Fixing Gnome's Gnonsense

When some aspect of the Gnome desktop stops working at runtime, you can do alt+f2 and type "restart" to refresh the desktop without losing any of your open programs.

I would say that my experience of using Ubuntu 20.04 is not as stable as Ubuntu 16.04 which felt rock-solid after doing one bit of config. But it's not really a fair comparison because I've changed hardware, desktop environment, and other programs during that time; and furthermore, my current install was Kubuntu 19.10 followed by a "dist-upgrade" that unexpectedly gave me regular Ubuntu 20.04 with all of its defaults, so it's a bit messy.

Because of my messy install, I don't know how many of the problems I encounter a normal user would experience, so I won't detail them here. I don't need to do this restart trick very often, and this solution is quick and painless for the occasional buggyness.

I'm not exactly bothered about accidentally gaining vanilla Ubuntu because although I spent a long time not liking Gnome, I've come round to it, and think it's the only desktop environment (on any OS) I can confidently recommend (I have not tried them all). Specifically, I recommend Gnome with Ubuntu's defaults and some additional extensions to improve the experience.

Here is what I use:

Hide Top Bar — Makes the top bar only visible in the window spread / app list view. This makes the desktop cleaner and it's nice having the top of a window at the top of a screen. I prefer this to moving the top bar to the bottom because the top bar can only appear on one screen and I want my screens to look the same.

No Topleft Hot Corner — It's too easy to trigger this by accident.

Better OSD & Transparent OSD — I use these to improve the appearance of the volume indicator. By default it's too big, too central, and too opaque. These extensions change all of that.

The Ubuntu default extensions are good and make the UI paradigm more traditional ("Desktop Icons", "Ubuntu AppIndicators", and "Ubuntu Dock").

I do not use any of the extensions that enable quarter tiling. Of all the complaints about Gnome, the lack of quarter tiling is the most significant one. The process of adding it has hit some road-bumps and the intention has not been dropped [x] [x]. All of the third-party extensions that provide it have caused me some issue that I can't remember, and I have enough screen real-estate that I rarely feel like I'm missing it.

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