Bringing Ubuntu (GNOME) Classic To 12.04 LTS?
Written by Michael Larabel in GNOME on 26 January 2012 at 07:18 PM EST. 6 Comments
A discussion for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS has been ignited about bringing back an "Ubuntu Classic" option that would attempt to mimic the old GNOME 2.x experience. Meanwhile in the Fedora camp there is a discussion about a Unity desktop port to their distribution.

While Ubuntu's Unity interface has come a long way since it made its full-on debut a year ago, it's still not desirable to everyone. Likewise, GNOME 3.x is maturing, but not everyone is happy there with the radical changes from the GNOME 2.x desktop that many have become to know and love.

There's the MATE Desktop attempt that's a fork of GNOME2 packages and it hopes to live on, but its future has already been called into jeopardy. Another more popular alternative for those that feel their desktop doesn't get along with Unity or the GNOME 3.x Shell is the Cinnamon desktop as a fork of the GNOME Shell and Mutter, etc. Cinnamon at least is receiving more of a following and garnering a fair amount of attention for at least the time being. There's also of course LXDE, Xfce, KDE, and others for those wanting something else out of their Linux desktop.

The proposal for the "Precise Pangolin" release of Ubuntu is to do something slightly different with the desktop. Jo-Erlend Schinstad has brought forward a new concept with not being satisfied with Unity, the GNOME Shell, or the GNOME 3.x fall-back mode. Effectively he just wants to see indicator-applet-complete re-added into the Precise repository and a new package that changes the default configuration and behavior of the GNOME Shell fall-back mode.

What Schinstad would like to see is adding the indicator-applet-complete to the Ubuntu universe repository (a PPA is currently available), an "ubuntu-classic" meta package, and possibly alter the "press-and-hold-alt-to-customize" behavior. The ubuntu-classic meta package would change the default configuration of the GNOME Shell fallback mode, include the correct panel layout that also makes use of the indicator-panel-complete, and rebrand the GNOME fallback mode as being "Ubuntu Classic" within the LightDM log-in manager.

The mailing list message with limited discussion thus far can be found on the ubuntu-desktop list.

Meanwhile, there's a more vibrant discussion within the hat-wearing camp about bringing Ubuntu's Unity as a new desktop option to Fedora. That discussion can be found here.

Unity and the Ayatana components have already been made available as packages within the land of openSUSE, Frugalware, and Arch Linux, but it's not found in many distributions beyond that. When Unity was still quite young there was some discussion about bringing over the Canonical-sponsored desktop at that point as an option within the Fedora repository, but that ultimately never took off.

Already brought up in this latest discussion is some incompatibility issues between the upstream GTK+ / GNOME packages used by Fedora and what the Unity desktop expects in terms of its menu and other portions of the API. Jef Spaleta has been attacking this effort, among others. At the moment it looks like any port of Unity to Fedora would be unofficial and not welcome within the Fedora repository until using upstream dependencies/APIs.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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