Recently I covered Linux Mint 12 (see "Linux Mint 12: A much needed, much improved Linux desktop") and praised their changes to the GNOME 3 desktop. The developers of Linux Mint added a few new features that allowed for the configuration of GNOME3 — something the original releases of GNOME 3 was desperately missing.
But it seems the developers of GNOME 3 have a few tricks up their sleeves; and when I experienced some of these tricks, I have to say I was really, really impressed. The GNOME 3 developers have seen to it to create an extension set of their own. But they haven't just created an extension set; they've created what might be one of the most unique and simple means of enabling and disabling these extensions.
Click the slider to enable or disable the extension.
Ladies and gents, I give you the GNOME Extension Site. Visit that site from a GNOME 3 desktop and you can turn on or off different GNOME 3 extensions by clicking the slider associated with the extension. As soon as you enable or disable the extension, you will be prompted to okay the download and installation of the extension. Once installed, the extension will take effect immediately. When you visit the site, the site will know which of the extensions you have installed and will list them as being "On".The extension shown in Figure A is the Auto Hide Top Panel extension (which does exactly what you would expect.) Personally, I'm all about minimalism on the desktop, so this extension is right up my alley.
This wonderful site is just now in Alpha release, and they don't have the largest collection of extensions; but this is the open source community, so give it time and you'll see plenty pop up. The available extensions include:
- Applications menu: Add 2.x style menu to GNOME 3.
- Auto hide top panel: Auto hide the top GNOME 3 panel.
- Auto move windows: Move applications to specific workspaces when they create new windows.
- Battery percentage indicator: Places percentage indicator near the battery icon in panel.
- Binary clock: Add a binary clock to the panel.
- Dock: Dock for the GNOME panel which displays currently running applications.
- Frippery bottom panel: Add bottom panel.
- Frippery panel favorites: Add launchers from favorites to panel.
- gTile: Tile windows exactly how you want.
- Jump lists: Jump lists for the panel.
- Window List: Add a window list of running applications to your panel.
- Windows Alt-Tab: Replace the buggy Alt-Tab window cycling.
- Workspace navigator: Move to next workspace using up and down arrows when in Overlay mode.
Of course that's not the entire list. There's more and more will arrive as this feature becomes popular.
This is exactly what GNOME 3 needs. Contrary to popular belief, the developers are listening to the users and changing and expanding GNOME 3 to fit their needs. Of course not everyone can be pleased. There are scores of users who cannot, and will not, abide by change. This is to be expected. The same thing happened with KDE 4, Windows 7, The MS Office Ribbon Interface, and more. People do NOT like change — but change is an inevitability in the world of the PC. But what's crucial to make change an acceptable commodity is that those implementing the change be open to the voice of those having to make do with the changes they bring to the table. But in the end everyone will eventually adapt — and by everyone, I mean both end users and developers.
I would like to offer up a hearty Bravo! to the GNOME 3 developers. Not only are they developing a unique product (and doing so among the booing and hissing of a large contingency of users), they are listening and adapting to what the users need. That is what open source is all about.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.