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Dash to Panel for Ubuntu Gnome

28 May 2017 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'

We have heard months ago that Ubuntu is stopping with Unity and switching to Gnome 3. I'm happy about this as I could never get used to Unity. For a long time I used Xubuntu, which offered a Gnome 2 like experience with the light-weight XFCE window manager. In order to get used what life will be with Gnome 3 I downloaded Ubuntu Gnome. It has a 16.04 and a 17.04 release and I conservatively chose the 16.04 release.

Nice colors

It has a nice color scheme, a bit more professional than the purple/brown of standard Ubuntu. It uses the (light/white) Adwaita theme by default and combines that with some shades of blue. This is very suitable for everyday work as it looks quite professional. I chose to run it with the built-in "Road.jpg" background that has a nice light-brown to dark-blue gradient.

A familiar user interface with Gnome extensions

There are two extensions worth exploring "Dash-to-dock" and "Dash-to-panel". Both change the behavior of the dash that both change the behavior of Gnome to resemble either OSX (dock) or Windows 10 (panel). I especially like "Dash-to-panel" as I often have to use Windows and this resembles it pretty good. As a bonus I install the "Coverflow Alt-Tab" extension, the "Applications Menu" extension and the well-known "Microsoft fonts for Linux" package "ttf-mscorefonts-installer".

Tweaks for optimal experience

For an optimal experience I configured the Dash-To-Panel extension from the built-in "Tweak Tool". It allows me to make the following modifications:

In the "Dash-to-panel" extension configuration I have adjusted the following:

As a bonus I installed "Remove Dropdown Arrows" which is just a cosmetic change that removes some unnecessary triangle icons next to the clock and status icons. With all these tweaks my Linux feels a lot like an improved version of Windows (or just like Linux Mint).

Expensive redraws

The CPU usage of my Intel i7 NUC was noticable higher with Gnome 3 when playing music. I first thought this had to do with the full-disk encryption. Later I found out that it was Audacious that was doing a lot of redraws, which actually costed a lot of CPU power. When I turned off the visualizer and song title scrolling (in classic WinAmp mode) the CPU usage dropped.

Gnome 3 is noticeable heavier than XFCE, but if you configure it carefully the difference is acceptable and the gain in eye-candy and user friendliness is (for me) big enough to justify it.