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Ubuntu 17.10 + Gnome: some hidden configurations 2017-10-21

Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,

Update 20180216: remark about non-Ubuntu extensions & stability.

Gnome logoI like what the Ubuntu people did when adopting Gnome as the new Desktop after the dismissal of Unity. When the change was announced some months ago, I decided to move to Gnome and see if I liked it. I did.

It’s a good idea to benefit of the small changes Ubuntu did to Gnome 3. Forking dash-to-dock was a great idea so untested updates (e.g. upstream) don’t break the desktop. I won’t discuss settings you can change through the “Settings” application (Ubuntu Dock settings) or through “Tweaks”:

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

It’s a good idea, though, to remove third party extensions so you are sure you’re using the ones provided and adapted by Ubuntu. You can always add new extensions later (the most important ones are even packaged).
$ rm -rf ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/*

Working with Gnome 3, and in less extent with MacOS, taught me that I prefer bars and docks to autohide. I never did in the past, but I feel that Gnome (and MacOS) got this right. I certainly don’t like the full height dock: make it so small as needed. You can use the graphical “dconf Editor” tool to make the changes, but I prefer the safer command line (you won’t make a change by accident).

To prevent Ubuntu Dock to take all the vertical space (i.e., most of it is just an empty bar):

$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/dash-to-dock/extend-height false

A neat Dock trick: when hovering over a icon on the dock, cycle through windows of the application while scrolling (or using two fingers). Way faster than click + select:

$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/dash-to-dock/scroll-action "'cycle-windows'"

I set the dock to autohide in the regular “Settings” application. An extension is needed to do the same for the Top Bar (you need to log out, and the enable it through the “Tweaks” application):

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extension-autohidetopbar

Update: I don’t install extensions any more besides the ones forked by Ubuntu. In my experience, they make the desktop unstable under Wayland. That’s said, I haven’t seen crashes related to autohidetopbar. That said, I moved back to Xorg (option at login screen) because Wayland feels less stable. The next Ubuntu release (18.04) will default to Xorg as well meaning that at least until 18.10 Wayland won’t be the default session.

Oh, just to be safe (e.g., in case you broke something), you can reset all the gnome settings with:

$ dconf reset -f /

Have a look at the comments for some extra settings (that I personally do not use, but many do).

Some options that I don’t use far people have asked me about (here and elsewhere)

Specially with the setting that allows scrolling above, you may want to only switch between windows of the same application in the active workspace. You can isolate workspaces with:

$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/dash-to-dock/isolate-workspaces true

Hide the dock all the time, instead of only when needed. You can do this by disabling “intellihide”:

$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/dash-to-dock/intellihide false