I recently switched to Gnome 3 on my Fedora installation. As you might have read, previously I was using MATE with Fedora just because I want something that I’m used with. However being the developer that I am, I was unable to resist installing different desktop manager in my development machine. Installing it was easy of course, I simply used the group install gnome desktop and the full desktop was installed.
However, coming from the world of Unity, KDE, MATE, OSX and Windows; I wasn’t used to the minimalist Gnome 3 desktop with no usual start menu or launcher. Therefore I had to install some extensions and additional software to get a good functional desktop. So I’ll share those modifications with you all today.
Gnome Extensions to Install
This is probably the most important part of making Gnome 3 super useful again. These are the extensions that made it possible.
All of these extensions are available from https://extensions.gnome.org/ by the way. Also Gnome has made it very cool and easy installing them straight from the web browser.
- Application Menu: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/6/applications-menu/
This great extension provides the ability to display the application menu by clicking on the top left hand corner of the desktop. This way you can have your oldschool menu back.
- Media Player Indicator: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/55/media-player-indicator/
Shows what media is currently playing as well as launching the default media player straight from the top desktop bar.
- Alternative Status Menu: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/5/alternative-status-menu/
Adds suspend/hibernates and power off.
- Advanced Settings in User Menu: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/526/advanced-settings-in-usermenu/
- Impatience: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/277/impatience/
Animations are cool, but most of the time I like it fast so I can get to my applications or actions faster, now it’s possible with this extension.
- Top Icons: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/495/topicons/
This shows the status icons of the currently running applications at the top right hand of the desktop menu bar. This is especially useful because for some reason my Fedora installation does not show any of those icons until I move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen at faster speed than normal. I’m not sure if this is intended but I think it’s not very intuitive at all! Thankfully, this extension saved the day.
- Notifications Area: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/258/notifications-alert-on-user-menu/
Get better notification with this extension whenever there are incoming messaging alerts.
Docks may not be everyone’s favourite, but I like to have some way to launch my frequently accessed applications as easy as possible. These are two of the docking software that I have considered.
- Cairo Dock: http://glx-dock.org/
- Docky: http://wiki.go-docky.com/index.php?title=Welcome_to_the_Docky_wiki
Both docks are good in their own ways, so go ahead and give them a go.
Once installed don’t forget to add your preferred launcher to the startup application list.
In Gnome 3, as far as I understood there is no such thing as task bar by default. Switching between running applications are done via “Expose” looking interface. While I certainly agree that it is very fancy doing it that way and that it gives us the ability to see the preview of the application; when you have to do that 5 times in a row you’ll get a bit confused. Well, happens to me at least. More about the impatience waiting for the animations actually.
In any case, if you want a task bar, then Tint2 is the task bar application to go. You can get tint2 here: https://code.google.com/p/tint2/.
It was also possible to use yum install tint2 directly too when I installed mine.
After the taskbar is installed, all you have to do is add tint2 to the startup program list via your gnome control panel.
Can’t Lock the Gnome Desktop?
Seriously, this is a problem that I encountered and really annoyed me. There is no way to lock the screen, the first time my Gnome is installed. If this happens to you as well check these things:
- Push ctrl + alt + L
There is no lock button on Gnome desktop (correct me if I’m wrong), if this works then your locking mechanism is working fine. If this doesn’t work, do the step below.
- Install gnome-screensaver. Screen lock will never work without gnome screensaver so do a sudo yum install gnome-screensaver and away you go.
Another tool that you might want to install to further customise you Gnome 3 experience are:
- Gnome tweak tool (sudo yum install gnome-tweak-tool)
- Gnome shell themes (sudo yum install gnome-shell-theme*)
So there you are, those are all the modifications that I had to do in order to make the Gnome desktop a better place to work. Do share your modifications in your comments if you have more suggestions for other to learn.