Ubuntu 11.04 : Uninstall Gnome3 and revert to Gnome 2.x 101

Ubuntu 12.04 Update:

In the latest Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04 LTS, the classic option is back. All you need to do is install gnome-panel like this.

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Logoff and choose classic from login screen. A Note: It is still believed to be in work in progress, not 100% ready yet I believe.

Ubuntu 11.10 Update :

If you are coming here to revert or remove gnome3 or unity from the latest Ubuntu 11.10, then the original solution in this page (found below) is not for you. To get a gnome classic like(not exactly gnome2) experience in Ubuntu 11.10, you would have to install the gnome fallback session as shown below. This infact is a fallback of the gnome3 shell.

sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

Logoff and choose gnome classic from LDM. Also to add applets in Oneiric Ocelot, you would have to do a Alt + Right Click on the panel instead of simple Right Click as it was in Gnome2 (God how I miss it).

A little more detailed info to give gnome3 a ‘classic’ look and feel is provided in this post

For Ubuntu 11.04 users to recover from a broken desktop post installation of gnome3, the solution is given below.

If you installed gnome 3 from ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3, it disables or breaks all other desktop logins be it Ubuntu Classic or Ubuntu default (Unity as in case of Natty). For a sec, I panicked as I use a shared computer, and trust me gnome3 is not yet ready for a newbie user. Although, I was surprised to note that removing gnome3 did prove tricky. However thanks to this post It was a simple task.

Follow the below steps to remove gnome 3 and revert to Gnome 2.x.

sudo apt-get remove libgtk-3-common
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Reboot and you should be back to good old classic gnome. In case you don’t find gnome back again. try this.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop
sudo apt-get install gnome

I would try to lookup a post which allows us use gnome 2.x and 3.x together. If there is a choice I would always go for gnome3 > Unity.

Update 1:
Linus Torvalds hates Gnome 3, calls it a unholy mess!! http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/05/linus_slams_gnome_three/

Also he had demanded that there be a fork for gnome2, and this one looks like one of them.

Update 2:
omgubuntu.co.uk (OMG! Ubuntu) has confirmed that development for Gnome2 fork ‘Mate’ is underway. http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/08/gnome-2-forked/

Update 3:
The Mate(gnome2 fork) is installable in Ubuntu 11.10/12.04, the instructions are given in this article here.

Update 4.

Another suitable alternate to Unity/Gnome3 classic for 11.10/12.04 is Cinnamon. I am currently evaluating it. For instructions to install check this article.

Oh and another alternative is to try LXDE

sudo apt-get install lxde


101 thoughts on “Ubuntu 11.04 : Uninstall Gnome3 and revert to Gnome 2.x

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  3. Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Apr 18,2012 8:49 am

    Wow. You know the time you for the start, but you never know the time for the end. It has been 24 hours of pure work, and then you get it… 2600 words, five screenshots, a 500 megabytes PDF. I won’t try to copy it here, you can find it at my website.
    Searching for usability: Seven window managers for Ubuntu, by Ignacio Agulló Sousa
    By installing the proper package, Ubuntus login screen allows to choose which window manager to use – and by installing gnome-session-fallback, it even allows to choose the old GNOME Classic. Let’s consider seven window manager choices for Ubuntu 11.10 (and before you say it, yes, I know that some of them turn out to be just flavours from a same window manager) : Cinnamon, GNOME (3.x), GNOME Classic (2.x), Jwm, MATE, TWM, and Ubuntu/Ubuntu 2D. All work OK with my encrypted home folder mounted by the PostLogin script – well, at least they do after some tuning on my part. Now, let’s find out about their usability.

  4. Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Apr 17,2012 8:21 am

    I am back, six months after mi previous commentaries. Thanks to Ajo Paul’s blog, I learnt about the gnome-session-fallback that allows to choose the window manager at the login screen of Ubuntu 11.10. And after some trouble (search for my comments above), I managed to get GNOME Classic back amongst the available window managers. I also got the PostLogin script working so my encrypted home folder would mount properly. So, I’ve been using Gnome Classic all this months to my hearts content. But today, Slashdot reported about a MATE release, and in the Slashdot comments I learnt about Cinnamon. So I decided it was time to test the available window managers and check out if they fulfilled my requirements. Do I have to stick to GNOME Classic? The answer, on a follow-up.

  5. Reply Zachariah Callawat Mar 30,2012 7:26 am

    Thankfully a new operating system called Solus Os is being released which is still based on the gnome 2 and you can still install packages from dotdeb on it.

