Thanks to GNOME 3.2 and the GNOME Shell Integration plug-in for Firefox, a new site at extensions.gnome.org gives users an easy way to manage their extensions for the open-source desktop.
I’ve been taking the public alpha site through its paces, and it is a great start so far.
Previously, extensions would have to be installed by hand or via the distributions package manager. Sure, it worked, but it was not the best user experience to encounter. Now, clicking on a slider installs and starts the extension on your desktop without any restarts; a nice bonus, but it would be nice for there to be some prompt that the extension is up and running.
When I installed the much-needed Alternative Status Menu, I did stare at the screen for a little while waiting for something to happen; the extension had already done its work, and changed my Status Menu.
Developers are able to upload their extensions and have them reviewed for malicious activity before they are made available for download. The site claims that this process of code review is similar to the process for Firefox add-ons submitted to addons.mozilla.org.
Bugs currently prevent the site from working in WebKit-based browsers, including Chrome and GNOME’s official Epiphany browser. This problem is expected to be rectified in future GNOME releases.
It will be interesting to see the ways that GNOME 3 is extended and its less-popular features are remedied by the community.