is in the official repositories, so either search the Software Center for 'Gnome Shell' or get to a Terminal and run:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Once installed, log out and click the wheel (configuration) icon beneath your name at the LightDM login screen and choose 'GNOME' and log in.

Remember, you need a 3D accelerated graphics card and appropriate drivers for Gnome Shell to run properly. Simply, if you were running Unity 3D successfully, you should be able to run Gnome Shell as well.

Gnome Fallback

Gnome Fallback is the closest thing that resembles the old Gnome 2.x interface, and you can even run Compiz with it, if you want so. Primarily, it was designed to be a fallback option for machines that are unable to successfully run Gnome Shell. Therefore, it is a 'recommended' package to Gnome Shell, so it is automatically installed along with that by default, but you can also install it individually, without the latter.

For installation, either search the Software Center for 'Gnome Fallback Session' or get to a Terminal and run:

sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

Once installed, two new options would appear under the configuration menu at the login screen: 'GNOME Classic' and 'GNOME Classic (No effects)'.


XFCE is another option for those who love the old Gnome 2.x interface. An XFCE-specific Ubuntu flavor, called Xubuntu, is also available.

For those who want to install XFCE alongside their current desktop environments we recommend installing just the plain XFCE package:

sudo apt-get install xfce4

To install the complete Xubuntu package, however, run:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

You can now choose 'Xubuntu Session' and/or 'Xfce Session' at the login screen.

Related Posts:

Oneiric Ocelot , Session