Friday, November 11, 2011

GNOME Shell in F16

Very pleased with what I'm seeing so far in Fedora 16's GNOME Shell. I've really only just gotten started with it, but I like the looks and feel and the things that I've found that I can do with it.

The Activities area can be opened up by clicking on "Activities" on the panel, by moving the cursor to the "hot spot" at the upper left corner, or by pressing the Super (aka Windows) key.

The icons on the Dash launcher are easy to work with. They become smaller (and less obnoxious) if you have more of them there. To add an icon to the launcher, all you have to do is right-click on an icon in the Applications area and click on "Add to Favorites." You can remove an icon from the launcher by simply right-clicking on it and clicking "Remove from Favorites." You can drag the icons to different positions on the launcher.

The Workspace list is the vertical bar over on the right side of the Activities area. In GNOME 3, you get only as many workspaces as you need, instead of a set number of workspaces. If you open an application into an empty workspace, another empty workspace will be available. To switch between workspaces, simply click on one in the Workspace list.

I added the Workspace Indicator Extension for an alternative way to switch between workspaces.

Many people don't like the menu set-up in the Activities area, but I have no problem with it. It's very easy to find an application using the search area at the upper right, and the categories along the right side are also very helpful.

But I added the Applications Menu Extension for a more traditional drop-down menu.

In Fedora 16, to take advantage of available extensions, you'll want to first add gnome-tweak-tool and gnome-shell-extension-common. The gnome-tweak-tool GUI shows up under the name "Advanced Settings," and there you'll find your installed extensions.

One common complaint is that there's no "shut down" button in GNOME 3, but I found that if you click on the the username button on the left side of the panel, then press the Alt key, the "Suspend" option changes to a "Power Off..." option.

And, Windows-style, the Alt+Tab combination works for switching between open applications.

Desktop configuration seems a bit limited, from what I've seen so far. For example, as with the old GNOME 2, there's no nice automatic wallpaper changer included by default. But why pick nits? The available tools make it very easy to get work done in GNOME 3. Folks complain that it's a departure from "traditional" desktops, and that users are being "forced" to learn a new way of doing things, but I can already see that I won't be missing GNOME 2 at all. I'm looking forward to Ubuntu 12.04, which will have both Unity (which I also like) and GNOME Shell. I'm sold.

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