As a long time professional Linux desktop user (since 2000 or so) I have used numerous desktop environments over the years. Initially Gnome1, then KDE2, then Gnome2 for a long time.
With the advent of Unity and Gnome 3.x, the distro vendors primary focus has understandably switched to supporting the future instead of maintaining the past. I will not go into the discussion whether this has happened too fast, or just fast enough.
Upgrading from the last Ubuntu that supported Gnome 2, I chose to try Unity, found out that it wasn’t for me (dual 1600×1200 monitor setup, multi workspace setup), then tried my luck with KDE (which I parted with around KDE3), and ended up with “Gnome Classic”. Now, after several issues in the process towards Precise Pangolin, I finally jumped ship to Fedora 16, and in that process tried to make the modern Gnome 3 work for me.
I will update this post as I make additional modifications, keeping it as a reference for my own use. Let me know in the comments if you have tips or suggestions.
Here are the adjustments and addons I have found, that improve the out-of-the-box Gnome 3 experience:
In Fedora, ensure you have the following packages :
gnome-shell-extension-places-menu gnome-shell-extension-auto-move-windows gnome-shell-extension-alternative-status-menu gnome-shell-extension-pidgin gnome-shell-extension-remove-bluetooth-icon gnome-shell-extension-systemMonitor gnome-shell-extension-user-theme gnome-shell-extension-workspace-indicator gnome-shell-extension-remove-accessibility-icon gnome-shell-extension-apps-menu gnome-shell-theme-atolm gnome-tweak-tool
The very nice System Monitor shell extension is not packaged, but is easily installed from git:
I had little luck installing it into ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions, but installing it globally under_ /usr/local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/_ worked fine.
Most of the settings and extensions mentioned below are enabled through gnome-tweak-tool (listed as “Advanced Settings in the Gnome launcher).
- Workspace Indicator (re-enables a workspace indicator in the “tasktray”)
- Pidgin IM Integration (improves the usability of Pidgin under Gnome 3, not as good as it used to be in Gnome 2 but still ..)
- Remove Accessibility Icon (with the agressive removal of useful indicators in G3 it surprises me how much unnecessary stuff is default enabled)
- Applications Menu (mostly improves the “familiar feeling”, I don’t really use this much)
- System Monitor (visual, ever present system monitor, even looks pretty good)
- Remove Bluetooth Icon (I don’t use BT on my desktop, so this is totally redundant)
- Places Status Indicator (re-enables quick access to folders in the file browser)
- User Themes (let’s the user configure Gnome Theme settings)
I kept most of the defaults, but found that using the “Atolm” Shell Theme made me feel more at home (it makes Gnome 3 look a lot more like Gnome 2 in earlier Ubuntu’s..). I also enabled “Menus Have Icons” and “Buttons Have Icons”. Cursor, Icon, GTK+ and Window themes were kept to their default settings.
In gconf-editor (aka “Configuration Editor” in the launcher) I modified these keys :
- /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/workspaces_only_on_primary – False (This makes my dual monitor setup work as I want it and disables the second screen from being a “sticky” workspace)
- /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/button_layout – close,minimize,maximize:menu (My other OS of choice is OSX, and this makes the transition between them smoother)
Update for Gnome Shell 3.4⌗
Settings that were previously in gconf are now migrated to dconf:
- org.gnome.shell.overrides : workspaces-only-on-primary – False
- org.gnome.shell.overrides : button-layout – close,minimize,maximize:menu
- org.gnome.shell.overrides : attach-modal-dialogs – False (this detaches popupdialogs from their parent window)