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Revision as of 07:43, 7 April 2011 by Elad (talk | contribs)

Alternative desktop environments as fallback for Gnome 3


There are many people who can't run (or simply don't like) Gnome 3's user interface. While Gnome 3 contains a fallback interface, it has clearly been stated that it won't be developed further and isn't intended to provide any good user experience. These users are many and they will solve their problem by manually installing an alternative desktop environment. In order to help these users and provide a good default user experience to users whose machine is unable to run Gnome Shell, we should make this automatic.

There are two approaches to this:

  • Get rid of Gnome 3's fallback interface and use an alternative desktop environment (for example, Xfce) instead of it.
  • Install xfce by default, but let the user decide what DE to use (details bellow)

Assuming that non 3D accelerated/Otherwise not capable of running gnome-shell hardware is either old hardware that would work better with a lighter DE, or has a too low amount of RAM for running gnome-shell properly (fallback mode also require a big amount of available ram as GNOME 2.32 did).


  • Email: venemo (at)

Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 16
  • Last updated: 7th April 2011
  • Percentage of completion: 0%

Detailed Description

  • At installation time, the installer should install both Gnome 3 and Xfce
  • First approach:
    • At runtime, when the user logs in and the 3D acceleration requirements are not met, the user interface should fall back to Xfce instead of Gnome 3's built-in fallback interface
  • Second approach
    • Only install xfce basic components, use gnome utilities (eg. gedit) which are already shipped on the installation media, instead of xfce utilities (to save space)
    • At firstboot, display a dialog that explains the experience of gnome's fallback mode, gnome-shell or xfce
      • The dialog will select the best option for the specific hardware, but will allow the user to change the selection:
        • When 3D acceleration is available, gnome-shell will be selected by default
        • When 3D acceleration is not available, or when the system doesn't have large amount of RAM, xfce will be selected.
        • If the user select gnome-shell, and 3D acceleration is not available, display a warning (not in a message box, but in the window itself) that gnome will start in fallback mode unless 3D acceleration is available.

Benefit to Fedora

  • Better user experience for users with low-end hardware
  • Fedora can lower its minimal hardware requirements to the requirements of Xfce


How To Test

User Experience

  • Users with low-end hardware will be able to enjoy a light-wight, relatively modern, actively developed desktop environment.


  • gnome-shell
  • @xfce

Contingency Plan

Revert any changes made to firstboot, continue using gnome fallback mode.


Release Notes

Comments and Discussion