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I'm using Gnome Shell with the following extensions: weather, dock, window-navigator, user-theme, alternative-status-menu, noa11y. I checked "Have file manager handle the desktop" in Gnome Tweak Tool, at first the desktop icons were shown regularly, but upon reboot they went awol. Is there anything else I need to do or could it be a conflict with any of my extensions? Thanks for your time.

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I assume you've also selected the items you want displayed on the desktop in Gnome Tweak Tool? What happens when you disable your extensions and restart the shell? – regan Nov 12 '11 at 3:42
I did, but still no trace of desktop handling. – Tigull Nov 12 '11 at 12:12
I haven't solved it but I found a workaround: I simply added the "nautilus -n" command to my startup applications. This way, after a few glitchy instants, the desktop starts correctly. – Tigull Mar 16 '12 at 17:01

Unfortunately, this is by design.

As per this blog post on the design of gnome shell:

TL;DR/summary: the desktop metaphor sucks. We are stuck with a limited surface, limited file management tools, and a background that actively impairs legibility of the files sitting on it (unless you’re using a solid black background).

As such, it was removed from gnome shell as far as I can tell.

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