  6. Reply Moebius Feb 26,2012 7:32 am

    Guys, listen what you do. Just do your best to keep your software and hardware to match each other. Make image backups of your OS using Acronis, just they way i do it. I mean, maintain your beloved configuration including Gnome 2 for as long as possible and stay tuned for what’s coming in future. If by the time you’re forced to change hardware/software there are still no good news… just use Windows for God’s sake. Yeah, right, it’s Microsoft, it’s all a commercial moneysucking empire, but hey… it works, ok? I’m not promoting Windows here, it’s just that might serve a good lesson for those who deprave linux Desktop Environment for whatever reasons. Those are bullshit. I have even this assumption, that Gnome & KDE developers got paid by either Apple or Microsoft to get people off ALL linux distros eventually and make them use Mac or Windows. Yeah, i’m not fucking joking!! That’s what i think it is. For i see no other reason why people would all of a sudden spoil up a good looking PROMISING thing. Linux has only started prospering and evolving radically (i’m not talking about network stuff and other specialized kinda business, i’m talking about full-featured home Desktop Environment of its own kind) and YET they have fucked it up! Right on time, dudes, now we all may think linux has been an unlucky experiment, right, and we have all just wasted our times on fiddling around with it, fixing and learning stuff, ’cause now we’re about to move on!! Way to go opensource!! Hail Windows!!! If that be the case, you shouldn’t have even started doing anything! And either you bring Gnome 2 (or let it be Gnome 4, but as Gnome 2 revival & upgrade thing) and we’ll forget all the fuss or you lose thousands of losers. Practically you’ve already lost some of them, but they’re still trying to find their way out choosing between xfce, lxde, openbox and stuff like that. Also, guys, it’s a good thing making forks and such, but hey…. SCREW THAT. Don’t you fucking do it, it’s all useless. Don’t keep people holding on to buggy stuff, make them get off this thing QUICKER, so real developers would start fixing stuff immediately, don’t you fucking touch it! And if they don’t then i’m proud to announce the death of linux as of a promising friendly home desktop environment. It will work further, as usual, just as a network filter. From dust it came, to dust it shall return. Amen.

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  8. Reply heironymus Feb 25,2012 1:17 am

    Remember New Coke? Unity = New Coke. Coca-Cola had the good sense to abandon the product; Canonical take note.

  9. Reply Martin Feb 6,2012 9:15 pm

    I love Gnome 3 more than the rest of the pack. I find it very exciting and congratulations on sucha innovative layout over at the Gnome 3 dev team!
    I use Gnome 3 on all my machines be it openSUSE, Fedora or Ubuntu and laptop, desktop and server! 😀
    I runs light and fast and looks better than Mac OSX multiplied by Win7..

  10. Reply Charles Jan 30,2012 7:53 pm

    All I can say is wow. After leaving the Linux world for a while and then coming back using the IPFIRE distro for a 10 site ipsec vpn configuration, I decided to load up a desktop distro primarily so I could do some minor development.

    Ubuntu 11 was like a slap in the face. How in the world that idiotic GUI made it into a desktop distro is beyond me, and should also serve as a serious warning to Microsoft and their “metro” adventure.

    Phones != tablets != Desktops

    If that fact wasn’t clear enough, 5 min with Ubuntu is all it takes. Revert to Gnome 2? No – can’t be bothered. Already looking for an alternative…

  11. Reply Tommy Dec 18,2011 5:27 pm


    I have did a fresh install of 11.10 and is now regretting in my action. I was soooo sad to see that gnome is no more in my system. I installed gnome 3 . I also have a gnome classic option when logging in.(fallback version i think).

    The problem with me is in the gnome fallback version, the application launcher bar is at the top of the screen. I was shocked to see that there is no option to move the bar to the botom of the screen. I really hate the bar being at the top because it always wastes space in an area where i look always because any web page reading begins from the top.

    My questions,

    1)Is there any way to move the top launcher bar to the bottom.?
    2)Can i completely uninstall gnome 3 and move back to real gnome 2 so that at least i can move the bar to bottom?
    3)I am seriously thinking of moving away from ubuntu because of these. which other linux will you recommend, linux mint.?

    Thank you very much for the help. .

  12. Reply guffy roX Dec 3,2011 7:17 pm

    thanx !

  13. Reply alan Nov 30,2011 2:35 pm

    Ajo Paul is right – Linux is about choices. And Xubuntu (XFCE desktop) looks to be my new choice. Debian is still on Gnome2, and is another alternative. What Ubuntu used to be – fully featured, stable, up-to-date on drivers, and easy to use, is being lost ‘cuz they’re “fixing” what isn’t broken.

    • Reply Ajo Paul Dec 2,2011 10:24 am

      alan, it seems Canonical went with Unity because gnome were already going the gnome3 shell way and they particularly did not like it, so unity was started as an alternative.

    • Reply Francois Feb 5,2012 10:39 am

      not anymore (unless in stable mode), i’m trying to get aways from it now…. intaling Mate… a split from gnome (supposed to be quite like gnome2…. hope it will work, because unity or gnome 3…. not for me)

  14. Reply Langjan Nov 27,2011 10:42 pm

    After reading all this, I am a bit confused – is there a quick, simple and effective way to revert to the Ubuntu classic desktop configuration after upgrading to 11.04?

  15. Reply theronb Nov 27,2011 9:53 pm

    Thanks, Ajo – you are a gentleman and a scholar. As others have said, this saved me from having to reinstall the OS and saved lots of time.

  16. Reply tp Nov 26,2011 12:33 am

    dang, no option for gnome 2 on 11.10. fortunately someone is forking it at gnome 2, its called MATE desktop environment. i’m afraid it isn’t quite refined for ubuntu yet, but it is up and running on mint, but i do hear it will be for ubuntu soon.

