Linked by Howard Fosdick on Fri 23rd May 2014 21:51 UTC
Gnome Remember back when GNOME and KDE dominated Linux desktops? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Yet it was only three years ago, in April 2011, that GNOME 3 was released. Its radically redesigned interface shook up everyone. Some eagerly adopted it. Others left GNOME.

In this brief review I take a fresh look at GNOME today, as it's currently distributed in several popular Linux distributions.
Order by: Score:
Vision
by VistaUser on Fri 23rd May 2014 23:11 UTC
VistaUser
Member since:
2008-03-08

Gnome 3.10 is the second release where you start to see the new gnome vision coalesce into something tangible.

The latest 3.12 release is an all round improvement with increased polish.

Unfortunately, 3.12 is a release that will probably be ignored due to distro timings, but 3.14 so far is increasing the coherence, so by the time the next releases of distros start being released, quite a few people may be surprised at how slick and usable Gnome has become.

I can see Gnome eventually regaining its popularity.

Edited 2014-05-23 23:21 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Edge-Flip
by softdrat on Sat 24th May 2014 00:13 UTC
softdrat
Member since:
2008-09-17

The old Red Hat 6 of fourteen years ago came with the Enlightenment window manager which implemented edge-flip, and even though it drives you batty at first, in the end I came to depend on it to manage windows in a large virtual display. No "workplace-switcher" to slow you down. Unfortunately that feature has disappeared from a default install of Gnome, and getting it back has become increasingly difficult. Gnome 3 and Unity make it basically unusable, so every machine I run has Gnome 2 in some form or other.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Edge-Flip
by Finalzone on Sat 24th May 2014 01:21 UTC in reply to "Edge-Flip"
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

The old Red Hat 6 of fourteen years ago came with the Enlightenment window manager which implemented edge-flip, and even though it drives you batty at first, in the end I came to depend on it to manage windows in a large virtual display. No "workplace-switcher" to slow you down.

I am curious about that edge-flip, could you show an image or a video? The "workspace-switcher" is dynamic by default rather than a static four workspaces.
Gnome Shell is very usable once the users drop the mindset about the legacy Gnome 2. For you information, Gnome Classic session reproduce the layout of the old Gnome 2 (enabled by default on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7).

Edited 2014-05-24 01:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Edge-Flip
by tidux on Sat 24th May 2014 04:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Edge-Flip"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

If the e16 edge flip he's referring to is the same as e17 edge flip, the idea is that you can scroll workspaces by moving the mouse past the edge of the screen to the left or right. I never particularly liked that feature, but to each his own.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Edge-Flip
by Carewolf on Sat 24th May 2014 19:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Edge-Flip"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

"Switch desktop on edge", is the setting in KDE if anyone wants to try it. Works great, though I prefer to configure other actions on the desktop edges such as present windows for fast task switching.

Reply Score: 4

Not bad
by ichi on Sat 24th May 2014 00:42 UTC
ichi
Member since:
2007-03-06

I've been using Gnome Shell right from the first release and I've been finding out that some design decisions that looked weird at first are not as stupid as I thought.

One of the many strange decisions is removing window buttons, which can be solved through gnome-tweak. That's what I've been doing all this time, yet I've been finding that I'm not actually minimizing windows anymore even though I can.

The mix of overview + multiple desktops + middle click to send windows to the back (+ other somewhat standard features of linux desktops like alt+drag to move or resize, and being able to scroll on non-foreground windows) completely removes the need of minimizing for me.

Then there's the overview. This is probably what annoyed me the most, taking me out of the desktop just to open an application.
It's still somewhat annoying, but since you are taken to a decent implementation of OSX's "exposè" rather that straight to an app grid, the switch of context is not as abrupt as it'd be in Windows8.

There've also been some nice improvements under the hood, like multimonitor support. I remember having to do a presentation with one of the first Gnome Shell releases and finding I was stuck with the classical problem of different aspect ratios. Plug a 4:3 projector and your laptop screen goes squared.

I don't know when this was fixed exactly, but as of 3.12 you can plug any second monitor and both displays will instantly work fullscreen with native aspect ratio. Not even a flicker, and the screen configuration app works great for adjusting the relative possition of all your screens.

