If you run into issues with gnome-shell then gnome-shell should allow you to disable all the plugins and get the gnome-shell. But since gnome-shell is still evolving, you might run into issue where the shell does not come up. What to do in that case. You can set the shell to start in fallback mode, where there are more chances that it will come up.
Alas, but you don’t have a shell or desktop session to do that. Simple, start the gnome-shell and before it is killed, do this:
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.session session-name 'gnome-fallback'
And to do this from one of the virtual terminals, you would need the terminal to be able to attach to the running session. You can get the script to do that from the gnome website in How to debug gnome-shell or copy the script below:
gnome_session=$(pgrep -u $USER gnome-session) eval export $(sed 's/\o000/\n/g;' < /proc/$gnome_session/environ | grep DISPLAY) eval export $(sed 's/\o000/\n/g;' < /proc/$gnome_session/environ | grep XAUTHORITY) eval export $(sed 's/\o000/\n/g;' < /proc/$gnome_session/environ | grep DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS)
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