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Do you enjoy using Gnome 2, but don’t want to keep running on old code? The MATE desktop environment might have kept support going for the code, but it’s still the same old code. Try Gnome Flashback to run the newer Gnome 3 but have the same look as Gnome 2.

Ever since Gnome 3 was released GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More , people have complained about how different it was compared to Gnome 2 — in a bad way. Since then, there’s been several different projects to remedy this issue. Unity was created by Canonical for Ubuntu as a different desktop shell on top of the Gnome 3 backbone Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More Cinnamon was pretty much the same Cinnamon 2.0 Ditches GNOME, Features Enhanced User and Window Management Cinnamon 2.0 Ditches GNOME, Features Enhanced User and Window Management Cinnamon, the desktop shell using in Linux Mint, has finally released v2.0, which features new window tiling and snapping, along with enhanced user management options. Read More for Linux Mint. The MATE desktop environment was essentially a fork and continuation of the Gnome 2 codebase A Review Of MATE - Is It A True Gnome 2 Replica? [Linux] A Review Of MATE - Is It A True Gnome 2 Replica? [Linux] The world of Linux desktop environments has dramatically changed since then. Gnome 3 was born, Gnome 2 was essentially thrown to the side, Gnome 3 was forked to create Cinnamon, and so on. However, Gnome... Read More , which means that it can’t take advantage from any of the benefits found in Gnome 3, such as faster, cleaner code.

However, if you wanted to be on a modern Gnome 3 base with the Gnome 2 look, your answer has finally arrived in the form of Gnome Flashback.

About Gnome Flashback

Gnome Flashback is another alternative desktop shell for the Gnome 3 backbone. However, this one looks virtually identical to Gnome 2, which can satisfy a lot of people’s hopes and dreams. In fact, it used to be part of Gnome 3 as the “Gnome fallback” option, but that was eventually removed a few releases later.

The good news? It’s very easy to install and use. The bad news? It seems like it’s only available on Ubuntu — officially, at least. Getting it installed on other distributions will possibly require more work.

It Looks The Same!

gnome_flashback_desktop
Everything about the Gnome 2 interface is present in Gnome Flashback. You have the Applications and Places menus in the top left corner. You also have a Show Desktop button in the bottom left, a panel that shows all open windows along the bottom, and the virtual desktops in the bottom right corner.

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Gnome Flashback vs. MATE

There is one major difference, however, between Gnome Flashback and MATE. Gnome Flashback is just an alternative shell on top of Gnome 3, which means that it still uses all of the same Gnome 3 applications underneath, including the newer Nautilus file browser and the Gnome Control Center.

MATE, on the other hand, kept everything about Gnome 2, including the older Nautilus file browser and lack of a Gnome Control Center. You won’t get that with Gnome Flashback.

Therefore, Gnome Flashback is good if you like the newer Gnome applications but just hate the desktop, while MATE is better for those who also hate the newer Gnome applications.

Installation of Gnome Flashback

gnome_flashback_install
To install Gnome Flashback, all you need to do is open a terminal window and run the command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnome-session-flashback

This will refresh your package lists to make sure it’s downloading the latest versions of packages, and then it selects the Gnome Flashback metapackage to install, which includes all other required packages as dependencies.

gnome_flashback_set
Once the installation completes, log out and click on the Ubuntu logo next to your name in the login manager. Now, choose the Gnome Flashback (Metacity) session, which will turn the Ubuntu logo into a Gnome logo, and you can log in as per usual. You should now be looking at a Gnome 2-like interface!

Painless Gnome 2-Like Desktop

As an Ubuntu user, you’ll find this is a quick and painless way to get a Gnome 2-like desktop on your computer. Adding this option to the collection of available desktop environments means that you have literally every choice possible — there’s no longer an excuse to say that there isn’t a desktop environment out there that you like.

What would you rather use, Gnome Flashback or MATE? Let us know in the comments!

  1. averageuser2016
    January 19, 2016 at 1:19 am

    You can, yes you can! I am not a developer, nor a linux geek. I picked up ubuntu about 6 years ago, and forced myself to get used to the different interface, mainly because I was fed up with XP bugs and viruses.

    How did I get along with ubuntu? Well, back then ubuntu was pretty buggy too, and slower than windows, but no viruses for sure. Then, from version 9.04 to 12.04 i.e. over the next three years, it just got better and better. Now, after three more years, I am running Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 LTS, and it is just works-smoother, faster, better looking, and installs on most PC's and laptops, without having to use a command line. Everything the average user needs is there. Try it, and you will be surprised how easy it is.

  2. jose
    September 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Gnome Flashback or MATE.
    Give your reasons.
    Who is faster, who has minor errors and is more stable?

