How to Fix common Gnome 3 issues on ubuntu 11.04 (Natty)

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First step

Note:- This will remove unity

Install gnome 3 on ubuntu 11.04

Open the terminal and run the following commands

gksudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
gksudo apt-get update
gksudo apt-get dist-upgrade
gksudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Before reboot run the followind tweaks

Issues with strange themes

You may have a strange theme and want the default Gnome 3 theme, run the following commands from your terminal

gksudo apt-get remove gnome-accessibility-themes
gksudo apt-get install gnome-themes-standard

Now let's restart. For those of you having the common graphical glitch, this issue is caused by the gnome-accessibility-themes and by not having the gnome standard themes. Once you reboot you should be at the fresh interface of Gnome 3.

Tweaking! Window buttons, different themes, etc.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can change initially, but we'll need to install another tool to help tweak some items, open a terminal again and install the following:

gksudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Open the gnome-tweak-tool by pressing ALT+F2 and typing in:


then press Enter. Here we can change a few basic settings. Go under interface to change the Gtk+ Theme. If you find you don't like something, just change it back.

To apply the changes, either log out and log back in or press ALT+F2 and type in just r and press Enter, which will refresh the Window Manager.

If you want your regular buttons on the right hand side for the windows do the following, press ALT+F2 and type in:


Press Enter and navigate to:


Change the button_layout to:


After you do that, you do need to press ALT+F2, type r, press enter, and it'll fix that.


If you have flickering, tearing, etc. of the windows and HAVE installed the graphics drivers, you need to remove them. Unfortunately with some chipsets you will experience tearing with the graphic drivers -- ATI for example.

Tips & Tricks

If have 2 separate windows open on one application, like 2 separate firefox windows (not tabs) and press ALT+TAB and while holding down ALT press Tab until you get to the firefox icon and press the down arrow key.

Press the Super key (windows logo key) then start typing in the name of an application. You don't need the mouse to get to your apps.

click on the circle with the little person in it, there's a way to find some accessibility settings.

Click at the top where it says todays date and time, it pops down a cool calendar that integrates with Evolution 3.0

Click on the application name in the top left, it has a quit menu so if you can't figure out how to quit an app or close a window, you can do it that way.

If you get stuck in a window that has no close button, try pressing the escape key.

When someone sends you an im, you can click on it at the bottom middle and reply if using Empathy.

If you press the activities button and go to the bottom right-hand side you should see a list of your current tray icons such as empathy chats. In the activities menu if you get an IM you can reply to it there.

Via Ubuntuforums

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32 Responses

  1. Paul Kater says:

    Marvelous tips, thank you. I am certainly going to follow these after setting up 11.04. πŸ™‚

  2. t0m5k1 says:

    nice tips
    but erm
    your first part i find hilarious

    we have to install the correct gnome shell obviously because canonical’s version does not work correctly!

    Shame they have pushed this so much and all you get is a big ugly brown netbook experience!

    i have been using ubuntu since that ol warty warthog came along & tbh i have loved it & learned loads but now it is laughable.

    i have rolled back to 10.10 & am now making some big decisions about moving away coz it just is not on the same path as me.

    perhaps its time for linux from scratch or gentoo from source or maybe plan 9 & see whats down the rabbit hole
    compile time i used to hate but ubuntu seems to have jumped to top slot for most hated.

  3. tbtoni says:

    hi i did try it on last week, it did work even if i didn’t fix the accessibility issue.
    what did make to give up is that without ATI proprietary drivers my fan is always on with temperature around 50 and this is quite disturbing,
    i noticed that in gnome 3 it is not possible to definitely fix desktop brightness nordefinitely disable bluetooth.

  4. David says:

    Bleeding edge is just that, bleeding edge. I can’t think of a single version that initially worked better than the previous ones, but overall the experience has improved remarkably. Actually I take that back, Dapper was awesome on release day, but beyond that its been an adventure in “what will break” this time?

    Lets all remember how bad Pulse sucked and how incomplete it was when initially released.

    If after upgrading my sound and wireless work, I consider it a small victory.

