Why the change
The interface you see when you have no applications open is a called a desktop “shell”. This includes how you find and launch applications, switch between applications and find information provided by applications (notifications).
Back in 2011 Ubuntu switched from the desktop shell provided by GNOME to its own desktop shell named Unity. This is the user interface many Ubuntu users today are accustomed to. Canonical, the sponsor of Ubuntu, has decided to collaborate with the GNOME project rather than continue development of Unity. As of Ubuntu 17.10, the Ubuntu Desktop’s default desktop shell is a slightly modified GNOME 3 experience.
How to use the vanilla GNOME Shell in Ubuntu
As mentioned above, Ubuntu is providing a modified GNOME user experience. Of course it’s possible to use default GNOME shell on Ubuntu. Simply install the gnome-session package via apt or gnome-software, log out and choose the “GNOME” session from the login manager. To switch back to the Ubuntu experience, log out and choose the “Ubuntu” session from the login manager. That simple!
What isn’t changing
Apps! For the most part, the default apps shipped as part of the Ubuntu Desktop will remain the same.
What is changing
- What Unity provided as the Dash (full screen overview with integrated search) is now known as the Activities overview. You can show the Activities overview by clicking “Activities” at the top left or pressing the “Super” key.
- Scopes → Search providers
- No more HUD, global menu, locally integrated menus
- Messaging menu
- Notifications in notification tray, which is now located in the center of the top panel where the date/time is displayed.
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Super key: Switch between overview and desktop
- Alt+F1: Open application help
- Alt+F2: Pop up command dialog
- Super+F10: Open Application Menu
- Super+Tab: Pop up application switcher
- Super+Shift+Tab: Cycle in reverse direction in the application switcher
- Super+` (key above Tab): Switch between windows of the same application in Super+Tab
- Ctrl+Alt+Tab: Pop up accessibility switcher
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+R: Start and end screencast recording
- Super+Page Up/Page Down: Switch between workspaces
- Super+Shift+Page Up/Page Down: Move the current window to a different workspace
- F11: Toggle full screen
- Super + Left/Right arrow: Dock current window to the left or right sides of the screen
- Super + Shift + Left/Right arrow: Move window to left/right monitor
Workspaces & multi-monitors
- Window controls moved to the right
- Other minor changes:
- Online Accounts
- Ubuntu Online Accounts has been replaced with GNOME Online Accounts. There is no migration for accounts already configured in Ubuntu Online Accounts. You’ll need to open the Online Accounts panel in GNOME Settings to add your online accounts.
- Login greeter
- Online Accounts