Make GNOME3 usable

June 3, 2013


GNOME3 in the default install is unusable, not as bad as Unity, but bad. Luckily with some minor tweaking it can be made to work quite nicely.

These are some assorted notes on how I got stuff working the way I like.

From a fresh Ubuntu install, install GNOME3:

sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment


  1. Normal focus mode:

    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences focus-mode 'sloppy'
    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences auto-raise false 
  2. Extensions:

    • Caffeine - disable screensaver manually
    • Frippery Move Clock
    • Media player indicator
    • Remove Accessibility
    • Remove Panel App Menu
    • Status Area Horizontal Spaces - reduces space used
    • Weather - nice weather applet
    • Windows Alt Tab (from: tglman, there are multiple) - alt-tab sanity
    • Workspace Grid (from:
    • Workspace Switcher WrapAround (doesn’t work GNOME3 <= 3.4 AFAICT)
  3. The way things should be:

    • Configure the extensions to your liking
    • Settings->Keyboard
      • No blinking cursor
      • Launch Terminal -> Control+Return, but this does not work: work around:, create new shortcut ‘Open Terminal’ and assign that one ‘Control-Return’
      • Move to workspace * -> Remove ‘Alt’ from the shortcuts (also doesn’t work, see 6.)
      • Keyboard Layout->Layouts->Options ‘Caps Lock key behavoir’ something else, than Caps Lock.
  4. Terminal:

    • Choose different font: I like SourceCode Pro from Adobe (SourceCode Pro Medium 10 pts)
    • ‘Run command as login shell’ ticked
    • No menu in new terminals
    • Colors -> ‘White on Black’ and Tango as the built-in scheme
    • Scrollbar: off: Scroll lines: unlimited
  5. Misc:

    • Install gnome-tweak-tool, tweak what needs tweaking, most notably the font sizes
    • vi ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs and tweak it (remove dirs, lowercase names, etc)
  6. Redo some of the keyboard settings with dconf-editor:

    • apt-get install dconf-tools # if not already there, go to org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings and:
      • switch-to-workspace-* and fix the bindings
      • panel-run-dialog -> <Control>space
Gnome3  Linux  Desktop