  5. Jesse says:

    I agree with Ubuntu failed with Unity. I use to enjoy having my docky panel at the bottom of my desktop screen. Apparently the same programmer who created docky also works for canonical and developed Unity. I find Unity a complete wasted effort. It’s almost a rip off of linux mint’s single panel menu with an added windows 7 toolbar on the left which in fact you cannot minimize your application by clicking the icon again. How, horrible is the user experience not to mention the increased number of introduced bugs. I know they are working on trying to get opengl and 3d working but this is just not it. Also the reason behind the unity toolbar is pretty stupid. They say that most monitors are widescreen etc. But if you really think about it, the launchers belong at the bottom where theres more width vs the stupid horizontal scrolling on the left panel in which you cannot position else where! I’m extremely upset by this decision that canonical made and I’m deciding on switching to linux mint or straight up debian. It’s so damn buggy, I have the a 460 gtx and 470 gtx card, one in my laptop and desktop and both tend to have issues with the unity panel. Sometimes when I blur off the menu, I get a 50% opacity on the left just lingering, doesn’t hide like it should etc. Maybe this is the windows vista of ubuntu… But still, this is a mess. I use linux for work since I’m a programmer and cannot be bothered with stupid GUI interfaces that are buggy beyond reasonable, especially in a major release. IMO, rather than having this crap Unity, why not take the notorious docky panel and make that the default desktop panel?! It probably would have saved a lot more time, resources, and not introduce as many bugs! Having the option for “ubuntu classic” just shows that they really did screw up. All over the internet people are just ripping on this so called “Unity”… which now translates to “U Nutty”, to freakin use this failure… I could go on, in fact, I’m about to blog this horrible experience on my personal site… Linux Mint or Debian, here I come… Bye Ubuntu.

  6. konrad says:

    I’ve been a long time Ubuntu user and have always enjoyed the new versions that have come over the years. Each new version gave me more control over how my desktop could be setup to suit my computing experience, UNTIL NOW! This Unity would be fine on a small tablet or smart phone using your finger to navigate, but on a full-size desktop computer this is absolutely terrible. I fine it hard to put into words how unbelievably disappointed I am that the desktop I’ve setup over the years has been completely destroyed and replaced with this thing that’s absolutely useless to me. So instead of me enjoying a new version of Ubuntu, I have to decide whether to go back to 10.10 or look at some other distro’s.


  7. Bhasker Thodla says:

    Great post. Made me come back to Gnome 3 which I had un-installed after I had a lot of problems setting up.


  8. Samuel Sierra says:

    I’ve tried using Ubuntu 11.04… And, as well as almost everyone, I’m really disapointed. At first tried updating from 10.10. GREAT MISTAKE! Then tried a clean install. GREATER MISTAKE! And I’ve been a user since version 6 without complaints. But 11.04 turned out to be an OS that I just can’t recomend or use at all. By the way… Just reinstalled 10.10. I hope that all those issues disappear soon. Otherwise, I’ll start using another distro.

  9. bart says:

    Just upgraded from 10.10 to 11.04.
    It took a couple of hours, but it worked flawessly!

    Everything works just fine. Also good to see that standard unity now also works well on my laptop (Lenovo X61) Prior to upgrading i had to fall back to unity-2d because of graphics problems.

    Bit dissapointed that i can not install gnome3 without killing unity. πŸ™

  10. chenvej says:

    @konrad nailed it. I wish I had read that comment before giving 11.04 a go. Worse-than-useless is an upgrade that destroys the meticulous effort one puts into setting up their environment. Time to drop Ubuntu.

  11. CaWal says:

    When I tried this procedure I’ve an annoying issue with the login: just after I try to log GNOME said it can’t update the ~/.ICEautority file and automatically logs-out. (Even if I set the permissions 777 to this file…) Did anyone got this issue too? Can I fix it?

  12. Adrian says:

    Yes i had same problem hire “~/.ICEautority” Have no idea what happen. For me only an fresh install worked. I upgrade from 10.10 and maybe that`s way …

    Thank`s for the great post Ubuntu Geek

  13. admin says:

    If you are getting “Could not update /home/username/.ICEauthority” error

    Try the following command from your terminal

    sudo chown $USER:$USER /home/$USER/.ICEauthority
    sudo chmod 644 /home/$USER/.ICEauthority

    $USER ==your username

  14. Graeme Jackson says:

    For the .ICEauthority error, go to the login screen ctrl-alt-F2 and log in to terminal session.

    Type : sudo apt-get install gnome-session

    This should resolve the issue – messing with the .ICEauthority rights didn’t help me.

    My graphics are terrible – it seems the screen does not refresh. Switching between apps and the indicator session updates the screen partially. Useful for issuing your fix attempts πŸ˜‰

  15. Ajay says:

    Jesse, Ubuntu 11.04 is not a rip of Windows or Mint – they tried to mimic OSx which had the integrated menu bar (file/edit etc) in the top panel along with a ‘system menu’ for a long time. The Unity bar is also a clone of OSx’s dock. You could say it was a clone of Windows 7s task bar but even they copied Apple. Ubuntus’ reasoning was most displays nowadays have 1920×1080+ displays and applications don’t make use of or need the full 16:9 resolution hence on the left – but why not on the right? That’s why while in some instances that is true and logical, (IMO) the main reason is because if they moved that bar to the bottom, Apple would’ve slapped a law suit on them. Ubuntu are gearing towards targeting your every day user, you know – the ones who watch YouTube and go on Facebook but the idiots didn’t realise for a market they have no presence in, changing the basic standard of computing by introducing something totally different (i.e. launcher on the left) will immediately put off new users. Cananoical are funded by many private companies yet they suprisingly have no knowledge of how market. They have to provide everything commercial competitors provide before they can introduce new ways to experience computing. I.e. Google chrome is ALWAYS copying Opera. Opera introduced sync, then Google, Then Firefox. Blackberry messenger, whatsapp, liveprofile etc.. It’s the way standards work. Walk before you can run cananoical.

