Like many other Linux users I have a tendency to want to try out different Linux distributions and desktop environments from time to time. As I keep all of my documents and photos in the Google cloud it does not take too much effort to reformat my laptop with a new system and restore my stuff. Having Firefox and other apps sync their settings offline also saves the tedium of getting things back to my preferred settings.

As a result I have tried Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop, Solus with the Budgie Desktop, Ubuntu with Unity, Budgie, Mate and Gnome 3 desktops. I wouldn’t want to suggest that any setup was better than the others – they all have advantages and drawbacks – but for now I have settled with Ubuntu and Gnome 3.

My hardware is a Dell Inspiron 13″ 5000 series 2 in 1 laptop – a mid-range device with fairly modest specs but more than adequate for what I do. I have upgraded the RAM myself – adding another 8GB to the 4 GB installed at manufacture.

Hardware

I installed Ubuntu 17.10 Gnome version once the earlier BIOS issues had been resolved.

Software

I allow the software to update everything because I am running Timeshift – a great app that takes snapshots of the OS at regular intervals and saves them incrementally to my permanently attaches Ultrafit USB drive. If anything disasterous happens I am then able to restore to a previous system setup.

After installation and initial updates had completed I installed Gome Tweaks and set about customising my system.

My first tweaks were the installation of several Gnome Extensions.

Extensions

  • Arc Menu – A bit more sophisticated and user friendly than the standard app launcher
  • Caffeine – Disables system suspend / screen saver from the panel
  • Dash to Panel – Moves the dash into the gnome main panel so that the application launchers and system tray are combined into a single panel
  • Dynamic panel transparency – I prefer the panel to be opaque
  • Topicons Plus – Necessary to see some tray icons such as InSync (Google drive sync) activity
  • User Themes – provides access to Themes in the User .themes directory which makes installation of new themes easier.

I like to have a few themes to select from – depending on mood or wanting to impress non – Linux users. My preferred setup is as below:

Tweaks

This theme works well with LibreOffice 6:

 

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And my desktop ends up looking like this:

 

There is just one App that I need for work that I can not use within Linux and dthat is Adobe Acrobat Reader. The file that I have to work with is not compatible with any other pdf readers / editors or on-line services. It is a real pain – but fortunately installing Windows 10 within an Oracle VM Virtual machine was not!

Windows 10

Having access to Windows in this way reminds me every time that I launch it why I am using Linux as my main operting system.