How to Extend the Gnome 3 Panel to Dual Monitors

If you’re a Gnome 3 user with dual monitors, you’ll notice that you only really get one screen with a taskbar and workspace switcher. This means that you only really get full control of switching on your main monitor.

For some people, this isn’t a huge deal. Not having two taskbars on a dual screen setup of Gnome Shell isn’t a bother. For others, however, it can be the single reason that they feel the Gnome experience is lacking and choose to find something else for their desktop Linux experience.

Enter multi-monitor-addon. It’s an extension available on github that can be installed fairly easily and works with versions 3.10 – 3.18 (and gets updated frequently). It’s a pretty simple extension, but when you install it to your system, not only will you get a fully functional taskbar/activities space on your secondary monitor, but you’ll also get tons of settings to mess with, so you can make your second taskbar exactly the way you want it to be.

Since this extension can only be found on GitHub, installation is as follows. First, install Git to your system if you haven’t already. This can be done simply by entering the following command into a terminal window.

sudo apt-get install git

gnome3taskbar-github-page

The above command works for Ubuntu. Not on Ubuntu? Just search for Git in your distro’s package manager. Once git is installed to the system, the addon can quickly be grabbed and installed.

git clone git://github.com/spin83/multi-monitors-add-on.git

Now enter the directory.

cd multi-monitors-add-on

Finally, install the extension to the extension directory.

cp -r multi-monitors-add-on@spin83 ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions

The extension is installed, but Gnome hasn’t loaded it yet. Press “Alt + F2” on your keyboard. This will bring up a command dialog. Type r into it, and press the Enter key. This will re-launch the Gnome Shell, effectively restarting it.

After that, go back to the terminal you used to install the extension, and install this program (if it’s not already on your system).

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

gnome3taskbar-gnome-tweak-tool

Once installed, just search for Tweak Tool in the Gnome Activities area and launch it. After that, just click Extensions on the left-hand side. Scroll down till you see multi-monitors-add-on and tick the slider to activate it.

With the extension active, you’ll notice a dual monitor symbol on the taskbar of your main screen. Click on it, then click Preferences and you’ll be brought to the extensions’ settings area.

gnome3taskbar-addon-preferences-window

This settings area will let you tweak everything there is to tweak for the secondary taskbar on your secondary display. Settings include “show multi monitors indicator on Top Panel,” “Show panel on additional monitors,” and many other settings.

gnome3taskbar-two-taskbar-desktop

Gnome Shell is a great desktop environment, especially for productivity. Where it fails is its support for dual screens. As far as I can tell, Gnome 3 is perhaps the only mainstream Linux desktop that doesn’t (by default) allow users to add a second panel to a second connected monitor.

It’s rearly irritating that the only way users can gain this feature is by installing a third party extension. It is my hope that in future versions of Gnome, the developers will see the want for multiple taskbar support and add it in.

Image Credit: itbriefcase

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