Community Contributions

Pop-Shell, Stacking Mode and System76 keyboards.

Since its official release as a feature of 20.04, Pop-Shell has attracted a lot of attention. System76’s solution to window tiling has been well received by many. Creating Pop-Shell as a GNOME extension was a smart decision, which not only enables full tiling management but still provides absolute access to GNOME, something no other tiling solution has managed to do entirely. Taming GNOME shell is notoriously difficult , so this is quite an achievement. Additionally, being a GNOME extension, Pop-Shell can be utilized by any Linux distribution that can use GNOME. System76’s decision to make Pop-Shell an open-source project is impressive. They could have easily made it an in-house, proprietary tool so it could only be used by Pop!_OS, but that goes against their company philosophy.

When you get a computer from System76, you own every part of it—right down to its source code. Part of ownership is being able to look inside your machine and see how it works. System76 Open Firmware gives our users the opportunity to learn from and optimize their machines to their liking, expanding what it means to truly own a computer.

An extensive amount of work has been done to refine Pop-Shell since release, so it’s smoother and more functional than ever. The soon-to-be official release of the stacking branch for Pop-Shell is going to take this already marvelous tool to the next level! Auto-tiling is addictive enough already, but stacking will enable the use of multiple full-screen apps on one workspace. Stacking is versatile, so you can have tab-like windows on one screen, one window, or the entire display. You can mix it up with auto-tiling in any arrangement you desire.

With this revolutionary extension being used by so many people, there’s a decent number of keyboard and system input compatibility issues being discovered. That’s to be expected considering most hardware is being manufactured to work with Windows. System76 is making progress to address these problems by manufacturing their own desktop keyboards. Currently a work-in-progress, the new keyboard will be the perfect accessory to enhance GNOME’s intended keyboard-centric design. Pop!_OS with Pop-Shell enabled will be a dream to use with the new keyboard. The details are slowly being revealed, but one thing is clear: The System76 keyboard will be open-source and completely configurable!

Sure, learning to use GNOME the way it was designed might be a learning curve, and, getting used to auto-tiling with Pop-Shell might initially take you out of your comfort zone, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it difficult to go back to a clunky, old traditional style desktop. I’m absolutely loving the whole experience. Learning that a keyboard is being specially made to enhance that experience further is an exciting expectation. System76 keeps pushing boundaries. They continually surprise us with amazing products, whether hardware or software. I don’t know everything they have in the pipeline, but one thing I know for sure – I can’t wait to get my hands on a couple of these keyboards.

I consider myself a 'moderate experience' Linux user and vigilant open source supporter.