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Thread: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

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  1. #1
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    Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    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:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1873765

    That worked out well enough that I published this compilation of “tweaks and tricks” for Oneiric:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1886799

    And later a similar compilation for Precise:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1966370

    The latter one has now been “wikified” by cortman:

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Pr...eClassicTweaks

    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’:

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...tem&px=MTIxMTg

    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:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2073181

    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”:

    http://www.webupd8.org/2012/11/fallb...ion-to-be.html

    They will however be introducing a new classic session via “gnome shell extension(s)”:

    http://www.webupd8.org/2012/11/gnome...ssic-mode.html

    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:

    http://www.webupd8.org/2012/08/ubunt...utilus-34.html

    And Gnome's Vincent Untz has already called on the community to fork and maintain the “fallback-session” including ‘metacity’ and ‘gnome-panel’:

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...tem&px=MTIzMzE

    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:

    multi_boot.jpg

    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?

  2. #2
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Good afternoon

    I stumbled on this article on the World of Gnome site:-

    http://worldofgnome.org/gnome-classi...ession-in-3-8/

    They don't seem to like the name Gnome Classic so I think that they should call it "Gnome Too"

    Kind regards

  3. #3
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Quote Originally Posted by tea for one View Post
    Good afternoon

    I stumbled on this article on the World of Gnome site:-

    http://worldofgnome.org/gnome-classi...ession-in-3-8/

    They don't seem to like the name Gnome Classic so I think that they should call it "Gnome Too"

    Kind regards
    Correct, but the new classic session will still use the Mutter window manager. Based on my testing of the Mint/Cinnamon fork (which is called Muffin) support for P4M800 graphics pretty much stinks.

    Maybe things will improve by Gnome version 3.10 as Vincent Untz says

  4. #4
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Quote Originally Posted by kansasnoob View Post
    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.
    I've given this a lot of thought, and here are my thoughts: Lubuntu/Xubuntu users will get the exact same updates to kernel, libraries, and applications as Ubuntu users, for the full 5 years of support. The only packages that won't get LTS support are a few desktop-specific packages that are never run as root user. What is the worst-case scenario? How likely is it for a mission-critical stability/security bug to mysteriously appear in lxappearance (for example) years after release?

  5. #5
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Quote Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
    I've given this a lot of thought, and here are my thoughts: Lubuntu/Xubuntu users will get the exact same updates to kernel, libraries, and applications as Ubuntu users, for the full 5 years of support. The only packages that won't get LTS support are a few desktop-specific packages that are never run as root user. What is the worst-case scenario? How likely is it for a mission-critical stability/security bug to mysteriously appear in lxappearance (for example) years after release?
    Well, I'm sticking with Ubuntu/Gnome classic (no effects) on these P4M800 boxes for 12.04 and I'm reasonably sure that no security or recommended updates will break things.

  6. #6
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Quote Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
    I've given this a lot of thought, and here are my thoughts: Lubuntu/Xubuntu users will get the exact same updates to kernel, libraries, and applications as Ubuntu users, for the full 5 years of support. The only packages that won't get LTS support are a few desktop-specific packages that are never run as root user. What is the worst-case scenario? How likely is it for a mission-critical stability/security bug to mysteriously appear in lxappearance (for example) years after release?
    Good point. I have installed lubuntu 12.04 on some friends' old machine, set up a few ppas so they get updated vlc and a few applications, I don't really want to update the OS next year as I have had a hard time getting the wireless to work (and it works nicely now)

  7. #7
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Regarding security in 12.04 I tend to think we should trust Lubuntu when they say it's supported 18 months, Xubuntu when they say it's supported for 3 years, and Ubuntu when they say it's supported for 5 years

    The question actually came up towards the end of the Precise dev cycle and I convinced sudodus to ask here:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.p...tu+precise+LTS

    But I guess the question should be, "how well can the packages in the repos be trusted"?

    I don't know for sure but an issue recently arose on the Lubuntu QA mailing list regarding the Chromium browser:

    chromium_browser.jpg

    Since I don't use Chromium I didn't follow it all but if you wish you can read through all of the posts here:

    https://lists.launchpad.net/lubuntu-qa/

    When I wrote this I actually did take security into account. The basic procedure only installs:

    alacarte
    cups-pk-helper
    gir1.2-gconf-2.0
    gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0
    gnome-applets
    gnome-applets-data
    gnome-panel
    gnome-panel-data
    gnome-session-fallback
    indicator-applet-complete
    libpanel-applet-4-0 python-gmenu
    All of which are supported by Gnome and/or Ubuntu for 12.04 so I think it should be safe

    That said I do use PPA's when desired so how can I be sure I'm secure? Well I generally research the source of the PPA just a bit - not hard to do really using Launchpad.

    But ultimately we must all make our own decisions

  8. #8
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Kansasnoob,

    Personally I'd go for Lubuntu, but I understand why you prefer a LTS.

    You don't mention Kubuntu, did you consider it? You might find this interesting: http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blo...ma-workspaces/

    The first thing to notice is that KDE Plasma workspaces do not have a non-composited fallback mode in the way GNOME Shell or Unity used to have. The main difference is that our window manager (KWin) is able to act as a non-composited, XRender based compositor and OpenGL (ES) based compositor. This means that we do not have to maintain two window managers in order to provide non-composited setups.

    The second major difference is that the Desktop Shell (either KDE Plasma Desktop, KDE Plasma Netbook or KDE Plasma Active) is not a plugin to the compositor but a separate application running in an own process. This allows to use a completely different window manager together with the Desktop Shell.
    I don't know if it's still the case, but in previous releases compositing had to be manually disabled for P4M800

    Code:
    Add to the .kde4/share/config/kwinrc (.kde/share/config/kwinrc)
    
    [Compositing]
    Enabled=false
    Another must-read "How to make Kubuntu (KDE) blazing fast and optimise it for performance" (thanks to kio_http): http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1889034

  9. #9
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    Quote Originally Posted by tartalo View Post
    Kansasnoob,

    Personally I'd go for Lubuntu, but I understand why you prefer a LTS.

    You don't mention Kubuntu, did you consider it? You might find this interesting: http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blo...ma-workspaces/



    I don't know if it's still the case, but in previous releases compositing had to be manually disabled for P4M800

    Code:
    Add to the .kde4/share/config/kwinrc (.kde/share/config/kwinrc)
    
    [Compositing]
    Enabled=false
    Another must-read "How to make Kubuntu (KDE) blazing fast and optimise it for performance" (thanks to kio_http): http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1889034
    The last time I actually "used" anything KDE based was when Linspire was still alive (based on Ubuntu 7.04?).

    I've always just felt that KDE/Kubuntu was too bloated, but I did play a bit when they introduced this:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1765479

    Ain't it fun to play

  10. #10
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    Re: Pondering the future of the Gnome classic session beyond Ubuntu Precise

    There are two systems implementing it now, the One Button Installer using tarballs, where there are versions with and without OEM-install based on

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Pr...eClassicTweaks

    and the more specific fake-PAE systems

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu-fake-PAE

    I'd be glad to cooperate with you with versions for Trusty ...

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