Kevin Herrera

I have been a fan of GNOME 2 for as long as Unity existed. I enjoyed its compact interface and the amount of flexibility it offered me. I grew to appreciate it even more when Unity 2D was removed from Ubuntu 13.04; VMware Player (5.0.2) does not properly support it, causing all sorts of lag when rendering the “eye candy” for the interface. I am sure that the new interface is great for many people, but it does not fit well with my day-to-day routine on Ubuntu: software development. Fortunately, Canonical offers a gnome-panel package, which brings back the old look and feel of GNOME 2 on Ubuntu 10.04.


The focus of this tutorial is on setting up GNOME Panel. If you need a guide on installing Ubuntu, please see the official installation guide on Ubuntu's website.

We will start by opening Terminal. At the command prompt, run sudo apt-get install gnome-panel -y. As you might have guessed, this command will install the GNOME Panel package for you. The -y option will automatically answer “yes” to any questions about installing additional depedencies, which would be needed by GNOME Panel to run.

Once the installation has completed, you will need to restart your machine. Once your machine restarts and you are presented with the login screen, click on the white Ubuntu logo that is shown to the right of your name. In my case, the name is Kevin Herrera.

If your installation is configured to automatically log you in, you will need to logout before proceeding.

You will be presented with some choices. The one you want is GNOME Fallback. If your machine is slow, or its graphics card is not supported, you may want to opt for GNOME Fallback (No effects). The “no effects” option will disable the “eye candy” that would further slow down your machine by eating up CPU time.

Once you are loggged in, you should see GNOME Panel as your new desktop: one panel at the top and one at the bottom. To the left of the top panel, you will have your “Applications” and “Places” menu. On the right you will see some icons, a clock, and another icon that allows you to logout, shutdown, restart, or sleep your machine. The left of the bottom panel will have an icon that will minimize all of your windows to reveal the desktop. The current running applications will be listed in the middle of the panel. To the right is the workspace switcher.

From here, you can do all the interface tweaking you like. My interface is set up to look like Windows 7, with one panel at the bottom set to size 40. To customize your panels, Alt+Right Click in the empty space of one. This will bring up a menu where you can add items to the panel, change its properties, delete the whole thing, or create a new one.

Finishing Up

There is just one more thing to do: fix some issues. As set up right now, the interface will act quirky. For starters, the Alt+Tab key combination does not work. Another annoying quirk is that sometimes the window frame will not work properly. Instead of being able to click the close/minimize/maximize buttons, or drag the window around, your clicks go straight through to whatever is behind it. I ended up closing other apps more times than I would care to admit.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Click on the Applications menu and navigate your way to the Startup Applications item. This will bring up a window with a list of things that will run once you log in. We need to add one more item here.

Click the Add button and fill in the following fields:

Field Value
Name Metacity
Command metacity --replace
Comment Fixes window issues.

Technically, you can set Name and Comment to what ever you want. I just chose those values for clarity. However, make sure that you get Command correct.

Click the new Add button to add the item to your list of startup applications.

Click the Close button and close the window. Restart your machine one more time and log in. You should now be all set! I will try to help in the comments, but please keep the requests relevant to the tutorial.