27 November 2011

How To Make XFCE Looks Like Gnome 2 Desktop Interface

Editing Application Menu Desktop Configuration file

Adding Launcher items to the panel with 'Show Label Instead of Icon' option

XFCE 4.8.3 looks just like our lovely Gnome 2 Desktop :)


Gnome 3 has released their latest version (3.2 when I wrote this post), but they still not get good acceptance yet. So many people still love the old and simple Gnome 2 desktop interface and experience. As reaction, many user decided to switch to another DE that looks similar to Gnome 2 like XFCE and LXDE (like Linus Torvalds has switched to XFCE). Another reaction is more radical came from user who love Gnome 2 so much and has made a fork of Gnome 2 that later called as MATE.


I, as an Gnome 2 lover, of course have been impressed by MATE, and after I tried it in my Ubuntu 11.10 system, I realized that MATE still too premature and brings some fundamental bugs. So, as an alternative I run XFCE 4.8 by installing Xubuntu 11.10 and I just can say : It is amazing !! All stuffs in the XFCE 4.8 just almost identical to the Gnome 2 interface. The panel, the Thunar file manager that now has ability to show harddisk partitions in the sidepane, and very similar to the nautilus do. One thing left to make XFCE exactly identical to Gnome 2 is the Applications-Places-System menu :D


After tried and explored, I've found an idea to bring Gnome 2 Applications-Places-System menu to XFCE 4.8. The main foundations of the idea is about :


  1. Use launcher applet of XFCE panel to be used as Places and System menu.

  2. Use one application to be used as Places menu, I choose Thunar. And use one application to be used as System menu, I used xfce-settings-manager.

  3. The menu will not appear dropdown menu as Gnome 2 menu. The menu will just brings Application-Places-System look to brings the gorgeous and familiar memory of such Gnome 2 look. The Places and the System menu, then, when clicked, of course, will just directly launch the application that we used as the menu :)


Here is the ways to bring them all :

  1. The most fist way to do this is change the XFCE panel into double 24-pixels panel. In top panel, right click and select Panel>Panel Preferences. Delete the default bottom panel and recreate one new panel as the bottom panel. Set the size into 24 pixels and the length into 100 %, drag the panel into the bottom screen and then lock the panel. The last thing, add four fundamental items in order to resemble the Gnome 2 bottom panel. The items are Show Desktop, Window Buttons, Workspace Switcher and Trash Applet.

  2. Rename “File Manager” menu into “Places”.

Open terminal and edit File Manager menu by this command :

sudo leafpad /usr/share/applications/exo-file-manager.desktop

Find the entry Name and change the entry into this :

Name=File Manager → Name=Places

Save and exit.

  1. Rename “Settings Manager” into “System”.

Open terminal and edit Settings Manager by this command :

sudo leafpad /usr/share/applications/xfce-settings-manager.desktop

Find the entry Name and change the entry into this :

Name=Settings Manager → Name=System

Save and exit.


  1. Edit the items of the top panel. Right click and select Panel>Panel Preferences>Items. Remove all default items and left 8 eight items : Applications Menu, Separator, Notification Area, Indicator Plugin, Separator, Clock, Separator and Session Menu. Now we get top panel with those items get close each other. To make them arranged similar to Gnome 2 top panel arrangement, set the separator between Applications Menu and Notification Area to be Expand by click the item, and click edit item by select Edit the currently selected item button at the bottom of Panel Preferences menu. Then, add two Launcher items and move them to the position after Applications Menu item. Set those launcher items to Show Label Instead of Icon, by click Edit the currently selected item>Advanced> Show Label Instead of Icon. Last, edit each launcher and add the two main applications we have edited into Places and System. For first launcher, add the Places items by click Edit the currently selected item>General>Add new item, search and scroll down to get the Places item. For the second launcher, do the same but put the System item (that we have edited before from the xfce-settings-manager desktop menu). Now, we get perfect double panel with perfect looking resembles to Gnome 2 panel.

  2. Very last things, download and install ambiance-xfce-theme HERE. You can simply install it by typing sudo dpkg -i *.deb. Then, of course, install ubuntu-wallpapers and humanity icon theme (or faenza icon theme as we wish) by Synaptic Package Manager. Switch the desktop wallpaper and icon theme by accessing xfce-settings-manager that now renamed as “System” :D

  3. And voilaa, we've brought The Great Glorious Gorgeous GNOME 2 desktop looks into XFCE desktop :)


System comparison :

  1. Xubuntu 11.10

  2. xfce-panel 4.8.6.0ubuntu1

  3. xfce4-session 4.8.2-1ubuntu1

  4. thunar 1.2.3-0ubuntu1

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your helpful tutorial, I am now working with much more familiar and comfortable desktop. Cheers. :)

Duncan J Murray said...

I have bookmarked this page for when the inevitable happens, and I have to drop my ubuntu 10.04 gnome 2 desktop.. Many thanks. D

Duncan J Murray said...

I have bookmarked this page for when the inevitable happens, and I have to drop my ubuntu 10.04 gnome 2 desktop.. Many thanks. D

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot man!
I love Gnome 2 and XFCE