Widgets in GNOME

 •  Filed under linux, tutorials

If you've used GNOME extensions for more than a few months, you've probably realized that they can easily send your desktop into a hellish crash-on-login loop that can only be remedied by dropping to a root shell.

This is obviously insane and awful, but is also wholly predictable. GNOME is written in JavaScript, and the official GNOME extension "mechanism" is that arbitrary JavaScript is allowed to mess with your GNOME environment. When an update introduces an incompatibility and something goes wrong, GNOME crashes. It's like a handful of mechanics are continuously making modifications to your car without talking to each other, and there are no seat belts.

I got tired of GNOME crashing every other day, so I disabled extensions. The thing I really missed, though, was an always-visible system resources monitor. Turns out there's a nice way to get one!

The answer is a minimalistic terminal emulator called Tilda. Here's the bottom-left corner of my screen.

I'll walk you through setting this up.

Install Tilda and htop (or whatever you'd like to run in your widget) and open preferences. Go to the "Title and Command" tab, tick "Run a custom command...," and enter htop for the "Custom Command."

Configure htop by hitting F2 (if you like what I have going, you can use my htoprc).

Once you get it right, go back to the Tilda preferences, go to "Appearance" and get it to appear at the size and position that you like.

Then from the GNOME launcher, launch "Startup Applications" and add a startup program with command tilda.

There you have it!