Remove the “file edit view go bookmarks help” entries from the Gnome 3 top panel

After running the usual apt upgrade the nautilus menu items suddenly appeared below gnome-shell’s top panel. By below I mean that I have a transparent top bar under which the menu items are showing, but can’t be clicked at all.

Following this post (scroll down to the “Fix Nautilus menu being displayed under the GNOME Shell top bar when using transparent GNOME Shell themes” paragraph) I managed to remove them by simply going to the gnome tweak tool and disabling the Have file manager handle the desktop option under Desktop.

I don’t even know why that option has been set on in the first place…

[Edit]: when disabling the Nautilus desktop management option not only icons will disappear from the desktop, but you you won’t be able to right-click and execute scripts either (and with gnome-shell being very unstable with the latest ATI drivers I very often rely on my gnome-shell restart script, so this is a show stopper).

The only solution I found (and I actually had to struggle a bit, since it doesn’t seem to be a very common issue yet) is to set the top panel background to some opaque image or gradient. Since I installed a gnome-shell theme (you can find the option in the gnome tweak tool under Theme/Shell theme) called Nord, the CSS files to be edited can be found inside ~/.themes/Nord/gnome-shell/, and all styles for the top panel are defined in ~/.themes/Nord/gnome-shell/panel.css.

If you don’t have a custom theme you’ll find the top panel background definition in a file with a path like /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-3.0/apps/gnome-panel.css (change Ambiance with the name of the GTK+ theme you use).

You must find the #panel definition, and change the background- tags to set an alpha (the fourth in rgba values) of 1.0 like I did:

#panel {
    border: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
    background-gradient-direction: vertical;
    background-gradient-start: rgba(84,84,84,1.0); /* note the 1.0 value */
    background-gradient-end: rgba(168,168,168,1.0);
    /* and so on... */
}
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Make your own picture-changing wallpaper in Gnome3

[Edit – April 2014]: I noticed my python script here didn’t do a very good job at not showing the same wallpaper twice before all wallpapers in a folder were shown. Hence, I created another simpler version of the script in bash that does a better job at that. You can find it here

I hoped Gnome3 would have had an integrated function to create custom wallpapers that change throughout the day by picking a folder with your images and choose some refresh interval, but still you have to rely on external scripts or programs.

I’ve been using WallCh for quite some time under Unity, and it suited me well. It was a bit too much for what I wanted to actually do, grabbing pictures in a folder and set them as wallpaper every 3 minutes that is.

Another thing that “annoyed” me is that while in Unity minimized windows are quite the same thing as background processes — in that they just stay on the Unity dash and as long as you don’t hit Alt+Tab they never show up — in Gnome3 I very often go through the list of all open applications, and WallCh by default is always there. I’m not a fan of Alt+Tab in Gnome3: I find it faster to hit Super with my left hand and click on a window I instantly recognize with my right hand than to cycle through small pictures with titles. I don’t know whether WallCh has an option to run in the background, but if it does I didn’t instantly find it and I opted for a little DIY πŸ˜›

That being said I thought that surely a simple command must exist to just change the wallpaper, and it does! It’s gsettings, with its org.gnome.desktop.background keys. So, to set your ~/Images/1080p/wall_0.png as background you just call

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file://$HOME/Images/1080p/wall_0.png
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options zoom

you can just add these two system calls in some simple script in whatever language you like and there you have your custom wallpaper changer!

I came up with a simple python script which is actually a stripped-down version of this nice little script by Romano Giannetti. I simply removed all verbosity and moved the pictures folder definition to a properties file that is checked at every interval, so I never have to change the script itself. If anyone is interested, I’ll post it (it’s less than 50 LOC in the end).

Then, I added the script as a startup application with gnome-session-properties so I finally have my lightweight background wallpaper changer πŸ™‚

Edit: as Romano himself asked for it, here’s my version of the script: http://pastebin.com/embed_iframe.php?i=UGYNi0K5

Well, if truth be told my version of the script has no error checks whatsoever, but since somebody may try to use this I thought that some information on what’s going on may be helpful. You can list several folders in the configuration file; if you change the configuration file while the script is running the list gets parsed again and reset.

Gnome3 (gnome-shell) is very slow using latest ATI Catalyst Drivers

Well, the 12.1 upgrade (Jan 25) at least made Gnome3 usable… The tearing and bad rendering seen with fglrx have finally gone but everything is painfully slooooooooooow.

Two things helped me get an almost responsive desktop, and I don’t know which one actually did the trick. They should actually do the same thing, but who knows?

