The GNOME desktop environment diverged from the traditional desktop metaphor when version 3 was released. The uproar in various Linux communities caused the creation of the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments. MATE is a fork and continuation of GNOME 2 while Cinnamon is a fork of GNOME 3.
I only know about a few Linux distros that include the GNOME desktop environment as an option: Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora. Fedora is the only one of the three using GNOME 40. The other two are still using the latest 3.x version. Since I don’t want to learn about a version that will soon be obsolete, I did my testing with the latest version of Fedora.
Out of the box, GNOME Shell isn’t as user friendly as it should be. To get to the applications, whether to scroll through them or use the search box, you start by clicking on the “Activities” button on the panel, which is at the top. It can take three or more clicks to find what you’re looking for.
Applications like Firefox don’t include minimize and maximize buttons. There are no power off, restart, or log off buttons anywhere. You have to search for those options. The default interface reminds me of the Android interface on my cell phone.
Perhaps, the interface intentionally requires extensions suited to the individual user, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
There is a tweak tool included, which is what I used for some very basic changes. You have to install the “Extensions” app from the software store, which is what I did. Then to add extensions manually, you have to visit GNOME Extensions.
I finally had a usable GNOME Shell to work with when I installed the “ArcMenu” (not the discontinued “Arc Menu”) and “Just Perfection” extensions. The menu replaces the “Activities” button (but includes a link to the activities overview). The other extension allowed me to move the panel and items on the panel. I have yet to explore it in its entirety.
The fact that I have to do so much to it just to get started with it tells me a lot about my preferred Linux distro and desktop environment, the Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition, which is usable as soon as it’s installed.