  17. Reply Hige Nov 22,2011 10:10 pm

    You saved me!
    I added gnome3 ppa, just to see something, and then, accidentally updated, and my gnome2 sesion crashed.
    Then, i googled for something like this, but everything i got were tutorials to choose gnome2 instead of unity.
    Luckily i found your post, and now my gnome2 is fixed!
    Anyway, i changed to xfce, which is really fast, you have task bars and panels, and you can add effects, without killing your computer.

  18. Reply Bill Drehobl Nov 11,2011 3:36 am

    Enter fallback mode as previously discussed in this thread.
    Once in fallback mode, I was able to “EDIT” the MAIN MENU, via ‘right-click’ on APPLICATIONS, then EDIT MENU. Within the MAIN MENU window, I enabled the DCONF EDITOR within the SYSTEM TOOLS menu (you may need to do ‘apt-get install dconf-tools’).
    Now opening CONFIGURATION EDITOR (dconf-editor) allows me to navigate to ORG.GNOME.DESKTOP.BACKGROUND. Here you will find show-desktop-icons. Turn it on and now all of your desktop icons/files are back!

    Still don’t have the top / bottom side tool bars, but a much better environment now!

  19. Reply Kevin Landers Oct 30,2011 1:20 am

    Help! I tried doing what Ignacio said, but Ubuntu 11.10 still won’t load the gnome desktop!

  20. Reply baudui Oct 24,2011 2:01 am

    Yeap, thanks my system does not boot now.

    • Reply Ajo Paul Oct 24,2011 8:36 pm

      Did you try this from Ubuntu 11.10 or 11.04 ? if from 11.10 then you have to follow the method as posted by Ignacio Agulló Sousa, the comment above you.

  21. Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Oct 22,2011 8:08 am

    Message 2 of 2: the bad outcome I got.

    Gnome 3 really got me upset. I tested it, and decided against using it. In Ubuntu 11.04, I used the login screen to select the Ubuntu Classic (2.x) interface. But, when I updated Ubuntu to Oneiric Ocelot, this choice disappeared – ready or not, I got Gnome 3.

    (In case you are curious to know why I despise Gnome 3, I can pinpoint it to three reasons:
    1. Not being able to place files, folders and shortcuts in the desktop. At the time, I thought that this was upsetting, but that I could get over it.
    2. Reorganizing the entire menu in a different way that made me impossible to find the hundred programs I had installed. This was unnerving, and sufficed on its own to make me want to get back to Gnome 2.
    3. Changing GDM so scripts at login time no longer worked. I relied on this, I had my home directory encrypted, so this change meant I couldn’t work. I sought again and again on the net searching for a way to make the PostLogin script work on GDM 3.0, but found none.)

    So after some time installing the gnome-tweak-tool and trying to tweak Gnome 3 into some usefulness, I gave up and started searching for a way to revert my GNU/Linux laptop back into Gnome 2. I installed the gnome-session-fallback, but it didn’t solve my problem. I got Gnome 2 back, but the underlying engine GDM was still 3.0. Gnome 2 worked in a faulty way, with no System menu, and login scripts wouldn’t execute (so my encrypted home directory continued to be unavailable). Then I found this page. What worked to remove Gnome 3 from Ubuntu 11.04 should work altogether for Ubuntu 11.10, or so I thought. At present I notice that this page has been updated to warn against this, but at the time it didn’t… so I went and carefully executed these critical four commands:

    sudo apt-get remove libgtk-3-common
    sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
    sudo ppa-purge ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
    sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

    I noticed that an awful lot of packages was being removed, but I carried on – packages can always be reinstalled, I thought to myself. Everything seemed to go OK, so I rebooted, and then… disaster struck! Boot stopped halfway every time. It always did after reporting onscreen to start Timidity, so I thought that the Timidity package was the cause. No key would get a reaction – but curiously enough, if I pressed the “On/Off” button, the computer would shutdown the usual way, reporting to stop the services and everything.

    How to fix it? Back to this page, I found this apparently easy fix:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

    But in order to manage the packages from Ubuntu, you have to be logged in first – this was no easy fix. I copied Ubuntu Rescue Remix on an USB stick and booted from it. Then I mounted the hard drive on a directory, and made a chroot to it. Doing this, I was able to use apt-get. I uninstalled Timidity – I surely could do without MIDI for some time, I thought. But it didn’t the trick – turns out that it wasn’t the cause. Now Ubuntu continues to freeze halfway the boot, but after reporting “Checking battery state OK” instead.

    So, I get to keep trying to solve this problem, or else I won’t be able to do my work. My mission is to try that fix… but besides login in, another thing is necessary – network. Booting from Ubuntu Rescue Remix I get ethernet network working automatically, but every time I get to the chroot I lose the network. The logical next step is to setup the network from scratch after chroot, but configuring the network from command line, either ethernet or wireless, is not doing well from some reason. At the moment I am reading the ifconfig and route man pages one time after another, getting closer to learn them to the letter. I am also unable to start Gnome, which deprives me of gnome network managers help.

