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Working with Gnome 3

I’m back on Ubuntu with the Gnome 3 desktop environment and here are a few customsations to make it more productive and make moving between Gnome 3 & Windows simple.

Extensions #

Gnome 3 has an extension system that allows third-party developers to add functionality to your desktop.


Shortcuts #

There are two ways to modify Gnome’s internal settings, the dconf-editor graphical application and the gsettings command.

Gnome Terminal - Change Tab #

Set Gnome Terminal’s change tab shortcuts to Ctrl+Tab & Ctrl+Shift+Tab instead of Ctrl+PageUp & Ctrl+PageDown

gsettings set org.gnome.Terminal.Legacy.Keybindings:/org/gnome/terminal/legacy/keybindings/ next-tab '<Control>Tab'
gsettings set org.gnome.Terminal.Legacy.Keybindings:/org/gnome/terminal/legacy/keybindings/ prev-tab '<Control><Shift>Tab'

Change Workspace (Windows shortcut) #

Adds the Windows 10 shortcut Control+Super+Arrow to change virtual desktops

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-to-workspace-right "['<Super><Shift>Page_Up', '<Super><Shift><Alt>Left', '<Control><Shift><Alt>Left', '<Super><Control>Right']"
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-to-workspace-left "['<Super><Shift>Page_Up', '<Super><Shift><Alt>Left', '<Control><Shift><Alt>Left', '<Super><Control>Left']"

Contextual (Right-click) menu on non-GTK apps #

Apps like Chrome don’t use GNOME’s window manager which means the right-click menu doesn’t include GNOME-specific options, such as “Always Visible on Workspace”, “Always on top”, etc..

The keyboard shortcut to show the right-click menu is Alt+Space.

Emoji #

Emoji are a real pain in GNOME 3, a long way from Windows 10’s Ctrl+; global shortcut.

Here is a answer listing the various ways to use Emoji in GNOME.

The Emoji Selector extension looks perfect, except that it hasn’t been updated for GNOME 40+.

I’ve settled for the Emote app, it provides a global shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+E!

There are instructions to enable the global shortcut on Wayland the instructions but they didn’t work for me on Ubuntu 21.10… 🤞 for Ubuntu 22.04! Works on Ubuntu 22.04!

Issues and Workarounds #

There inevitably will be bugs and oddities in any desktop environment, here are a few I have encountered. I have to say that GNOME 3 has continually improved since its bumpy initial release back in 2011…

Screensharing #

By default GNOME runs on the Wayland display manager, a replacement for X11/Xorg. Due to Wayland’s secure architecture applications wanting to capture the screen need to authenticate directly with Wayland. This requires the xdg-desktop-portal-gnome package installed.

Firefox supports this protocol and Chrome has an experimental feature found at chrome://flags/#enable-webrtc-pipewire-capturer.

On Ubuntu 21.10 this workaround only provides full-screen sharing, it isn’t possible to share individual windows on Wayland.

On Ubuntu 22.04 I found some apps can share specific windows but Chrome is still working on this.

Thanks to Arch Wiki. Chromium Issue 13429: Tracking bug for better Linux/Wayland screensharing support.

I hope you find these suggestions useful, please let me know if any of these stop working.

Updates & Errata

  • Updated 2022-05-10 for GNOME3 42 on Ubuntu 22.04
  • Updated 2022-04-18 Contextual menus on non-GTK apps (like Chrome)
Joe Heaton
Cloud High Performance Computing Engineer

Joe Heaton’s technology-focused murmurings.
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