Using Gnome Classic on 11.04 with AWN and no Gnome Panels

As I mentioned in earlier post, I prefer AWN to the Unity Bar and I don’t like having a top bar. A post at Random Musings suggests a method to replace the Gnome Panel in Gnome Classic with AWN. The method uses gconf-editor to change the required applications settings from gnome-panel to avant-window-manager. It also suggests changing the window manager from gnome-wm to compiz at the same time. This should have worked, but it did not for me.

I found an approach that did work on my system at How to: Kick-Ass Ubuntu. Here’s a somewhat modified and expanded version:

First, you need to log in to the Gnome Classic desktop. At the login screen, select your username, but before entering your password go to the Session menu at the bottom of the page and select Gnome Classic. Then continue the login process.

When Gnome classic opens, use the gnome menu to open synaptic and search for avant-window-navigator. and select the following for installation



Then press apply.

The result should look something like this.

Note: I also installed cardapio-awn on my system which requires the cardapio repository as shown in my Natty Tweaks page. I like Cardapio better than any of the other AWN menu applets available, my second favorite is the Cairo Main Menu applet.

A few steps from now, we are going to replace the Gnome Panel with AWN at which point Alt-F2 wil no longer be available to run commands. Before we do that we need to make sure we have AWN set to run automatically. Open a terminal and:


Which will open the AWN dock running along with the gnome-panel. I consider this a rather ugly implementation which we will not be keeping. Right click somewhere on the AWN dock and open Dock Preferences. On that page, under the heading General, tick the box Start Awn Automatically. Then close the configuration page, right click on the dock again and select Quit. If you want to be perfectly safe, log out and log back in again to make sure AWN does start automatically.

The next step requires compizconfig-settings-manager so if you haven’t already done so open a terminal and,

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

and then from the same terminal session run:


Under Window Management, make sure “Place Windows”, “Move Window”, and “Resize Window” are all selected as shown

Otherwise windows are sometimes oddly placed and cannot be moved or re-sized.

Next under Effects make sure Window Decoration is selected as shown.

Otherwise windows will be opened without a top menu bar.

Now we are finally ready to replace the gnome-panel with AWN as follows:

cd /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/
sudo cp classic-gnome.session classic-gnome.session.stock
gksudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/classic-gnome.session

And then change the entries

    for Required-windowmanager to compiz
    for Required-panel to avant-window-navigator

The result should look like:

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

Save and close then logout/login or reboot and you should have Awn and no gnome-panels – you’ll want to make sure Awn has the notification tray applet enabled from now on. See below.

Note: Once you have disabled the use of gnome-panel, the Alt+f2 app starter tool is gone. “Gnome Do” is one possible replacement but not one I’m particularly fond of. Instead I’ve installed the gmrun program and assigned it to the now unused Alt+F2 keyboard shortcut. Here’s how:

sudo apt-get install gmrun

Then start CompizConfig Settings manager either from the menu or in a terminal:


In the General section select Commands

In the Commands tab in Command in 0 enter


then select the Key Bindings tab on the Run command 0 line press the text editor icon near the right side of the window beside the small broom. A small Edit Run Command popup will then open. Enter


as shown below

and click Ok.

Then tick the Enable Commands box half way down on the left side of the window. At this point the Alt+F2 key combination should open a run command box similar to the one that was lost when we disabled the gnome panels.

Configuring AWN
To configure AWN, open Preferences/Awn Settings. Here are my settings in the preferences window:

Then open the applet window by clicking Applets.

To add an applet to your dock, find the applet you want in the list of available applets, left click on it and drag it down to the Active Applets panel. Applets can be removed by selecting them in the Active Applets panel and dragging them back to the list. My current applets include a Menu applet, the File Browser applet, a Separator, a Stacks Applet, the SlickSwitcher, the Garbage applet, the Notification Daemon, the Notification Area (systray) and the Quit-Log Out applet. Other icons are launchers which were added it the Task Manager window. Note: the AWN Notification Area applet will not work until you’ve removed the Gnome Panel.

Now select and open the Task Manager window in Awn Settings.

To add launchers to AWN, you need a more or less Classic Gnome Menu. Here’s one way. Open a terminal and run:

Sudo apt-get install gnome-main menu
/usr/lib/gnome-main-menu/application-browser &

You should then see:

Drag the application(s) you wish to add to your dock into the Task Manager window of Awn Settings and drop it into the Launchers panel. Note dragging an application launcher from the Awn Menu does not work for me. The launchers I added initially are Chromium, Firefox, Gnome Teminal (not the applet), Synaptic and gedit. You can always install more later as I have.


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