    I still have hope, tough…:

    -I will manage to setup the network from scratch,
    -then I will execute the fix from this page,
    -and it will get the computer booting again,
    -and at the end of the process I’ll get Gnome Classic again, or else I will install Xfce,
    -and after a short time we’ll get a beautiful, usable Gnome Classic fork that will restore our faith in GNU/Linux, on the developer community, and in the entire world – I am waiting for you, Mate.

    • Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Oct 22,2011 9:49 am

      Bad news. I managed to set up the network using the commands dhclient and route (for some reason the routing table needed adjustment). Then, I executed the fix:

      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get upgrade
      sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

      Things seemed to go OK at the moment. I tried to start Gnome by doing startx, and Gnome appeared on the screen, but it froze. It was then that I restarted the computer… and then, it froze halfway boot at the very same point: “Checking battery state OK”.

      At least now I know how to setup the network. I will use apt-get to tweak the packages installed. I keep the hope.

    • Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Oct 24,2011 1:25 pm

      Good news. At last solved it. Good heavens, now I know what is to spend some days in hell. The fix shown on this page wasn’t enough – Ubuntu failed to boot, surely because so many packages were uninstalled by the sudo apt-get remove command. So, besides doing the fix, I added…:

      sudo apt-get install gnome

      …and then I got dozens and dozens of packages back. I also did some three other apt-get commands just to be sure, but I think they were irrelevant: check, auto clean and auto remove

      …and then, Ubuntu 11.10 booted all right. I am writing from it. It continues to have the fallback, so I can choose the Gnome version at login time. And guess what: I got Gnome 2.x after all and my login script works and mounts my encrypted folder when I log in. I suppose the ppa-purge is doing its work. Everything is OK. One minor annoyance, the System menu is missing, but I found its elements distributed among the Applications submenus such as Other, so I still have them. I got what I wanted in the end, tough at the price of a pair of sleepless nights, getting my duties stuck behind schedule, and experience some anguish. A price so high that if had known it ahead, I would probably have chosen not to pay it and migrate into Xfce without a thought. But as long as I payed for it and got to enjoy Gnome classic in the end, I must thank you, Ajo Paul.

  22. Reply Ignacio Agulló Sousa Oct 22,2011 6:51 am

    Message 1 of 2: thank you for your intentions, we really need help.

    People who refuse to change to Gnome 3 (me included) certainly are in need for help, because we are been ravished. It’s our usability that is been ravished – it started with Unity and continued with Gnome 3.

    Before that, we gnome users had a well-established way to work, with a menu bar and icons on the desktop, which is probably the most comfortable way around to work on a desktop computer. Then, things changed… glitches became quite frequent with Gnome 3, something disappointing from Gnome – a software known for its quality.

    But besides this share of glitches, there were two things upsetting me:

    a) Desktop was no longer available as a desktop. I could not use it for placing files and folders and icons.

    b) The menu bar disappeared and was substituted for reorganized menu which only shows part of the programs and most of the time requires you to write the name of the program you wan to run.

    This completely changed the way to work on a desktop computer, and in an unwanted and unsolicited way. In particular, the menu change completely turned me off. I am unable to continue performing as I used to do. I had about a hundred programs installed on my computer, all of them carefully organized on menus. After the change, they are completely reorganized into a new, different menu structure. Now I cannot find my programs. If I don’t find a program at the sidebar menu, I am supposed to write its name – then I get either the small trouble of losing time writing, or the big trouble of not remembering the name – I cannot remember about a hundred programs by name. When I addressed, say, a LAN task, I scouted through my LAN tools submenu searching for the adequate tool. Now, I am supposed to search for their names through my memory – and I cannot remember half of them.

    Now I see clearly the underlying difference between free and proprietary software. Because proprietary software is business, people who use it get considered as customers. You just don’t anger customers. Proprietary software developers just try to keep customers satisfied. As for free software, people who use it get considered as users. Free software developers don’t care about angering users. Free software developers just try to lead the community into new, exciting directions. So, free software users get dogmatism, even tough it can be good-intended.

    This dichotomy shows its differences when it comes to usability. Proprietary software developers always give in to customers’ satisfaction – they stick to conservative interfaces, and when they occasionally release new interfaces, they are always ready to step back if the changes are unwelcome. As for free software developers, they think they are “educating” the users. They are not afraid to break a well-established consensus on how to use the desktop. They force the users to adapt to new interfaces even tough sometimes these changes doesn’t mean real progress – and it leads to start over again in a relatively short time. At best, it leads to exciting quantum leaps in computing. At worst, it leads to an “enlightened one” dismissing the usual way to work and forcing people to learn another one in a quite fascist way.

    What happened to Gnome 3 is not only an example of this tyranny, but it is actually worst. It is not a case of failure – if Gnome 3 merely failed to meet the standards of quality of prior Gnome releases, we users would probably trust Gnome developers to amend their flaws and level up again for the next release. But it is really not a case of negligence, but treason. Yes, treason.

    The growing success of Android means that GNU/Linux is topping the portable-devices’ market – and thus, GNU/Linux interfaces such as Gnome are taking over several millions of devices. At desktop computers, the reduced share of GNU/Linux means that Gnome can aspire to have only 2% of the market – but at portable devices, it has the opportunity to be king. Then you realize it: Gnome 3 is clearly not intended for desktop computers but for tablets and smartphones. It is jumping at the chance of a greater market – even if it means to betray its original users by providing them an interface unsuitable for desktop work. It reminds me very much of Motorola and Apple, when Motorola forgot about its long-term relationship with Apple and gave priority to satisfy the massive orders of the gaming industry.