It still has a fair way to go. I've had problems with some screen recording apps that would cause a restart of the window manager (which happens fast, not very ofter and nothing really breaks, but happens and the screen recording fails).

I'm also not digging the notification area at the bottom, it feels like some forgotten limbo where things that could-be-indicators-but-are-not are thrown, like some quirky workaround that at some point had been elevated to the "feature" status.
And they are thrown in there just along with actual notifications, to make things even more confusing.

All in all I can't really say that I like it all that much because it still annoys me at times, but I find it really useable and potentially likeable, which is saying a lot considering that back on the 3.0 release I thought that the Gnome devs had just gone nuts.

I even considered going to KDE, which I used a lot before the 4.0 release, but after all these years using GTK apps the Qt widgets feel very very alien.


*I forgot to mention one thing that, while apparently insignificant, has broken my workflow more that any of the other changes from Gnome2: the desktops are now arranged vertically.

Ok, that might sound stupid, but bear with me ;D In Gnome2 I had the super+z and super+x to move between horizontal desktops, and ctrl+super+z and ctrl+super+x to do so while also carrying the focused window to the new desktop. That made "sense" because a)I could do that with one single hand instead of the default "ctrl+alt+cursors", and b)the x and z keys are also horizontal on the keyboard.

So, ok, I already said that it might sound stupid (and maybe it is) but super+a is already assigned to the app view in the overview (and I use that, not often but sometimes), so I have no comfortable unassigned combinations to replicate my previous set up making "spatial" sense in relation to the desktops' placement.

Edited 2014-05-24 00:58 UTC

Reply Score: 13

Gnome is regaining popularity
by kateline on Sat 24th May 2014 04:57 UTC
kateline
Member since:
2011-05-19

I think Gnome will become popular again due to its surface similarity to Android. Handhelds will outnumber desktops & laptops and people will expect a similar interface across devices. Windows 8? Maybe not. But Gnome 3 and Unity, absolutely.

Reply Score: 2

my experience
by safiuddinkhan on Sat 24th May 2014 05:41 UTC
safiuddinkhan
Member since:
2012-11-20

few months back i gave gnome shell another chance and overall my experience was that it was not bad .... the desktop is quiet customizable and has more features then other gnome shells like ubuntu unity and cinnamon ..... only annoyance for me was maximize button and minimize buttons and one click solution to switch applications as i don't like to click activities and then switch applications .... both were solved one through tweak tools and other from installing plank dock and since then i am using it as my main desktop

Edited 2014-05-24 05:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ddc_
by ddc_ on Sat 24th May 2014 07:00 UTC
ddc_
Member since:
2006-12-05

Some observations:

1. All of this is valid for GNOME 3.2. Frankly, the changes to GNOME Shell since 3.2 are mostly neither user-visible nor substantial enough to be worth mention. ("Classic" mode is probably an exception, though I never used it, so I don't know whether it is different enough from preceding "Fallback" mode).

2. The only feature I was missing in default GNOME3 setup was minimizing. In fact I abandoned transmission-gtk and rhythmbox simply because of this "feature". Note, that with new style applications (Maps, Totem, Web, etc) adding "minimize" button really screws the experience.

3. I am a bit concerned with new style applications actually, because they make experience inconsistent – they make third-party applications (like GIMP) feel alien, while IMO the only value in DE is consistency.

4. The fact that GNOME Shell is built on top of Mozilla's JS engine is driving me nuts. Given that GNOME uses webkit elsewhere (including Web, default browser), full GNOME installation depends on 2 separate JS engines, which is ridiculous.

5. Actually, I don't understand the rationale for using JS for desktop applications. The rationale for its use in web browsers was already questionable, and reopening this can of worms once again feels foolish.

6. Otherwise GNOME3 is fine for me. I actually think it is improvement over GNOME2, unlike Mate and that Mint thing I always forget the name of.

Reply Score: 5

Qt Apps
by Lobotomik on Sat 24th May 2014 08:46 UTC
Lobotomik
Member since:
2006-01-03

Linux desktop will never happen until the rift between Qt and GTK applications is closed. I wouldn't be sad to see GTK go, but even if it never did, all applications should run and integrate with your desktop whatever that desktop is. It is ridiculous how choosing a desktop in Linux means choosing a set of apps, and apps from another look ugly and integrate badly if they run at all.

