- Gnome theme
- Ubuntu dock
- Custom scaling (needed on high res systems)
- Minor tweaks
First off, the default gnome theme is Advaita. This includes the colour palette, the icon-set and the general look/feel. To change this, one has to install the gnome-tweak-tool from the software centre. One can do that with
$ sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool
Once this is done, just go to launcher using the <super> key and type in "tweaks". Go to appearance tab and change the default theme to advaita or advaita-dark and you're good to go
The Ubuntu dock is basically a gnome shell extension. You can try to switch if off from the tweaks tool but 9 times out of 10 that doesn't work. The beauty of the Gnome UI is its simplistic default panel. The Ubuntu dock really gets in the way. It doesn't gel well with vlc media player and keeps messing up full-screen mode when watching videos. Next up, we switch off the Ubuntu Dock and revert to basic Gnome panel. To do that, we have to first identify what the dock is called. All extensions are stored as files in usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions folder. Just navigate to this folder in the terminal and list the contents of the folder. Like so -
$ gnome-extensions disable firstname.lastname@example.org
Voila. The dock is now replaced with the default Gnome panel.
On high-res systems objects looks really tiny. By default, Ubuntu does not support custom scaling. Ubuntu has two window managers (display server protocols) installed - X11 and Wayland. The command for fractional scaling depends on which one you are using. You can find that out with -
$ echo $XDG_SESSION_TYPE
Depending on the output, run the following command -
X11/Xorg - $ gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['x11-randr-fractional-scaling']"
Wayland - $ gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']"
Once that's done, what remains are minor UI tweaks such as restoring the maximize/minimize buttons, adding battery percentage and date to the top bar, switching desktop icons on/off, changing the font to Cantarell and changing the wallpaper (you can download the default Gnome wallpaper from the Gnome repository.
There you have it, once these minor customizations are done; for the most part, you can enjoy the clean, simple and minimalist feel of vanilla gnome. Just as the makers intended.