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Gnome 3 and Debian Jessie

Posted 12-07-2014 at 12:46 PM by jere21
Updated 06-18-2015 at 06:31 PM by jere21 (systemd-cron)

My setup/configuration changes and wishlist for Gnome 3 in Debian (Jessie comes with Gnome 3.14):

  • gnome-shell-extensions (although Gnome recommends to only install extensions from, but no packaged extensions.)
  • gnome-system-tools (many things, e.g. GUI for user and groups management. IMO this package should be suggested or recommended by some other gnome package more prominently (currently only gnome-nettool suggests it and lxde (!) recommends it).
  • gnome-tweak-tool (the basic "Advanced Settings")
  • dconf-editor (automatically installed, use to manually do GSetting configuration, aka everything)
  • gconf-editor (probably not, only for older software)
  • shotwell (dropped from gnome dependency in 3.14+2,
  • systemd-cron to provide cron daemon & anacron functionality (replaces them but continues to execute the /etc/cron*/ and crontab jobs)


So now I have systemd installed. This means I can uninstall:
  • pm-utils
  • acpi-support
  • acpi-support-base

With pm-utils gone, the following uninstall automatically:
  • ethtool
  • hdparm
  • libx86-1
  • radeontool
  • vbetool

If you have installed systemd-cron also these go/have gone:
  • anacron:amd64
  • cron:amd64
  • powermgmt-base
  • rsyslog:amd64

  1. Tweak Tool - Desktop - Enabled every "... show on desktop"
  2. Tweak Tool - Extensions
    Also available via, but you need to Allow it in the browser to run!
    Local extensions are saved to ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
    • Topicons (
      Shows legacy tray icons on top, or: see again the Pidgin icon and realize that there are new messages (no, it is of no use if I get a 10 second notification while I'm afk, d'oh ...). But also users of Skype and Dropbox profit from this, although obviously these proprietary apps shouldn't be used at all.
    • Openweather
    • Removable drive menu (drives aren't remounted after a few seconds with this, contrary to removing them in "Files" or just unmounting them.)
    • Suspend button (gives a shutdown, a standby and a lock button)
  3. Settings - Privacy - Purge Trash & Temporary Files - On, Purge After 30 days
  4. (In case it is not already done:)
    sudo update-alternatives --set editor /usr/bin/emacs24
    sudo update-alternatives --set gnome-www-browser /usr/bin/iceweasel
    sudo update-alternatives --set x-www-browser /usr/bin/iceweasel
  5. Enjoy the benefits of Freedesktop standardization (and hope that all Desktop environments keep/return to use it).
    Set the default paths that some programs use for files in $HOME/.config/user-dirs.dirs:
    # This file is written by xdg-user-dirs-update
    # If you want to change or add directories, just edit the line you're
    # interested in. All local changes will be retained on the next run
    # Format is XDG_xxx_DIR="$HOME/yyy", where yyy is a shell-escaped
    # homedir-relative path, or XDG_xxx_DIR="/yyy", where /yyy is an
    # absolute path. No other format is supported.
  6. Check /etc/xdg/autostart/ and remove everything you don't need/want to run automatically when a user logs in (but e.g. removing tracker-* here will lead to recurring error messages when using Gnome):
    cd /etc/xdg/autostart/
    ls -l
    sudo rm evolution-alarm-notify.desktop
  7. Make scripts executable from nautilus instead of being diplayed with gedit:
    dconf write /org/gnome/nautilus/preferences/executable-text-activation "'ask'"
  8. Highlight the current location of the pointer when the Control key is pressed and released:
    dconf write /org/gnome/settings-daemon/peripherals/mouse/locate-pointer true
  9. Reconfigure debconf to use the Gnome Interface
    sudo dpkg-reconfigure debconf

Wishlist (really got much shorter since I started it 3 years ago without publishing it):
  1. Use the same name for a program and the process. Respect that there are alternatives. So don't call the process "nautilus" just "Files" in the UI (as it was a few versions ago, which is quite confusing), or "evince" just (something like) "Document Viewer". Now it seems no name is shown altogether, not even some "About" dialog. This is at least not so misleading anymore, but still makes it harder to figure some stuff out (kill the process, find some info on the web, ...).
  2. xrandr settings depending on connected video devices should be remembered.
    (Stopped working with Gnome 2 for Linux after 2.6.32, so perhaps not a Gnome issue.)
    Status: Works for the user, but not the login prompt.
  3. bluetooth on/off setting should be remembered
    Status: works, but disabling it removes the complete bluetooth entry from the system menu (to reenable e.g. use Settings - Wacom Tablet - Bluethooth Settings - On).
  4. Handle "vertically half-maximized" windows like unmaximized ones: Once a window is (half-)maximized it should still be possible to resize and move it (without bringing it back to its previous un(-half-)maximized size first).
  5. Moving windows to the bottom of the screen should "horizontically half-maximize" them.
  6. Don't disable every extension if Gnome crashes. It's bad enough that the crash happens. But it's just annoying to have to remember first which ones were enabled and then to manually reenable them (and the extensions were always innocent!). You could suggest to me to disable them, but don't just do it - unless you want to teach me that extensions are bad. Seriously. As a result of this behaviour on one side, and Gnome 3.14 being much better then earlier versions on the other side, I'm down to one extension nowadays. Reported as Debian bug #782084.
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