How to be helpful / testing "vanilla" GNOME

Hello, I have been running Ubuntu with “vanilla” GNOME since 18.04. Since this is not an official flavour, what is the best way to QA test this setup for Focal? Until now I have simply been confirming after a base install of the daily desktop or server ISO that I can do the following steps post-install:

# apt update
# apt upgrade
# apt install gnome-session vanilla-gnome-desktop
# update-alternatives --config gdm3.css
# reboot

I assume that if this “vanilla” experience is possible, I am not the only person using it. But I am not sure how to contribute toward it working well in the future. For example, I find that if I do not install gnome-session the vanilla-gnome-desktop retains some of the Ubuntu desktop customizations (like orange instead of blue Activities borders). I am not sure whether or not this is a bug. Is it too late in the release cycle for me to help?

Apologies if this is not a good question or place to ask in advance. I have used Ubuntu on and off since 11.04, but I have never tried to contribute to the project before. I am going to try to test the other flavours while C19 keeps me from going outside. If anything else is particularly useful for Focal please let me know. Thanks to everyone who helps make Focal happen.


You’re right. I too have noticed this, since I use Ubuntu paired with stock GNOME, not with the Ubuntu variant. I guess it is deliberate.

You’re not alone :wave: — I usually run the vanilla session too.

Me too. The Yaru theme is a much needed improvement over Ambiance and Radiance but I still prefer using something that more closely resembles a default GNOME desktop.

I’ve never had to do this. I just log in to a ‘GNOME’ or more usually a ‘GNOME on Xorg’ session at the login prompt. But yes, when I switch from a GNOME session to an Ubuntu session or vice versa there are always a few tweaks that need to be made.

Doesn’t ‘gnome-session’ get installed automatically as a dependency of ‘vanilla-gnome-desktop’?

In another place where I used to post I found that several knowledgable and experienced users were not even aware that the ‘vanilla-gnome-desktop’ package was available so may be it has not had the exposure and testing that it deserves? I suppose we should just report bugs against ‘vanilla-gnome-desktop’ and see how the Desktop Team responds.


In my experience that exact order of steps I cited above is what I must do to get the vanilla GNOME desktop consistently across users on a system. I have a 19.10 home PC that I share with my wife and while my user sessions work as expected, her login screen, apps, etc. are a mishmash of Yaru light and GNOME styles. She even managed to get into high contrast mode by accident, I should get her to test for me :slight_smile: It’s because of that strange development that I started looking into the issue more systematically and was surprised I needed to do that exact order of operations.

I agree that the Yaru theme looks great (:heart: that startup sound!) and I think the default GNOME for Ubuntu makes sense for a lot of people, I just personally prefer the stock GNOME look. I guess I may be a bit beige. So far 20.04 looks really good overall, Kubuntu and Lubuntu look better than last I checked 'em out as well.

I will try and see what I can learn on the bug tracker. Thanks!

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Agree, I like Yaru too — not the Nautilus icon, that’s my only complaint with the Yaru design implementation and look. Usually I use the ‘light-Yaru’ theme and appreciate the fact that the designers allowed us that choice.

Wait, there’s a startup sound? I don’ t get that — I wonder if it has to do with this desktop being upgraded from the previous LTS to the in between releases?

If you test the latest daily ISO you will hear the startup sound when the boot finishes and gives you the desktop

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Thanks @nalck, I’ll satisfy my curiosity.

In fact I think it is launching the installer itself that triggers the sound

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I’ve just downloaded and started today’s ISO and that’s the only sound that I’ve heard so far.

But back on topic, as the vanilla-gnome-desktop package is in ‘universe’ and not ‘main’ it’s not even available to install and test in a live session unless ‘universe’ is specifically enabled which it isn’t by default. Even after installation you have to know that the package exists otherwise you would not know that it is available to install.

I doubt that that there will be much in the way of future development for this package. I think it was provided just to give users of the former Ubuntu GNOME flavour a familiar look and feel to what they already had when upgrading from their former flavour of choice to mainstream Ubuntu. We should still report bugs though. :smile:


I see, thanks for explaining!

vanilla-gnome-desktop is currently broken in Ubuntu 20.04. The login screen is incorrectly themed due to recent changes in GNOME.

Bug reports:

Now fixed. The log-in screen is themed correctly.

Of note is that installing vanilla-gnome-desktop no longer causes the installation to identify as ‘Ubuntu GNOME’ but just as ‘Ubuntu’. Seems logical now that Ubuntu GNOME is no longer an active flavour.


Great that they have got this fixed!