  16. Osama Dakhil says:

    thanks a billion works great and this was very informative

  17. Kurt says:

    Thanks for these tips. Works well but have to agree that Natty is pretty scary overall. It reminds me of way back in the day when I first started in linux with Mandrake. I find the whole experience a bit of a carnival in that whenever I go to do something simple I am just not sure it will work and how much work I will have to do to get it to work. At this point, click and pray is not what I am after in my desktop. I have tried unity, unity 2d, Gnome 3 and now finally Ubuntu Classic with no effects which at least gives me an environment that doesn’t surprise me with every click or reboot. After many, many years on Ubuntu I am hesitant to leave, the community being more the reason than Canonical. Want to give them some time but … this might be what finally pushes me to arch. The attitude that C. knows better than I do how I want my system to work is exactly why I avoid MS and Apple products. It looks to me as if Ubuntu is moving in the same direction as the big two. Fine for them, for me Natty is a total disaster.

  18. Graeme Jackson says:

    I have to agree with Kurt, this is not the experience I have come to expect from Ubuntu. I will be skipping the Natty “Upgrade” until I see substantial improvement in the user experience. Not at all impressed with Gnome 3 either. Both Gnome and Unity are reminiscent of Vista, they’re not ready for public consumption.

    Ironically I have just converted many family members to Linux (from XP and Vista) and they are revelling in 10.04. I could not in good conscience foist this offering on them.

    I’ll give canonical and gnome the chance to improve their offerings, but if they don’t improve immensely, I’ll switch to either LXDE or XFCE. I want fast and simple – fancy really doesn’t blow my skirt up, it’s the main reason I didn’t go to Vista in the first place.

  19. Meer Adam says:

    I’ve always loved ubuntu. As many, this is the first time I too am sadly disappointed. I will not stop hoping that ubuntu will sail back to the track which the users loved – steady impressive improvements over the years, unlike the shaky steep slop it took this time.

    even the server 11.04 is a disappointment with slow response and having to wake it up every time a request is send. not vigilant like the previous version.

    hoping for the best.

  20. Carl says:

    Great job. One suggestion, before I run something like this, I backup my linux partition using cloanzilla. Then, if things go horribly wrong, or I don’t like the change I can easily restore the partition.

  21. Vijayarahavan says:

    Unfortunately it didn’t help for me.

  22. Spanky says:

    This is very well laid out, and very helpful. Thank you!

  23. Radu says:

    I had the same issue when upgrading to gnome3, thanks for this tip, it solved the UGLY looks πŸ˜‰

  24. Dave says:

    For those who, like me, find that IcedTea does not properly execute their banking applet here is how I installed Sun Java 6:

    Ubuntu 11.04
    Gnome 3
    FireFox 5.0

    Using synaptic install:
    (accept additional packages)

    Link FireFox in alternatives to the Java6 plugin
    (you may have to remove the existing link)

    sudo su
    cd /etc/alternatives
    ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun-

    Restart FireFox

  25. Nick Stone says:

    Thank you so much! I though installing gnome3 was a horrible idea after it booted into aginggorrilla, until I stumbled upon this. Thanks, thanks, THANKS!

  26. Dude says:

    Using “gksudo” instead of “sudo” leaves me with a terminal in limbo

  27. fdeschape says:

    One fix that i did was to add a POWEROFF extension in the status menu. It is easy and no need to use Terminal:
    2)search for β€œgnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu”
    3)install the extension
    4)log out and log back in

    once back in, the POWER OFF will be in the status menu

  28. pawan says:

    I tried to upgrade my ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10. i downloaded all upgrades and the installation part could not be completed due to power problem. Now its not working after entering username and password. Also the icons are not properly loaded.

    help me.. i am only able to log in as root on terminal.

  29. ksanger says:

    Just installed 11.04 using wubi. Its horrible. Don’t have time to learn this now. I see no advantage to this. I don’t like all the crap on my desktop and much prefer to use the known pull down menus. Also appreciate multiple desktops. Does this post give me that back? Plus 11.04 aspect ratio is incorrect on my 22″ screen. Plus I get an error message due to the memory slot on my HP printer. 10.04 and 8.04 live cds worked great but 11.04 is HORRIBLE.

  30. ksanger says:

    I forgot. Trying to adjust the screen leaves a wake of open windows and no response. Did I mention this is HORRIBLE. No one is going to use 11.04 like this.

    Can’t wait to uninstall. I think I’ll start immediately.

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