Suggesting a desktop UI improvement

I’ve been a Clear Linux* user for the last few months and I’m posting here what I think is a UX improvement to the GNOME desktop environment. ​S​inc​e ​I​’m not a programmer I’d like to suggest this design enhancement, let me know if you like it!​ :smile:

Right now Clear ships with an almost vanilla GNOME setup. The Dash to Dock extension is enabled by default and turns the standard left bar into a dock.

This is the current situation:

What’s the problem? Essentially the top bar persistently takes that top portion of the screen, and I personally find this UI quite dated for a cutting edge OS like Clear.

This is what I’m suggesting:

Basically, the top bar is integrated into the bottom dock/panel, and it intelligently autohides when windows get too close or an app is maximized. In addition, to not compromise legibility because of transparency, it automatically adds a darkened overlay on the dock if it’s activated on a window. I also find this setup more minimalistic and less cluttered than the current one, while retaining all the functionalities.

I’ll attach a few other screenshots for further comparison.

Current Activities:

New Activities:

Current launcher:

New launcher:

Current desktop view:

New desktop view:

Step-by-step process

  1. Open the terminal and run:
    sudo -s
    
    then type your admin password to obtain root privileges.
  2. Now run:
    swupd bundle-add kvm-host
    git clone https://github.com/home-sweet-gnome/dash-to-panel.git
    f=dash-to panel; cd $f; make install; cd ..; rm -r $f
    
  3. If you don’t need it you can now remove the kvm-host bundle:
    swupd bundle-remove kvm-host
    
    and close the terminal
  4. Install Remove Dropdown Arrows extension from the software app
  5. Open Tweaks > Extensions and disable Dash to Dock, enable both Dash to Panel and Remove dropdown arrows
  6. In Tweaks > Extensions > Dash to Panel settings go to About and import this settings file

Done!

Let me know your thoughts and keep up your amazing work! :smile:

4 Likes

I love it. I’ll point this out to our graphic design folks!

2 Likes

@Fabricio_Novak will love this topic! Thanks for the suggestions.

1 Like

Looks awesome! Please share your step-by-step process to make this desktop change so we can all take advantage of it!

4 Likes

I’m glad to know you like it! I updated the post with the step-by-step process. :smile:

4 Likes

Thanks for sharing the steps to do this. My desktop now has a new look.

1 Like

@ahkok, @biapalmeiro, @TomL for this kind of suggestions do you prefer a forum thread like this one or a GitHub Issue (Enhancement request)?

I understand tracking on GitHub could be easier and I have no problem using one or another :smile:

For these types of mods that help personalize the desktop I think it is very fitting to be on the forum where more people will see it.

1 Like

OK, I’ll keep this thread updated if anything else comes to my mind! :smile:

2 Likes

:+1: Really appreciate you taking the time to document this for everyone!

1 Like

Hello, thanks for your write up. I think that UX / UI should be designed in a way that it does not obstruct the user. It should be there when you need it and hidden wenn not needed. From that perspective, both solutions , bottom bar / top bar are not ideal. Auto show / hide is also not a great solution since it makes the whole experience complex. Also the movement of the bar coming insight and moving outside is not nice.
Next is that desktop UI / UX is very personal and depends highly on your work / tasks. Luckily Linux desktops / shells give the user a lot to configure, to set things up fitting the task. At the moment I do prefer i3 for my desktop, on my laptop I use XFCE4.

It would be good to have window manager independent distribution. And not like most of them, focused on one particular and basic support for other options.
It is a tool that you should choose, and not be forced upon.

Enjoy your day :slight_smile:

Yes, but, I can’t merge changes like these into clearlinux, for that, I need (at minimum) a patch file. :slight_smile:

For how-to style contributions, the forum is fine. However, if we would actually want to pull the changes into clearlinux, we would certainly be helped with a patch or pull request.

I think that UX / UI should be designed in a way that it does not obstruct the user. It should be there when you need it and hidden when not needed. From that perspective, both solutions, bottom bar / top bar are not ideal. Auto show/hide is also not a great solution since it makes the whole experience complex.

Thanks for your point @Hanz!
I will explain why I believe this is an improvement to the current configuration.

Right now, by default, we find an auto-hiding dock with an additional permanent top bar.
The changes I made will bring a single auto-hiding dock, without a persistent top bar.
The complexity of the system would be intact since the features of the top bar are just merged into the already present dock, but there will be an added benefit for the increased available screen space.

