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Gnome 3.8 on Ubuntu 13.04!

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Ubuntu 13.04

Sure, you can use many ways to give Gnome Shell 3.7.5 (currently) a test drive, but in my personal opinion Ubuntu is the easiest, safest and fastest way to do it, accepting the drawbacks that come from the absence of systemd etc. And since we have decided to do some unstable software testing, why not do it on the unstable basis of the upcoming 13.04 release of the most popular Linux distribution in the world?


A ringtailed lemur eating a cookie containing the milk of a spherical cow

So, first thing you need to do is download the current Ubuntu 13.04 image and install it in your system. Note that the distribution is not anywhere near ready yet and you may encounter installation or other kind of problems, depending on your hardware and luck. You should install 13.04 on a virtual machine, or a small partition used for testing purposes and NOT for real work.

After you have successfully installed your new system, you will boot on a Unity environment :( You can install Gnome Shell right away from the distribution’s software center but the version will still be the 3.6 and will stay like that forever for this release (no GS 3.8 for 13.04).


The way repositories are added and used on Ubuntu, is the main reason why I believe this distribution is the easiest and fastest way to give GS 3.8 a try. You basically need to add two more repos, or three if you are adventurous!

The first repository is the Gnome 3 Team repo that contains all things missing from Ubuntu’s default repositories. You should add this one before the other two and run the usual update on your system. You can do this by typing the following commands on a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
sudo apt-get upgrade

Then you need to add the Ricotz testing repository that contains cutting edge git versions for the shell, gtk, glib, clutter and many Gnome applications and utilities.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/testing
sudo apt-get upgrade

If you want to get some more latest Gnome components and risk the stability of the system even further, then you can use the Ricotz staging repository that can be correctly used only if you added the previous two.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/staging
sudo apt-get upgrade

After upgrading, you will have the latest available Gnome Shell version with many applications and utilities of the corresponding version. Note that some will still stay in 3.6.x version at least for now.



I have such a system installed for almost a month and tested it under various situations for a broad spectrum of tasks and I can tell you it feels much faster compared to Gnome 3.6 on Ubuntu 12.10. The animations seem to work better, the responsiveness is much better and in general it does feel a lot more stable than it was a month ago, but you should expect small issues here and there.

You cannot use any of the extensions, GTK or GS themes that you are using on Gnome 3.6 due to the usual incompatibility, but you could and should test your porting if you are a creator, to be one of the first to offer extending content for the 3.8 version. Whatever the case, you should go for it and tell us how it all went!

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  • Brian Bentsen

    Isn’t rawhide fedora best for bleeding edge Gnome? (Asking out of curiosity, not arguing)

    • Bill_Toulas

      It is a choice, but not the most relaxing one. You’ll need to constantly keep an eye on Fedora forums for things that may brake if you update this or that, and whatever you do things will eventually brake at some point making your system unbootable almost 99% of the time :(

    • JJ

      ubuntu seems to be more stable (but of course slower) than rawhide, at least this cycle.

  • hells_dark

    I use Gnome-Shell 3.7.5 for a while now too and it feel much more reactive indeed.

  • Stinger

    I was kinda hoping that Ubuntu Gnome Remix would rise to the occasion and release a raring version carrying the Gnome 3.8 to come, but not a single test release since Quantal 12.10 has been made, you have to build it yourself or use guides like this.

    Not even the Gnome3 ppa has the Gnome 3.8 version, you have to use ricotz staging and testing ppa’s to get there.

    Will the Ubuntu Gnome Remix team make yet another release with Gnome 3.6 ? We are all left in the dark, no release plans, no schedule, no news on their mailing list or wiki, no website, no nothing.

    • Remjg

      Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 was maybe the worst Linux release I ever had… It’s slow and buggy (and I mean very buggy), in comparison Ubuntu 12.04 was working like a charm with GNOME Shell !

      I’m pretty sure Ubuntu GNOME Remix 13.04 will only support GNOME 3.6 (they plan to make it an official Ubuntu spin). Integration and stability of the Gnome desktop is already quite bad, I’m afraid adding yet another PPA to get the very latest will make things even worse… Maybe I’m wrong, I hope so !

