Gnome Shell

So recently I’ve finally started to try an use gnome-shell as my primary UI.  I primarily use computers for web browsing and writing code.  In general, I don’t use keyboard short-cuts for window management, I prefer to use the mouse only.  I’ve run into some issues with usability and perhaps those more familiar with gnome-shell can help me.  At the moment, I end up running a lot of stuff from the terminal since I cannot seem to find the proper way to do it from the GUI.

Update: I got some suggestions from mangobrain and AdamW, and I’m now pretty pleased with gnome-shell.  Thanks to all those who responded. Hopefully gnome-shell 3.2 will pick up some of these extensions or at least distros will provide packages for them.

So, in no particular order:

1. Multiple instances of the same application at the same time.  I really need multiple gnome-terminals open at the same time.  “Open Terminal” from the “File” menu is not an option because if I close a terminal that happened to be the one that spawned one of the other terminals I’m using, it kills all the child terminals.  I also like to have multiple calculators and web browsers windows open at the same time.  I don’t always want tabs.  Sometimes I want to compare multiple files side by side at the same time.  Considering a lot of developers use Gnome, this seems kind of important.

Update: Fixed with this shell extension.

2. Restart/shutdown/hibernate.  Are they are gone?  If not, how do I access them?  I rarely use suspend.  Usually I either want my PC on or off.  Shutdown/hibernate are much more useful to me as the PC is no longer drawing power in those states and if I’m not using it, I do not want it drawing power.

Update: Fixed with this shell extension.

3. Suspend on lid events.  This has been brought up a number of times before.  I guess there is a hidden gconf setting for it somewhere.  Still, just because this is what macs do doesn’t mean it’s what everyone wants.  I’d personally prefer it blank the screen as the only time I close my laptop’s lid is when the laptop is off, or I’m carrying it between rooms at a conference (and don’t want to deal with a suspend/resume cycle), or when I’m using an external monitor and don’t want to use the laptop’s built-in display.

Update: Fixed by installing gnome-tweak-tool.

4. Minimize controls in the window manager.  If I have a big screen with a lot of windows open, how do I efficiently switch between tasks with the mouse?  So far, all I’ve found is having to click “Activities”, waiting for the “expose” blowout, then selecting my application.  This requires substantially more effort and mouse distance than say minimizing the window that happens to be obscuring the one I want to access or just selecting the one I want from a list of running applications in the old panel.

Update: Fixed by installing gnome-tweak-tool.

5. Opening applications.  With GNOME 2 and most other GUIs, I can just click the “Applications” menu and move the mouse down to the app I want and there it is.  Now I have to click “Activities” then “Applications” then either scroll through the huge list of everything I have installed, or move the mouse to the complete other side of the screen to click on a particular category, then move the mouse back half way across the screen to click on the application I want to run.  Is there a faster way that involves fewer clicks and less mouse travel distance?  Same goes for Preferences/Administration/System Tools.

Update: Fixed with this shell extension.

6. Quick launch.  Is there a way to put frequently used apps in the bar at the top?  It’s much easier to just click on the icon on the bar than to click “Activities” then move the mouse down potentially the entire height of the screen, then click the icon to start the application.

Update: Fixed with this shell extension.

7.  Active application menu.  When you focus an application, an icon and the name of the application shows up on the top bar to the right of the “Activities” menu.  What is the point of this new menu?  When I click on it, the only option it provides is “Quit”.  If the application has focus anyway, I can just click the X in the window manager or select “Quit” from the “File” menu.

8.  Focus follows mouse.  Is there any way to enable this?  I really prefer this over click to focus.

Update: gconftool-2 –set –type string /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode sloppy

9. “System Settings.”  These do not seem to follow the same rules as all the other applications.  Everything else is directly accessible via “Activities” then “Applications” except these.  Why are “Power”, “Screen”, “Network”, etc. not accessible via the “Applications” screen while everything else is?

10.  Accessibility menu.  Is there a way to remove this from the top bar?  I don’t need to change these frequently if ever, so accessing them via “System Settings” is all I need.  The additional new menu icon just gets in my way.

Update: Arch provides a hack to disable it.

11.  Weather applet.  Is there a weather applet for gnome-shell?  I like having the current weather and forecast easily accessible all the time.  What about other applets (cpu-freq, sensors, etc.)?

Update: Weather applet here.  Official support for weather is supposed to show up in 3.2.

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