GNOME is the default choice of desktop environment on many Linux distributions. It’s also my favorite one as it gives a modern desktop experience.
But that doesn’t mean GNOME is perfect and doesn’t need improvements. In fact, here are a few suggestions to improve the overall user experience.
1. Easy application uninstall option
Desktop Linux is fragmented. To add to the mess, the packaging is also fragmented. And the worst part is removing an application from the system.
Take this for example. You install an application from its deb file. It is opened in the GNOME Software center and installed from there. You don’t like the application and want to remove it. But you won’t find the application in the software center. You’ll have to use the command line method.
That is not the end of the story. There is Snap and Flatpak packages. If you have used one of them, you’ll have to figure out that first and then use the correct command for the installation.
GNOME has adopted an Android/iOS kind of approach to display the applications in a grid and organize them in folders. Those mobile OS provide an option for the users to hold the icon and remove the app. It would be nice to have a similar option to right click on the application icon, choose the uninstall option and remove the application.
This way, the end users won’t have to worry whether the installed application is Deb package or Snap. No need to go into the terminal for that. It happens right where application is accessible.
Linux Mint Cinnamon edition has this feature where you right-click on an application entry in the menu and select remove to install it.
If Cinnamon can do it, GNOME should be able to do it as well, right?
2. Set default software source in app store
GNOME Software center lets you choose the software source if an application is available in more than one format. At least that’s what I have seen in GNOME Software in Fedora but not in Ubuntu.
Say, someone has added both Flatpak and Snap support to the software center. If an application is available in Flatpak, Snap and the package manager (apt, DNF etc), it will probably be shown multiple times in the search results.
It would be good to have the ability to set a default packaging format that takes precedence over other formats. If you put Flatpak as default, it doesn’t show the Snap version and only the Flatpak version is installed by default.
3. Syncing installed applications across systems
This one is probably dependent on the distributions and more complicated from both technical and policy point of view.
Android, iOS, macOS and Windows has this feature which makes it easier to start using a new device or the same device after a reset. The applications you install from their official applications stores are linked to your profile. You reinstall/reset the OS or you get a new system, log in to the application store and it shows the applications you had used previously.
On Linux, if you reinstall your system for some reasons, you lose the applications you had installed. You can of course reinstall them but you also have to recall which applications you had installed previously.
I remember Ubuntu had the Ubuntu One cloud once upon a time and I thought they would introduce this feature but they shut down the cloud service. However, Ubuntu One is still alive and used as SSO login. In fact, you can see the sign in option to Ubuntu One in Ubuntu Software Center but it doesn’t really do anything.
Having a way to know which software you installed previously from GNOME software center, will make formatting the computer and moving between computers a lot easier. Don’t you think?
Of course, many Linux users don’t necessarily rely on the software center for getting the applications, but this could be a helpful feature for some.
4. Face unlock and/or pin login
I like the option to login and unlock Windows with a pin. Yes, I use Windows sometimes. No, not for playing games but to watch streaming content in Ultra HD. I have been using it more frequently for the past couple of weeks because I am in another city and I have to rely on my laptop to watch Netflix in 4K instead of using my TV.
Typing the entire 8/10 characters long password with special characters all the time feels like a chore. Thankfully, my laptop has fingerprint reader but not everyone has that luxury.
Using a pin or face to unlock the device could be interesting for many users who have grown accustomed to these methods on their mobile device.
There are already a few projects that allow you to use face unlock on Linux. GNOME could surely consider adding it to its offering.
5. Bring back ‘add new document’ option
A few years ago, GNOME removed the capability to create a new document from the right click menu.
It is still possible to achieve that. You have to create a template document first in the Templates folder of your home directory. All the templates documents are then available in the right click context menu.
But this should have been a default feature. People should not be fiddling around, trying to figure out where did the ‘create new document’ option went.
It’s high time GNOME brings this feature back.
What features do you want to see in GNOME?
Since I primarily use Ubuntu, the customized GNOME is different than the vanilla GNOME. The vanilla GNOME should also bring back the applet indicator so that applications like Dropbox etc can be quickly accessed.
It’s less likely that GNOME developers will pay attention to what ordinary Linux users like us think but I’ll still ask for your opinion.
What new featured would you like to see in GNOME or in desktop Linux? You may also share some of your favorite features that have been removed from the GNOME and you would like to have it back.