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Switch to Gnome Classic look on Ubuntu 12.04

Ubuntu 12.04 codenamed ‘precise pangolin’ comes up with Unity desktop by default. Though the features of Unity are appealing, it is not that convenient for GNOME 2 users. This guide is on how to revert back to the old GNOME 2 Classic Desktop in Ubuntu 12.04.


Earlier Ubuntu shipped ‘Precise Pangolin’ with the package “gnome-panel”. Installing this would add GNOME Classic as an option which the user can select from duringĀ  login. However in the present releases of Ubuntu 12.04, gnome-panel has been removed from the default sources. So the command “sudo apt-get install gnome-panel” will no longer work, it will throw the following error.

Package gnome-panel is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or is only available from another source.

How to install gnome-panel in Ubuntu 12.04

  1. At first the package holding gnome-panel must be enabled. Press Alt+F2 and open software-center.

    Software Center in Ubuntu

    Software Center in Ubuntu

  2. From the menu bar choose Edit -> Software Sources.
  3. Enable the “Community-maintained free and open-source software (universe)” package.

    Ubuntu 12.04 Software sources

    Ubuntu 12.04 Software sources

  4. Open Terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and enter the command “sudo apt-get update“.
  5. Enter the command “sudo apt-get install gnome-panel“. Enter ‘Y’ to accept any query prompted for.
  6. Log out of the current session.
  7. During next login, select Gnome-Classic option and login.

    Login Desktop Selector

    Login Desktop Selector

How to assign Gnome Classic as the default Desktop in Ubuntu 12.04

  1. Open Terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T).
  2. Enter the following command ‘ sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-classic’

‘-s gnome-classic’ specifies to set the session as gnome classic. You can also edit other defaults such as auto login user (parameter -a), manual login (parameter -m) with this command.

Gnome Classic on Ubuntu 12.04

Gnome Classic on Ubuntu 12.04

How to add items to gnome-panel in Ubuntu 12.04

In the earlier versions of Ubuntu, a simple right click on the panel would display the options related to the panel. However gnome panel installed on Ubuntu 12.04 has little different controls. You should perform ‘Alt + Right Click‘ to display all the panel related options.



  1. The proxy server settings doesnt work even if you change it in this version of Ubuntu.

    • Proxy setting does work in this version. I was running this version in my college behind http proxy. After you change the proxy, check the environment variable http_proxy to see if it is set.

  2. Old GNOME 2 Classic Desktop is the best, because many people are used to this version of desktop.

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