Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gnome Shell extensions

It's been over a month since Fedora 15 came out - the first mainline distribution to include a default Gnome 3 desktop. My first impressions still hold: Gnome 3 is a change, but after a few minutes the Gnome Shell felt quite natural. I guess Gnome 3, and specifically the Gnome Shell, is something you either love, or something you hate. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

If you miss the extensions and themes of Gnome 2, I thought I'd point you to a few Gnome Shell extensions that are available to you. These are the package names, and a description of what they do:

Extra features
Adds an applet on the panel which displays the temperature of your CPU.

Allows you to add and remove icons from the top bar panel by simply editing your gsettings.

Displays player controls, music, and music cover in the Gnome Shell.

Makes it easier to use the keyboard to switch windows and workspaces. When you're in "overview" mode ("show all windows" mode) press the Alt key to show numbers in each window. Just press the number for the window you want to display.

Adds a "workspaces" menu to your status area, to make it easier to switch between spaces.

Changes the behavior of Gnome Shell back to "classic" Alt-Tab behavior. In the default Gnome 3, Alt-Tab will switch between applications, but separate windows for each application are grouped together. This extension disables grouping, so that you switch between windows rather than applications.

Adds "Suspend" and "Power Off" options to your status menu. In the default Gnome 3, you have to press Alt in the status menu for "Suspend" to become "Power Off".

Lets you manage your workspaces by assigning a specific space to an application as soon as it creates a window.

Puts a task-switcher "dock" on the right side of your screen.

Adds a menu in your status area to show removable media.

Lays out the "thumbnails" in the window overview that reflects the positions and relative sizes of the actual windows.

Adds a menu in the system status area that resembles the Places menu from Gnome 2.
Simplify your desktop
Removes your name and IM status options.

Displays the "ripples" that show up when you enter the "Activities" hot corner.

Integrates Pidgin chat into your Gnome Shell session.

Removes the "Accessibility" menu from the top panel.

Removes the Bluetooth icon from the top panel.

Removes the volume icon from the top menu.

Adds a timer to help you track time, if you use the Pomodoro Technique for time management. (Essentially, break work units into 25-minute periods, and work exclusively on that task for 25 minutes.)
Theme management
Gnome Shell user theme selector, with preview.

Lets you select a custom theme for the Gnome Shell (from ~/.themes/theme/gnome-shell/gnome-shell.css)


  1. I don't usually do this, but this is my time to shine as a Linux Mint shill, so please forgive me. :D If you've noticed, Linux Mint has been avoiding GNOME 3 for as long as possible; that's one reason why I like it. Plus, the Xfce edition can easily be made to look and act like GNOME 2.X (Linux Mint style), and this is facilitated by the developers' own decisions as well as decisions like porting the famous Linux Mint Menu to Xfce. Yay!
    Or if you really want to stick with Fedora, I would recommend Fuduntu. It's basically the Linux Mint of Fedora, and that is high praise.
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  2. gnome-shell-extensions-places-menu doesn't work for me. It crashes gnome-shell and makes the desktop unusable. Install these one at a time, then restart gnome shell (gnome-shell --replace). You may have to drop to a native terminal to remove it, or restart X and log into the gnome classic desktop, then remove the problem extension.

  3. I haven't tried the gnome-shell-extensions-places-menu addon, so too bad to hear this crashes for you. I've tried some other others, though, and really like them.

    The gnome-shell-extension-theme-selector makes it really easy to add new themes to Gnome. I'll write a blog post about that soon, with some of the themes I'm giving a go. Gnome 3 themes are done in CSS files, which makes it easy enough that I might try making a custom theme for myself. Already, I've tweaked one theme that I liked a lot, except for the transparent panel.

    I liked gnome-shell-extension-mediaplayers for a while, but these days I use Rhythmbox to listen to Internet radio, so media controls in the panel didn't make a lot of sense for me. I uninstalled it after a day.

    gnome-shell-extensions-alternate-tab was good at first, but I think I prefer grouping windows by application, rather than switching windows only. Grouping by application seems to make more sense to me.

    I liked Gnome 3 before, but these addons are a nice touch.

  4. I've been using Banshee for a while now, both here at work on fedora and at home on ubuntu. I think it has a better interface than rhythmbox, which is certainly an excellent player in its own right.

    But like you, I don't see much use for the mediaplayers extension so I don't use it.

  5. I'm a big fan of Linux Mint myself (see my blog), but honestly I was not upset with the GNOME Shell. I'm actually interested to see what Mint will do with GNOME trial of Fedora 15 was much less aggravating than the one I did of Ubuntu 11.04 (which I never bothered to review). That was the first time in years that I actually tried Fedora for more than a couple of days. I was impressed.

  6. Gnome3 - at first - I was quite upset, but now that I've used it for a couple of months, it's growing on me... it still has some quirkiness that I'm sure will be addresses over time... I just loaded an extension that I love.. it hides the top bar... So as I said, over time, I'm sure more and more extensions will come along that will address most of the "quirky" things about gnome3/gnome-shell that folks are not all the pleased with.


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