Gnome 2 comes with the Sawfish window manager as default. Everyone was raving about Metacity though, so I thought I should give it a go, and indeed I did so. Metacity seems a bit more lightweight than the feature-packed Sawfish. It does not have as many configuration options, but it works well and it plays well with the MetaThemes engine. For example, each time you change the GTK+ theme, the Metacity will pick it up and will adjust the color of the window manager. I am not sure if this is window manager's job, but each time there is a new popup window, I would like it to get focus, but I found no such option anywhere to turn on. So, when I get IM'ed on the net, I do not even see the message windows, as they popup on the background. Pretty irritating to say the least. However, I like the simplicity of Metacity. Its themes are simple XML files and not always have accompanied images.
Gnome 2 does not come without its problems. I do not have sounds on my Gnome 2. I think that Gnome 2 assumes that you have Gnome 1.4 installed, and while I do have the libraries needed to run older GTK+ apps, I do not have the full installation, therefore, it can't find the actual .wav files. The Sound panel argues that I should install the gnome-audio package, but a look at the 2.0 directory on many FTP servers, did not reveal such a package at all. On another note, Galeon stopped working from the moment I installed Gnome 2.0. And where are Pango's multi-language settings to select another language for my keyboard? And where are the system tools for networking, or maybe a universal media player? Also, why the included system monitor can't pick up both my CPUs? Oh, and I lost almost 2 paragraphs from this review, by typing it on the GTK+ 2.x updated Gedit text editor (which is also the default Gnome text editor). When I just place my cursor on the text, and then move my mouse away in order to type there, the program seems to think that I still have my button pressed and it keeps selecting my text. It happens so often that I was not always careful, and there go two full paragraphs. I changed my mouse settings from its Gnome panel, but it did not help the specific situation. Please note that the Kedit or Kwrite editors do not have the problem. Plus, scrolling this very document with Gedit is shamelessly slow when compared even to itself (or GXEdit) of the Gnome 1.x series.
These are small (or big, depending on the user) faults. As far as stability goes, I experienced on the final version individual crashes of some preference panels and applications that come with Gnome 2, but I have not experienced any true crash of its memu panels or Gnome itself that could take X down.
The other important problem is the largely unfinished Help included. Only a handful of topics are discussed. A shame really. A commercial company would have never ship an OS or desktop environment with no real Help files. If this is how open source works, there would not be a chance that I would recommend any of this to my friends or family. Of course, such things prove right the people at MSNBC saying that Linux (and the rest X-based OSes) is not ready for the desktop. I am only here, to my dismay of course, to prove their conclusion right. (KDE has its own problems too, and I will come to that soon...)
The big question on any new release is 'Whats New?' or 'What does it do more?'. In the case of Gnome 2, it does less, not more. GTK+ developers will of course be happy with the new API, and users will possibly enjoy the AA fonts, but other than that, users will not gain much more from this desktop environment. Hiding behind the 'this is a mostly a release for developers' excuse is not good enough for me. Gnome is around for years, and the GNU project was not able to deliver an outstanding version yet. Is this the best that the GNU project can offer to the Joe User who wants to switch away from the commercial option of OSX or Windows? Well, nice try.
Overall: 6 / 10
- "Gnome 2, page 1"
- "Gnome 2, page 2"