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GNOME Classic? Not Classic @ ALL!

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GNOME “Classic”?

This is not Classic or Legacy at all. It keeps all the amazing things of GNOME Shell and brings some extra functionality for GNOME2 users, without sacrificing not one single thing of GNOME3!

First off, keep on mind that this is work in progress and is certain that some things will change before the stable 3.8 release in March. Also I hope I haven’t missed anything (some extension)!

How it works

The user can pick his session from GDM, either GNOME or GNOME Classic. GNOME Classic even if is considered a different session, is basically a modified GNOME Shell with some extra Extensions. If we are inside GNOME Shell we can switch to Classic by:

$ gnome-shell --mode=classic --replace

So even if GNOME won’t support switching “Modes” in Settings, we don’t really have to logout for changing it.



The “Applications” Menu has also an “Activities Overview” option that brings the GNOME Shell Activities Overview. The left top hot corner is also present here! So basically the whole workflow of GNOME3 doesn’t change.

The current theme is a grey to be distinguished from the (black) GNOME Shell.  Also Calendar has been moved on the right. A drawback here is that you can’t add Apps (Icons) in the top bar, so we will need an extra Extension for it.


Pressing the Notification Indicator (if we have notifications, I have (4)), the Notification Banner is popping up similar to the Shell.


There is a Windows List on the bottom similar to GNOME2 fow switching Applications. The problem here is that we can’t do anything else (ie close) from it. We can just switch them. Also all three Windows Controls (Minimized, Maximized, Close) are here by default.


Shell Overview in Classic Mode is exactly the same as the normal one, with the exception that we have 4 fixed workspaces.


If we click on Terminal Icon this will launch a new GNOME Terminal Window instead of bring the focus to the current. Notice the yellow (backgrounds) Terminals. That is Fedora 19 default colors.


GNOME Classic is using the Alternative Tab by default.


These are the extensions that Classic is using (if I am not missing something!) Don’t pay attention in the double entries.By the way if you want to enable one or more extensions from Terminal:

$ gsettings set enabled-extensions "['', '']"


I was missing the “Nautilus Handles Desktop” option, so I attach Matthias Screen in here.

Classic Extensions aren’t on Master Branch yet, and if you are running a JHBuild installation you will find them at merged-classic-branches. Don’t forget that this is just an early preview, and things are going to change before the final release!

Also you can check many of the cool new GNOME 3.8 features into a single post at “GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark” Matthias Clasen’s blog.

And let Windows 8 Fish to get some Freedom ;)

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  • Brandon Watkins

    what gnome-shell theme is that?

    • alex285

      It is the default of GNOME Classic. I agree on the BTW!

  • Brian Bentsen

    Seems wholly pointless. It looks a lot like Linux Mint 12 MGSE, and that was abandoned for a reason. If you want a traditional desktop, are you gonna go for a modern touch UI inspired interface heavily tweaked to be as traditional looking as possible, or are you gonna go get an actual traditional desktop developed and maintained to be such? Cinnamon is what this odd compromise tries to be, and much more.

    • eonpatapon

      Doesn’t seems heavily tweaked to me. Extensions used here are quite simple. Mint has gone wild with too much extensions and finally ended up with forking g-s. I don’t think gnome devs want to maintain a large and complicated set of extensions.

      • Brian Bentsen

        MGSE had no more extensions than this, so that doesn’t make any sense.

        • alex285

          I don’t think that they’re trying to restore the GNOME2 experience. They just used some popular options that people expected to find it. I guess is more like a softer transition to GNOME 3.

  • Alex

    Not good enough. There should be a way to use the shell search without going to the overview. Maybe they should move it to the Application menu.

    • lukemcd

      Any UI asset that needs the full screen is a pointer linked to failure, in my opinion. That seems like the one last thing that needs adjusted, from screenshots and videos. Maybe I’ll give it a go. t’would be nice to get the two buttons back by the X, too, but that’s really just nostalgia for me.

      Most likely, though, KDE and E17 will remain my primaries, though.

  • Ryein Goddard

    Please add a super menu like Unity and OSX.

  • Jamin Fernandez

    I think I LOVE :D

  • Christian Basile

    So it Still needs graphic hardware acceleration like gnome shell? This way is not a real improvement compared to the old fallback mode. IS su H battery draining on a laptop! And Also cpu draining!

  • subliminal kid

    A step in the right direction.

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  • fabrixx

    Fantastic, its only for gnome 3.7?

    • alex285

      Yes it is only for Gnome 3.8. Gnome 3.7 is the development version of what will become 3.8.

      • fabrixx

        Tkanks, i hope to try it in next debian testing

        • fabrixx

          How to test Gnome 3.7 at the moment?

  • Jamin Fernandez

    How Try this version Fedora 19?

  • Isayama

    I don’t really get the point of making it a different session: there are no substantial differences from what you can currently get in GS. It more looks like GNOME devs have listened to the complaints and put back basic features by default, enabling the corresponding extensions (Alterate Alt-Tab, Minimize+Maximize…).
    Don’t misunderstand me: I love this “new classic” desktop. Actually, my current GS 3.6.2 desktop looks pretty much the same (BTW for the bottom panel, I recommend Frippery Bottom Panel, which DOES allow to close windows by right-clicking on it ,and has a workspace indicator/switcher).

    Seriously, it’s rather sad that the GNOME team couldn’t come up with this earlier: it would have prevented the runaway to Unity, Cinnamon, KDE or else we see now..This “classic” session would have been the PERFECT compromise to have people accept GNOME 3, retaining the best from both worlds. For those needing no graphic acceleration, MATE or Xfce would have made it.

    Now, I hope this will allow a regain of affection for GS, because it deserves it. but I’m afraid the damage is done…

    • sramkrishna

      We have limited developer resources. So, there is always a balance. Also the fact that people so fervently wanted the old experience back prompted us to do this. More developers always help. We have some people hacking bugs.. I hiope some of you will sign up to help.

  • Marcus

    gnome-shell –mode=classic –replace does not work on rawhide, here

    • alex285

      They haven’t update it in rawhide. You can see the available modes by gnome-shell –list-modes

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  • Guest

    I love that wallpaper. Where can I get a copy?

  • megaloman

    A few things are still missing:
    * system tray (this is a killer feature which makes gnome-hell unusable)
    * ability to remove bottom bar and replace it with ie. docky
    * classic style menu (I really don’t like those scrollable menus)

    Apart from that, it’s nice to see, that eventually we’re getting something useful for desktop users. I have a feeling that someone has received a call from Red Hat (main sponsor of Fedora) and said “hey guys, you’ve had fun with your gnome-hell, but we need something usable for RHEL7 for serious guys to work” ;-)

  • frodo

    does that get all my shortcuts back?

  • blade19899

    What does this command do:

    $ gsettings set enabled-extensions "['', '']"