April 30th, 2018

Hard Stare

A quick re-assessment of Ubuntu GNOME now it's got its 2nd release

I've been playing a bit with the new LTS edition of Ubuntu in VMs. As of the last version, Ubuntu abandoned its homegrown Unity desktop -- a pragmatic business decision, but one that personally dismayed me as it was by far my favourite Linux desktop environment.

The last release of Ubuntu, 17.10, featured GNOME 3 as the default desktop, and I didn't like it at all. I even made it onto Hacker News!

But now, the rough edges have been smoothed off a little -- as they should, as this is a long-term support release and will be the current Ubuntu for 2 years for many people.

It's improved. I don't like it, but it's better. OMGUbuntu has done its usual things to do after you install piece and makes some good points. The only thing I'd question is the themes one -- all right, and maybe the need for Snap/Flatpak, but fair enough.

But here are my suggestions for a few tweaks that I find really useful, though...

"Extend Panel Menu" -- https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1201/extend-panel-menu/

UPDATE: now replaced by "Panel Indicators" -- https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/2416/panel-indicators/

Splits the combined system menu back into separate options, and moves the clock over to the right where it belongs.

"Pixel Saver" -- https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/723/pixel-saver/

Merges the title bar of maximised windows with the top panel. Not as elegant as the Unity way (there's no menu so the panel remains mostly wasted space; the window controls get mixed in with your status indicators) but it works.

"Dash to Dock" -- https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/307/dash-to-dock/

The full version of the tool Ubuntu uses to make the "launcher" into a dock.

"Topicons Plus" -- https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1031/topicons/

This puts app indicators in the panel where they belong.

I personally also add "Hide activities button" and "no topleft hot corner" but they might be more controversial. :-)

I also install the un-castrated Cinnamon file manager, Nemo, and make it manage the desktop: https://askubuntu.com/questions/294421/how-do-i-install-nemo-file-manager

Saying all that, I still don't like GNOME 3 much. I am currently pondering upgrading my personal travel laptop to the new edition, or waiting for a while and reinstalling with a Unity remix.