LinuxMint showed us a completely different side of Gnome 3 by pre-installing and activating useful shell extensions which brings back the much missed functionality in Gnome 3. This customisation has made LinuxMint even more popular among Gnome 3 users, and among those who are unhappy with Unity due to its lack of customisation [read how to Turn Ubuntu Into LinuxMint].
Yesterday the Gnome Project announced the alpha of a site dedicated to Gnome 3 Extensions. These extensions allow users to customise their desktops running Gnome 3.2.
I have been using openSUSE 12.1 ever since its release and liking it more with every passing day. I had been using such extensions, but yesterday's announcement made my life easier as now I can easily point at a source where users can install extensions.
I also trust that Ubuntu team will start taking Unity criticism seriously and work on similar initiatives to enable users to customise their 'etched in stone' Unity shell.
Here are the top 5 extensions that I think every Gnome 3 user will need. Warning: You should be running Firefox to use the web-based installation.
#5 Move Clock: This extension allows you to move the clock from its centre 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]
#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, Chome 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]
#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]
#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]
#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]
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.
Which extensions do you use, tell us in comments section.