Kinda weird but every time i delete a file on the Gnome Desktop their locations are moved around. Also seems to occur on adding a file or directory to the desktop.

Not sure if it's related but I'm also not able to drag a file from the desktop to an app like google chrome to upload to my google drive. I am able to drag and drop from a file browser to chrome browser to upload a file to my google chrome drive.


1 Answer 1


Desktop icons are a problem in Ubuntu. Ubuntu choose to use Gnome Desktop as its desktop environment. However, Gnome Desktop abolished, i.e., does not anymore support, desktop icons. Desktop icons are therefore provided by an extension, Desktop Icons. This extension is very limited, and has remained so.

In the mean time, a forked alternative became available that is much better, Desktop Icons NG (DING) by rastersoft. The latest Ubuntu 21.04 now by default uses that extension.

If you need desktop icons (I personally don't, because I find this clutter and poor organization, and they would most of the time be burried under my applications), then you can use that much better extension also in Ubuntu 20.04. Remove the system extension, and install the alternative extension from the Gnome Extensions website. In Ubuntu 20.04, one cannot easily disable the system extensions that are used in the Ubuntu desktop using e.g. Gnome Tweaks. Therefore, you may need to remove the package: sudo apt remove gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons. That may also remove the metapackage ubuntu-desktop, but that will not damage your system. Then install and activate the alternative extension.

  • I'm used to using my desktop as a working space. When I'm done with the project all the artifacts get archived into my documents. Kind of like how you would use a real physical desktop. I feel a desktop is a simple basic concept and consistent file (icon) representation should be core functionality for a desktop manager. Really should not have to lean on an extension to make it work reliably. I'm a little frustrated that lightdm was replaced with gdm. Linux community needs better collaboration to keep up with commercial solutions.
    – simgineer
    Jun 5, 2021 at 18:39
  • If the desktop is so crucial in your workflow, then you should consider selecting one of several other desktop environments that continue to support that as old (cfr comment of @N0rbert). The current state of the desktop on Ubuntu is a consequence of Canonical's choice (wanting desktop icons, but choosing to use a DE that does not support that).
    – vanadium
    Jun 6, 2021 at 7:26
  • It is a shame Ubuntu left something so buggy around. If it doesn't work, you change solution, that's all. No newbie (nor expert) should be left alone searching a solution on Stackoverflow for something that should be basic and guaranteed to work.
    – Alex Poca
    May 12, 2022 at 6:51
  • @AlexPoca it all improved a lot with the Desktop Icons NG extension, now used by derfault but can also be installed in 20.04. (that info is already in the answer)
    – vanadium
    May 15, 2022 at 20:37
  • I can't express enough how grateful I am for this answer! I was going nuts with the desktop behavior in Ubuntu 20.04...
    – mdev
    Jun 23, 2022 at 10:49

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