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.
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Not bad
by ichi on Sat 24th May 2014 00:42 UTC
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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