However, I completely agree with your point; It’s everything about personal taste and finding the right tool. If you have suggestions or critiques to my approach please share them :smile:

For how-to style contributions, the forum is fine. However, if we would actually want to pull the changes into Clear Linux*, we would certainly be helped with a patch or pull request.

I understand @ahkok. It depends on whether you too believe this would be an improvement. If you want to pull these changes I could work on a patch.
Note that I have no experience in this kind of work yet, and will take some time for me to learn and submit the request. :sweat_smile:

By the way, I updated the step-to-step process with the most recent version of Dash to Panel, which fixes some issues with icon padding. Also, I uploaded my settings file for easier configuration. I hope this helps anyone interested!

2 Likes

Hello @MattiaVerticchio thanks for your reply.

I personally would have a different approach:

  • Top bar is good for display of information, since the eyes dont need to “move down”. On the other hand; what information do you realy need al the time ?
    Traditionally topbar usually displays. Time/ Wireless signall / Battery level / Volume levell. Some people add notification area for Slack etc. Personally I think this is taking away my focus; so I usually hide them all: they should only appear when they need to inform me about a change.
  • Bottom bar, shows usually: favorite apps, functions as a static launcher and shows open windows / applications to switch between them. Both concepts are not very userfriendly and dynamically. The favorites stay, and never change for the job you want to do, and the switching between apps / windows is with alt - tab way faster.

So your idea is to make a combination from them in one bottom bar that rules them all :slight_smile: That works for you, but for me it makes me less productive.

I like your approach,and for now we are stuck within the limits the desktop environments gives us. My wish is to get a distro with strong support for tiling windowmanagers, and focus on key driven, and not mouse driven UX. A desktop that switches with a developers task. Maybe someone has an idea about this ?

Anyway I am drifting this discussion; it becomes more related to UX then Clearlinux itself. Sorry for that.

enjoy your day

1 Like

I have achieved this with different approach.

I have installed a gnome shell extension called hide top bar. And from the Gnome-Tweaks, I changed the Dash to Dock position to bottom and changed the opacity.

I am happy with my desktop look and it looks same like yours. The top bar auto hides when some application is maximized and thus saves screen real estate. I can see the top bar only when all application windows are minimized.

If the Clear Linux team is incorporating this inbuilt, that would be great.

I am attaching my desktop screen shots.

Activities:


Browser when maximized: No more top bar, saves screen real estate.


Launcher:

1 Like

All these ideas are very interesting. Here are some thoughts.

Think of Clear Linux like a new car. The engine performance and security protection are taken care of at the highest level. The design UX was meant to be instantly usable and comfortable - yet all elements of the design are available to customize as you see fit.

The great thing about Linux is the customizability. Install a new theme, icon pack, change anything you’d like. Also note that the Tweak Tool is installed by default. You can open that control panel up and change many aspects of the Gnome theme and UX interaction.

It’s a very subjective choice to move the top-bar and auto-hide elements. Most major OS’s don’t let you do this at all. Clear Linux wants you to - if you have the skills. I personally think it’s cool and love that you guys make your OS environment the way that works best for you.

1 Like

I’m just an end user. I’ve been an exclusive Linux user for a long time, but I’m just a GUI guy. For me FIrefox and Youtube have to work out of the box or it’s a non-starter. I just tried it for a short time on an allegedly persistent USB. I liked the speed, but It needs to work for ordinary people, not just geeks. Anything that helps to end the Microsoft monopoly strangle hold on consumer computers is a good thing. When will I be able to walk into the Microcenter Store and say, “I’d like this one, but with Clear Linux preinstalled.” I’m so tired of having Microsoft road blocks constantly impeding usability. I don’t want to get banned out of the box, but it’s my genuine belief that Microsoft has held back the entire computer industries for at least 20 years.

I’m actually a fan of consolidating everything to save screen real estate. Thanks for sharing!

I do, however, prefer the default clear layout for the following reasons:

  1. I use an ultrawide monitor, so having the dock on one side makes more sense
  2. The gnome experience becomes inconsistent. Bear in mind that GDM keeps the top bar, which means the clock and options to reboot etc are located at the top. Making this change shifts everything to the bottom once a user logs in creating a potentially disruptive experience.
  3. Autohiding the clock and system controls is probably not good practice.
1 Like

Custom hot keys, A Dark Mode. Custom tuning for AMD and Intel systems, Along with GPU’s. PPA Drivers. Cuda support.