How can I allow nautilus to draw desktop icons in 20.04? I made org.gnome.desktop.background.draw background= true but nothing happened. Before I made it done by enabling org.gnome.nautilus.desktop.show desktop to true. But now, even the schema is not available now.

What's wrong with it? Is I'm only able to make desktop icons with an extension only?

1 Answer 1


As you already know - it is impossible, the functionality was removed from Nautilus.
By such actions GNOME developers do not respect user habits, so it is time for taking action by us, the users.

You have to install MATE DE with Caja (fork of Nautilus) by

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-mate-desktop^

then select MATE session in login screen and enjoy.

The below screenshot demonstrated all features of normal desktop integration between file-manager and desktop:

Fully-featured MATE desktop controlled by Caja

Here we have Mutiny panel layout and the following elements arranged by user:

  • home folder icon;
  • link to Dropbox folder (the folder itself is located in ~/Dropbox, controlled by caja-dropbox extension);
  • desktop shortcut to Caja application copied from menu;
  • pdf file with preview;
  • simple text file;
  • folder with Git repository inside (controlled by RabbitVCS extension);
  • folder with Mercurial repository inside (controlled by TortoiseHG extension);
  • simple folder with opened dropdown menu which demonstrates custom actions and menus from various extensions including custom caja scripts (usually located in ~/.config/caja/scripts) and actions configured using caja-actions-config-tool.

The screenshot of dropdown menu for empty desktop space is below:

dropdown menu alone above MATE desktop controlled by Caja

Note: above screenshots may be overloaded by the stuff, but they demonstrate how flexible MATE desktop is nowadays. You can compare them with default GNOME Shell and GNOME FlashBack to make conclusions by yourself.

  • 2
    It's a nice replacement for the boring gnome desktop environment. As you said, new version of gnome is a complete clean-up of new features. I don't know why they removed them, including the basic utilities.
    – Arjun VK
    Aug 2, 2020 at 10:44
  • 1
    It's not necessary to replace the desktop. Sami's comment has worked very well for months on several machines: delete /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/desktop-icons@csoriano; install package nemo; and create a .desktop file in ~/.config/autostart pointing to nemo-desktop
    – bitinerant
    Sep 15, 2020 at 19:03
  • @bitinerant it is a hack, hacks are not welcomed by new normal regular users. So the avoidance of new GNOME ideas is better idea.
    – N0rbert
    Sep 15, 2020 at 21:44
  • @N0rbert I disagree that this is a "hack". It's simple and has worked well for me. The procedure described above involves installing 338 additional packages and using 962 MB of disk space. Let the users decide.
    – bitinerant
    Sep 16, 2020 at 22:52

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