GNOME! The default on Ubuntu!
Competitor to KDE Plasma, the other major default
widget system aesthetic “desktop environment” framework denomination coding convention
As far as I am concerned, there is not much to choose between GNOME (Minimalist/C-ish?) and KDE (Maximalist C++-ish?) styles of doing things. They both give you lots of clicky widgets and buttons on linux machines arranged into an adequate implementation of the modern style of desktop user interface. They both look suspiciously overengineered and tend to be installed with way too much extraneous crap.
GNOME comes configured as the default method of doing things Ubuntu and seems (therefore?) to have a larger user base and more HOWTOs. KDE has a number of advantages; e.g. I think it is uncontroversial that basic file manager Dolphin is a better file manager than Nautilus as far as functionality. And some other things which I cannot remember right this second (my workplace uses KDE as opposed to my home GNOME setup, but I am not going to ride in there just to check).
You can mix and match GNOME-ish and and KDE-ish apps in the same OS. The more fundamental to the desktop is the app in question, the more complicated and annoying this gets. None of this partisanship matters to my life enough to bother with the fuss of trying it, so here are some low-effort GNOME tweaks and tips to improve the status quo from within.
What are the keyboard shortcuts?
Here’s an intro.
The advanced emoji/unicode shortcuts via the ibus system,
Ctrl-Shift-e clash with some other useful shortcuts.
I recommend changing them; but they are not in the usual os shortcut setup; instead you must fight through the
ibus-setup app, which does not run for me.
There is a hack involving
dconf-editor and the key
/desktop/ibus/panel/emoji/hotkey. I changed mine to
The other, nearly-as-annoying,
Ctrl-Shift-u unicode keyboard shortcut does not seem to have any way of turning it off except disabling ibus, which also removes the emoji selector and thus various other nice things, like Chinese input methods, that depend upon
The default file manager in GNOME is
Nautilus has a salutary commitment to minimalism and simplicity, which I naturally approve of.
However, as with many ideological commitments, just as anyone who does not take it as far as me is a mealy-mouthed quisling, so is anyone who takes it further than me a fundamentalist zealot or a hipster, and the Nautilus team I thus suspect of comprising some mix of the latter two.1
They take the minimalism to an extreme with their stubborn commitment to their idiosyncratic UI conventions, at the cost of modern convenient ones typeahead navigation, which does not make my life simpler.
There are many other file managers but AFAICT
nautilus is, at least in GNOME-flavoured-ubuntu,
tightly-enough-coupled to the OS that it would be awkward to replace it with something else.
By this I mean that I suspect that alternative file managers will introduce larger irritations of compatibility and maintenance and that faffing about trying it out is not the top of my list.
I could switch to a different desktop environment entirely (KDE? [linux mint cinnamon?)) which would be smoothly integrated with some different file manager, if this were really annoying, but I do not relish the prospect of getting my fussy linux audio apps running far from the mainstream, so I stick to GNOME and the gnome defaults. So! Nautilus.
macOS-style quicklook previews
Gnome Sushi does that well.
apt install gnome-sushi
Typing foreign characters
See applied typography.
apt install gnome-tweaks
Then launch Tweaks
- Go to
Keyboard & Mouse.
Caps Lockfor the
Are you used to Unity (i.e. Ubuntu before 2018) and the Cinnamon desktop it came with? You might want to make GNOME look like Unity.
For custom user themeing AFAICT you need to install a non-Ubuntu extension to enable user themes? That sounds like too much effort. I will just change the desktop background image I think.
Or! Install a not-very-custom pre-built theme. The only one I have witnessed having adherents is Canta. There are others.
For user themes and extension wrangling, the
Alt-F2 menu is useful because it has some commands you use in shell tweaking, e.g.:
- restart GNOME Shell
- reload the GNOME Shell theme. i.e. to
- launch LookingGlass GNOME Shell’s integrated debugger and inspector tool.
🏗 does this work under Wayland?
Unity Applets do not work in modern GNOME. Indicators e.g. for power are the done thing.
Too many docks on the desktop
Too many docks too many many docks.
I use the Ubuntu dock, because it is default on Ubuntu. But if you search for GNOME Dock Extension there are many variants which briefly seemed to me to be desirable. Cairo-dock? dashtodock? Many more even less reputable looking ones? Bikeshed dock? Committee dock? OCDock?
Help! My Dock is visible on lock screen
This was a common problem. If I understand it right, at least for Ubuntu, it’s do with the demarcation lines after Ubuntu Unity was replaced by Gnome-with-extensions-to-make-it-look-like-unity. If you want everything to work out like you expect, you either do
- Use Ubuntu Dock Gnome extension, which is a patched Dash-to-Dock (i.e. not no dock extension and not vanilla Dash-to-dock extension.
- Oh that didn’t work? Try
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock transparency-mode FIXEDWhy they have it default to
BROKENI will never understand.
There is basic split screen tiling built in.
By dragging windows to the left and right edges of the screen you can tile them side by side.
There are some attempts to support more sophisticated tiling:
- gtile (extension page)
shellshape (extension page)Oops, discontinued.
- slinger is the successor to shellshape
As the author of
slinger explains, there is a lot of awful kludging needed to
make these go so none are entirely satisfactory. Slinger sounds like the most
elegant option of these, but I couldn’t make it actually work.
I could, e.g. try to use
xmonad with GNOME. 😒
Or, I could abandon gnome for sway which is a Wayland port of the classic i3 tiling window manager. Once again though, this is getting far from mainstream. Also they do not support some things, like nvidia so, might be painful.
relative, of course, to my own personal preferred level of zealous hipness.↩︎