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Get Classic Start Menu In Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

When operating system versions are radically updated users often attempt to find ways to revert back to the classic UI features. We saw this earlier with Windows when the classic start menu was removed from newer Windows distributions such as Windows 7 and was overhauled with Metro Start Menu in Windows 8. In recent months Ubuntu has suffered from the same dilemma after the announcement that Ubuntu 11.10 will no longer have the classic start menu. After the recent release of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot it has become clear that the classic menu has been replaced by Unity 2D and 3D. However, despite the recent Oneiric change it is still possible to get the classic start menu in Ubuntu 11.10.

To get the classic start menu, open the Terminal and enter the following command to install the Gnome Panel package:

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Once installed, log out, click the gear icon from the logon screen and select Gnome Classic before logging back in.

Gnome Classic Menu

This will give you the Classic Start menu back in Ubuntu 11.10. If you login with the Classic Session, the Unity Launcher will not be available and all of the Classic Session options will appear as they did in earlier version of Ubuntu.

Classic start menu

To find out what’s new in Ubuntu 11.10, check out our guide here.


  1. in other site I found:
    sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallbackbut it didn’t work.when I added:sudo apt-get install gnome-panelit worked. But the language indicator disappeared (I’m using 3 languages). Right clicking on the bar do not give me the menu for adding more indicators. How the bar can be edited?

  2. Unity id for people that only want to play and be hours and days looking at the new things and taking photographs of their computer; for people who do not want to work, who do not need to work, who do not know how to do anything and don’t want to learn, who don’t give a damn about anything but design, who do not value flexibility, speed, robustness, who do not use their computers in unusual ways more than opening a single display, a single user, a single browser, a single page,…

    So many years of so many people’s work to fuck linux in one fucking semester!!


  3. Yeah, add my name to list of Unity-haters!  Worst of all: sound no longer works.  I have stereo speakers on USB which were fine on 11.04, but 11.10 … !^%&^&%^£!!!!

  4. I can’t figure how to access the terminal on 11.10 ..wheres the terminal? whats the hotkey for opening the terminal?

  5. Maybe on a desktop ok? But for a laptop what a friggin pain. It’s way slower to access most everything, scatching away at the scratch pad. Back and forth, back and forth. Still it only took a few minutes to get the classic desktop back, adjust to my liking and good to go. Then I went to start adding items to my panel and found they removed from the internet programs group “terminal services client”. Sure it wasn’t perfect but it was still damn good, in fact better than what I’ve installed so far. gggrrrrr…. and it was in 11.04 and gone now…….

    Anyone know what “terminal services client” really is called so i can just apt-get install?

    • Try remmina (apt-get install remmina). It took a little getting used to, but I actually prefer it now that I am used to it.

  6. OMG what has shuttlecock done to linux? Where is the terminal? Where is the rest of linux? 11.10 proves that shuttlebutt is working for microsoft and actively trying to destroy linux. Thankfully he wont succeed.

  7. I don’t actually hate Unity. It took some getting used to, but after a few days I could use it quite easily for everything I need to do. I generally dislike the current need for huge icons everywhere instead of text and trying to make things overly cute, but I can live with it.

    But I found my processor fan was running like crazy ALL THE TIME (even without any programs running) and the computer was so slow. I have an older laptop and I want an OS that’s fast and light. Not being very knowledgeable, I use Ubuntu because it’s easier than other distros. But this is pretty ridiculous.

    So far I haven’t upgraded as I know I can use Classic with Narwhal. From what I’m reading, I’m thinking it’s perhaps better to shop around for other alternatives. I just have the fear they’ll abandon Classic entirely at some point. And even if I do get a new computer by then, why would I want an operating system that runs so heavily? I’ve used Vista at work and it’s terrible.