The first thing I did is to go to the Catalyst Control Center and disable both Vsync (under 3D section) and Tear-Free (under Monitors) options. That seemed to give a little boost to the overall responsiveness of my desktop, but another thing I found out from a comment to a bug report on ATI’s bugzilla is to add this little magic line to your /etc/environment file:

export CLUTTER_VBLANK=none

This should be the equivalent for disabling the Vsync option from the Catalyst Control Center, I guess, but after rebooting everything seems to run a lot more smoothly!

Eclipse crashes on startup with Gnome3 on Ubuntu 11.10

Speaking of Gnome3 choices, I really like the whole CSS-ish management of themes: I’m sure it’ll help in making the gnome-look community grow with a number of experienced web developers who won’t have to struggle too much to deliver great-looking themes.

Once again, I think that at this moment we’re not quite there yet.

Not liking the fat-ass default title bar that Gnome3 comes with, I switched to the sleeker Adwaita Dark theme (the link to the developer’s website doesn’t seem to talk about it?) and I’m fine with it.

On an apparently completely unrelated front, Eclipse started to crash on startup, with no error messages logged on workspace/.metadata/.log, no errors on ~.xsession-errors, no errors on the shell! The splash screen would show up, no progress bar would ever come up, and it’d stay forever like that (sometimes with a java process taking up to 100% of CPU, sometimes not).

Out of plain desperation, I went for a shy export GDK_NATIVE_WINDOWS=1 on the shell script that I use to launch Eclipse and… guess what? It worked! πŸ˜€

I use an external script to choose one of the installs of Eclipse I have (Helios J2EE, Helios CDT, Indigo.. so I have /usr/bin/helios, /usr/bin/cdt and /usr/bin/indigo), but for what concerns this issue it may come down to this:

#!/bin/bash
export GDK_NATIVE_WINDOWS=1
./eclipse

But then I thought… surely the theme I just installed has nothing to do with this issue, right? Well, I was sadly wrong. Using Gnome Tweak Tool (I don’t understand why this does not come with Gnome by default) I figured out that switching the GTK Theme back to default (Adwaita, but not dark) Eclipse runs fine without the GDK_NATIVE_WINDOWS variable set! And I can keep the Adwaita Dark windows decoration theme!

Another step towards XFCE I managed not to take.. Gnome3, don’t fail me, I’m trying hard to like you! πŸ™‚

Add a simple restart Gnome Shell script to your right-click menu

After using the behated Unity for too much time I decided to give Gnome3.2 another chance; last time I tried I couldn’t get my cheap integrated Radeon 3000 graphic card to work with all the rendering gnome-shell requires, so I had to pick one of Gnome “classic” or Unity2D. The latter is a little less ugly, albeit suffering from too much rigidity in what you can customize and what you cannot. I tried to like it, I really did, but working with the left dash bar is painful to me.

So, after installing the latest catalyst drivers (12.1) from ATI I’ve been able to use Gnome3, and after tweaking it hard with several extensions (nice system, by the way, but maybe support for browsers other than firefox would help) I now have a desktop that I kinda like. It’s sad that I used to like Gnome2 better, though.

Not speaking of its slow responsiveness (I admit my GPU is no monster, but my PC is 10 months old, so I’d expect it to run whatever window manager… heck, it runs KDE 4 just fine!), what I find astonishing is its instability. Every now and again, gnome-shell screws up for whatever reason, and all window controls are gone, top bar and the gnome-shell itself as well. Switching to another tty with Ctrl+Alt+F1 and logging in with my user to killall gnome-shell is not helping since the gnome-shell process lies in the other session that I’m therefore forced to kill, restarting the gdm process.

At first I used this little hack from phreaknerd’s blog: you schedule a script for automatic execution that checks whether a “delete me if you want to restart gnome-shell” file exists every 15 seconds (so the routine was like: gnome-shell dies, switch to tty1, login, rm polled file, logout, Ctrl+Alt+F7 back to graphic session, wait for the script to find out).

But then I grew tired of waiting the 7.5 seconds (on average :P) for the script to detect that the control file is missing, and of the whole tty switching in general; since I’m always able to right-click on the desktop (if anything on the empty space left by the gone window decorations) I think a better solution is to add a simple script to ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/ (why is it still called gnome2 anyway) like this:

cd ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/; echo -e '#!/bin/bash'"\n"'gnome-shell --replace' > Restart\ gnome-shell; chmod a+x Restart\ gnome-shell

So now all I have to do is right click somewhere on the desktop, choose Scripts/Restart gnome-shell and I can get back to work! πŸ˜€

I really, really, really hope that 3.4 will be a lot more stable though…