Default GNOME Flashback session on Arch Linux, GNOME 3.30.0


GNOME Flashback is a session for GNOME 3 which was initially called "GNOME Fallback", and shipped as a stand-alone session in Debian and Ubuntu. It provides a similar user experience to the GNOME 2.x series sessions. The differences to the MATE project is that GNOME Flashback uses GTK+ 3 and tries to follow the current GNOME development by integrating recent changes of the GNOME libraries. The development currently lags behind a little but a lot of progress has been made and most importantly many open bugs have been fixed.

Currently GNOME Flashback consists of the following components:

  • GnomePanel: This component provides a flexible panel. One or more of these panels can be added to the screen and can be populated with multiple applets to open application, indicators for sound and network, a clock applet with date, time and weather and many more.

  • Metacity: The window manager of GNOME Flashback, optionally other window managers such as mutter can be used but Metacity is the one thats officially supported. Recently Metacity has been ported to GTK+ 3 and gained the side-by-side window tiling feature that is also available in GNOME Shell.

  • GnomeApplets: This component provides a collection of useful applets for the GNOME Panel. See also a list of third-party applets.

  • Flashback module: A new module since September 2014. It provides session files, background features, a sound applet and shutdown dialogs.

  • Notification Daemon: This was part of GNOME Flashback for few releases. In 3.20 notification daemon is merged into gnome-flashback module.

Flashback Module

GNOME Flashback needs a couple to utility tasks to be performed to make the desktop useful. These are collected and provided through the flashback component and they include:

  • Background drawing (which was previously handled by nautilus)
  • A sound applet library (which adds a volume applet to the notification area to control the sound settings)
  • Shutdown dialogs to shutdown or suspend the computer.

Notification Daemon

The notification daemon is required for showing messages from applications that are currently running and what to notify the user. Messages will appear at the top right of the screen and if missed they can be accessed from the notification area. This module was previously part of GNOME put has been deprecated because its features are now part of GNOME Shell.


The list of GNOME Flashback releases can be found on the Releases page.


The GNOME Flashback team was born in December 2012 out of a shared desire to continue work on the discontinued "GNOME Fallback" mode based on Metacity and GNOME Panel. People from downstream and derived desktops that have shared interests (e.g. the MATE team) are invited to join the GNOME Flashback team, and share the burden of keeping this technology useful.


Building, Running, Testing

If you want to use the latest development code in order to hack on one of the modules or to test recent changes from other contributors, you will need to build the GNOME Flashback modules and you must also configure your environment such that you can login into a session that runs your built modules.

The Projects/GnomeFlashback/Development page lists some general instructions on how to do that.

Reporting bugs

If you want to report a bug about Flashback, please file a ticket in the issue tracker.

If you have a patch to contribute, please create a merge request. Additionally, we'd appreciate a ping on the gnome-flashback-list.


  • TODO: Update the roadmap.


  • ping distributions, get it packaged, collect bug reports -> IN PROGRESS

  • re-approach downstreams, review mergeable code -> IN PROGRESS

Current problems being targeted

  • Visibility of Desktop icons aren't settable by dconf, see Bug 695088

  • gnome-screensaver?

Plese feel free to improve this page by adding more content.


Projects/GnomeFlashback (last edited 2019-01-13 13:00:15 by AndreKlapper)