Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Apr 2011 20:55 UTC
Linux Yeah, it's the day of double-dippin' today. And, the contradiction couldn't be bigger. In one corner we have one of the oldest and most respected distributions, and in the other corner we have the sometimes controversial but immensely popular relative newcomer. Slackware 13.37 and Ubuntu 11.04 have been released.
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3D Graphics Dependancies
by sb56637 on Fri 29th Apr 2011 15:00 UTC
sb56637
Member since:
2006-05-11

I think that Unity and Gnome 3.x are both fundamentally flawed due to their dependance on 3D graphics. The current state of video drivers on Linux is truly a disaster, and it's actually gotten worse with time. Sorry, but it's true, and I am a full-time desktop Linux user.

Because of poor video drivers, many users simply will not see the new Unity and Gnome 3.x interface because their hardware doesn't support it and it will go to the fallback mode. This normally wouldn't be a problem, even Windows Vista / 7 have "classic" fallback modes for older systems. However, the Aero vs. Classic interface differences are largely visual, and do not introduce major workflow changes for the user. On the other hand, (Unity | Gnome 3.x) vs. (Gnome 2.x | Gnome 3.x fallback mode) introduces major paradigm shifts in workflow. I don't like the idea of this inconsistency.

Another major issue with dependance on 3D graphics is that even when the video driver officially supports 3D and the new 3D interfaces are enabled out of the box, in many cases the user experience is terrible, once again owing to poor video drivers. I have Intel graphics on my laptop, for example, and desktop effects cause tearing, spotting, blotches, remnants, you name it. I noticed the same issue on quite a few Youtube videos of the new Gnome 3.x and Unity. Additionally, at least on Gnome 2.x and KDE, 3D effects consistently lead to freezing and lockups. That's why the first thing I do when upon installing a new distro is disable 3D effects. They cause more trouble than they are worth. I know how to do this. But new users will not appreciate losing work or having a frozen system because developers forced a bunch of pretty but useless desktop effects on them.

The solution? I don't know. Unity has a 2D version built on QT, which sounds a lot more feasible to me. Unfortunately it's not available by default on Ubuntu 11.04. This should probably be used as the default option, and users who want to play with the 3D gadgetry could enable that version optionally if they want. As for Gnome 3.x? I hope they try to develop the 2D fallback interface to make it much more similar to the 3D interface. And they should set the 2D interface by default.

Again, I don't mean this to undermine the efforts of the Unity and Gnome devs. It's not their fault, but they still need to recognize the awful state of the entire Linux video architecture and learn to work around it instead of exacerbating the issues for ignorant users.

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