Fedora Day Three: Getting To Know Gnome-Shell

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So I’m now on day three of my mini adventure with Fedora 18, and I have to say, the more I use Gnome-Shell (and Fedora) the more I’m really enjoying myself. Now that I’ve got the base OS installed, and it’s personalised to my liking, it’s time to start playing around with Gnome-Shell to see what it has to offer…

What I like

I think one of the biggest draws of Gnome-Shell for me is the simplicity of it all. Most of the environment is well laid out, and in a logical fashion that’s very easy to pick up and move forward with. I have to say that for me, the activities menu is a great tool, and every bit as good as the Unity dash, except that it has two distinct advantages.

The first being the workspace switcher that dynamically adds additional workspaces as you move content into the current workspaces, this is extremely useful for multi-taskers like myself. The second is the favourites menu that allows you to quickly access your commonly used applications from within the Activities menu. Unity doesn’t allow you to use the launcher whilst the dash is open, so I really think this is a big advantage, at least for me anyway.

Gnome Shell isn’t perfect by default, but that doesn’t really matter because pretty much everything can be changed by way of Gnome Extensions. This is by far the most powerful part of Gnome Shell. If you don’t like something, then you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s an extension available to change it. This, for me makes Gnome Shell far more powerful than Unity as it’s very limited on how much you can actually customise the UI. If you don’t like something in Unity, then it’s likely that you’re going to be stuck with it.

Gnome Activities Menu

Gnome Activities Menu

What I don’t like

There isn’t really a great deal that I don’t like about Gnome Shell, but that’s not because it’s perfect, it’s mainly thanks to extensions (granted I only need a handful though). But there are two gripes that I have with Gnome Shell. The first being that the Gnome team keep deciding to change the Gnome Shell core, thus breaking many extensions until they can be ported. If any of the Gnome dev team are reading this article, then I’d love to know why this is the case?

The second is the “dock thing” (sorry, I don’t know the real name) that sits at the bottom of the screen and houses additional system tray icons (see the bottom of the screenshot above that has the Chrome, Copy, and Shutter icons in the bottom right corner). To me, this is totally alien, I’m so use to having all icons in the top right corner with the battery, network, and other menus. There may well be an extension to change this, but I haven’t found one yet. Is there one that anyone can recommend?

The final little niggle I have is the fact that the calendar is in the middle of the top panel. As this is only a small niggle though, I simply haven’t had time to look for an extension for this yet. I imagine there probably is one though…?

So far Gnome Shell and Fedora are shaping up nicely. There are a few problems (ahem trackpad) but what OS doesn’t have it’s problems? Overall I’m having a very pleasant and fun experience with Fedora 18 so far. Join me tomorrow to take a look at performance…

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Final Day

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Fedora Day Three: Getting To Know Gnome-Shell
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