First things first, a brief explanation of how and why I got here:
I maintain a few dozen individual PC’s, mostly for my fellow seniors, and many of their boxes won’t support Compiz so I’ve typically used the Ubuntu LTS releases with the Metacity window manager ever since Hardy (8.04). All were currently running personalized versions of Ubuntu Lucid (10.04) when Unity was introduced as the default DE. During the Natty & Oneiric dev cycles I began showing Unity to these users and about 2/3 to 3/4 quite vocally rejected the notion of learning to use the Unity DE, so I’d planned on using Lubuntu which had just recently earned “official” status as an Ubuntu flavor. Lubuntu is very light and simple due to using the Openbox window manager, and it’s also very simple to create a minimal Lubuntu install and then install only the desired apps.
But then Lubuntu announced early in Precise development that they would not be doing an LTS release, and Xubuntu would be doing only a 3 year LTS, whereas the desktop version of Ubuntu would be a five year LTS, meaning it would be supported until April 2017. That meant I could potentially skip 14.04 and wait for 16.04 if I so wished. Game on! Since Precise was in very early development I began by trying to get a Gnome classic DE running on top of the Metacity window manager using the “classic (no effects)” session:
That worked out well enough that I published this compilation of “tweaks and tricks” for Oneiric:
And later a similar compilation for Precise:
The latter one has now been “wikified” by cortman:
Now, you’ll notice that the Community Documentation says, “This guide is written for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, which is a five year support version. With the removal of support in 12.10 for Unity 2D and Metacity, the future of the Gnome classic option looks doubtful. Therefore this wiki cannot be guaranteed to work on any later version of Ubuntu- it may work, but proceed at your own risk!”
That’s a good starting point for this discussion.
Beginning with Quantal (12.10) Ubuntu dropped the Unity-2D session so Metacity is no longer installed by default. That has to do with the introduction of ‘llvmpipe’:
Sadly the many boxes I maintain with P4M800 graphics just won’t run with “compiz + llvmpipe” so installing (or upgrading to) Ubuntu 12.10 falls flat on it’s face. Now, ‘metacity’ is still in the repos so I can get it to work, but why bother? Ubuntu Quantal (12.10) is only supported until April 2014 whereas Precise (12.04) is an LTS and it’s supported until April 2017.
So then I began to shift my focus to “ubuntu-GNOME-remix” Quantal which still includes ‘metacity’ by default:
It actually requires even less tweaking but remember that it’s not yet an official flavor!
Now the plot thickens!
The Gnome devs recently announced that they’ll also be dropping ‘metacity’ in favor of using “llvmpipe + mutter”:
They will however be introducing a new classic session via “gnome shell extension(s)”:
Based on recent experience though I doubt that will work acceptably with P4M800 graphics. So what now?
Well first and foremost; I’ll be keeping most of my production machines running Precise (12.04) because I’m 99.9% certain that the “classic (no effects)” session will continue to work throughout it’s lifespan. In fact if it breaks you can bet that I’ll quickly find a work-around.
Second I’ll be shifting my focus back to Lubuntu during the next couple of dev cycles in hopes that their 14.04 might be an LTS. It uses the Openbox window manager which also runs quite well on lower-end hardware.
In no specific order beyond that I’ll be giving all of the following a more serious look:
* Xubuntu - it is what it is, certainly no better or no worse than Lubuntu. It’s simply a matter of choice.
* Ubuntu with Cinnamon - they’ve forked a version of Mutter renamed Muffin for use with the Cinnamon DE which does include a “2D” session, but I’ve tested it on a box with P4M800 graphics and the performance is horribly sub-par compared to Metacity or Openbox.
* Ubuntu with Mate - they’ve forked a version of Metacity renamed Marco but it’s designed to work only with Mate’s forked Gnome 2 DE. That’s probably the least desirable to me because there already were annoying problems with the old ‘gnome-panel’ and I worry about being able to integrate newer and more secure apps.
* Be patient - things just keep changing! Besides the changes in desktop environments and window managers many other controversial changes are occurring such as recent changes to Nautilus:
And Gnome's Vincent Untz has already called on the community to fork and maintain the “fallback-session” including ‘metacity’ and ‘gnome-panel’:
You’ll notice there that he says, “Things will improve with time, obviously, and 3.10 will solve more and more issues; hence I would recommend to people hitting such issues to stay with 3.6 for a few more months."
Well Ubuntu Precise (12.04) uses Gnome 3.2.1, and it’s supported until April 2017, so why not just kick back and relax while the devs decide what to do next?
In the meanwhile I’ll continue testing in a multi-boot arrangement:
Others may prefer testing in a VM but I want to see how things work with actual hardware
Anyone have plans of their own to share?