    Linus Thorvalds said it: “Gnome 3 is a goddam mess”. He changed to Xfce. Maybe I should too.

  23. Reply marc Oct 22,2011 2:05 am

    Alt + right-click to edit a panel… Brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Reply Joe Oct 21,2011 1:07 pm

    Hi, I followed your instructions and now I can’t load the Ubuntu. I’ve tried an installation from a pendrive and nothing. Any suggestion?

    • Reply Ajo Paul Oct 21,2011 2:10 pm

      hmm. ok So you tried this from 11.04? What do you mean ubuntu doesn’nt load?, do you see the login screen? what happens when you choose classic gnome and try? and also did you try this sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop?

  25. Reply QuantumG Oct 19,2011 12:09 pm

    I am currently reverting back to 11.04. Unity is terrible. If future versions of Ubuntu don’t have an option to remain with the classic I will look for a new distribution! The customization has been completely lost 🙁

  26. Reply bassgun Oct 19,2011 2:29 am

    OMG!!! I really HATE Gnome3 and Gnome-fallback of 11.10, now I see this site and I am already enthousiast about the first few lines I read… I am giving it a shot right now! See you back later… when I am happily using Gnome 2 again 🙂

    (sorry for my Dutchy English, LOL)

  27. Reply J Rasor Oct 18,2011 1:21 am

    Thanks, Ajo, you’ve helped a lot of people here.

    Something about upgrade from 11.04 broke window management: LibreOffice Writer and Firefox would show menu-less white screens. Work-around for Writer: open document in Microsoft Office, edit, save, re-open in Ubuntu. How’s that for reversion/revulsion/de-evolution?

    But I made the mistake of trying your solution on Ocelot (11.10); splat. No Ubuntu GUI; tty works fine — enough to get no help from dmesg.

  28. Reply B M Oct 15,2011 2:09 am

    Well, thanks a lot. >:( Now Ubuntu won’t start.

  29. Reply Lowkey Sep 7,2011 4:22 am

    Gnome3 is an abomination and needs to die.

  30. Reply Marc Sep 5,2011 2:43 am

    THX a lot for your solution.

    I dislike unity interface and gnome 3 didn’t work with my old computer.

    hapilly U were there.

    thx for allowing me to enjoy customisation for my brand new ubuntu.

  31. Reply Kashinath Pai P Sep 3,2011 11:19 am

    Hi Sir,

    Thanks for this post. I was successfully able to revert back to gnome 2 unity ubuntu desktop. Thanks a ton, had actually burnt my hands trying to work with gnome 3.

  32. Reply Thomas Aug 30,2011 12:20 pm

    You saved my life! I was about to do an operating system reinstall…had everything ready to do so. But now everything’s back to normal. My relationship with Gnome will never be the same.

  33. Reply Sheldon Aug 23,2011 3:42 am

    Thanks for the info. I thought I’d give gnome3 a try and I can’t stand it. Unity and the thinking behind it is precisely why I dumped microsoft.

    If Canonical drops gnome 2 in favour of this garbage, I’ll drop Ubuntu just as fast.

  34. Reply Rico Eulitz Aug 22,2011 10:00 pm

    has someone an idea how to get back ubuntu boot splash screen?

  35. Reply Jason Aug 12,2011 8:13 am

    Honestly, I found Unity to work better than Gnome 3. I don’t like either one, but at least Unity seemed less buggy… I heard though that it is because Gnome 3 has huge issues with ATI graphics right now. I am running a 1GB ATI Radeon 4880 HD graphics card. At the current time, I would chose Unity over Gnome 3, but I would choose even KDE over either of them… never thought I would chose KDE over Gnome, but yeah, its come to that.

    Gnome 3 worked so bad after I installed it that it only worked once after install (the first time I rebooted). Even then, the retarded “Activity” bar displayed in what was like 8 bit, maybe even 4 bit, color, as did the side bar. This was odd because the icons and desktop wallpaper looked fine. I ended up having to go into the failsafe terminal upon login to remove Gnome 3. Unfortunately, I did not find your article until after all this, so I installed KDE to have an interface. Now I have installed 2 back onto my machine. However, I am keeping KDE on it just in case something goes awry.

    • Reply Pedrog Manriuqe Aug 14,2011 5:28 am

      Hello to everyone, thank you for your help… About Gnome3 i think that is the actual fashion, Windows 8 its like a website or portable device (smartphone, or pad) i hate that way to drive the OS. Right now all OS are very heavy for that reason… I like a lot more gnome 2.x with compiz my cube and all beatifull and controlable fx, and spend less resources…
      Thank you and sorry for my bad english

  36. Reply WeLoveXFCE Aug 11,2011 4:45 am

    IMHO KDE and GNOME and Unity may burn in hell with their developers together.

    It’s a pain just working desktop enviroments like XFCE and LXDE are so underrated by distromakers.
    XFCE and LXDE are the future. Mark my words. The dev’s of those DE’s are smart and just look what the users wants, not brainstorming a completely alternative GUI which you can’t mod at all.

