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How to speed up the Gnome Shell Desktop

Gnome Shell is one of the most used desktop environments on all of Linux. Nearly every user has encountered it at one time, and it’s quickly becoming the standard on most Linux OSes. Gnome indeed is a great desktop environment, but it has problems. The biggest issue that sticks out is performance, as it can often run sluggish, especially on Linux PCs that don’t have a lot of resources. For this reason, we’re going to go over a few ways you can speed up Gnome Shell.

Update Gnome

With each new release of Gnome Shell, the developers improve how it interacts with your computer, and performance upgrades are added. If you’re frustrated with how slow your Gnome setup works, do yourself a favor and update your Linux PC.

Not sure how to install updates on the Gnome desktop? Open up Gnome Software, click on the “Updates” button and install all pending upgrades for your computer.

When updating completes, reboot your PC. You won’t be able to use a new version of Gnome Shell without restarting.

Disable animations

Gnome Shell relies heavily on graphical effects to look nice. While this is one of the things that Gnome does to stand out, the animations are graphically intensive, and it will make your PC cry if you don’t have great hardware.

If you want to turn off animations on the Gnome desktop, you’ll need first to install the “Tweaks” application. It’s a small program that lets you modify the internal settings of Gnome Shell.

Ubuntu

The Tweaks app is on Ubuntu, but not set up by default, as the Ubuntu developers would rather you not mess with Gnome by default. To install it, open up a terminal and enter the Apt command below.

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Debian

Are you a Debian user? Need to get your hands on the Tweaks app? If so, enter the following Apt-get command in a terminal session.

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Arch Linux

Arch Linux users can grab the latest version of Tweaks from the central Arch software repositories with the following Pacman command in a terminal session.

sudo pacman -S gnome-tweak-tool

Fedora

Fedora Linux is considered the premiere Gnome-based Linux operating system. Still, even though it has a heavy focus on Gnome Shell, the Tweaks app is not set up by default. As a result, you must use the DNF package manager to install it.

sudo dnf install gnome-tweak-tool

OpenSUSE

OpenSUSE doesn’t have Tweaks installed by default. There are many reasons for this, but the developers haven’t stated why. It’s probably because the average Gnome user isn’t interested in modifying advanced Shell settings.

If you do want to mess with Gnome on SUSE, you’ll have to install Tweaks with the Zypper package manager command below.

sudo zypper install gnome-tweak-tool

With Tweaks installed, press the Windows key on the keyboard, search for “tweak” and open the app.

Once Tweak is open, click the “General” tab on the side. Then, click the slider next to “Animations” in the off position to instantly disable animations in Gnome Shell.

 Disable searching sources

Gnome Shell’s search box is powerful, thanks to search sources. With this feature, you’re able to quickly search for files, folders, installable apps, bookmarks and other things right in overview mode. For as good as the search feature in Gnome Shell is, it can add to resource usage, and slow things down. If you want to speed up your Gnome desktop, it makes sense to turn this feature off.

To disable searching sources in Gnome, press the Windows key on your keyboard. Once the overview mode is open, type “settings,” and launch the settings application. In the Gnome Settings application, click the “Search” button on the left to bring up the searching sources section.

Go through the searching sources and disable all of the sliders to disable all search features for Gnome Shell completely.

Turn off startup apps

This should go without saying, but if you have Gnome Shell starting up a lot of applications when you log in, it’s contributing to the slow-down of your desktop.

Luckily, thanks to the Tweaks app, disabling startup applications in Gnome is easier than ever. To do it, launch Tweaks, click on the “Startup Applications” option. From there, disable any apps that are automatically starting up!

Disable Gnome extensions you don’t use

Gnome’s extension system works a lot like Firefox and Chrome: the more extensions you add to it, the slower it gets. If you want to speed up Gnome, it’s a good idea to turn off extensions outright — or — at least, the ones you aren’t using very much.

To shut off a Gnome extension, open up the Tweaks app and click on the “Extensions” button. Go through the list and disable each extension that you don’t use.  Alternatively, turn off every extension at once by clicking the slider at the top of the Tweaks window.

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