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GNOME Flashback is a shell for GNOME 3 which was initially called GNOME fallback mode. The desktop layout and the underlying technology is similar to GNOME 2. It doesn't use 3D acceleration at all, so it's generally faster and consumes less CPU time than GNOME Shell with llvmpipe.


GNOME Flashback can be installed with the package gnome-flashback-session, available in the official repositories.

To get a complete desktop environment, it's recommended to install the gnome group which contains applications required for the standard GNOME experience.

Starting GNOME Flashback

Graphical log-in

Simply choose GNOME Flashback session from your favourite display manager.

Starting GNOME Flashback manually

If you prefer to start GNOME Flashback manually from the console, add the following line to your ~/.xinitrc file:

 exec gnome-session --session=gnome-flashback

After the exec command is placed, GNOME Flashback can be launched by typing startx. See xinitrc for details.


GNOME Flashback shares most of its settings with GNOME. See Customizing GNOME appearance for more details.

Customizing GNOME Panel

  • To configure the panel, hold down the Template:Keypress key, and right-click on it in an empty area.
  • To move an applet on the panel, hold down the Template:Keypress key, and grab it with middle-button.

Known issues

  • The clock applet crashes when opening its settings.
  • The desktop background image sometimes blanked out if nautilus desktop icons rendering is enabled.
  • The panel won't resized properly when the screen resolution changed.