Sunday, October 16, 2011

Using Fedora 15 & Gnome 3: an update

Following up on my previous posting about the Fedora 15/Gnome 3 user experience, I've now been using it as a day-to-day working environment for the last 4 1/2 months and thought it was time to post a brief update.

Overall the experience has been pretty good (although I gather a lot of other commentators on the web wouldn't agree). For me the least satisfying aspect is still the automated workspaces/virtual desktops, closely followed by the default left-click behaviour of icons in the favourites sidebar. Both of these continue to catch me out from time to time, but I'd class their deficiencies as merely irritating rather than unusable.

Another aspect that I complained about in my previous post was the limited set of customisations that seemed to be available. However I've since discovered the gnome-tweak-tool, which provides access to a much wider range of customisations than is offered via the "Preferences" options. (This and many other useful features are covered in Fedora's release notes for desktop users, which I should probably have read right at the start.)

It's likely that you'll need to explicitly install it as it doesn't appear to be there by default, i.e.:

% yum install gnome-tweak-tool

(Nb this requires superuser privileges). To launch, start from the command line (or go to the "Applications" desktop view and use the search box to look for "tweak"). The tool itself looks like this:

Fedora 15: gnome-tweak-tool: "Fonts" tab

Figure 1: gnome-tweak-tool displaying the "Fonts" tab

There are various categories ("Fonts", "Interface" etc) with a set of options for each, and at first glance there doesn't seem to be that many options available. However if the one you want might doesn't appear to be there then it's worth typing in some search terms to see if something comes up (for example, this is how I found the option for displaying the full date next to the time at the top of the screen).

Another useful utility is gnome-session-properties (again, seems easiest to launch from the command line), which really doesn't have many options but does allow you to customise which applications start up on login:

Fedora 15: gnome-session-properties

Figure 2: gnome-session-properties dialog

As you can see by the fact that I'm still using the default desktop wallpaper, I'm not big on customisations (in fact my needs are basic: web browser, email client, terminal window, Emacs and some development tools are usually sufficient), however these additional tools have helped make me feel a little more at home, and generally I'm pretty happy with the setup now.

Finally I thought I'd give the GnomeShell Cheatsheet page at a quick mention. It covers similar ground to my previous post but from a more expert perspective and with some useful extra detail.

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