Ever wondered how many downloads your favorite GNOME Shell extension gets?
Maybe you fancy trying to gauge the relative popularity of certain type of add-ons like Dash to Dock, OpenWeather, User Themes, amongst others?
If so, you’re in luck.
Download counts now appear on extension pages on the official GNOME extensions website (or EGO as some call given the web address is extensions.gnome.org).
A few quick stats (as of writing):
- Dash to Dock: 6,278,600 downloads
- User Themes: 4,568,838 downloads
- OpenWeather: 2,278,285 downloads
- GSConnect: 1,364,359 downloads
Think those numbers are big?
The GNOME extension with the MOST downloads (to date) has more than double that of Dash to Dock despite the fact it hasn’t been updated to work with anything after GNOME 3.32:
- Argos: 13,823,836 downloads
Argos is — no paste tense as it’s still available, and still works – a simple extension that lets you use bash scripts to render info inside of the GNOME top bar. The add-on is inspired by the BitBar macOS app, and was, for a while, semi-compatible with it.
Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
Being able to see download counts for GNOME extensions (without needing to be the developer of that extension) is interesting, right?
Still, there are few things to keep in mind when geeking out over the stats.
Firstly, download counts are lifetime. GNOME extensions that have been around for years (e.g., User Themes) have had more time to accrue downloads than newer add-ons (e.g., WeatherClock). Ergo, number of downloads ≠ most popular right now.
Secondly, download numbers aren’t unique. Any time an extension is installed from EGO that counts as a download even if it’s the same person installing it each time. As (mercifully) there’s no creepy tracking to log who installs what, download counts presented are raw, not nuanced.
Third and final: these numbers don’t matter. They’re interesting, they’re passably useful as an indicator of trends, but they don’t really affect the direction of GNOME. Plus, some Linux distros (like Ubuntu) comes with GNOME extensions pre-installed from their archives, not EGO.
All of that is a protracted way of saying: remember these are downloads, not ‘active user’ counts. I’ve installed a bunch of extensions over the years that, after trying, I immediately uninstall and never use again – that sort of behaviour isn’t reflected in these numbers.
Besides, the beauty of GNOME extensions is that they cater to all kinds of use cases, some more niche than others. So an extension with 30 downloads that makes 21 users more comfortable using GNOME is every bit as important as one with 30,000 downloads that pleases thousands.