I found to my dismay that the 18.04 workspaces implementation is unusable. For two decades, on a variety of linux/unix systems (Redhat, MacOS, Ubuntu 9.014, 12.04, 14.04) I had a row of 12 workspaces, got to each per function key or CNTR + function key, shifted left and right between workspaces with CNTRL + leftarrow or rightarrow, and shifted active windows across workspaces with CNTRL + ALT + leftarrow or rightarrow. The control panel showed them with their names. I had fixed activities in specific workspaces (write, talk, program, mail, browse etc). I am enslaved to this way of work.

Nothing like it in 18.04. Somewhat saved by Foivos Zakkak's workspace grid, getting it to work via first sudo apt-get install chrome-gnome-shell, download + install from the github page, getting a page https://extensions.gnome.org/local/ which seemed like an installer, shifted various slider options to on for adding key shortcuts. I got my row of 12 workspaces and I could reset keys to get to the first four with CNTRL+F1, ..., CNTRL+F4, but not higher and there isn't an option to add names. The shifter display which appears momentarily is way poorer then the one (with names) before. I also got move-between-workspaces left and right key shortcut options. However, now after reboot these left-right shortcut options seem to have gone again and I cannot open that extensions page anymore. I much appreciate assistance!

  • 1
    Please clarify your post: it is very noisy now. You have the full right to find the current implementation of workspaces unusable, but of course, this does not apply to everybody. In fact, Gnome Shell has gotten good criticism on their take on workspaces.
    – vanadium
    Sep 13 '18 at 14:00

Linux offers an array of desktop environments and window managers. To some extent, you need to adapt your workflow to the desktop environment you choose, although to an extent, a desktop environment may also be adapted to your workflow. In what follows, suggestions are provided to achieve your desired work flow in Gnome Shell.

Installing Gnome Shell extensions through the website

First make sure your can install Gnome Extensions directly via the Gnome Extensions website. This avoid that you need to go through more error-prone manual installation processes. In Ubuntu 17.10 and 18.04, you can't install extensions this way by default.

  1. Install the "Gnome Shell Integration" addon for your browser.
  2. Install the host connector. The easiest way is with a command in the terminal: sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

From now on (close and restart your browser first), you can simply install Gnome extensions from the Gnome Extensions website. That will be the cleanest and easiest way to install extensions that are not included in the standard Ubuntu software.

Naming/labeling your workspaces

The easiest way to label your workspace is to install the official Gnome Extension "Workspace Indicator". Through the settings, you can name your workspaces. You always can disable or remove the extension if you do not want the small indicator that it puts on the panel.

Alternatively, install dconf-editor, and use that to edit the key org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences workspace-names.

Finally, you may achieve the settings using a terminal command, e.g.

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences workspace-names "['1 Mail', '2 Browser', '3 Editor', '4 Write',...]"

Setting your navigation keyboard shortcuts

If you do not have it already, install dconf-editor. In dconf-editor, you can assign keyboard shortcuts for

  • direct movement to a specific workspace: org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-to-workspace-1 up to workspace-12.
  • relative movement: org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-to-workspace-down, up, left, right
  • corresponding keys that allow you to move applications relatively or directly to a specific workspace, e.g. org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings move-to-workspace-1

Automatically launching applications on a specific work space

Install the "Auto Move Windows" extension by fmuellner, the same author of several of the "official" gnome shell extensions.

  • Apology for noisiness, I was desperate. You saved me. I had not appreciated dconf-editor still exists and works as before. The gnome extension business including browser addition was new; I didn't find a step-by-step explanation for simpletons like me but succeeded. I like the Workspace Indicator (but the former small-icon row in the "panel" more)
    – Rob Rutten
    Sep 18 '18 at 14:23
  • Perhaps you may then mark the answer as your accepted answer, to indicate to future users that this indeed helped you out.
    – vanadium
    Sep 19 '18 at 17:29
  • I did but have no status so it doesn't show. I had higher stackexchange status in some forums, even some medals, but lost access, maybe mixing passwords; asked for recovery without success; this was a new start.
    – Rob Rutten
    Sep 20 '18 at 18:09

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