Ubuntu 20.04 desktop - are these features or bugs?

In Ubuntu 20.04 LTS the behavior of the desktop is different than it was in 18.04. Specifically:

  1. Drag and drop of files or directories doesn’t work from the desktop but does work in other locations. For example, dragging a JPG into a Gmail message. Instead I have to attach the file from within the Gmail app.
  2. I can’t open a new file from Templates unless I first create a folder on the Desktop. I can then open a template within the new folder.
  3. I can’t use the “Del” key to delete a file from the Desktop, have to right click it and move it to trash from the pop-up menu.

Maybe these are features designed to make the Desktop a safer environment, for example, less prone to accidental deletions. Or maybe there’s some technical reason that these things don’t work because of other changes in 20.04. Or maybe they’re just bugs.

I’ve been unable to find anything to clarify these questions. Has anyone heard anything about this?

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And another difference that I just bumped into: you can’t rename Desktop files by pressing F2. You have to right click the file and choose rename from the pop-up menu. I’ll bet there are other differences that I have yet to discover.

You can rename files using F2? Good to know.


Running 20.04 on two machines currrently… I always thought desktop icons was turned off by default - but it seems Canonical have relented… I hate desktop icons, and if/when it is enabled, I go into Gnome Tweaks and disable it - I’ve noticed it’s enabled “again” in 20.04 (so I disabled it).

So - my two bob’s worth? Most modern desktop metaphors are heading away from cluttered desktops… I barely ever see mine anyway, I’ve usually got all my screen real estate taken up with application windows - if I want to do a file operation I fire up Nautilus…

I don’t really know what Gnome’s like (or any other WM / DE in Linux) - but I do know that Microsloth Windows desktops cluttered with icons is a HEAVY resource usage hog (yet many people still clutter their desktops - how do they even find ANYTHING?).


I find the following problems with the 20.04 Desktop:
Dragging files to or from the Desktop is not possible.
Cut and paste to the Desktop from other directories is not possible.
Replacing file icons on the Desktop with my own custom icons is not possible.
I can’t find any way of disabling the automatic alignment of Desktop icons.

These features were available on 18.04. I would be very grateful if someone could tell me that I am wrong, and I just haven’t sussed how to do it. Otherwise I regard these changes as serious shortcomings of 20.04, It seems to me to be a backwards development.

For me, the inability to substitute my own custom icons for default icons really messes up my system. My own custom icons are just a narrow horizontal coloured band. The colour refers to the project, and using an icon the shape of a narrow band means that I can get 25 icons in a vertical column on the screen while retaining the icon text at the default size. Using the default icons (and with the automatic alignment) limits the number of icons in a vertical column on my screen to about 10.

I have tried other Desktop Managers, including KDE Plasma, Mate, XFCE, Cinnamon. All have the same problem except one (and I now forget which one that was). But these features are so important to me that I have decided to reinstall 18.04. I understand it will be supported for 3 more years.

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I agree with Keeto, the changes in Desktop behavior are deleterious and (sorry to insult the developers) just plain dumb.

I’ve been searching around and there are many users reporting the same issues so the problems don’t seem to be due something unique to, say, one particular laptop brand.

The desktop is where most people work with a computer. It should be the place with the most features and flexibility. What were they thinking?

Just a thought: maybe you have the wrong keyboard selected. I’m running Kubuntu 20.04 on a Chromebook, and I set the keyboard to “Google Chromebook” and all my function buttons work again.

I also have the stock Dolphin file manager, and I can drag a file to the desktop but a popup asks whether i want to copy, move, or link it. And sure enough, it works.

There’s no delete key on a Chromebook, but alt-bkspace does the job.Again, part of the keyboard setup.

Thanks for the suggestion. I tried it but it didn’t work on my computer.

I’ve been asking this question (about desktop changes) on other websites. The consensus opinion is that these issues resulted from problems porting the desktop from its development environment into 20.04. This is good news to me because it suggests that the problems will eventually get fixed.


I was considering upgrading, but after reading everyone’s comments I think I’ll wait.

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All of these are features, unfortunately.

So I’m thinking that the folks who develop the Desktop are right now sitting at their desks, with things arranged on it for efficient work-flow. It makes me want to go to them and say “No, you cannot put your pencils there. Because I say so.”

Oh well. Everything else about 20.04 is an improvement, IMO, and I’ll be staying with it.

Ubuntu 20.04… Nice but wait for 20.04.1 if you use it for work…just an opinion.

They changed the default desktop environment from Unity to Gnome. Currently Gnome doesn’t support most “normal” functions as most people are use to. Just install Unity again and it will be back to the way it was.

Like which functions?

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Drag and drop operations, sorting functions of icons, icon image replacement for starters.

love / hate for desktop icons is an opinion… and opinions are like rectal sphincters (not sure if I’m allowed to write the “a”-hole word), everybody’s got one…

In my opinion an icon riddled desktop (even just one icon) is a ghastly eyesore. In the “Benevolent” Dictatorship of my own private proletariat, putting an icon on a desktop would result in the offender having an “intimate” date with Monsieur Guillotine :smiley: .

I’m loving all the new features that I barely even noticed in 20.04 that changed from 18.04/10/19.04/10, when upgrading from 18.04.4 to 20.04.0, I do like some of the yaru theming stuff… I like the placement of the “new terminal tab” button in Gnome Terminal, elsewhere I’m also trying out elementary, and xubuntu… but some 6 weeks of using Ubuntu 20.04 - it’s PERFECTLY okay and useable, and I use it, for work, and pretty much NOTHING else (and use RDP to do any Microsoft stuff I’m elbow-twisted to engage in). One thing I do hate is in the “Settings” applet (I’ll probably NEVER be entirely happy with it) is the placement of Window controls (if like me you move them to the left - where they IMHO should always be, and IMHO should have stayed after Unity was dropped) - I mean it looks “broken” to me, and I waste precious milliseconds trying to find the red close window control widget :

Also - drag and drop works everywhere I’ve tried it in ubuntu 20.04 - but - in truth, I barely use it - because there’s too great a risk of dragging the wrong thing to the wrong place, I usually either right click copy/cut, go to the folder I want it and right click paste… however more often than not, even that’s not precise enough for me and I’ll do such task from the CLI…

I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds like they are trying to make it more like Bill Gates cash cow? (especially since Microsoft is now largest contributor to open source community)

All this happens because, the Ubuntu developers are using an old desktop icons extension and are not looking (or wanting to look) for the newer extension from the same extension developer. The “newer” extension is out there more than a year now. :smile:

I don’t think there’s enough Gnome-dedicated developers at Ubuntu these days. The team leader’s standard desktop is Mate, you can understand the “enthusiasm.”

Ubuntu 20.04 is painfully slow. People complain about 10-20 seconds delay, when you try to launch a program, but is about 2-3 min in my case.
The delete was an old problem/feature in 18.04.

Nick -

I found 20.04 to be slightly faster than 18.04 LTS was, and this applies across the four machines that I updated (including an 8 year old laptop). I have no idea what could be causing your machine to need 2 or 3 minutes to open an app but something’s not right.