Ubuntu Desktop – GNOME Extensions poll results

Ken VanDine

Ken VanDine

on 12 June 2017

Recently, with the help from our friends at OMG! Ubuntu, we ran a poll to collect data on usefulness of some GNOME Shell extensions. We limited the poll to a select group of extensions based on popularity on https://extensions.gnome.org as well as how they changed the user experience. The poll was done with Google forms, requiring the user to be logged in, which helped to prevent the poll from being abused. However it was anonymous and we did not collect any identifying information.

We ended the poll with an incredible 18,330 responses. You can see the numbers below. We’ll use this data to understand features Ubuntu users care about, not just which extensions. For example, Dash to Dock’s popularity doesn’t necessarily mean we should ship Dash to Dock as an extension by default, but rather it shows us our users would like the dock to be visible at all times or shown/hidden automatically as opposed to only shown in the activities view. Understanding this data will help us decide the best way to provide our users with the experience they need. Perhaps we work with upstream GNOME to provide a setting we could override which shows the dash outside of just the activities view.

These are discussions we need to have both within the Ubuntu Desktop team and with the GNOME designers and developers.

Understanding the poll

Each extension was an optional vote, so the total responses for each one will vary. Votes were a range, 1 for not very useful and 5 for very useful.

We also polled our users for opinions on where to place the window controls. In Unity we had window controls placed on the top left, however it probably makes sense to follow GNOME more closely here especially considering how some apps take advantage of the GTK Header Bar. Our poll showed that users are split nearly down the middle on this, slightly favoring the right.

Now that we’ve collected all this useful data, we need to discuss the best means to accommodate our users while still having a desktop we can properly maintain and support.  We’ve already started the discussions with the GNOME design team and gnome-shell maintainers.  Stay tuned here, we’ll be sure to keep you updated from time to time on our progress.

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