Gnome 3: go to Shell? Not just yet, thanks.
In Debian Unstable the transition to Gnome 3 is taking place; when Gnome 3.0 firstly came out some unnamed geeky users complained loudly about the design decisions of the development team to push strongly towards gnome-shell as a new default UI; gnome-shell was designed focusing on usability (usability is a metric relative to a certain target audience BTW) and simplicity, hiding a lot of details from the users. Obviously you can never make everyone happy so some of us simply happened to be “out of target”: you know us computer people (*cough cough*), we like to be in charge and control The Machine...
I must admit I still don't have a definitive opinion about the gnome-shell concept, for now I just know that it does not suit me; I am going to try it eventually, maybe I'll get used to it, but in the mean time I need my desktop back just like I shaped it through the years; can this be done without loosing all the good Gnome technologies (Empathy over all of them)?
To be completely fair I have to say that there is little to complain about with Gnome developers, we can still get our good old GNOME desktop fully back by using the fall-back mode based on gnome-panel and live happily ever after, let's take a look at how this can be accomplished.
NOTE: GNOME people state that the fall-back mode is meant for systems with older graphic cards which cannot run gnome-shell, however it can very well be seen as a good opportunity for those who do not want to run gnome-shell just yet.
Getting back to the topic: some minor touches are needed to make the panel look more like what we are used to, maybe some of these settings could even become default for fall-back mode, we'll see.
First, enable fall-back mode (on Debian there is a dedicated session you can choose from the Log-in Manager for that) and change some desktop settings, in a terminal type:
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.session session-name 'gnome-fallback' $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'menus-have-icons' true $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'buttons-have-icons' true $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background 'show-desktop-icons' true
gnome-tweak-tool can be used for some of these settings like shown in the attached images.
Then rearrange the applets on the panel as you please (use Alt-RightClick to access the panel properties), and fix the theming using this patch to have a light panel again (against
$ mkdir $HOME/.themes $ cd $HOME/.themes $ cp -r /usr/share/themes/Adwaita Adwaita-fallback $ cd Adwaita-fallback $ patch -p1 < $HOME/adwaita-fallback-panel-theme.patch $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'gtk-theme' 'Adwaita-fallback'
Some final touches for the Metacity window manager and to the clock applet, and we are all set:
$ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode mouse $ gconftool-2 --type boolean --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true $ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/panel3-applets/clock/custom_format '<span color="#333">%a %d %b</span> <b>%H:%M</b>' $ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/panel3-applets/clock/format custom
Ah, in the new gnome-panel based on Gtk3 there are still some details to take care of, I hope issues like that will be addressed and that the panel will be supported for quite some time.
Update for Gnome 3.4:
Since Gnome 3.4 it is not enough to just patch the installed theme, the theme should be rebuilt after it has been patched, these are the instructions to do that for gnome-themes-standard 3.4.2 using the newly attached patch for it (you may need to install some packages like
librsvg2-dev for the build to succeed):
$ mkdir $HOME/.themes $ cp -r /usr/share/themes/Adwaita $HOME/.themes/Adwaita-fallback $ git clone git://git.gnome.org/gnome-themes-standard $ cd gnome-themes-standard $ git checkout 3.4.2 $ wget http://ao2.it/sites/default/files/blog/2011/10/19/gnome-3-go-shell-not-just-yet-thanks/gnome-themes-standard-3.4.2-adwaita-fallback.patch $ git apply gnome-themes-standard-3.4.2-adwaita-fallback.patch $ ./autogen.sh $ ./configure $ make $ cp \ themes/Adwaita/gtk-3.0/gtk-dark.css \ themes/Adwaita/gtk-3.0/gtk.css \ themes/Adwaita/gtk-3.0/gtk.gresource \ themes/Adwaita/gtk-3.0/settings.ini \ $HOME/.themes/Adwaita-fallback/gtk-3.0/ $ gnome-panel --replace
I am considering putting online my Adwaita-fallback fork as a git repository, let me know if there is enough interest about that.