Ubuntu – nything better than gnome-session-fallback aka Classic Gnome


I upgraded today to find the following desktop options:

  • Unity (2D/3D): It's hard to describe how much I dislike Unity without breaking various codes of conduct, so I'll leave it as: do not want. It's also crashtastic at the moment but that's another story.

  • Classic Gnome (as installed from gnome-session-fallback): This is basically a massive hack. Panels aren't configurable, fonts are all borked, incompatible with the main themes, doesn't support dual-head.

  • A broken Gnome Shell. I installed gnome-shell and re-logged-in but it looks awfully like the already broken Gnome Classic, nothing like the fairly beautiful screenshots of a stock Gnome Shell install.

What I'm used to and am looking for is something very much like what I've always used including amazing features like:

  • Being able to have one panel, on the bottom
  • A window-list in that panel (where I can see both the application's icon and the window title)
  • Ideally multi-screen support so I can have a panel for each screen
  • A launcher in the left hand side (I've been using Cardapio for a while)
  • A system tray of some variety with a clock

Think Windows XP, KDE or Mint. These aren't fresh ideas but I'm not looking to change my entire desktop experience right now. For that reason, I'd also prefer to stay with something based around Gnome. I use a lot of GVFS stuff and live in Gedit so I'd rather not move to KDE.

So short of reinstalling Natty, what are my options?

Edit: You can customise gnome-session-fallback's panels!

While this doesn't fix everything for me (it's still ugly as sin at the moment and Cardapio isn't here), you can edit the panels.

Depending on how you have things configured, in order to get the menus of panel applets (and the context menus of the panels themselves) you need to hold Alt and Super (aka Windows- or Meta- key) and then right click.

I'm hoping I can fix things enough to not ditch Gnome completely but I'd still like an answer to the original question. The further Gnome moves toward Gnome Shell and Canonical/Ubuntu toward Unity, the poor users in the middle of this tug of war will eventually need another option.

Best Answer

It sounds very much like you're describing Xfce. I think it's a perfect successor for Gnome 2, because in many regards, it's very similar, except it works the way it's intended to. It has panels, very similar to the panels in Gnome 2 and they even support most Gnome Panel applets and Indicators. Xfce4-panel also allows you to have different panels on different screens, which is very nice. Xfce is also a little less demanding of the computer than Gnome 2 was.

LXDE is also very nice. It's quite a bit faster than Xfce, but also a little simpler. I'd say it's something similar to the plain UI in Windows. The LXpanel does not support Gnome Panel applets, but it does support indicators, though I think you'll have to install a plugin for it.

LXDE and Xfce are both complete desktop environments, but you can install only their panels separately if you wish: they're called lxpanel and xfce4-panel, respectively, and you can run them with Unity if you wish.