It’s not difficult to install GNOME extensions on Ubuntu but the process could be easier — something a new app recently added to Flathub demonstrates perfectly.
It’s called ‘Extension Manager‘ and it lets you search for and install GNOME extensions without needing to use a web browser.
Yeah: no web browser — which is handy on Ubuntu 21.10 (and above) since you can’t install GNOME extensions using the bundled version Firefox as it’s a Snap and thus can’t (currently) talk to the
chrome-gnome-shell connector integral to the whole process 💁🏻♂️.
Extension Manager’s Features
Extension Manager is billed as a “native tool for browsing, installing, and managing GNOME Shell Extensions”. Using it you can search and install GNOME extensions on the GNOME extensions website (EGO) without any (immediate) need for a web browser.
You just search for an extension using a keyword. Matching results are returned underneath. You can click on a result to read a description of the extension and get a link to its EGO page listing. This also reveals the install button which you can smush to …Well, the rest should be obvious!
As a GTK4 app making use of libadwaita the tool looks very modern, if a little out of place on a standard Ubuntu desktop. But since this is the sort of app you only run every now and then, I can overlook it looks out of place.
It auto-detects all installed GNOME extensions, including ‘system extensions’ that come preinstalled. On Ubuntu this means the DING, Ubuntu Dock, and App Indicator add-ons are disabled.
There’s also a global switch to disable all GNOME extensions (something the original Extensions Prefs app has) but since I usually enable/disable on a per extension basis I don’t use this — but it’s nice to know it’s there!
Should you check it out?
If you’re into GNOME extensions then yes, definitely. It’s like a marriage of the existing GNOME Extensions Prefs tool and the EGO website. While the app doesn’t (currently) show extension screenshots though, or let you re-order search results based on recency, popularity, etc, these are minor complaints given the overall ease on offer.
Installing GNOME Extensions with this tool is so easy.
I’m going to skip over the whole how to install Flatpak on Ubuntu routine as I’ve written about it before (and so have 100s of other blogs). You also need to setup the Flathub repo (one command) and install the GNOME Software app and the Flatpak plugin for it (as the Snap’d Ubuntu Software doesn’t natively support Flatpak).
Using an Arch-based distro? Extension Manager is in the AUR.