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A quick look at Gnomebuntu 12.10 Alpha!

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Switching from Ubuntu to Gnomebuntu

I am using Fedora since version 15.  I dropped Ubuntu (at 11.04) after 5-6 years of constant use because I couldn’t use Gnome3.  Later versions of Ubuntu have a good support for Gnome3 but I never thought to switch again on it, mostly because I wanted to express my feelings against Canonical’s initial decision. I am not against Unity, but I am against that Canonical didn’t support Gnome3 at its day one.

A nice thing about Gnomebuntu is the fact that it is a community project same as Kubuntu, Xubuntu etc. That means that isn’t (directly) affected by Canonical’s decisions, but its future is defined by people that love Gnome. However it is expected to be adopted as an official Ubuntu Spin (on version 13.04) and gain all Canonical’s goodies. So I think we have to give some credits in Canonical at this point in advance.

After all, PPAs, Launchpad, Forums etc is a huge contribution of Canonical in Linux Desktop. They could do better, but they already have done enough. Yes, Canonical feels like a Gnome friendly company to me again.

Switch from Ubuntu to Gnomebuntu includes a clean install. You cannot upgrade from one distro to the other. Gnomebuntu Alpha version is quite Alpha to make an assumption if it is worth to drop Ubuntu for it. On the positive side, its founder Jeremy Bicha is a Gnome3 Ubuntu maintainer and that ensures that Gnomebuntu will have a quality Gnome 3 implementation.

Also there is a huge interesting from various people to help Jeremy’s effort and don’t forget that Gnomebuntu is going (hopefully) to be included as an Official Ubuntu Distro in 13.04 release. Canonical’s brand name won’t be included in a poor quality distro.

The bottom line is that we have to wait and see Gnomebuntu’s beta release to make clear conclusions ..but I am always optimistic and I have a positive attitude in everything; so I believe that Gnome’s friends can safely switch on it :)

Gnomebuntu first look

Gnomebuntu alpha release seems pretty much like an Ubuntu without Unity, Software Center and other modules.

Gnome Adwaita theme is currently broken on installer which by the way refers to Gnomebuntu as Ubuntu. But name is yet to be decided.

This is the Software Application of Gnome 3.6. While it seems poor (and it is), Gnome developers have huge plans for it.  Of course you can still install Ubuntu Software Center and all the usual PPAs.

Gnomebuntu hasn’t yet switch to the latest 3.5.9 release of Gnome Shell and GDM. There is also a bug here. By login with fallback of GDM, GDM Greeter is persistent stays.  You have to kill it manually by “sudo killall -9 gdm-simple-greeter” and then start GS by “gnome-shell -r”.

Looking at Application Overview we’ll find Web (Epiphany) as the default and only web-browser. We can install Firefox and Chrome, but I like that in default install Gnomebuntu keeps things Gnome.

Gnome Control Center is on version 3.4  – Nautilus also. In any case you can add Gnome 3 PPA which isn’t included, because (my guess) they want to keep the official Canonical’s repos at this point.

Synaptic (which isn’t pre-installed but but is available for install like any other Ubuntu app) is the module that I miss a lot in Fedora and a good reason for me to switch back in Ubuntu.

Gnomebuntu Alpha – Known issues

As is to be expected, at this early stage of the release process, there are some significant known bugs that developers may run into with the Quantal Alpha Release. The ones we know about at this point (and some of the workarounds), are documented here so you don’t need to spend time reporting these bugs again:

  • The installer is barely readable with the default Adwaita theme (1044788).
  • The login screen persists after log in when GDM is run in fallback mode instead of the fancy GNOME Shell mode (BGO:683068).
  • The system status menu (the “cog” indicator at the far right in GNOME Classic) doesn’t show up in some cases or display correctly when using the default Adwaita theme or the accessibility themes (975563).
  • We’d like to move Ubuntu gsettings overrides to ubuntu-default-settings (1039792).
  • A separate ubuntu-control-center will probably not make it into Ubuntu 12.10 but is still a goal for 13.04.
  • GNOME Shell is only at 3.5.4 because newer versions require GDM to be running. Most Ubuntu users currently running GNOME Shell use LightDM instead and it’s not really feasible to make installing gnome-shell switch the default display manager. (BGO:683060)
  • Symbolic icons in gnome-shell 3.5.91 will be broken unless this bug is fixed (1001229)
  • We need a ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu-gnome.
  • We need a plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-logo and plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-text.

