Configure Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot & Gnome 3 to improve user experience

This is a collation of tips and tweaks I've gathered along the way to configure Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and Gnome 3 to improve my experience:

Re-enable ALT + F2
ALT + F2 is the commonly used shortcut key combination in Ubuntu to run a command prompt. But, while using GNOME Shell in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, the shortcut key for running the command prompt seems to be disabled and does not work anymore. Due to this GNOME Shell issue, not only ALT + F2, other key combinations also cannot be used as a shortcut to run the command prompt.
To enable Alt + F2 shortcut in GNOME Shell:
  • Open 'System Settings'
  • Select 'Hardware'
  • Click on Keyboard option
  • Click on the Shortcuts tab
  • Navigate to 'System' option in the left panel
  • Enable the shortcut key for the Show the run command prompt (select the entry and click on the Disabled part to activate it)
  • "New Shortcut…" is seen in place of the Disabled
  • Click the box and press ALT + F2 and the combination is assigned as the shortcut key to run a command prompt in the GNOME.
Re-enable windows buttons (minimize, maximize and close) with Gnome 3
There is no tray to minimize to now in Gnome 3 however this fix restores the ability to minimize rather than just exit applications as per the standard approach in Gnome 3.
  • From a terminal open the gconf editor using: gconf-editor
  • Press Enter and navigate to: /desktop/gnome/shell/windows
  • Change the button_layout to: minimize,maximize,close
  • After you do that, you do need to press ALT+F2, type r, press enter,
  • Controls should be restored to your windows.
Re-enable shutdown button from status menu
By default, there's no shutdown entry in the status menu and you must press and hold ALT to be able to shutdown your computer when using GNOME Shell. This can be changed by installing Alternative Status Menu extension which adds "Power off" and "Hibernate" to the status menu, visible at all time (and not just when pressing the ALT key). To install it:
  • From the terminal run:
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu
  • Use GNOME Tweak Tool to enable the extension:
  • gnome-tweak-tool
  • Open 'Shell Extensions'
  • Set 'Alternative Status Menu Extension' to 'On'
I cannot comprehend the rationale for removing a basic feature such a shutdown from easy user access, lets hope this is reinstated in 12.04.

Move icons from Message tray (bottom tray) to the Top Bar
Some might find the notification area icons showing up in the Message Tray (at the bottom of the screen, hidden by default) annoying or confusing. You can move the icon on the Top Bar using an extension:
  • From the terminal run:
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-classic-systray
  • Then press ALT + F2 and enter "r" to restart GNOME Shell
  • Use GNOME Tweak Tool to enable shell extension:
  • gnome-tweak-tool
  • Open 'Shell Extensions'
  • If you don't see it immediately reboot...
Disable the lock screen
When waking from suspend or hibernate, Ubuntu prompts the current user to unlock the screen by entering their password. You might want to disable this prompt if you don’t need the extra security.

In previous versions of Ubuntu, the lock screen after waking could be disabled in the screen saver settings. In Ubuntu 11.10, the new version of GNOME has changed how this works. GNOME no longer provides any configuration option for this behavior. The best workaround seems to be to disable the lock screen entirely, which will not only disable the lock screen after suspend, but also disable the lock screen entirely.

  • From the terminal run:
  • gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.lockdown disable-lock-screen 'true'
  • Running the command again with true changed to false will reverse the change:
  • gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.lockdown disable-lock-screen 'false'
Hopefully this option is reinstated in 12.04.

Change default web browser
“Preferred Applications” no longer exists in Ubuntu 11.10, this simple tip allows you to change the default applications (web browser, mail client, video/music player, image viewer).

  • From a terminal run:
  • gnome-control-center
  • Open 'System Info'
  • Select 'Default Applications'
  • Customise your default apps!
Kudos to the various sources that have helped me along the way:


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