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I tried Gnome 2.12 yesterday and I was not impressed at all. Like alot of people, I was hoping/expecting major changes in this release. But Gnome failed again to convince me that it was ready for intensive desktop usage. In fact, I was concerned about:
--- Performance ---
The latest GTK+Gnome combo doesn't do better than the older versions. After hearing so much good things about Gnome 2.12 on osnews-like sites, I was expecting a little more than this. There's absolutely no performance improvement in GTK and Gnome. GTK is still a pig and Gnome follows the tradition as usual. I think they should focus on the issue a little bit more for the next release. I would make it top priority.
--- Look ---
Well even with a new default theme, Gnome hasn't changed a bit. Don't get me wrong; I don't think Gnome looks bad but there are many things that could be better, mainly in GTK. In fact, I never really liked GTK controls. They are too big and they don't look like controls I'm used to see. They need to be smaller, more standard (they look too flat) and finally more robust. It would improve the whole user experience alot if they could fix that. Also, the text should be smaller by default and more clear. I tried fixing the issue by recompiling freetype2 with the bytecoder but I didn't help much. I really don't know how this could be fixed and the Gnome font config utility really annoys me. It doesn't let me config my fonts like I would want to. I simply can't get good result with it.
--- Feel ---
Let's talk a little bit more about GTK controls. I think that most of the time they don't give a good feeling to the user. Mainly the buttons, the editboxes and the list/icon/detail views. There are problems with those that can really ruin the whole Gnome experience. You probably all have experienced weird Nautilus behaviors before. Icon view doesn't display stuff properly and the keyboard interface for list/detail view is sometimes unreliable. More weird behaviors happen with buttons and editboxes as well. Some of you would tell me it's not a problem with Gnome but with GTK but I see them as a whole. I won't close my eyes on Gnome problems just because they are inherited from GTK.
So that's my opinion: I think Gnome is overrated. For those who want to know if I'm a KDE fanboy I'm not. Indeed, I think KDE is overrated as well. Both need more code profiling and interface polishing. Unlike others, I don't expect a load of features but I only expect things to work as they are supposed to.