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Gnome 3 Will Bring Users Back To Ubuntu: Top 6 Gnome Extensions

Gnome 3 extensions have breathed a new life in those disgruntled Ubuntu users who were looking elsewhere due to the lack of customisation of Unity.

The rating jump that LinuxMint enjoyed on Distrowatch was a strong indicator which some Ubuntu fans tried to shot down as ‘useless’. I don’t want to get into that, I have already written about it. Unity may work perfectly fine for a majority of users, especially if you are using a netbook with tiny screen. Don’t worry if you were looking elsewhere due to the lack of customisation of Unity,  now you can customise your Ubuntu and get back to work.

Here are the top 6 extensions that I am using on Ubuntu and have started loving it again. It’s the best of both worlds — stability and power of Debian (with PPA) with customisation of Gnome 3 shell.

The customisation Begins
Run this command to add Gnome 3 PPA to your system:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3

Now install these two packages from Synaptic Package Manager
gnome-shell
gnome-tweak-tool

or use terminal
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell gnome-tweak-tool

Once installed, log out and from log in window select Gnome instead of Ubuntu. You will now be running Gnome 3 Shell. Continue to read [download PDF of the article].

# 6: Auto Hide Top Panel: fpmurphy has created a Gnome 3 extension called Auto Hide Top Panel (uploaded to Gnome Extensions by erguille), which hides the top panel and give you full screen – it not only saves time but also removes distracting elements. When you take the mouse on the top, the panel will appear. Since all the menus remain with the respective windows (unlike Unity’s global menu) there is no productivity loss.

Auto Hide

I just enabled the extension and find Gnome 3 Shell even more useful than Ubuntu’s Unity. I think Ubuntu team should make it a priority to offer a set of tools to customise unity — especially to disable the global menu in non-maximized windows. [Click To Enable]

#5 Move Clock: This extension allows you to move the clock from its center position to the right side of the top panel. You get the same look & feel as you would get under Gnome 2. This move will make more sense and create free space if you plan to install another extension which will allow you to pin icons of most used apps on the top panel. So, let’s get the clock out of the way. [Click To Enable]

Gnome 3 Extensions: Move Clock

#4 Bottom Panel: It depends on what you like. I don’t find it very comfortable to hit Ctrl+Tab or take the mouse up there to the top just to switch between apps. If I am running GIMP, Gedit, LibreOffice, Chrome and Amarok and may need to quickly switch between Chrome and Gedit it will be painful. Why not just have all the open apps listed right there at the bottom at it earlier was? That’s what ‘Bottom Panel’ extension does. It replicated the functionality of Windows List of Gnome 2 and shows all the currently running apps. Interestingly, I found it to be more responsive under openSUSE and Fedora than it was under Ubuntu. [Click To Enable]

Gnome 3 Bottom Panel

#3. Places Status Indicator: This extension is quite useful if you have quite a lot of partitions on your Hard drive,  or you want easy access to all your folders and partitions. I have 4 HDDs each, 1.5Tb and then I always have some external drives connected. This extension makes it extremely easy for me to access folders and partitions from one place. [Click To Enable]

Gnome 3 Places

#2. Frippery Panel Favourites: This is one of the most useful extensions of all. Under Gnome 3 Shell the only way to open applications is to take your mouse to the holy left corner and wait for the ‘Favourite’ bar to appear showing your favourite apps. It’s nice but not very comfortable. Nothing beats the simple icon of the app which is always there on the top panel. This panel offers just that. It simply adds the ‘favourite’ apps to the top panel so that you can easily access them. To add an app to the top panel, just add them to the ‘favourite’ bar that appears on the left side of the screen. [Click To Enable]

Gnome 3 top panel

#1. Frippery Application Menu: This I think is one of the coolest extensions which brings back the easy drop-down menu of Gnome 2. This extension replaces the Activities button on the top left corner; that button doesn’t do much either way. Once you enable the Application Menu extension you will be able to open any application using the good old and familiar menu. There is more, you can still use Activities, when you take your mouse to to the top left holy corner, you can still trigger and open the ‘dash’ of Gnome 3 Shell and use it as usual. So, in a nutshell best of both worlds. [Click To Enable]

Gnome 3 Application

It is extremely easy to enable any of these extensions if you are running Gnome 3.2 with Gnome 3 Shell (no it won’t work with Unity, you will have to switch to Gnome 3 Shell if you are using Ubuntu). Just visit this site and turn on the preferred extensions.

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Which extensions do you use, tell us in the comments section. If you are on Google+, follow us!

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Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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