After all, a nice desktop is nice, but it is the applications that make the difference. I should be able to run a years old desktop, yet still run my choice of apps, not worrying about the desktop, much less about the toolkit.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Qt Apps
by Treza on Sat 24th May 2014 09:25 UTC in reply to "Qt Apps"
Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

I have never seen any problem or unbearable ugliness in mixing KDE and gnome apps.

As text editors, I'm often using simultaneously gedit (syntax colouring for a few languages, fonts), nedit (very fast, good search/replace features) and emacs (because emacs) on a KDE desktop.

The problem is that no editor is good enough to match all my needs, and no KDE editor suits me (KATE, Kedit...)

The fact that the very old nedit surpasses recent editors from KDE and gnome show how little progress has been done.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Qt Apps
by Lobotomik on Sat 24th May 2014 11:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Qt Apps"
Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

Maybe not "unbearable" ugliness, but bothersome nonetheless. And then Kate is absent from your Gnome menu, and Gedit or Transmission are missing from yor KDE menu, and when you manage to bring them up in the rival desktop they ignore your font settings, or printing settings, or they bring up the wrong console, or do not find the media player.

It is far from a seamless and pleasant experience.

I like the Gnome desktop far better than KDE, although I don't like how it has been dumbed down over the years. But I Qt apps are easier to develop and maintain, and in any case I would like to *seamlessly* run any app I liked in whatever desktop I chose, without even having to know what a gui toolkit is.

Possibly, uniting the Qt and the GTK world is one of the things Ubuntu Unity pretends. But oh, do I hate the Unity launcher!

Edited 2014-05-24 11:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Qt Apps
by ddc_ on Sat 24th May 2014 19:02 UTC in reply to "Qt Apps"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I strongly disagree with both setiments of yours.

all applications should run and integrate with your desktop whatever that desktop is.

It would lead to the OSX-like desktop where you can't configure much. If that is what you want, quit whinning and go to OSX. Really.

I should be able to run a years old desktop, yet still run my choice of apps, not worrying about the desktop, much less about the toolkit.

This requires a lot of effort, limits developers in many ways and screws the ability to implement new features within reasonable timeframes. And all of these just in order to satisfy one's baby ducksyndrome? Huh...

Edited 2014-05-24 19:05 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Qt Apps
by Lobotomik on Sun 25th May 2014 10:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Qt Apps"
Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

Why should I go Mac? I have a perfectly serviceable PC that cost me a fraction of the money. And I hate iTunes and iDependency in general. Though Garage Band and iMovies are spectacularly good. And Linux Desktop is good, if not perfect: I just want it to be more perfect!

Development would be more agile with more developers, more users and a more appropriate development kit. Cantonization helps none of this. This is not fragmentation, it is disintegration along a myriad fracture lines, by distro, by release, by desktop, by toolkit... All this variety and inconvenience for a relatively small pool of development resources.

Look at Android to see how a Linux "desktop" can progress and evolve while maintaining compatibility, and how it gains thousands of contributors with its nice development kits and detailed, easy to find documentation. To acquire any sort of critical mass, unification is key.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Qt Apps
by torp on Sun 25th May 2014 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Qt Apps"
torp Member since:
2010-08-10

Hmm. Why would any sane man run iTunes? And I ask that as someone who uses OS X daily. It's perfectly functional without ever going near iTunes.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Qt Apps
by kwan_e on Sun 25th May 2014 15:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Qt Apps"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Hmm. Why would any sane man run iTunes? And I ask that as someone who uses OS X daily. It's perfectly functional without ever going near iTunes.


Some Christian sects, like many other religions, are centered around self-flagellation.

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: Qt Apps
by ddc_ on Tue 27th May 2014 14:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Qt Apps"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

You are being egoistic: what you see as improvement is damaging many other people, and you don't want to deal with it. The "cantonization" you are talking about is the only reason why people who are willing to trade some of their time for future effectiveness can end up using consistent desktop that would behave as they want.