    No wonder why nobody wants to make the switch to linux: most distro’s are dominated with crappy KDE and GNOME!

  37. Reply Paul Bonijol Jul 27,2011 12:25 pm

    Thanks a lot !
    My problem was that using the gnome3 ppa breaks almost everything but the recovery console.

    Your tip worked quite well, although i’ve replaced the last step with installing gnome-desktop-environment instead of ubuntu-desktop.

  38. Reply jim Jul 20,2011 5:46 pm

    They can have my Gnome 2.x, when they pry it away from my dead cold fingers…people seem to be saying everywhere on the web.

    Well seriously, Unity is maybe a good for game console, notepad, or smart phone. However it is not good for people who program.
    Gnome 3 is unfortunately moving in that direction probably for the same reason, to capture the game playing, notepad, and smart phone market. Unfortunately it is not good for people who program. We hope that somebody will realise that there is this whole big market of people who still use computers for programming and will give us a window manager that looks and behaves like Gnome 2.32…

  39. Reply Firefly Jul 20,2011 8:18 am

    Thanks for this! I was so excited to get it and then it just blew me away at how bad it was. It looks good on the screenshots, and it may be good on the systems that it is native to, but it is not good on Ubuntu. And if Ubuntu 11.10 DOES take away GNOME first I’ll try installing it myself. If not, then I’ll move to another distro, probably Mint.

  40. Reply Dennis Flores Jul 12,2011 8:48 am

    Thank you!, great post, you save my day… I doesnt like gnome 3.0, well I think it need some more work to use it.

  41. Reply Jon Jul 4,2011 3:06 pm

    I followed your steps and now ubuntu is broken. I log in and all I get is a background with a terminal window in it. Grrrrr. Anyone know how to fix this?

  42. Reply pallav Jun 12,2011 6:19 am

    Thanks buddy.

  43. Reply sameer misra Jun 9,2011 3:26 pm

    i have ubuntu 11.04… unity was running properly until i installed gnome3

    now i have a classic theme, like windows classic, and can’t switch back

    additional drivers window says tat my nvidia graphic card driver is not in use
    how to fix this?

  44. Reply Mike Jun 2,2011 5:31 pm

    Thank you!!! Wasted a day on this. Hopefully Gnome3 will be better supported on Ubuntu in the future…

  45. Reply Sam Fourie Jun 1,2011 1:22 am

    Seriously … i have been trying to convert to linux/ubuntu for a year or so now and all that stopped me was the one or two programs not available in linux where Wine was not good enough. With this new Interface or desktop as you call it they have made the whole linux stumble block all massive again. i might as well not try and convert people to it, as how the hell can i endorse and support something which has no use….

    seriously … might as well use windows 3.1.. at least it will run faster on my Quad Core

  46. Reply Ben May 26,2011 4:12 am

    I always love Gnome 2.x…

  47. Reply John May 22,2011 5:50 pm

    Looks like after much playing around with compiz and some other things that I really don’t have steps for or know what I did to get it working, ive got everything working again! Your post is what got it all started though so thanks!!!

  48. Reply John May 22,2011 4:32 pm

    Seems that in trying to remove unity, installing Gnome3 and not liking that at all then trying your fix to remove gnome 3 im left with a lot of problems.

    First, I have no title bar at the top of my windows. no close/minimize/maximize buttons or even the bar where they would go.

    my mouse cursor is a big X and I can’t change it.

    no ability to use workspaces… among many other problems… do you have any idea what I might have done? I don’t really want to reinstall…

  49. Reply MN May 13,2011 7:23 pm

    @John, feeling quite the same as you.

    Seems I found a like minded crowd here, maybe.
    Wonder why these Unity developers want to turn my big screen computers to an iPhone.
    “Kindergarden”, that is exactly the right word for such a app crap.
    Lost an evening to find out that it’s really worth to start testing again what comes as next version from Ubuntu. Maybe it has really been worth waiting a bit longer to switch everything to this distro. If that is the direction they will be going to in future, then I won’t be their fellow any more. You Canonical guys, listen well: don’t let yourself be misled by the apple men… Veräppeln, we say in German, guess why….

    And Gnome 3… Oh Lord, why that ?
    Couldn’t they just stop searching for something different, whatever it is,
    if it just was good and stable what they’ve got in their hand?
    (Maybe we need to start paying them in order to not go any further ?!?)

    More than that, the problems some of us have to solve everyday are complicated enough, sometimes. It would be nice if the tools we use for that would just keep the same if they are good, at least if they weren’t just be tossed around without any need, just because some designers are bored to see the same old (but good!) toolbox every day. There are indeed people out there who *work* with these tools and who are quite comfortable to find things where they have always been in the last couple of years.

    Thanks a lot for your understanding and your helpful assistance.
    For a second I though of some heavy words of one of the German poets:
    „Nichts ist schwieriger und nichts erfordert mehr Charakter, als sich im offenen Gegensatz zu seiner Zeit zu befinden und laut zu sagen: Nein!“
    Ok, this was used in a much more political sense, I know.
    But we all sometimes need to lean back and wonder what we are doing.
    Thanks a lot that you did, Ajo.

