Installing vanilla GNOME session in Ubuntu 17.10

Submitted by alexandru on Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:15
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Ubuntu 17.10 was out yesterday, 19.10.2017, and it uses GNOME for the first time after almost 7 years of Unity. But, as you could probably know already, it doesn't use the vanilla GNOME session, but a session that is "slightly" modified by Canonical. I don't know about you, but I don't really like the way that the Canonical's GNOME vision really turned out. As I mainly use Debian with vanilla GNOME, I thought that I should install the GNOME session in Ubuntu too. Here are the steps to take in order to make your Ubuntu experience a purely GNOME one. First, you have to install the gnome session using the command:

sudo apt install gnome-session

as an alternative, you can also do:

sudo apt install vanilla-gnome-desktop

This will install more core apps that come with the Vanilla GNOME session by default. See the official release notes of the 17.10 release HERE. Now, you can log out and then log back in, but don't forget to select the GNOME session from the drop down menu. Nevertheless, after you select GNOME and enter your credentials, you will still see some reminiscences from the Ubuntu session. To solve this, you have to go to Tweaks application and change some Appearance settings.  The default Adwaita theme for Applications and Icons.[/caption] But, bare in mind that Ubuntu does not ship with the GNOME Tweaks app as default, so you will have to install it using the command:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

This is lame, guys... Seriously now! All other major distros like Debian, openSUSE and Fedora ship GNOME Tweaks by default. Why wouldn't Ubuntu ship it too by default? After the application is installed, go to Appearance and select from the Theme section the Adwaita for Applications and Icons themes. Once you do that, everything should be set, except for the GDM3 login screen. To get the default vanilla GNOME theme for the login screen, use the following command:

sudo update-alternatives --config gdm3.css

and select number 1 (one) when asked. If you want to get rid of the Ubuntu session selectors from the GDM login screen, use the command:

sudo apt purge ubuntu-session

Now you can log out and then log back in and you will have the default GNOME 3.26.1 desktop environment running on the Ubuntu foundation.  Vanilla GNOME session with the default desktop background. 

Nevertheless, I congratulate the Ubuntu team for their work, but I still prefer Debian with the vanilla GNOME session. It is a shame that they do not provide an default alternative to the original GNOME desktop without their added tweaks that make it look like Unity, at least this would have been a great option for the former Ubuntu GNOME users or others that don't really enjoy Unity. To enjoy a better GNOME experience and don't mind having some "old" version packages, I would suggest using Debian. Or, if you want the latest and greatest vanilla GNOME, you can always use openSUSE Tumbleweed. Far better than what Ubuntu on desktop had become. Ubuntu now is a better contender in the Cloud and Server and IoT area, but not the Desktop. Not anymore!