4 Must Have Desktop Configuration Tools for Gnome (Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian & More)

Every Linux Desktop has a graphical configuration tool. However, the default System Settings may not meet your needs!

For those running Linux with Gnome Desktop, e.g., Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Debian, and Arch Linux, the default ‘Settings’ tool is great but not enough. It provides options to configure basic settings for Wi-Fi, network, bluetooth, privacy, background, power, sound, and peripherals. However, it lacks ability to change themes, fonts, extensions, and more.

So I’m here to list a few more graphical configuration tools that may be useful for you and users new to Linux.

Gnome Tweaks:

All Gnome users need this tool: Gnome Tweaks! It’s useful when you try to change the desktop layout, theme, fonts, etc. And some Linux, e.g., Debian 11, has the tool pre-installed out-of-the-box.

What can Gnome Tweaks do:

As the top of the must-have configuration tools, it allows you to:

  • Change Themes for app window, mouse pointer, app icons, Gnome Shell (the desktop), and sound.
  • Manage Gnome Shell extensions until Gnome 40.
  • Change text fonts, scaling factor.
  • Add, remove, move position of title bar buttons (minimize, maximize, close).
  • Manage startup applications.
  • Show or hide battery percentage, change clock layout.
  • Toggle animations, automatic suspend when lid closed.
  • Some more keyboard & mouse settings.
  • And windows, work-spaces settings.

How to Install Gnome Tweaks:

As I mentioned, the tool is available out-of-the-box in some Linux. Click ‘Activities‘ then try to search and open it from the dash.

If you don’t have it, simply search for and install it from Gnome Software. Or run command in terminal window:

  • Install Gnome Tweaks for Ubuntu / Debian based systems:
    sudo apt install gnome-tweaks
  • Get the tool in Fedora / CentOS:
    sudo dnf install gnome-tweaks
  • For Arch Linux, Manjaro, run:
    sudo pacman -S gnome-tweaks

Gnome Extensions App:

Since Gnome 40, defaults in Fedora 34 and Ubuntu 21.10, Gnome Tweaks removes the function to manage extensions. Instead, the Gnome Extensions App is available to take place.

Gnome has tons of extensions developed by either the official team or third-party. With them, you can customize the desktop and achieve the functions of what you want. And this tool is available to manage them.

Gnome Extensions App features:

Besides build-in extensions available in Linux official repositories, most others are available to install via your web browser by going to extensions.gnome.org.

And with this tool, you can:

  • Toggle on/off extensions.
  • Configure settings for each extension if any.
  • Get extension description, website, as well as remove button via small triangle icon.
  • And indicate extension updates.

How to Install the App:

The software is available in flathub repository. However, the package in Linux official repositories is preferred.

  • For Ubuntu / Debian based system, run command to install the tool:
    sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-prefs
  • In Fedora, the package name is different:
    sudo dnf install gnome-extensions-app

Dconf Editor:

Not found the settings for what you want? Try Dconf Editor. It’s an advanced tool to configure your Linux desktop.

Dconf Editor is a graphical interface for gsettings and dconf command line tools. It has so many configuration options, so that it’s not even recommended to beginners in case of breaking applications. And some keys need different user privilege for changing the values.

What Dconf Editor can do:

  • Change built-in extension settings, e.g., dash to dock (Ubuntu Dock).
  • Configure login screen, e.g., hide user-list, disable shutdown, etc., with gdm user privilege.
  • Change Gnome Shell keybindings.
  • And numerous other hidden settings, for either Gnome Desktop or Applications.

How to Install Dconf Editor in Linux:

You can install the tool either from Gnome Software (App Store) or by running a command in terminal:

  • For Ubuntu, Debian based systems, run command:
    sudo apt install dconf-editor
  • Arch Linux and Manjaro use command:
    sudo pacman -S dconf-editor
  • And Fedora / CentOS users can install it via:
    sudo dnf install dconf-editor

Grub Customizer

This tool is not only for Gnome, but for all Linux uses Grub to handle the startup boot-menu. It a free and open-source tool to configure the boot screen appearances without struggling with Linux commands.

With it, you can do:

  • add, move, remove or edit boot screen menu entries.
  • re-install Grub into Microsoft MBR.
  • set default OS to boot.
  • show/hide boot-menu, add kernel parameters.
  • change boot screen appearances, including font, background, screen resolution and theme.

How to Install Grub Customizer in Linux:

The software is popular and available in official Linux repositories. So you can install it either from the Software PPA (App Center), or run command in terminal:

  • For Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint run:
    sudo apt install grub-customizer
  • And for Fedora based systems, use command:
    sudo dnf install grub-customizer
  • Arch Linux run this command in terminal to get it:
    sudo pacman -S grub-customizer

Conclusion:

Along with the default Settings tool, Gnome Tweaks, Dconf Editor, as well as Gnome Extensions App can do the most settings to customize your Gnome desktop. And Grub-Customizer is good for configuring the boot menu in Linux. If you find more useful tools, feel free to leave a comment here.

Merilyn Ne
Hi, I'm Merilyn Ne, a computer geek working on Ubuntu Linux for many years and would like to write useful tips for beginners. Forgive me for language mistakes. I'm not a native speaker of English.