  50. Reply Jaron May 10,2011 3:18 am

    Thanks for this, Seems like I’m in the same boat as many others. From what I did get to see of Gnome 3 without the unity/gnome3 crossover messing everything up it might be a nice wm – Is there a way to get rid of Unity first before adding the gnome3 ppa im wondering. I’d be very interested to see a blog tute of how to have Gnome2.x and 3 coexist like you stated earlier.

  51. Reply Joe "Floid" Kanowitz May 9,2011 11:51 pm

    I’m appreciating this tip to recover lazily, but allow me to express my mild annoyance that the PPA packages obliterate the standard Ubuntu gdm sessions in favor of a more limited set. Nothing in the PPA removes the 2.32 gnome-panel (which appeared to play nicely enough with the newer packages), but failing to include a “Classic” session definition means the onus is on the curious gnome3 testing user to re-create one.

    • Reply Ajo Paul May 10,2011 12:10 am


      You seem to be making an interesting point. So you are suggesting we wouldn’t have to perform the above steps to “revert” or re-enable the “classic” menu? Pardon my ignorance, but if you could provide steps to do the same differently, it would be welcome.

      • Reply Joe "Floid" Kanowitz May 11,2011 11:08 pm

        By way of example, since I haven’t yet had time to refresh myself on where and how gdm stores things:

        With gnome3 installed from the PPA, it’s possible to invoke Unity from the (3.x) gdm and simply run “gnome-panel” from a terminal to see how this works out. Things will be a little messed up as the lingering Unity dock seems to grab clicks even with the gnome panels ‘above’ it, but you can see how well the 2.32 gnome-panel plays with the 3.x components.

        I tossed a gnome-terminal item in the Unity dock before experimenting with gnome3, so I don’t know if Unity’s incompatibility with the gnome3 version of whatever component it tries to query to get the [list of applications/search results] would make this more complicated. gnome-panel –display=:0 from a vty should do it but wasn’t personally tested.

  52. Reply Adam Burton May 9,2011 6:55 am

    Thankyou so much Ajo,
    You have saved my life after i tried to upgrade to 3. it broke unity… this is quite weird, maybe its a bug?? anyway keep up the awesome work!

  53. Reply Akash May 7,2011 7:18 pm

    Hey Ajo,

    Dude you Rock !

    Allright i did not to thorough research & ended up on slow & bugfull desktop where nothin seemed to work.. when usual gdm config file did not seem to be much informative, i started scratching the net…soon i realized that i might end up killing my current install as there was no fallback procedure by Ubuntu guys ( or may be they did not put to the right place.. whatever).

    But Buddy you really helped me , this was simple & yet to so scary situation to be in.

    Thanks a lot for posting this & sharing your kb .. lesson i take home is – “Never install new upgrade directly on home server” , may be i would use virtual box in future for trials.

    Thank you so much Ajo

    akash dubey

  54. Reply PGonze May 7,2011 10:26 am

    Like others… Neither Unity nor gnome3 are acceptable; both are slow, buggy, and lack some functions. If forced to leave gnome2, I will have to leave Ubuntu…

  55. Reply Ex Linux User May 6,2011 2:26 pm

    Unity is a piece of shit.

  56. Reply Bollex May 6,2011 8:36 am

    Worked great! Thanks. Gnome 3 is still very buggy!!

  57. Reply Bobby May 3,2011 9:46 pm

    Thanks a lot for this post, I installed gnome3 because I saw good reviews of it on youtube. Once I installed it, I noticed nothing but bugs!

    • Reply Sabin Marcu May 16,2011 5:17 am

      Agreed. I also installed Gnome3 out of curiosity and hope, but ended up with a menubar that shifted to 16bit color scheme all of a sudden and a need for a window manager restart (i don’t know if it’s actually restart, it’s just the ‘r’ command) every 5 seconds. Thanks for the tip, by the way, it worked out great.

  58. Reply Ed Tillman May 3,2011 10:42 pm

    I did an upgrade from 10.10 to 11.04 last night on my school lab computer, and almost puked at the result! I like my panels and tool-bars small, mobile and configurable to wherever and whatever *I* want of them, not an over-sized, kindergarten view of what some corporation thinks I should have there, and locked in place. That’s a big part of why I left Windows for Ubuntu in the first place. I’m definitely NOT loading 11.04 on my home units for fear of whatever else I might lose. Keep this up, folks, and a faithful 5-year Ubuntu user will be off to find another distro. Cannonical? I hope you’re listening…

    • Reply admin May 4,2011 12:18 am

      Ed, you can safely upgrade your home pc to 11.04, and then in the gdm login screen choose the user and select ‘Ubuntu classic’ as the default session. This as “you” like will have your panels thanks to gnome 2.x 🙂

      • Reply Benjamin Chodroff May 5,2011 1:12 am

        Thank you for this tip!! I absolutely *hate* 11.04 (so many bugs, so many terrible UI choices) but this tip has kept me from ditching Ubuntu all together. This configuration option to not use Unity should be highlighted *right* after the install.