  8. I has a scare like this with the last update. I struggled through and found my old desktop interface.
    This was much harder. Ended up having to upgrade my graphics driver before I even saw Unity 2D! Then I had to figure out where my stuff was.
    I’m right there with Dale Amon. I have lots of stuff I do at once. If I wanted an Android or Windows or Mac interface I would have had them.
    OK, granted, three cheers for the user-interface team for a great job. Very pretty. Not practical unless you use your computer for fooling around with. I use it to work. So now put a button in that says, “boot-up desktop preference” and have it always there. If I wasn’t experienced with Linux I would not have recovered.
    I don’t think I’ll be clicking on, “Upgrade to version XX.XX?” again soon.
    What a nightmare. Sure, its free, Flying Welsh Man, but I just spent hours trying to return it to usability. I just paid dearly for that. Not so free any more.

    • I agree with all the above. Unity is clearly an interface for people who don’t want to know what programs are installed, who don’t want to customise their desktops, who don’t really do anything except Libreoffice and Firefox. But guess what, I use Linux exactly because I WANT to have a desktop environment that reflects MY needs. I resent being treated so badly and BEING TOLD how to use my own computer. I am day 3 of trying to return to my own previous desktop and failing because the tools to change things have been taken away from me. I certainly will never click on a version upgrade ever again. Damn you Canonical.

  9. Partial success. As your screenshot shows, I have the Applications and Places menus. No System Menu … guess that’s handled by the Settings menu under the logout button .. yeah of course. But it seems to be missing some things, like an Appearance panel which will let you choose font size.
    Also no Edit Menus button, which used to appear when you right click the ubuntu logo in the top left corner.
    Also no way to Add to Panel by right clicking, must now drag icons from Menu to Panel. In fact, no right click functionality at all.
    I’ve stuck with Ubuntu from 7.04. Unity is a disaster. Gnome 3 is a disaster. Time for a change.

  10. @Simon

    Thanks for your solution about Ubuntu 11.10, it didn’t work for me.

    I find a solution, it works fine for me.

    1. Log Out
    2. When you see your username, click once on “special” O (up at right of the login)
    3. Choose GNOME Classic
    4. Enter your password [ENTER]

    Hope this tip will be help somebody.

  11. I just installed the new Ubuntu version 11.10 and i just can say is horrible no system menu no gnome its like iḿ first born on the computer cant work with it cant find nothing anymore to install hardware. and the interface looks like its made by a NOT BORN BABY its rubies. i would like to say the Ubuntu makers get up use your brain and don’t destroy the system to make something like this rubies.

  12. Thanks Nicola!

    Here’s how to make gnome classic the default session in 11.10 (you must first install the files as described above):

    1. sudo gedit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
    2. change user-session to gnome-classic
    3. save and reboot.

  13. Whoever designed this interface should be sent back to school for a remedial unix course. Lesson #1: xterm is crucial. It should never be more than one clock away. Launchers on the desktop are really good things. Getting to alternate workspaces should take no more than one click. Finding your way down a sliding bar with dozens of entries to get to the workspace selector, and then having to click AND type something to select it sucks. If I go to another workspace, I want all my windows just where I left them. If I have minimized windows in that workspace I want a single click to bring them up. If I want 10 terminals, I want to click 10 times and *have* 10 terminals. And btw…

    After implimenting the install suggested above I find that my ‘Places’ tries to fire up totem for every single file in Home. How did it manage to eff up so badly? Does anyone know where the config text file is to fix it up? There does not seem to be anyway to set the assignment of menu entry to action.

    I suspect the people who did this bollocks never imagined that it is *NORMAL* for a sysadmin to have 30 launchers on their desktop, each going to a different computer…


    • … one more: Separating application menus from application windows is stupid, especially if you have 2 displays, an small app window on the lower right and its menu on the upper left. And then even hiding it so you first have to move there to see it and then re-move to find the desired spot. Come on Ubuntu guys, ever heard about usability? 

  14. I loathe “Unity”, it works half the time, sometimes you loose the ‘dash’ and other little annoyances. However, people that are new to Ubuntu, just LOVE it! They say that is easier to understand and use than windoze is… They also like that the computer doesn’t TELL them what to do, but that it asks IF you want this or that. So I guess that Ubuntu will have to continue developing a split personality…

    • erm, this is waaaaaaay harder than windows to use.. windows: Click start button, open ie, download opera.. DONE. On the same pc in linux? find out how to do 2d mode so i can actualyl SEE the images, wonder why the thing is on the side, click firefox, not be able to see the windows that are open blah blah blah and three days later, i havent fixed it yet!
      Long live Ubuntu Karmic Koala 8.10 and GNOME classic!