    Stop terminal chat, this is for desktop shell!!!

    Of course terminal is nice, its the only idential in all linux distros.
    And i love msdos, drdos... We use windows for use propietary programs and games, but not for the fucking operating system.

  3. jymm
    June 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Michel - I use Linux and don't use the command line. I know why people do, it is faster, but there is a gui for anything I need to do.

  4. michel
    June 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    well, I don't love windows and would in fact like to leave it behind. But half the articles on installing things in linux talk about the command line. And I was talking about linux. If you'll notice, I asked a question quite similar to yours: is there a way to install this via gui? I got no answers but plenty of snark.

    • balintx
      November 18, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Of course, open Synaptic and install gnome-session-flashback package.

  5. jymm
    June 12, 2014 at 1:29 am

    As usual the comments have nothing to do with the article. Why does every Linux article have to devolve into a discussion of windows. If you love windows, good for you, go away. If you love linux, then please discuss the article.

    Is anyone offering gnome flashback as the default desktop? If the OS comes with gnome, is it easy to change it to the flashback desktop? What if any OS includes or will soon include gnome flashback? I certainly will give it a try.

  6. michel
    June 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    yeah, and linux fans always treat you like an idiot when you don't like something about linux. Dudes, I get it, you're geeks.

    When I buy a car, I want to drive it, not learn to be a mechanic. Ubuntu in particular is touted as for the average user, and great if you want to leave windows behind. I want to leave command lines behind. I want the computer to do the computing, not me.

    • dragonmouth
      June 12, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      If you don't want to use CLI because you think it is archaic and outdated, that's great. Nobody is forcing you to. You can use Ubuntu, Mint, and many other Linux distros, or OS/X and never get your hands dirty with CLI. The MUO articles are written to help Linux users learn new things. In spite of what you may think, CLI is more powerful and efficient than GUI.

      I bet you are the type of driver who takes his car to the mechanic to check the tire pressure and fluid levels. You probably let someone else empty the ash tray.

    • michel
      June 12, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      there, it's happening again: why is it necessary to end with an insult?

    • vertical
      June 13, 2014 at 2:53 am

      @michel Agree, no need to insult - it's just a matter of personal preferences.

      Just want to "drive the car" but not really learn anything about it? Less control and customization, rather than more?

      Sounds like you should switch to Apple products.

    • averageuser2016
      January 19, 2016 at 1:12 am

      You can, yes you can! I am not a developer, nor a linux geek. I picked up ubuntu about 6 years ago, and forced myself to get used to the different interface, mainly because I was fed up with XP bugs and viruses.

      How did I get along with ubuntu? Well, back then ubuntu was pretty buggy too, and slower than windows, but no viruses for sure. Then, from version 9.04 to 12.04 i.e. over the next three years, it just got better and better. Now, after three more years, I am running Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 LTS, and it is just works-smoother, faster, better looking, and installs on most PC's and laptops, without having to use a command line. Everything the average user needs is there. Try it, and you will be surprised how easy it is.

  7. michel
    June 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    every time a linux article includes the words "open the terminal" I stop reading. Is there no way to install this via gui?

    It's way, way past time to retire command line installations. What is this, DOS?

    • kekes
      June 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      You know nothing. I'm a windows user and I use Linux in my mediacenter and personal server, and I have to say that the terminal is the most powerful thing in Linux, easy to access and have control in your machine even remotely.
      And most of the tasks are easier done with the terminal than with gui. Linux have tools to do this with gui but why use it if you can do the same in a fraction of the time and effort with the terminal.
      I only wish that Windows had a terminal powerful as Linux have.

    • Abhishek Bhardwaj
      June 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      @Michel I understand you don't like "CLI" but in our world of linux, we emphasis on power, stability and ease . Most of linux user have probably far more knowledge than a windows user and they don't like wasting their resources on gui when they can do it through terminal . If you want to use the OS of geeks try to learn overcome your gui habits and try to explore your pc, you will surely come to understand that CLI keeps you closer to your pc while GUI drags you away leaving you no knowledge how it was done internally.. GUI limits your power to the feature they provide you cant do anything apart of it, while CLI gives enormous strength to do almost anything you want.

      Hope you will understand it sooner or later.. :)

    • DJ
      June 11, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      >>It’s way, way past time to retire command line installations. What is this, DOS?

      NO! DOS was/is and operating system its's self. Not a terminal window or command line. If you do dislike the command line, you don't need to embrace it, just copy and paste the code and it's less effort than mouse clicking through a bunch of modal windows just to perform a single task.

    • Farihin Fong
      October 11, 2014 at 3:18 am

      IF you can't do terminal, then don't do linux.

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