Today I have good news for “classic mode” users and those used to desktop icons.
Context & random thoughts
As you might know, few months ago we removed the handling of desktop icons in Nautilus. As mentioned in the past, the desktop icons code was blocking at that point any further major development of Nautilus, and the quality was not up to our standards that we want to deliver.
The most important responsibility I have as (now one of the two) maintainer is to ensure the project progresses in its main goal, which is being an excellent file manager app. This includes building and maintaining a healthy community of contributors around, which I’m proud to have. I take these points very seriously, and as such, sometimes I have to take hard decisions to make sure this is achieved. When put into a position where either the project stagnates in its main goal and lose all interest from community contributors I have no doubt what is the path to go. And sometimes those decisions has to be taken shortly, after years trying to overcome the problem. Sometimes that happens when no others resources/time/people for providing a complete drop-in alternative are available.
This is also true for users, when put into the choice of having reliable file operations, search not blocking the computer, proper views, etc. the decision seems clear.
Good news is that this all is paying off! The gtk4 port of Nautilus is now almost ready, we are having a hackfest soon with gtk+ developers to plan putting the new views in Nautilus, the work on the reliable file operations and search is now free to continue, and we had put a testing framework that consolidates this effort. The community of contributors has also been working as ever, and the results are clear in the Nautilus 3.30 release.
For Fedora and RHEL we have had an option called classic desktop, where desktop icons and some shell extensions were enabled.
It’s useful to bring to those users an option that works better than what we had with Nautilus, so as part of that I spent my time at Red Hat working on providing this.
Desktop icons extension
So here we are, I worked a lot lately in Nautilus and in the extension I prototyped few months ago to reach a point where it’s ready to enter a beta phase, now for everyone to use!
It has the regular things someone would expect. Some screenshots:
- Opening files
- Executing desktop files
- Drag and drop to reorder (with no more overlapping as the old desktop icons in Nautilus had!)
- Proper multi-monitor support, another big improvement compared to the old Nautilus code.
- Open in terminal
- Integration with Nautilus for all operations
- Rubber banding selection
- Pure Wayland
Things that are missing are renaming files popover and DnD to “paste into a folder”.
Try it out
To try it out, you need latest Nautilus. Install from the nightly flatpaks following these instructions. Then you need GNOME Shell 3.28 and to install the extension from the extensions GNOME website. Then make sure to have development nightly Nautilus running and then in GNOME Tweaks enable the extension.
Note: For Fedora it’s needed to disable the “Fedora logo” extension, as it collides with the desktop icons.
Also more importantly, merge request welcome! If you have a feature that would like to implement or fixing a bug or behavior, feel free to download the code and create a merge request in the extensions repository at GitLab. I’ll glad to review your code!
Thanks Antonio, Ernestas, Florian and Didier for helping with review, testing and planning.