Posted by: reformedmusings | May 7, 2011

Fixing Ubuntu Classic and AWN in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty

Switching over to “Ubuntu Classic” at the Ubuntu 11.04 Natty login screen does not end the Natty misery immediately. Two issues still plagued me. I created one issue myself, the other came courtesy of Ubuntu.

First, I could not get AWN’s Shiny Switcher to work right. Whenever I switched desktops, I lost the status of running programs on other desktops. Worse, when right-clicking on a window’s title bar and selecting it to move to another workspace, the app disappeared entirely. The only recovery option required using System Monitor to end the process. Not convenient, and this had been the case since I upgraded to Natty.

The answer lay in the changes I made to Compiz’ desktop setup to enable the cube. I had set it in Compiz Configuration Settings Manager (ccsm) to 4 horizontal, 1 vertical, and 4 desktops. That was OK for the cube, but didn’t work with any desktop switcher that I tried. Setting it 4 horizontal, 1 vertical and 1 desktop was the right answer:

Problem solved. AWN’s Shiny Switcher now works perfectly and I can send windows to any desktop without losing them in the ether. The cube works great as well.

My other issue proved just as easy to fix. Every time that I restarted or logged into the Ubuntu Classic setup, compositing didn’t start up. This made the AWN dock look terrible and of course none of the Compiz effects worked. I could use Compiz Fusion Icon to fix it by reloading the desktop manager, but that got old in a hurry. Additionally, it took a long time for the desktop to load on startup – many times longer than Maverick or even Unity.

The problem lay in Gnome’s setup. When I drilled into Gnome’s Configuration Editor -> desktop -> gnome -> session -> required_components, I found that “gnome-cm” was set as the window manager. I never changed that, so Ubuntu must have set it. I right-clicked on the value, chose Edit, and changed “gnome-cm” to “compiz” (without the quotes):

I logged out and back in, and voila! Problem solved. BTW, if you want the standard Gnome panels instead of AWN, just change the panel setting to “gnome-panel” without the quotes.

Now everything looks and works in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty’s Ubuntu Classic setup the way I had it set in Maverick. Well, almost. I added the Indicator Applet to the dock, then elected not to show the stuff that I don’t use in it. Now I have everything that I want and nothing that I don’t.

This is my “classic” desktop now:

This provides the maximum real estate for work. Since AWN is set to dodge windows, I have the entire screen at my disposal. All of Compiz’ offerings work as advertised, including the lovely cube. Sweet.



  1. […] number of desktops in CCSM’s General Settings doesn’t make a difference. [EDIT: Fixed! See this post.] There must be something strange about the Unity/Compiz setup that messes up third-party desktop […]

  2. It would be awesome if you created a script for this, or posted a li’l tutorial on Ubuntu Forums so others can share in your success with Natty and Unity!

    As for me, I’m a Xubuntu kid. But this looks really great and I’m delighted that you got it to work so well!


    • Hi Robin,

      Thank you for the suggestions. Both could certainly be done by script, but I’m not much of a script writer. I’ll probably post some stuff to the forums sometime this weekend.


  3. I tried this same method and changing settings in gconf-editor would not work. I found it better to edit manually like this: $

    gksudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/classic-gnome.session

    ~and make the file looke like : $

    [GNOME Session]
    Name=Classic GNOME
    IsRunnableHelper=/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test –compiz

  4. […] Musings has a handy post over here about configuring gconf-tool to see awn as the required panel. Personally, this didn’t work […]

  5. Nice! Looks an awful lot like my Lucid system before I upgraded(?) to Natty.


    Actually I’m sort of okay with my current Natty/Unity setup, but I’m sorely tempted by your approach. I do miss my AWN dock.

    BTW: I also have a theology website the link is on my Ubuntu blog. Not exactly reformed Christian though.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I have tried Unity a few more times over the last few months, but it still feels amateurish and unwieldy. I still find AWN over Gnome 2 a far superior approach for daily use. Even so, I’m interested to see where Oneiric goes.

  6. Made the switch to Linux Mint 11 rather than Ubuntu 11.10. Found myself back here to fix up the cube/awn shinyswitcher lol.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, jarongree. All the interconnected distros sure make finding help a lot easier.

  7. […] Musings has a handy post over here about configuring gconf-tool to see awn as the required panel. Personally, this didn’t work […]

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