GNOME shell is a part of new generation GNOME 3.0 desktop UI. It is going to be launched in March 2011. Its a total make over of conventional GNOME desktop UI for Linux. GNOME shell uses metacity and mutter for theming and effects respectively. In fact mutter has replaced Compiz for desktop effects. Before we discuss it further, let's learn how to install and test GNOME shell.
#1 How to install GNOME shell on Ubuntu 10.10 desktop edition
Since Ubuntu uses the basic GNOME UI engine we can install GNOME shell using apt-get. Go to Applications-> Accessories ->Terminal and enter the following commands.
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/testing && sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install gnome-shell
#2 How to start or run GNOME shell on Ubuntu 10.10
Hit ALT + F2, and run the following command
By this time your desktop must have transformed or revamped, welcome to GNOME guys. Now move your mouse cursor to the extreme top-left (on Activities), GNOME application dashboard will appear and move your mouse cursor away, the dashboard will disappear. The effect is really cool, but a copy cat of Windows 7. You can also use ALT+F1 to open GNOME search menu or dashboard what ever you can call it. And by the way the sleek animation effects uses Mutter, so thats why Compiz has been exculded from GNOME shell and Mutter really looks good and works flawlessly. I wonder why Ubuntu did not choose Mutter for Unity?
#3 How to restore old GNOME
Either simply Logout or Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command
The run window also looks cool, isn't it?
More about GNOME shell
Multiple - Workspace: You can add/remove workspaces, depending on your needs, use the '+' or '-' button at the bottom-right to add or remove workspace.
Effects: If you are looking at an application in a workspace, and want to zoom in/out to read better, just hover on the application window and use your mouse scroll button to zoom in/out. You can also drag the windows from one workspace to another, thanks to Mutter.
Sound Indicator: the sound indicator is quite big and doesn't look appealing, earlier one is much better.
ALT + TAB: Alt + Tab window switcher has improved in GNOME 3.0.
System Preferences or settings: GNOME shell developers have done a smart job with System related applications. System applications have been placed in the users drop down menu (System Preferences) as shown in the screenshot below. And the system applications have been arranged nicely under various categories/groups. Wow !!
GNOME shell is still under development and till date they have improved the desktop experience by leaps and bounds. I really liked the GNOME shell experience and in fact I'm going to flaunt it to the newbies, after all Open source desktop look has improved and looks mystical too. But guys Ubuntu is not going to use GNOME shell, they are going to use Unity UI with Compiz instead of GNOME shell and Mutter. Learn how to Install Unity on Ubuntu 10.10