How to Unlock Gnome Panel For Customization in Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE)

Even though Ubuntu Lucid has not been officially released, I believe some of you have already upgraded your system to the beta or release candidate version. Now, if you have upgraded your Ubuntu Netbook Edition to the latest version (10.04), you will notice one thing: the top Gnome panel is locked and you can’t perform any customization on it. Yes, you can’t add/remove applets; nor can you delete the panel or move it to the side. In short, there’s nothing that you can do about it.

What’s wrong with the panel?

This version of UNE comes with three desktop sessions – Ubuntu Netbook Edition, Ubuntu Netbook Edition 2D (for older PCs) and Gnome. The default UNE sessions lock the gnome panel and a few other GNOME settings in order to separate the UNE interface from the normal GNOME interface. When you right click on the panel, you will find that all the customization options are greyed out. There is no way for you to add/remove applets or to delete/move the panel.


If you want to customize the panel (or even delete/move it), the only way is to switch to Gnome and use it as the default session.

Here’s how you can switch to Gnome, unlock the panel and yet maintain the looks and feels of the UNE.

How to unlock the Gnome panel for customization

Open a terminal and type the following:

sudo ln -s /etc/xdg/xdg-une/autostart/maximus-autostart.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart/
sudo ln -s /etc/xdg/xdg-une/autostart/netbook-launcher.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart/
sudo ln -s /usr/share/gconf/une/default/20_une-gconf-default /usr/share/gconf/defaults/
sudo ln -s /usr/share/gconf/une/mandatory/20_une-gconf-mandatory /usr/share/gconf/defaults/
sudo update-gconf-defaults

The above commands will create a bunch of symlinks from the UNE configuration file to the Gnome configuration file.

Next, log out of your current session. At the login screen, change the session to Gnome.


Login to your desktop. You should be able to mess around with the panel now. Don’t forget to check out the 13 ways to customize your UNE for better usability.

Reference: Ubuntu Community Documentation


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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