      Personally, I’ll switch to another distribution that supports GNOME Shell as a primary desktop but I need to make a choice.

    • JJ

      Use gnome 3 staging ppa not the ricotz staging.

      Yes, they are pretty elementary standard in terms of PR.

      • Stinger

        Thanks JJ, I didn’t even know the was a Gnome3 staging ppa, my bad ;) Doesn’t seem to be very old this ppa ?

        Nothing much to read on the Ubuntu Gnome wiki LOL

    • Michael Mistretta

      I’m curious as well. I hope there is a 13.04 UGR release with GS 3.8..

  • Ade Malsasa Akbar

    GNOME 3.8 vs KDE 4.10, which one is faster for you? I am curious. I need it.

    • Serge Wagner

      why -are U using it on a slow machine?
      Else there’s no big speed difference
      I use gnome-shell (ubuntu raring, & ppa:/ricotz ) also on a quite old toshiba r500 (u7600, 2GB, i950) – and it works more than fine

      I tried kde – i don’t like the look – but that’s only a question of taste -it’s surely not a bad desktop

      If you use really slow machines, think about xfce – it really speeds up any old pc

  • JJ

    Don’t add ricotz testing and staging ppas. Those are too unstable. Add gnome 3 staging ppa instead.

    • JJ

      Also it is a far better, faster and smoother experience if you take the ubuntu mini iso and add gnome (gnome 3 and staging) ppas and install ubuntu-gnome-desktop –no-install-recommends.

    • hells_dark

      Note : if you wan’t to test Gnome 3.8 with Ubuntu 12.10, use ricotz ppa. Gnome 3 staging is “up to date” only for raring.

    • Dumindu

      +1 for JJ. just purged the repository

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  • lassekongo83

    Too bad I can’t get the VirtualBox guest additions to work in 13.04. I was hoping to get some look at the changes so I could start upgrading my themes to 3.8. Gnome seems to work fine otherwise except for an overview bug that makes it empty in search and app list. I can only launch apps with alt+f2 or terminal. But it’s too slow without the guest additions. I guess I’ll have to wait upgrading my themes until it hits ArchLinux stable repos in May or June. :p

  • CSRedRat

    Unity the best! ;)

  • Serge Wagner

    Your informations are not complete -and some are unfortunately wrong:

    1) there are already 4-5 themes that are 3.7.5 (latest version actually) compatible- one of them is my own (Darkair -see
    2)) if you install ppa:ricotz/testing you already get the main extensions
    3) If you go to you will find other compatible extensions
    4) many more extensions are compatible just by adding actually to the metadata.json file in the desired extension (you’ll find them under /usr/share/gnome/shell/extensions/XXXXX/

    unfortunately since a few days now gnome-tweak-tool is broken – see

    So you have to change theme, enable extension etc.. with dconf-editor

    • Xterminator

      To enable the extensions after placed in /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions or $HOME/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions
      just go to

  • Mathias Rudolf

    Hey, wanted to ask if someone gets the same bug:

    There are no media controls in lock screen. Notifications are there in general, everything okay, also with the new panels in system settings. I played around with it, but I didn’t get the media controls, it just shows the playing song.

    Is it a Gnome or an Ubuntu problem?
    Anyone else experiencing this?

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  • pepeday

    I do have a question if someone can answer. I used the gnome3 team and gnome3 team staging ppas on Raring (13.04 x64), updated/upgraded and installed gnome-shell and gnome-session fallback. I still can’t get a “Classic mode” option on the login screen. I’m really confused as I think I’m doing something wrong. Also, upon checking the ppa content, I couldn’t see anything that looks like a classic mode and most packages are on 3.7.4, not 3.7.5.

    Any ideas?

    • dronkit

      Same here. Though i started from ubuntu gnome remix. Are you sure you have to install gnome-session-fallback? isnt classic mode supposed to come with gnome 3.8 out of the box AND that session-fallback and classic mode are different things?

      • alex285

        did you try install gnome-session-classic?

  • gutigen

    Systemd in 13.04? Bunch of packages showed up in Ubuntu today:

  • 21m0n

    think you meant “apt-get update” instead of “apt-get upgrade” to update the repos..

  • CSRedRat

    How to return everything back?