Below are two quick methods of installation Gnome-Shell in Ubuntu. Please be aware that Gnome-Shell is still very much in development and should be treated as such.

Karmic Koala

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If you want to try out gnome 3’s “gnome-shell” interface in Karmic, you can find it in the repo’s.

Fist of all install build-dep (sudo apt-get install build-dep). This will install any necessary dependencies needed to successfully compile and run gnome-shell.

  • sudo apt-get build-dep gnome-shell

Once you have installed all of the required packages and libraries, open a terminal and type: –

  • sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

This will install Gnome-Shell.

Once installed, you can start Gnome-Shell by typing the following command in a terminal: –

  • gnome-shell –replace

I suggest running it from a  guest session, as it will ‘kill’ compiz, requiring you to manually restart it. [compiz.real –replace]


Gnome-shell will, once installed, automatically notify you of updates, which are installed alongside the rest of your updates in Update Manager.

Jaunty Jackalope & Intrepid Ibex


Props to MadsRH for highlighting this excellent tutorial by RainCT.


1. Download

Run it with: –

  • bash

This will download jhbuild into ~/Source and build it (the executables will end up in ~/bin).

2. Install the necessary build dependencies for gnome-shell (and its bundled dependencies):

  • sudo apt-get install build-essential automake gnome-common flex bison curl git-core subversion gtk-doc-tools mesa-common-dev xulrunner-1.9-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libffi-dev libgconf2-dev libgtk2.0-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev python2.5-dev

3. Download and build gnome-shell (and its bundled dependencies) by running

  • ~/bin/jhbuild build

All files are placed into ~/gnome-shell.

Running it

1. Run

  • ~/bin/jhbuild shell

to enter a subshell. Then follow the remaining steps inside this.

2. Navigate to teh correct directory using:

  • cd ~/gnome-shell/source/gnome-shell/scripts.

3. You can now either start Gnome-Shell in a window using Xephyr: –

  • ./start-in-Xephyr

You’ll need to have xserver-xephyr installed for this to work.

  • sudo apt-get install xserver-xephyr

Alternatively if you want to try it out “fully” as a desktop, open a terminal and type:-

  • gnome-shell –replace

Updating It

If you want to keep up-to-date with the latest improvements in Gnome-Shell in Jaunty or Intrepid, you need only run one command.

~/bin/jhbuild build –force –clean

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