– Maybe a variant of the default wallpaper for the logo theme and an appropriate blue for the text theme

  • We also want a blue version of the purple Ubuntu isolinux art. This is what you see when first booting a Ubuntu image.


Well, personally I am very excited about this distro. It is Gnome, it is Community and it’s going to be quality and popular -I bet on the last! Also, it will make a nice parent distro for independent distributors like Deepin or Pear OS that they want to use customized Gnome Shell.

Release Notes and Download

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  • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

    Great review Alex!
    I cant wait for it to reach the beta status so i can try it myself

  • Alfredo Hernández

    Excellent review!

  • ScionicSpectre

    I’m glad that Ubuntu’s fork of the control center will finally be a different package, as with Nautilus. I didn’t realize that Synaptic was still a GTK 2 application. Anyway, thanks for the review- I think this will be a big plus for Ubuntu, as I can finally recommend it to people who would prefer GNOME 3 to Unity or KDE.

  • Jeremy Bicha

    Thanks for the review.

    It might be worth noting that Synaptic isn’t pre-installed but is available for install like any other Ubuntu app.

    • alex285

      My bad, fixed! Keep up the good job!

  • jsnj

    “–> GNOME Shell is only at 3.5.4 because newer versions require GDM to be running <–."

    I'm currently using GS 3.5.90 in quantal. Not sure if it's in ubuntu's repository or ricotz's ppa, because I've added that ppa. But most is working fine with LightDM. The only issue I've noticed is when the screen locks. Lock screen w/clock etc… looks great but when you raise the "curtain" to unlock, no dialogue appears, just a gray screen and it won't accept keystrokes(to log out) obviously because it's locked. Fortunately, I use easystroke and am able to use a gesture to log out from the lock screen which sends the command 'gnome-session-quit –logout'. That's the only real issue I've found with the lack of GDM, but logging in/out of a session is not a problem.

    • alex285

      yeap, same issue here.

      • jsnj

        Have google & wikipedia opensearch been removed from activities overview search in 3.5.90?

        • alex285
          • jsnj

            I couldn’t tell from reading that bug report whether they plan on a reimplementation using a different method or if they are just going to leave it at its present state of removal. I personally removed the wikipedia search and instead used a customized version of the Google search, “browse by name” which allowed me to type urls or searches directly from shell. So if they don’t bring it back or if an extension won’t be created, I’ll definitely miss it. Only KDE has the feature built into its desktop, but I prefer gnome-shell

          • alex285

            It’s a complete removal. I don’t know if you can use the search providers of Shell for making something similar. But I liked the proposal in this bug report for having “gg:” and “wk:”. I hope they do that as an extension for 3.6.

          • jsnj

            Yes. That would be ideal and hopefully that extension will also recognize urls as unity dash/lens does.

    • Jeremy Bicha

      Yes, that’s the reason GNOME Shell 3.5.90 isn’t in the Ubuntu archives yet. You probably got it from ricotz’s testing PPA which is more bleeding edge.

      Try installing gdm and setting it as default.

  • Michael O.

    Gnomebuntu, what an ugly and long name. Could you guys name it, just Gubuntu? Who cares about Goobuntu from Google, that one is not a distro available for use. So, guys name it short and beautiful. After this, everything looks great.

    • alex285

      Gnomebuntu has been dropped (I think) as a name. I just call it like that coz of

  • hictio

    Hey, on the “Software Application” screenshot there seems to be support for GNOME Global Menu like menus; but then again, on the “Synaptic” screenshot the application window has the traditional menu options on the application same app window.
    There will be more development towards the Global Menu?

    • alex285

      Oh, this isn’t Global Menus. It’s called Application Menu. Global Menus is what Unity has. GTK3 Apps can have normal menus plus the application menu. The point on that is that App Menu affects the whole application, while the normal menu affects the current context.

      Synaptic is still on GTK2.

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  • Stinger

    Hey Alex
    It’s a bit tricky to install the Ubuntu Gnome Remix 20120902, but not
    Here is how I did:

    – Boot the live CD / USB into a live session
    – Launch a Terminal and use the following commands:
    – sudo apt-get update
    – sudo apt-get upgrade ubiquity

    Now you can proceed with your installation routine.

    If you, like me, use the manual partitioner, please be sure you install the
    boot loader on your hard drive (sda) , ubiquity likes to install it to your
    USB-drive, a known bug:
    Here is another tread to follow the Ubuntu GNOME Remix developer snapshot

    Cheers !

    • alex285

      Hello Stinger,
      I didn’t have any issue to install Gnome Ubuntu :)
      Thank you for the info though!

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