Friday, July 8, 2011

Installing Gnome 3 on Ubuntu 11.04.

If you've been following some of my older posts you should have gathered that I am a Linux fan. My distribution of choice is Ubuntu, but I dabbled with some Fedora recently on my new Hard Drive and fell in love with Gnome 3. Fedora 15, however, did not keep my interest because of the lack of Nvidia graphics driver support (3D graphics were impossible to create).

     Gnome 3 is a desktop environment, and if you are using Windows chances are this term is new to you. This is because of the integration of Windows explorer desktop environment with the operating system itself. In Linux the two exist as separate entities that work in conjunction with one another. Desktop environments are everything graphical that you interact with. The Windows 7 taskbar, icons, launchers, and anything that isn't command line is provided by your desktop environment.

     Ubuntu 11.04  was different than past versions of Ubuntu because it abandoned the Gnome DE and traded it for Unity. Many Ubuntu fans were outraged by this because of the lack of polish that Unity had upon release. The looks of Unity were better than gnome 2, but at the cost of a LOT of productivity. Unity revolves around a launcher that is buggy, obstructive, and sometimes confusing to use. This is why some people, like myself, are trading it in for Gnome 3. Gnome 3 is sleek, customizable, and integrates well with Ubuntu.

History spiel is over. Here is where the work gets done.
Your first step: Add the Gnome 3 repository. Without this your OS wouldn't know where to look to download Gnome 3.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3

Step 2: Update AND upgrade the system.
It may seem a bit redundant to update right before trading out Unity, but it helps Gnome integrade with Ubuntu safer. (I updated without upgrading. Now it takes 2 minutes to boot and another 4 to gain full functionality. Not mentioning a few mandatory commands each login. Do BOTH) 

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dist-upgrade

Step 3: Download Gnome 3
You are about to download Gnome Shell. There is no need to specify what version of Gnome you want. Gnome-shell is always kept up to date with the latest version. When typing the code remember the hyphen.

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

The heavy lifting is done, but that doesn't mean you are.
There are still more terminal commands to be run. But first, restart your system. Boot into the recovery console and type

sudo apt-get install gnome-session

This makes it possible to log into Gnome 3. Type "exit" in the recovery console and return to the login page. Change from "Ubuntu" to "Gnome" or "Gnome shell". Once you are in you will probably notice a very low FPS rate. You simply need to install your graphics drivers again before you can fully use Gnome 3. At first it may look ugly because it uses GTK 3.x. You need to download a new theme from if you want your Eyecandy back.

Also, once you're in download the Gnome tweak tool and have File Manager handle the desktop. This will let you put icons on the desktop. A feature that is disabled in Gnome 3 for some reason. You can also feel free to change any other settings inside tweak tool, it won't damage anything. To find tweak tool after you download it move your mouse button over to the activities corner and search for "Tweak Advanced Settings".

Some not-so-necessary applications that will make your Gnome life easier
There are a few applications that are going to make using Gnome a lot easier. They are Gnome do, docky/awn, and (Removed).
Gnome do is an application Launcher that learns as you do. It saves your application preferences. If you typed chr to access Google Chrome 4 times and chr to access Chromosome chart 3 times chr would be saved to Chrome for the time being. Gnome do can be put on a keyboard shortcut for fast summoning. 

Docky (or Avant Window Navigator) are both Docks. They just give a better track of things than the anti-clutter policies of Gnome 3.

(Removed) seems to have been discontinued. Nevermind that.

Vague video that sums up everything I've said without the clutter incoming very soon.

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