  15. Now when it comes to computing I’m no black belt and I find myself constantly grateful for all those better minds out there that have solved the problems I encounter long before I’ve encountered them, thanks people.

    Similarly, I also find myself in deep appreciation for the countless individuals that have collectively created this exciting open source community providing marvellous tools and unending help for people like me, thank you all so very much.

    With that in mind I have to say I’m lovin’ it, a big woop of joy for the new look Ubuntu desktop. Yes it is a bit of a challenge, nothing is where I expected it to be, feels like I’ve got lost in a maze that’s zapped me into a parallel Ubuntu universe. However, with a little perservearence and lots of help from the Ubuntu community I must say its slowly beginning to make a little sense and shifting my perception to embrace the new layouts and work methods is an adventure and I’m having a ball.

    What I really like about Ubuntu, linux and the whole open source thing is there is so much choice, want an old style classic GUI, fill your boots its all out there to have with a little tweaking and fiddling.

    What a blast 11.10 LOVIN IT thanks Ubuntu

    And free, I’ll just mention that again, free as in beer, how good is that

    • If that only were true.. then we wouldn’t have to find half-baked methods just to have the choice of our prefered desktop. I, too, was loving the choices open source systems were giving me, but for whatever reason I can’t understand, this seems to be gone with the forced Unity desktop.

  16. For all those who hate Unity, Xubuntu is a good refuge (sudo apt-get install xubuntu desktop) it’s a much saner desktop environment, more traditional

  17. I too despise what Ubuntu is becoming. Whoever is designing these interfaces must work for the competition and do this to destroy the open source community.

    • And if community is intent on getting people to move from windows to ubuntu, it needs to be an easy switch for them.  Most^H^H^H^H Many windows users are barely competent at using windows.  Giving them a huge hurdle from day one is not going to encourage them.

    • Indeed! Although im fine in windows (and ubuntu 8.01..), ubuntu 11.. stinks. It sucks at being “old computer friendly”, because it it automaticaly in 3d mode! I could barely see images, with 2d mode! Tis horrible if thar wantin more people!

  18. I feel like I’m in a losing battle with Ubuntu as each new release comes out. With 11.04 I was able with some work to get it to a usable state. It’s looking impossible in 11.10. Pending some info about how to configure a usable UI, I’m going to have to find a different, usable operating system. Going back to Windows looks impossible — Microsoft seem to have been taken over by the same type of UI goofballs who have destroyed Ubuntu.

  19. Thanks for this. I hate the launcher! Making it so tough to get rid of it makes me think that Ubuntu is losing it’s way. Very sad.

    • I found the information you are looking for in this post:

      Basically one has to edit the file:

  20. Ah… I spoke too fast. For the language, keyboard and so on :

    You have “applications -> other -> system settings” : this is NOT the one you want.
    You also have : “applications -> system tools -> system settings” : here are your good old system options.

  21. Yup… It does work BUT it’s not like before : i.e. the “system” menu disappeared.

    Tom : for configuring the top and bottom bars, press alt+ right clic, it will work.

    Altough synaptic appears now in “applications->other”, I can’t find “languages”, “keyboards” and so on. Since Unity is not running they are not available trough dash so… what now ?

    Once the session is open now I have French keyboard as requested, but at login it is still a US keyboard and I can’t find how to change it. Anyone knows how ?

    Hate Unity, hate it, hate it, hate it. If I wanted a Mac I would have bought one !!!

  22. Installed gnome-panel, restarted, but Gnome classic is not listed in the gear dropdown. Beta2 up-to-date. What next?

    • Replying to my own question:
      You actually need to install gnome-session-fallback package, BUT apt complained about a dependency problem. In order to resolve it, I let it downgrade 2 gnome packages.
      Then after logging out, Gnome classic entries appeared properly in the gear menu.

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