GNOME Shell Frippery

The shell in GNOME 3 can be modified by writing extensions in JavaScript. Here are some extensions I've written to provide a user experience more akin to that of GNOME 2.

Move the clock

Move the clock from the centre of the panel towards the right. This isn't a very significant change, but it was the first extension I wrote.

Favourites in panel

Place a launcher for each favourite application in the panel. It isn't possible to manage the list from the panel: instead you can add, remove or move favourite applications in the dash and the panel display will update to match. Also works in classic mode.

Applications menu in panel

Replace the Activities button in the panel with an Applications menu. The menu is implemented using facilities supplied by the shell so it doesn't behave exactly like a normal menu. Right clicking on the Applications menu button invokes a dialog to let you turn off the icon, text and hot corner. If you turn off both the icon and the text the menu is disabled.

Static workspaces

The GNOME 3 shell attempts to maintain just one empty workspace. New workspaces are created on demand and when the last application in a workspace is closed that workspace is removed. This extension prevents the shell from changing the number of workspaces.

In GNOME 3.6 and above it's possible to turn off dynamic workspaces using GNOME Tweak Tool or the right-click menu of the Frippery Bottom Panel extension. Hence this extension has been dropped.

Shut Down menu

Replace the Suspend/Power Off item in the status menu with Shut Down. The dialog that this invokes includes all available shutdown options: suspend, hibernate, restart and power off. Also works in classic mode.

This extension is no longer maintained for GNOME 3.10 and above.

Bottom panel

Add a bottom panel, including a window list, workspace switcher and message tray button.

Items in the window list have a right-click menu which allows each window to be minimised, maximised, moved to a different workspace or closed. (GNOME 3.6 and above)

Workspaces are arranged in a horizontal row, so the keybindings to change workspace have been altered to ctrl-alt-left/right. Workspaces can also be arranged in multiple rows. In this case ctrl-alt-up/down switch between rows and a row indicator appears to the left of the workspace switcher. Clicking on the row indicator changes row. The mouse scroll wheel can be used in the row indicator or workspace switcher to change workspace.

The message tray button shows and hides the message tray. If no messages are available the button is blank.

The bottom panel can be configured by right clicking on the workspace switcher. Settings available are:

The extensions are available for:

They are licensed under the GPL version 2 or later. To see what's changed from previous releases check the change log for GNOME 3.12, GNOME 3.10, GNOME 3.8 or GNOME 3.6.

To install them unpack the tar file in your home directory: the extensions will be placed in ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions. The extensions can be made available to all users by placing them in /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions.

Another way to get Frippery is through the GNOME Shell Extensions web site. This lets you install extensions via your web browser. You may need to install a browser plugin: in RHEL/CentOS 7, for example, the plugin is packaged separately as gnome-shell-browser-plugin.

RPMs are available for Fedora/RHEL/CentOS:

Fedora 18 Fedora 19
RHEL/CentOS 7
Fedora 20 -
RPM gnome-shell-frippery-0.5.3-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.6.3-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.7.6-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.8.0-1
Source RPM gnome-shell-frippery-0.5.3-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.6.3-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.7.6-1 gnome-shell-frippery-0.8.0-1

All are signed with the Tigress RPM signing key.

The Frippery extensions are intended to be used together to provide a GNOME 2-like experience. However, if you'd like to control which are enabled the best option is GNOME Tweak Tool (gnome-tweak-tool in the Fedora repositories). Alternatively you can use the brute-force method and just delete any you don't want. After installation you'll need to restart the shell to make the extensions take effect: enter 'r' in the Alt+F2 dialog or log out and in again. In GNOME 3.2 or above you can use GNOME Tweak Tool to enable and disable individual extensions without needing to restart.

The extensions hook into the very core of the GNOME shell. It's almost inevitable that future changes to the shell will break them (though I'll make every effort to unbreak them).

During development and testing I have only the Frippery extensions installed. There will be conflicts between extensions and it's impossible to test all combinations. I do try to resolve conflicts that are brought to my attention but all I can guarantee is that the Frippery extensions are compatible with one another.


Ron Yorston
8th July 2014