Compiling a list of modifications from "Vanilla" GNOME for the Documentation Team

Hi Desktop Team!

I am working with the Documentation Team for Ubuntu Desktop.

Currently, the desktop guide pulls upstream pages from GNOME even though Ubuntu ships with a modified version of GNOME. We are hoping to improve the documentation by making sure these modifications are reflected in the official documentation.

As far as I am aware, there is not a single source that describes all of these modifications so I am trying to compile a list of the significant differences between “Vanilla” GNOME and GNOME as it ships with Ubuntu Desktop.

If there is such a list, where can I find it? Otherwise, I’d like to gather some information about these modifications. In particular, are there any modifications that you feel should be better reflected in our documentation?

Looking forward to hearing from you all…

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There is not a comprehensive list of changes in a single document yet. Here’s some answers; I hope this isn’t too overwhelming.

Off the top of my head, the most visible changes from stock GNOME are:

  • We include the AppIndicators extension (some apps show icons in the top right corner)
  • We include the Ubuntu Dock extension (left sidebar for running applications)
  • We enable desktop icons with the Desktop Icons NG extension
  • We use the Yaru theme. In 22.04 LTS, this now includes color variants.
  • Our default font is Ubuntu instead of Cantarell.
  • We include the minimize and maximize window buttons.
  • Our default app selection is different. We include Firefox instead of the GNOME Web browser. We use Remmina instead of GNOME Connections. etc. GNOME Core is mostly defined in two documents and Ubuntu’s is in two other documents
  • For Ubuntu 22.04 LTS we ship GNOME 42 but several apps are still at the 41 versions because they switched to GTK4 and libadwaita in 42 and we weren’t ready for all of that.
  • Our default desktop wallpaper is different and we ship our own collection of default alternate wallpapers.

There are other places to look for changes if someone wanted to be especially thorough (I think all but the first line are probably too detailed for what you’re requesting).

  • gsettings overrides in ubuntu-settings
  • A lot of the desktop packaging is shared in Salsa with the Debian GNOME team. One way to find differences is to look for version numbers with a u in them in the Ubuntu column of this page. Then click the Vcs Git link and switch there to the ubuntu/master branch.
  • Debian’s GNOME desktop is mostly vanilla but they have some changes too. Sometimes they have patches that are just backporting fixes; sometimes they are feature changes. These are stored in debian/patches/ for each package, usually in the Salsa repositories.
  • Some other changes are done with the configure arguments in debian/rules or occasionally with gsettings overrides files in the debian directory (like we do with ubuntu-settings but these can be done in individual packages too.)

Finally, a big source of changes is in our Settings app (gnome-control-center) packaging. We add several additional settings.


Thanks a lot, @jbicha. That’s helpful indeed.

We haven’t really discussed yet which of the changes we’ll try to cover in the desktop guide. After all many of them are self-explanatory, and some are more important than others.

Another aspect is that we don’t want to add to the maintenance burden too much. We’ll probably avoid to fork a lot of GNOME pages to ubuntu-docs and modify them there, but rather work with additional pages and maybe some additional links upstream as conditionals (only seen on Ubuntu).

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