First of all, a hearty congratulations to everyone involved in the GNOME project for having released GNOME3, a really awesome desktop environment. My previous post about GNOME3 was about my partial experience with it, and as pointed out by comments on that post, I had made a false image of GNOME3 from a partial as experience as that. So I installed Fedora 15 on a spare partition, and I must say that it was a rockin’ experience. Thanks to Unity, I am used to Alt+Tabbing, etc, so I was getting around with Shell just as well.
Now back in the Ubuntu world. The Ubuntu GNOME3 PPA has been in active development since the beginning of this cycle, and thanks to the work by the Ubuntu GNOME3 team, the PPA now provides a 97% GNOME3 experience. On my Natty install I added the PPA again, upgraded all packages, installed some others (which others? I’ll point that out later on) and then rebooted.
In its current state the PPA is far from perfect, as it is known to break Unity as well as it can also break your entire system at times. So I STRONGLY discourage you from trying it out on a production system. Here are a few tips for those using (or planning to use) the PPA:
1) Make sure to *upgrade* *all* *packages*. Partial upgrades of packages often leads to some problems like a borked wallpaper, desktop icons when they shouldn’t be, bad theming, etc.
2) Ensure these packages are installed: gnome-icon-theme gnome-icon-theme-symbolic gnome-themes-standard (NOT gnome-themes, remove gnome-themes if its installed).
3) Once you’ve upgraded all packages, make sure to *remove* gnome-accessibility-themes as it conflicts with gnome-themes-standard and if you have both installed, GDM won’t theme well.
4) For proper configuration, install gnome-tweak-tool (also in the PPA).
Known issues with the PPA (After 4 days of heavy usage I found only 2, err, 3 of them):
1) gnome-system-log shows logs empty.
2) Network Manager Applet at the top right of the desktop pops up a menu unlike other icons which pop up fancy menus with animations.
3) Unlike in Fedora, you’ll have to use apt-get to install stuff in Ubuntu
In all the other fields I found the PPA to be matching the experience of Fedora 100%. From GDM to Shutdown, everything else was flawless (atleast in my case). Unlike my previous experience, keyboard shortcuts, animations, just everything was working as it should.
Now, for the most important part of the post. Why did I write this up? No, not because I wanted to tell everyone about the PPA, but to tell everyone that regardless of Unity being default in Ubuntu 11.04, users will still have a choice to install their favourite DE as they wish (GNOME with Shell, KDE, XFCE, LXDE). Just a small DE change doesn’t always mean changing distros for an end-user. FOSS is all about choice. Use what you like, on top of what you like.
Also most people who had tried out the PPA in the last week didn’t upgrade all packages, and arrived at stupid conclusions saying: “The PPA breaks my system, GDM doesn’t even open up, it crashes with an error” . On further investigation I found out that that guy was using the 2.32 version of GDM with the new gnome-session, not a healthy combination even though GDM 3.0 is in the PPA. On asking why he didn’t update all packages, he replied that he was too eager to get to GNOME Shell and just updated a select of packages. And instead of blaming himself, that guy was blaming the PPA folks. *ahem*
Let us take up another such scenario. Take a look at this comment on Rodrigo’s blog. Let us consider each point one by one:
it is not possible to a) login without many errors b) change your theme which suddenly is broken c) access many options in systems settings which were previously available before instalation… and so on.
That user had tried out the PPA a few days ago, before GDM 3 got uploaded. And even before GDM3 got it, it was possible to log in to the GNOME-Shell session, the only problem was that GDM came up with a really bad theme and no wallpaper. All that’s fixed now, and GDM is now pleasant to use, with its new theme, new design and new background wallpaper (the same blue wallpaper which is the GNOME3 default as well).
Now for point b. His theme is broken because he didn’t install gnome-themes-standard (I also had this problem earlier). Now gnome-shell depends on gnome-themes-standard, and so all that’s fixed now. For changing themes, you can use gnome-tweak-tool.
Point C now. That difference in system settings is actually a GNOME3 feature. The GNOME3 team have simplified many options and have made them available in the new gnome-control-center, also in the PPA. The new control-center is awesome, by no way I could believe that its just a new version of the same old gnome-control-center. Gnome-tweak-tool is used to change themes, etc.
If you encounter any problems with the PPA, feel free to contact the GNOME3 team at this address: email@example.com . You can also file bugs on the respective Ubuntu packages and tag them with gnome3 and subscribe the gnome3-team to the bug. We’ll be happy to help. Enjoy GNOME3 on Ubuntu!
(BTW, ever since I installed GNOME3 on Ubuntu, I didn’t boot up Fedora )