Survey: Ubuntu Session vs Vanilla GNOME: what do you want Ubuntu to evolve to?

I know there are quite some fans of Vanilla GNOME out there. When it was first announced that Ubuntu was reverting back to upstream GNOME, Canonical decided to add extensions and hold back on Nautilus in order to make the transition from Unity a bit more digestible.

With Cosmic Cuttlefish on the doorstep, and the Yaru theme set to become the default, I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering where all of this is going …

Are we still in the transition phase towards a vanilla GNOME experience, or are we going to have an adapted GNOME Shell from now on?

I’m curious to know what you personally think Ubuntu should evolve to. Suru Icon creator Sam Hewitt wrote in a blog post of 5 August that he thinks distros should stop wasting time on creating themes, but instead help the ecosystem grow, even if that implies a lack of (brand) theming options. I agree. There are options. What do you think Ubuntu should be? …

Thanks for your response!

  • Keep a distinctive Ubuntu Session, with Yaru theme(s), extensions and adapted core apps (like Nautilus).
  • Transition into a vanilla GNOME experience, but with Yaru theme(s).
  • Transition into a vanilla GNOME experience, but with subtle colour branding (highlighting colours).
  • Transition into a vanilla GNOME experience, with Adwaita theming and everything.

0 voters

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I would rather still have Unity installed by default, this also means, that I rather have the Ubuntu session, I do use GNOME at work (with another distro), and I do keep and use some VMs with the standard default installation of Ubuntu with GNOME.

The GNOME tweaked experience available on Ubuntu is much nicer.


Option 1 would be probably the best, but it is not necessary to have also adapted apps. I believe session, theme and extensions are enough


I don’t think i’m alone in finding the default Gnome experience unsatisfactory. The “tweaked” Ubuntu experience is somewhat better, but not as good as the default Unity.

Having said that, I can (and do) modify all of the above from the defaults. However, the user story should be better than:

  1. User find something so annoying she looks for a fix
  2. Fix is not discoverable, nor predictable
  3. Experiment until pain of experimentation exceeds annoyance

I’d like to see is more of the design expertise that, after several iterations, made Unity so good with the default settings and with the options I most want to change front and centre in “Settings/Appearance/Behaviour” applied to the Gnome experience. Hopefully, the result could be upstreamed.


I voted 1 to the limited pull .
However, I do agree with @alan_g .

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I am a default gnome fan and have installed gnome session. I would be happy if i was just able to turn the ubuntu dash2dock extension off .


you can still have your Vanilla gnome desktop! we are still maintianing vanilla-gnome-desktop, which is basically what Ubuntu GNOME was. It just doesnt make sense to spin seperate ISO’s which such a close overlap between Ubuntu proper.


I know. What the 4th option actually implies is to merge them, and actually do away with ubuntu-session. Or beter: make the default Ubuntu session vanilla GNOME.

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Once installed, if you’d delete the 2 extensions in /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions, you’d essentially get the vanilla Gnome experience, when you reboot.

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Considering Gnome is doing funny things like killing desktop icons, I don’t think depending on Vanilla Gnome is a good idea for Ubuntu. Gnome team might have many ideas which may be great as well. But a lot of people with a default experience depend on Ubuntu. It will be harsh to throw them to the tantrums of Gnome DE developers.


My opinion of the Ubuntu Desktop Team’s intent is that we hoped GNOME would adopt some of the popular features that Ubuntu uses.

Some of Ubuntu’s changes have been accepted into GNOME like the over-amplification feature. Some have gotten stuck in review (like the connectivity checking privacy option). And there are other features that GNOME maintainers don’t seem interested in yet (a dock option, the ability to turn off the Activities Overview hot corner, and a better answer for third-parties that want some sort of “system tray” integration.)

I think that generally speaking, most people expect Ubuntu to theme GNOME and are reasonably happy with that.

So I guess the vision is for Ubuntu to ship GNOME with a nice theme and with a few defaults switched where Ubuntu thinks it’s better for our users but for those options to be in GNOME so that it’s easy to duplicate the Ubuntu experience on other distros.


You just need to apt purge the dock package no need to hack

On topic:
I think upstream designers lost themselves in some kind of experimental bubble without user needs in mind when forcing the user to use the dash to open apps

If one would see that the upstream designers would start caring for the user again then skipping the modifications should be considered.

Talking about look and feel, I really don’t know. Stock adwaita looks more and more old school and bad to me. Even Windows improves it’s design with every sub release but adwaita is still stuck with OSX 10 design. And I really don’t know why.

Design should ALWAYS be targeted on your users/target audience. So either they don’t know who their target audience is, or they don’t really care and want to force a certain workflow on their users because they think it is what they need

The unification of window spread, workspace view and search is a big improvement over other approaches in other DEs. It makes everything easier for the user.
But the absolute abstraction of opening apps to a point where you start the session and have no idea where you can stick to your last workflow again is just bad. It is a bad idea. I mean, you could go even further and abstract the process of opening apps to only 1 white pixel on your black screen and say “you only need to click this pixel to find your apps. It’s incredibly minimal and easy. You just need to get used to it.”. See what I did there? That’s kind of like what’s currently happening to the dash only approach to open apps (ofc it’s exaggerated but this may help). You ONLY need to hover in the the left corner (first step), then you ONLY need to click the app that you have previously attached to the dash-dock-thing (second step).
It’s just too abstract and too far away from a natural use case/ process. Compare it to osx, Android or Windows. It’s not an improvement. It makes this process to complicated and too abstract.


Purge or delete would get those packages out, and get you the “vanilla” gnome. Mimicking Unity won’t make Gnome Unity-like, would it?

By adding a dock you could rather argue that you are mimicking osx or Windows or Android.

It’s not rocket science to have the idea to provide a dock to a stock desktop

Nothing to do with OSX or Windows or Android. We are talking about Ubuntu (only).

Yes we are taking about Ubuntu.
Yet you argued that by adding a dock to gnome you are mimicking unity. Which is - with all respect - wrong.

Since having a dock/app-panel in a desktop environment was not invented by Canonical (the company who makes Ubuntu).

This is why adding a dock is NOT mimicking unity.

Can’t really see how I can be more clear.

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You don’t have to.
We all knew about mimicking Unity’s launcher.
Read Didier’s old blogs, of the time of 17.10 moving from Unity to Gnome shell.

Oh thanks for the tip didn’t know about this.

The point is: it is common sense to have a dock/app-panel on a desktop environment.

It would be common sense if unity had a dock or teleporter to Mars to launch apps or whatever.

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Start from here, and read forward (Day 1 to Day 16) to see how it happened.

This was actually a joke because Yaru started as a result of these blog posts … Thought you’d get this one.

Anyways: imagine you would have just created your very own desktop environment. What would you add to the desktop to let the user open his apps in the fastest and most comfortable way? I’m really interested

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