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GNOME “Classic” will be a separate session in 3.8

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GNOME “Classic”

May not be the final name, but that is a small detail after all. The important thing is that GNOME will now offer all the cool stuffs (GOA, GCC, Notifications etc)  powered by GNOME (which is a trusted name, regardless of complaints) to users that just don’t like the GNOME Shell interface.

I asked Debarshi Ray how Gnome Classic will work:

After a bit of to and fro (back and forth), we decided that we will expose the fallback mode replacement as a separate session. So, when the user tries to log in via GDM she will see two options for GNOME — the vanilla GNOME and the fallback mode replacement. We have not yet decided what to call these two modes. The current consensus is that ‘Classic’ is a bad name because it does not clearly convey any meaning, so I am trying to avoid using it so that it does not stick in people’s minds.

It will have the following 4 modifications:

  • alternate alt+tab (going to be part of core, see bug 688913)
  • minimize and maximize buttons by default
  • some form of an application menu
  • task bar or window switcher

The way this will work is that there will be a separate mode for this fallback replacement session. GNOME Shell allows you to define modes. Currently gdm, initial-setup and user modes are the primary modes, and there are some internal modes for the lock-screen and unlock-dialog. As a nice side-effect Florian has some code to let you define a new mode by dropping a JSON file in a particular directory. This might be useful for sysadmins who might want to run GNOME Shell in a customized / locked down mode.

You might want to follow bug 685744 for tracking progress.

Things are still in a state of flux, but I think the picture will be clearer by the end of next week.

This is definitely superb news for the people that got frustrated with GNOME 3, and though starting with just-4-extensions, more will arrive from the community to support a better GNOME 2 experience.

GNOME 2-ish Extensions

Ray added the default-min-max Extension yesterday (adds Max-Min Buttons on Title Bar) and Giovanni added a “classic-mode” build infrastructure, so the extensions that GNOME maintains at the moment are:

Classic Default All
apps-menu alternative-status-menu auto-move-windows
places-menu drive-menu example
alternate-tab windowsNavigator native-window-placement
default-min-max workspace-indicator xrandr-indicator

Matthias Clasen proposed few days ago a Taskbar Extension for GNOME Classic (#685744), so a Task Bar is also likely to be added in Classic Extensions.

This is the App-Menu Extension currently for GNOME Classic 3.8, but I guess they will change that. Also looking at Tetris, so far I didn’t get a line..

This is the Alternative Alt-Tab for Gnome 3.8, which might come for both Classic as Default and in Vanilla GNOME as an alternative. As Ray said, the final decisions will be taken in the next few days, so nothing is sure till then ;)

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  • kabamaru

    It only took them about 4 gnome forks to realize they needed to do something about users complaining. Better late than never, I guess…

    • User

      I think this was just a natural step after fallback mode was dropped.

  • Arron Washington

    I had forgotten how ugly Gnome 2.x was until I saw a screenshot of it. Brought me back to when I peppered my rig with all sorts of extensions and replacements trying to make it more usable. Gnome 3 has come a long way.

    • JJ

      Exactly! Gnome was long forgotten and had a stalled development for years. See now what they are doing with each iterations they are making it more and more awesome. Way to go!

  • Petar

    That apps-menu looks horrible. The Axe menu ( is much much better as you don’t have to click on each category in order to expand it. But it seams that it’s not even upgraded to support Gnome 3.6 yet.

    • alex285

      They will work on it, this is just the current one, there are 3 more months till Gnome 3.8 release :)

      • JJ

        I think they should make the defualt alt+tab as window thumbnail plus icon overlay. The last screenshot looks wonderful. But now I cannot go back to old alt-tab.

  • Philip Witte

    All Gnome really needs, IMO, is the Dash-to-Dock extension functionality by default (built into Gnome) with an option to only display the Dash in Overview mode (like it currently works). Especially with the recent 3.6 app button support (which takes you directly to Apps overview from the desktop in one click).

    I have more to say about the Undecorated full-screen windows, top panel, and app-menu usage, but I’ll save all that for the forums :)

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    GNOME has (Windows) ME in it.

    KDE has no ME in it.

    KDE > GNOME.

  • Krzysztof Rusek

    This is the news I was waiting for.
    I hope the classic mode will not be entirely classic and we will have some goodies from GS like search or window and workspace
    management .

  • pibarnas

    And will gnome-tweak-tool come with gnome? Or will I still have to install it to change gnome’s font (dumbiest thing)?

    • alex285

      Gnome Tweak isn’t a core Gnome component, but is up to distributors to ship it. OpenSUSE and Mageia (if I am not wrong), ship G-T-T by default, Fedora doesn’t, UGR i think not, some smaller distros do.. Is totally up to them, nothing to blame Gnome for it long as they don’t want to include this functionality inside Settings.

      • pibarnas

        How to change font in gnome without it, then? I mean, out-of-the-box, without internet? Who can I blame for it??

  • sllih

    This session-based approach seems strange to me. What if I want Taskbar extension, but totally don’t want Application menu extension? Additional session looks like a monolithic package of extensions. So is it an *extension* to the product, of a diffrent product? I would like to understand the reasoning.

    • alex285

      I am also curious to see how you will override extensions between the two sessions, but instead of making a speculation I’ll be waiting and see it in action. I am waiting to see something good there. Although I won’t never use menus or taskbar, I like what they are doing.

      • sllih

        If I disable one, two, or all extensions in this “classic” session, am I still using “classic” session? The more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m shattered. :-) But, as you said, let’s see what will happen.

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  • Fewt

    Seems they may finally be starting to listen. Good news all around.

  • m47730

    Want an advise by an escaped gnome follower?
    Do not change gnome “classical” too much. If i prefer the old gnome 2.x behaviours, i expect to find them. If you change the menu again i don’t see the difference to force myself to like gnome shell.
    If you want me back (and i suppose many think the same) i want a gnome 2.x menu (a poweroff button, a less keyboard centric vision of desktop) and all the good things of gnome 3.x (notification, integration, etc.); until now, i’m a quite happy xfce user after many years of gnomination :-)