If you’re looking for a fancy new way to launch and interact with your apps in GNOME Shell the awesomely innovative GNOME extension featured below should appeal!

It’s called Fly-Pie and despite being at an early stage in its development (i.e. expect bugs, missing features, possible death, etc) it’s already phenomenally functional — as the YouTube video below ably demonstrates:

Now, I’m sure some of you (i.e. those with a bit of Linux lineage behind ya) might see some familiarity between this app and GNOME Pie (which, for those unaware, was a radial app launcher for Linux popular during the Compiz years).

GNOME Pie was the work of developer Simon Schneegans and — cue faux shock — he’s also the developer of Fly Pie, But Fly Pie isn’t a straight up clone or a direct continuation of his old project. It’s very much its own thing, like Wayland compatible!

Though conceptually similar to a radial menu Fly Pie is a more accurately described as ‘marking menu’. This interaction approach was developed in 1994 and is used in software like Maya. To reduce it down: you draw (i.e. mark) ‘lines’ of action to triggers slices, menu items, and other action on, as this gif conveys:

A gif of Fly Pie GNOME Extension
You control the direction

Fly-Pie is capable of more just launching apps too:

  • Control music playback
  • Trigger commands
  • Simulate keyboard shortcuts
  • Open bookmarks
  • Perform window management

It also boasts an incredible well stocked settings area. Here you can refine and fine-tune virtually every aspect of the tool from layout and icons, edit labels, build your own menus, and more.

There are many fine Linux tools tailored to folks who like to use the keyboard to get things do. Fly-Pie is kind of the opposite: it lets you use nothing but your mouse to get things done (though it does work with keyboard input too).

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One hand, a mouse, and some travel is all Fly-Pie needs to perform a variety of diverse and varied actions on your system. You don’t need to lift your other hand to press a key (unless you want to).

While a mouse-centric workflow doesn’t suit everyone it can, when combined with muscle memory, prove to be a fast and effective one.

For a tonne more detail about the motivations and merits of marking menus, Simon’s aims for his new extension, and some learned insight into user interaction models in general there’s a comprehensive primer post up on his blog that’s well worth a read.

But if you just want to try the thing out for yourself you can install Fly-Pie direct from extensions.gnome.org on any Linux distro running GNOME Shell 3.36:

Do note that Fly Pie is under heavy development! It has been only tested on Ubuntu 20.04 with GNOME Shell 3.36. If you encounter a bug, or have feature request, please report it on Github.

Fly Pie on GNOME Extensions

Thanks to Simon!

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