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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, 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. Cinnamon was pretty much the same for Linux Mint. The MATE desktop environment was essentially a fork and continuation of the Gnome 2 codebase, 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!
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.
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
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.
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!