GNOME, KDE, XFCE, suckless and many other projects build software pieces that are consistent with each other and inconsistent with everything else not because all these people are lazy and ignorant, but because they follow different (sometimes even opposite) values. Implementing your suggestion would deprive people sharing these values of enjoying software that matches their preferences.

Edited 2014-05-27 14:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Qt Apps
by Lobotomik on Tue 27th May 2014 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Qt Apps"
Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

I guess I am, I would like things to be the way I like :-) Oh, I deal with it, and I am thankful to developers, far from my intentions to denigrate their job. I just wish there were more integration, and still think the Linux Desktop would fare better if there were.

Reply Score: 2

As I wrote yesterday: Gnome3 is different
by pica on Sat 24th May 2014 12:10 UTC
pica
Member since:
2005-07-10

Well, where to start.

OK, Gnome 1 -- I startet with 1.4 -- and Gnome 2 were pretty much desktops in the line of Motif, CDE. Also very similar to Windows 95 and successors.

Gnome 3 is a completely different beast. The first two weeks of using it, I hated it. Yes, I hated my now absolute favorite desktop. But I believed -- more exact I somehow felt -- it's a layer 8 problem. So I investigated further and further. And I week later I started to appreciate Gnome 3. Another week later I started to like it. Now it is my favorite desktop.

So what was my problem with Gnome 3. Simply Gnome 3 is different. Gnome 3 is more like a work bench with a cupboard attached like I desktop. The objects are not visible all the time. You have to open the cupboard to see them. As a result using Gnome 3 I have a clean workbench instead of a cluttered desktop.

Greetings,
pica


http://www.osnews.com/thread?589426

Greetings,
pica

Reply Score: 2

Dated
by Isolationist on Sat 24th May 2014 15:13 UTC
Isolationist
Member since:
2006-05-28

It is probably just me, but can't help but think the interface looks dated.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dated
by Coxy on Sat 24th May 2014 20:57 UTC in reply to "Dated"
Coxy Member since:
2006-07-01

Yes, it is just you

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Dated
by Isolationist on Sun 25th May 2014 09:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Dated"
Isolationist Member since:
2006-05-28

Yes, it is just you


Prove it!

Reply Score: 1

Comment by somebody
by somebody on Sat 24th May 2014 16:13 UTC
somebody
Member since:
2005-07-07

i would really suggest these changes
*** much better menu than one provided with shell
https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/608/gnomenu/
+ disable hot corner in preferences (it is darn annoying, at least for me)

*** once you enable gno-menu dash is simply redundant clutter since same thing is more accessible from menu
https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/805/hide-dash/

enabling app menu in csd is another nice change

now, if i only found one working extension for 3.12 that hides atrocity called AppMenu in top bar which never worked as it should... gnome wouldn't even be bad if i discount how much worse games perform when i run gnome-shell as window manager.

Reply Score: 2

Vim
by SeeM on Sat 24th May 2014 19:03 UTC
SeeM
Member since:
2011-09-10

Gnome 3 is the Vim of user interfaces. It sucks initially, but shines in a long term.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Vim
by kwan_e on Sun 25th May 2014 14:02 UTC in reply to "Vim"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Gnome 3 is the Vim of user interfaces. It sucks initially, but shines in a long term.


The say the same about emacs and Blender* and KDE 4.

* It took me 30 mins to learn Blender without previous modelling experience, so I don't know what the complaint is.

Reply Score: 5

Gnome 3.8+
by zizban on Sat 24th May 2014 22:42 UTC
zizban
Member since:
2005-07-06

Yuck I hated Gnome 3 until 3.8 came out and now I must say it's fast, it's easy to use and really what it should have been from the beginning.

The Meta/Window key is really great, it makes life very easy and I quickly got used to no minimize. Just use the meta key.

I like some of the new apps but they aren't really usable yet. One has to get 3.12 for that.

Reply Score: 5

I dunno...
by deathshadow on Sun 25th May 2014 02:19 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

For me Gnome 3 -- much like OSX and Windows 8, is just part of this increasing middle-finger on the part of "designers" to people who actually use desktop computers as... well... desktop computers.

