How customizable will Gnome be in the future?

I’ve used Gnome before, many years ago. I’ve always liked its simplicity compared to KDE’s over-decoration. Then later I used XFCE for years, which is a pretty customizable desktop environment and close to Gnome. But now, after three years of using EndeavorOS, I’ve returned to Gnome with release 43. Meanwhile, I also used Cinnamon, originally developed by Linux Mint.
When I used Gnome before, for example, desktop icons were enabled. I feel like the desktop environment was more customizable back then than it is now. Nowadays KDE is said to be more customizable than Gnome, but in the past it was the other way around. Anyway, I like the virtual window management, I think it’s better than in Plasma. My question is, what changes can be expected in the future in terms of customization?

Hello zoli62!

Hard to say. It might be better to say what kinds of customization you expect.

In practice, I see that there is very little that can be customized in Gnome. What I mean by this is that the command line is quite limited as to what can be configured, at least in my opinion.

Are you talking about Console? If so, you can still install Terminal if it has what you want.

By default yes but did you see what can be changed using extensions? You can literally change to a tiling desktop with material-shell, change to a “windows/KDE” layout using dash-to-panel, … there is a lot which can be done.

This said, I agree that it’s a shame popular extensions aren’t built into gnome. For instance with dash-to-panel. Having the choice between dash or panel as part of the initial set up would be amazing.

I use the terminal when necessary and possible.

I agree with you on this. Having used Gnome a long time ago (back when those desktop icons were enabled), I was surprised at how many and how good Gnome shell extensions there are.

I think so too. Since I was using Plank dock on XFCE after installing Gnome on EndeavorOS, I immediately looked for ways to get the dash back to the usual left edge of the screen and found the great Dash to dock extension.

Don’t expect to be able to choose the desktop UX you prefer. The GNOME design team and developers tend to avoid such options, usually to provide a consistent UX and to avoid fixing bugs for different UX/to help maintainability.

Up to certain limits, the interface can be customized with Gnome shell extensions, but I was thinking more about the command line configurability, which is quite limited, in my opinion there was more freedom in this in the past.

What do you mean with “command line configurablity”?

For example, I’m thinking that when desktop icons were still enabled, its settings could also be configured. Now you have Dash, right? For example, how can it be easily configured so that the icon of any application recorded on the Dash runs from a different login user account, for example, even from the root user account?

Launching an app as user2 when logged in as user1 doesn’t make sense.

As for running applications as root (“Run as Administrator”), this is not wanted in order to prevent users from breaking the system.

What’s your use case for running apps as root? What do you want to accomplish?

As an administrator, I sometimes need to run an application as root for testing or debugging purposes. I use a mixture of the command line and the graphical user interface, when which is more convenient. By the way, when it comes to customization, I also thought of applications similar to Alacarte.

You might more clarify why you want run as root for testing or debug an app (I’m not a dev, so cannot know why do you want this). Whatever, it is dev-oriented, while the Gnome-Shell UI is more user-oriented.

For customization like Alacarte, what do you want? Hide apps in app grid? Not letting certain users access certain applications in a multi-user environment? Note that it is already possible to move applications (click on an app, hold while moving) and create groups (by dragging and dropping on another app).

It is not advisable to run GUI programs as root, even for testing or debugging purposes. You can seriously mess up your system that way.

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What’s going to happen is you’ll wind up with files in your home directory that are owned by root, and applications will inevitably break when they don’t have permission to write to these files. You will trash your home directory. Don’t ever do this.

We really should change GTK to prevent you from doing this.

Sometimes it is necessary to access not only the home directory, but also other directories, and it is more convenient to do this in a graphical user interface.

That is what the gvfs admin backend is for, it only runs a requested file I/O as root. It is unnecessary and dangerous to run an entire GUI program as root.

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Obviously, we are not talking about file and directory operations in the home directory, but about operations in other system directories, which are sometimes necessary for the normal operation of the system. In Linux, this is traditionally done in the command line, but there are also very good graphical file managers, even as part of the desktop environment, with the help of which these operations can be performed even more conveniently.

I don’t do this often either, so if possible, I usually work in the familiar traditional command line. I’ve never had a problem with, for example, running a graphical file manager as root, because I obviously know what I’m doing. From this point of view, the terminal is equally dangerous.