Transitioning from Unity to GNOME; Tips & Tricks to get you started

Mark Shuttleworth has announced in his blog post that Ubuntu’s next LTS release 18.04 will ship with the GNOME desktop environment.

Canonical will no longer be focusing their efforts on “convergence”, the Mir display manager or Unity. Instead they will focus more on IoT and the cloud where Ubuntu is already doing a great job.

This post includes tips and tricks to get you started with GNOME on a normal Ubuntu install.

Installation

sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop gnome-tweak-tool

A reboot is recommended.

Also if you need to change the login manager later on you can do that with

dpkg-reconfigure gdm3

or

dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

respectively.

Missing Unity features from GNOME

HUD, pressing alt to search through all available menu items in an app is one of many features in Unity7 that’s missing in GNOME. There’s a promising project that’s trying to do just that with modern GNOME apps called plotinus.

Touch Handles, whenever you tap a window with three fingers, touch handles appear on it which let you resize or move it around easily on touch only devices. This might be possible with an extension, if you know of a solution, let me know, I’ll add it here.

Launcher, the default launcher in GNOME is the favorites bar in the Activities Overview, but it isn’t always visible, there’s a really nice extension called Dash to Panel which not only shows open/pinned apps, but optionally allows you to use Super+<NUM> shortcuts to open/switch apps. It can also optionally add a show desktop (Win10-like) button to the far right and move the clock around.

Window Buttons, If you’d like to keep the panel at the top, you might be interested in the Window Buttons extension which adds close, maximize, minimize buttons to the panel, you can change the layout and position or when the buttons should be visible (like when apps are max’d).

Tray Icons, Top Icons Plus will move the hidden tray icons to the panel.

Volume Indicator, Better Volume Indicator let’s you change the volume by scrolling while hovering the volume indicator just like the Unity Volume Indicator.

No Top Left Hot Corner will remove the hot corner for activities.

Panel OSD will move the notifications to the bottom right if configured like this:

Panel OSD_005.jpg

GNOME Panel OSD extension lets you choose where notifications appear

Weather, the Open Weather extension adds an indicator (usually next to the clock) with a poup for forecasts, it’s simple and easy to configure.

Internet Speed Monitor, System Monitor and Net Speed (simpler) let you monitor processor, memory, disk space, network etc.

Impatience let’s you speed up animation speed.

That should get you started nicely, let me know if there’s something else that I should mention here.

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