Admittedly, I've never used a *nix WM that didn't feel like pathetic crippleware -- complex tasks simplified down to where you can't even perform them anymore, and the simplest of tasks that should take half a second requiring hours of Googling and dicking around on the command line to accomplish. That Gnome 3 only further dumbed down or outright removed basic functionality I have come to expect any good desktop system to have as of ~1998.

I could actually see grandma getting by ok on it, much like OSX -- but as someone who actually uses something other than the web browser and media players, Linux, OSX, and now Windows 8 feel like the developers are telling 'power users' to go plow themselves -- and it's not just OS; see the near useless state of current browsers dumbing down the UI to the worst of IE 3 Mac -- particularly the pathetic crippleware that is ChrOpera compared to REAL Opera (12).

Much of it seems to be this attitude that if less than 80% of users use a function, nobody needs it... but worse, it just seems like most of this isn't about functionality or usability, and is instead the same thing destroying website functionality: Taking graphic artists and stroking their... ego... Yeah, ego. that's the word I want to use.

The artsy fartsy bull, from the pointless animated rubbish to the goofy icons that leave you with no idea what anything does, to the massive whitespace around things to the point you are lucky if you can fit a dozen IM contacts on the screen at the same time -- all just makes things harder to use, no matter how "pretty" it is.

Form over functionality is ruining just about everything right now -- and that anyone out there is dumb enough to praise it, much less throw money or manpower at it is mind-blowing. Do we need to buy bibs for the drooling morons who've ended up in charge of these things?

But what do I know? I consider Apple products to have all the art and style of a recently sanitized hospital ward, and Windows 98 to be the pinnacle of OS UI design.(once you turn off some of the annoying crap like 'channels' and drag the taskbar where it belongs -- to the SIDE of the screen, and turn off idiocy like "group by program")

Of course, that other than LFN support, to me *nix desktops still haven't caught up to Windows 3.0 or OS/2 1.3 in terms of actual usefulness / functionality doesn't help.

Edited 2014-05-25 02:22 UTC

Reply Score: 5

GNOME 3.12 on MacBook
by mdsama on Sun 25th May 2014 05:30 UTC
mdsama
Member since:
2005-07-08

I recently used GNOME 3.12 on a MacBook for a few weeks, and after a few appearance tweaks (smaller fonts, an "elegance" theme), it all looked good and worked well. The apps, in particular, with their unified titlebars/toolbars, were professional and polished.

I eventually gave up on it, though, because for me Shell was using about 500 megabytes of memory just to sit in the background, and it was generally slow, paging memory, to bring up just to launch an app.

Mine isn't a new computer, and more RAM would probably help. Still, for me it was a lot more sluggish than OS X. In the end, Shell is just a launcher and switcher, and didn't seem worth the resources, or really any great focus in the desktop at all.

(I'm quite happy with Openbox/Tint2/Pcmanfm for now. I mostly use Scribus, OpenOffice apps and some programming tools.)

As a more general note, in some way the extra layer of GNOME felt too far removed and independent from the rest of the system too. It'd be fine if I stay only within GNOME, but e.g. booting and drivers weren't covered (I don't think) in the System Settings, and I haven't got around to quite understanding where gconf/dconf fit in once you aren't using GNOME exclusively. This isn't GNOME's fault, at all really, but to me it was somewhat like whiplash: either do everything in the cocoon of GNOME or fall back to vi. And once you weren't in the GNOME environment, it was hard to tell how to make apps work together. Off the top of my head, I think I could make use of a GUI browser of system settings, just all the files in /etc and .config and wherever else settings are kept.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Beket_
by Beket_ on Sun 25th May 2014 13:37 UTC
Beket_
Member since:
2009-07-10

I tried Gnome 3.12. I failed to see what other people say how this is the version where the vision starts becoming visible.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Beket_
by SeeM on Wed 28th May 2014 07:06 UTC in reply to "Comment by Beket_"
SeeM Member since:
2011-09-10

"Use, or use not. There is no try.", as Yoda said. Trying isn't the best thing to do with Gnome 3. You have to be patient and let the force guide you.

For me Gnome 3 is a blessing, a modern and minimalistic interface with AmigaOS/NeXTStep/MacOS/Unity style that I wanted for years.

Reply Score: 1