Copy the GNOME 2 interface using Xfce

For years GNOME 2 had been the default user interface of Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux distros. Yet since the introduction of GNOME Shell and Canonical’s Unity desktop, GNOME 2 became obsolete.

With the Mate desktop developers and users made clear they did not want to miss the interface they where used to for whatever reason. The classic interface provided by Ubuntu did not meet their expectations, neither did the somewhat old-ish GNOME shell fallback mode. For those not content with Mate, the Cinnamon desktop was made.

As a long time Xfce user, I believe neither of the possible successors of GNOME 2 had to be developed, as Xfce 4 is already what the refugees of GNOME Shell and Unity are looking for. The screenshot below might prove my point, click it for higher resolution or take a look at it on deviantART.

As the support for Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx” is running out, the last supported GNOME 2 desktop on one of the most popular distros will be gone soon. I guess now is the best time to show what Xfce can do.

Screenshot of the gnome-ish Xfce

The imitation is quite easy to make up.

First, create a panel at the top. I chose a height of 24 px, less might be a little closer to the original. The width is set to 100%. Add an applications-menu, rename it and change the icon. Next to it, add the places-menu (you may need to install “xfce4-places-plugin”). Remove the icon manually to get a text only button.
The sytem-menu is somewhat a fake. I simply added a starter that would run “xfce4-settings-manager”, set it to show text instead of an icon and named it “System”. You’ll see that more cleary in the video I will link at the bottom of this post.
Not much to say about the starters (browser, mail, terminal). Just add whatever you where used to when using GNOME.
Expanding free space follows, with a systray, the clock (%a, %d. %b, %R) and the action buttons ending the upper panel.

The second panel consists of the “Show desktop” button, a seperator, the taskbar, workspace switcher and the trashcan. The height is equivalent with the upper panel, as is the width.

Theming was made easy thanks to Clearlooks Phenix by Jean-Philippe Fleury. The wallpaper used above was found at

To see the desktop in action, take a look at this video.


Clouds! Clouds everywhere!

I’ll forgo adding the meme and get straight on topic.

Clouds are, not doubt, very beneficial. Wherever you are, your files are there as well. Or at least that’s what the advertisers tell us.

But frankly, there are some points I am concerned about.

  • I do not know where my files are stored
  • I do not know how well they are secured
  • I cannot be sure they are deleted when I want them to be
  • I do not know who might access them under which circumstances
  • I do not know the networks my files are being sent through

Hence my files are stored on external drives to get my backups.

But that does not keep me from putting some important stuff on computers other than my own. Just in case the house burns down – or whatever. Imagination tends to run away with me.

My approach is to encrypt the important files or archives using GPG and either leaving them in my online mailbox or sending them to friends and asking them to save them on their hard drives. This makes my “Cloud Storage” one form of saving backups, but never the only one.

Using the same method, I could use Dropbox, Ubuntu One or whatever else there is around, but as I do not need to access my files when I’m out of house, that is not needed for me.

Has anyone got other ideas on how to approach this?