New hardware, Gnome Ubuntu and multiple monitors
Things don’t go well with my laptop – for some mysterious reason it’s dead slow. So I’ve recently bought a desktop computer \o/.
I’m not going to write about hardware details because I’m not an expert in this area. Enough to say that this is a Xeon E3 1230 v2 based system with 16GB RAM, NVidia GT 660 card, running OS on SSD drive and yes it’s fast. Kudos go to some guys from CD Action forum - believe it or not but you can write there that you want to buy a computer, describe how you will use it (programming, gaming, etc) and of course specify what your budget is. Helpful souls will immediately give you a list of optimal hardware components that you should buy. Great!
OS? What OS should I use? No, no thinking required here. I’m Ubuntu user for years and the only thing that changes is a desktop environment. This time I decided to go with Gnome 3, that I used earlier on my laptop. I downloaded and installed official gnome ubuntu release. Installation went smoothly, except that everything was installed on SSD drive (no easy way to change this during installation process) and I had to change /home location to another drive manually – just after the system was installed.
The crucial thing for me was a graphics card. I wanted it to work well under Linux and be able to serve up to 3 monitors. I bought Nvidia GT 660 because it seemed to me that it meets my requirements and at the same time features a quite good performance. On my new OS I downloaded and installed nvidia drivers from apt system repositories and everything just works. I don’t experience any problems with dual monitor setup, and this was something that was hitting me badly on my laptop – I couldn’t find a way to have a permament monitor setup there. I do wonder how things would work when I’ll connect third monitor, but this will happen in not so near future.
Gnome 3 configuration
One of the features that are missing in Gnome 3 is a panel that you usually see on the bottom or top of your monitor showing you a list of running apps, tray etc. Gnome 3 doesn’t want to disturb it’s users so the layout is minimal. At the same time it’s extendable – it’s very easy to install extensions, user just has to visit extensions page and click “on” on a selected extension.
Here is the point that made me to write this post – I just wanted to say that if you wonder what you should use to regain your dock I’d recommend two solutions. First is “Dash to dock” extension that transforms a Gnome 3 dash into a dock (dash is something that you see on the left, after entering Activities overview). It’s really nice but lacks possibility to change dock location. It’s always on the left side of your primary monitor, what makes it unusable to me – in my dual monitor setup I want it to be on the right side of right monitor. Not in the middle!
Is there’s another solution? Yes. I tried Cairo Dock, but… no I didn’t like it. It features a strange way of managing apps and launchers, and also breaks all icons after system is waked up from suspend. I didn’t like it. Then I discovered Docky. Simple, effective, configurable and really nice. Lovely. You want a dock? Go and install Docky!
…and a word about web browsers
Even on my new machine I experience some problems with Firefox. In general it’s laggy. Almost every new page I open freezes for a while, the same when I switch tabs etc. I’m not sure if it’s caused by FF itself or rather by flash plugin, so I decided to give Chrome a try. Chrome… pros and cons:
1. I don’t like Chrome’s extensions management system. In fact this is just a web page Web page that doesn’t seem to be intutive to me. It iaps much faster to browse extensions with FF
2. I don’t like their developer tools. Maybe I’m just used to… but you know Firebug FTW
3. Tabs Outliner plugin is great. Fast and effective. Allows me to group and manage my tabs quickly, and I usually do have a lot of them open. See also this:
4. My Chrome is fast. Much faster than FF
I’m really happy with my new hardware running Gnome Ubuntu with fantastic Docky and Chrome with amazing Tabs Outliner. Give them a try!