        • Reply admin May 5,2011 7:07 am

          agree, they should have left classic as the default and allowed users to try Unity

          • Reply Bachi May 11,2011 5:54 pm

            Unfortunately, Canonical will most likely remove ‘classic’ in the upcoming 10.10 release.

            It’s a pity that with Ubuntu we seem to loose the free choice. There are many conceptual flaws, like placing application menus away from the application window (while the app’s icon bars remain in the window).

            I would expect (in fact that was a reason I switched to Linux some years ago) to have the choice to select what’s best for me. But no sir, not anymore, it seems. Time to leave Ubuntu for another distro?

  59. Reply Jaime Gutiérrez May 3,2011 8:35 am

    Thanks for this post. It seems that i lost my notification area when I get back to gnome2…. but its ok. Thanks

  60. Reply Adam May 3,2011 1:32 am

    Thank you! I was moments away from doing a re-install before finding your post. Thanks for saving me a bunch of time.

    • Reply admin May 3,2011 9:09 pm

      same here, I had infact done an upgrade from 10.10 to 11.04 beta, so thought I could go for fresh install, but luckily I can continue after removing it!

  61. Reply Sascha May 2,2011 3:23 pm


    installation of Gnome3 broke my Gnome2-Layout. As soon as my desktop is loaded the Gnome-Bars change color from Standard Ambience-Theme to simple gray bars after a few seconds. 🙁 Any ideas how to prevent that? It looks like it changes automatically to an old classic-theme…

    I use Ubuntu 11.04 in VMWare-Player to test it. Unity doesn’t run on virtual machine, so I tried Gnome3, which doesn’t work either. So i tried to uninstall it to get back to Gnome2-Layout as known from Ubuntu 10.10. 🙁

    • Reply admin May 3,2011 9:08 pm

      Not sure why are getting that! Is your gnome-panel/notification area/desktop icons all back ? Try a different theme and test.

  62. Reply Kathleen May 2,2011 2:47 am

    Thanks for the helpful information. Am not a fan of Unity and went back to Classic. If next release removes Gnome 2x, I may find another distro.

  63. Reply David Gommeren Apr 29,2011 7:49 pm

    Thanks, Unity might be great for Netbooks, but totally useless for power-users with high-resolution screens. Gnome 3 is a joke, I rather move back to Windows.

    If Ubuntu is going to drop Gnome 2.x and force 3 I will have to change distribution (or worse, stop using computers altogether).

    • Reply admin Apr 30,2011 2:40 am

      Dont lose hope David, gnome team is listening, guess they cant give up gnome-panel so easily yet. coming few months will be very interesting in the leadup to 11.10, and the post release feedback of 11.04. Would be curious for the % of users changing from default Unity login to gnome classic post install.

  64. Reply Jon Babcock Apr 29,2011 4:24 pm

    Thanks for this info! I also installed gnome3 after finding that the kindergarten aesthetics and belligerent GUI behavior of MSWindows/MAC OS-X defines the Unity interface. I hadn’t been following the development at all, so this came as a big surprise. (In a sense it was the pseudo-Windows aspects of KDE that always prompted me to return to Gnome much as I was sympathetic for the KDE effort.) And I always had to customize Gnome after a new install, to tighten it up, to keep the GUI in the background but handy. Anyway, I tried Unity for a few hours thinking maybe it was just my age (I’m 68), that I shouldn’t be so narrow-minded and stuck in my ways. But I ended up with that general malaise that usually occurs when I have to work on a Mac or a Windows pc— a kind of slowly building revulsion, finally terminating in a ‘wtf am I messing with this crap for’ feeling. Anyway, Gnome, in spite of long-standing reservations, for me is definitely superior to Unity, with its Mac dock and in-your-face Dash, etc., so I thought I’d give Gnome3 a shot. Unfortunately, it not only made it impossible to revert to Classic but, in my case, it is unusable because windows don’t seem to take the focus properly. I found I could type something in a text field on a web page in Chromium, for example, but only after moving the pointer to the app title in the top panel would that action take effect. After messing with this, I came upstairs to get a bite to eat and think. While doing so, I sat down at my wife’s machine and fortunately, I found your post and can remove Gnome3 and go back to classic. Thanks again, and sorry about the long ‘comment’.

    • Reply admin Apr 30,2011 2:37 am

      It was nice read @Jon. Almost every one is for a shock surprise once they realize classic’s gone once 3.x is activated. Goes to show how hard it is to give up on gnome that’s been rock solid for years.!!

  65. Reply admin Apr 29,2011 12:34 pm

    @Akshay, it will be a challenge for the ubuntu developers to move users out of gnome 2.x. Heard the next version i.e Ubuntu 11.10 may not have Ubuntu classic(Gnome 2.x) option at all!!

  66. Reply Akshay Apr 29,2011 12:04 pm

    thanks a lot! i also freaked out after upgrading to 11.04. Although I like gnome 3.0 better than unity, I prefer the old GNOME 2.x, from 10.10.

  67. Reply Ajo Paul Apr 28,2011 12:33 pm

    Yes, its pretty weird gnome 3 installation should break Unity. I went ahead and tried it without research.

  68. Reply m Apr 28,2011 4:50 am

    thanks! Gnome 3 breaks Unity, not much info out there about this.

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