Home > Gnome > Visual Tour of GNOME 3 Shell Visual Tour of GNOME 3 Shell Submitted by irbis 2009-11-13 Gnome 38 Comments GNOME 3, the much talked about next generation GNOME introduces a radical shift from the interface found in GNOME 2.x. Digitizor has a quick visual tour of GNOME 3 in Ubuntu 9.10. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 38 Comments 2009-11-13 5:30 pm Tuishimi Not sure I like the Applications menu thingy. It takes over your entire screen. I guess it doesn’t really matter, tho’… if you are there you are trying to fire up an app or perform some task OTHER than using your currently active application – so I don’t know why it bothers me. I agree with the author about the “task bar”/dock app. It’s just a shortcut to avoid the paradigm they are working so hard to implement (the application menu). I hope it will all be somewhat configurable.  Actually yeah, I know why it bothers me. It’s a graphically intensive operation. That kind of thing can suck up CPU power, and also shimmy and skip if you are in the middle of, for example, compiling several applications or some other intensive CPU task… It seems like a waste or something. But again, if that is the paradigm they are trying to implement, I suppose there is no way around it. Edited 2009-11-13 17:33 UTC 2009-11-13 6:10 pm leos Actually yeah, I know why it bothers me. It’s a graphically intensive operation. Bingo. On any OS other than Linux that would be ok. Mac and Windows have good graphics drivers, and that kind of thing is nothing for a modern card (or even 5 years old). However the graphics driver situation on Linux is still complete shit for anyone that doesn’t have an NVidia card (Intel, even though it’s supposed to be free and awesome, is still about 5x slower than on Windows on my machines). So this full screen menu is going to be laggy on many machines because their drivers are just horrible. It’s really too bad that innovative end-user interfaces (Gnome 3, Plasma) are still being shot in the foot by the crappy driver situation. 2009-11-13 6:23 pm Thom Holwerda I find it all quite… Convoluted. Am I supposed to watch my desktop zoom around like crazy everytime I want to do anything other than switch users? It doesn’t look efficient to me – then again, I haven’t tried it so please grab a few grains of salt. 2009-11-13 6:25 pm JayDee Actually yeah, I know why it bothers me. It’s a graphically intensive operation. Bingo. On any OS other than Linux that would be ok. Mac and Windows have good graphics drivers, and that kind of thing is nothing for a modern card (or even 5 years old). However the graphics driver situation on Linux is still complete shit for anyone that doesn’t have an NVidia card (Intel, even though it’s supposed to be free and awesome, is still about 5x slower than on Windows on my machines). If the driver’s are to blame, I don’t see why that would be the Desktop Environment’s fault. I for one can’t wait for GNOME 3. 2009-11-13 6:33 pm leos If the driver’s are to blame, I don’t see why that would be the Desktop Environment’s fault. I for one can’t wait for GNOME 3. I specifically said it wasn’t the DE’s fault, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. If Gnome 3 relies on graphical power for their interface, and that power is not there because of crappy drivers, then a lot of users are just not going to like it. Technically not their fault, but you have to keep the environment in mind when designing software. 2009-11-14 1:32 am sbenitezb Actually Plasma runs quite well in my NVidia 6200 (yeah, what a piece of shit). I wonder how much more good would it run with better drivers. And Gnome already feels faster than Windows XP in the same machine, so… 2009-11-13 6:57 pm fluxy For the life of me I can neither understand the logic nor the usability of this new paradigm! Maybe it can work for netbooks but for bigger screens? No t really. I mean I have to turn my screen into smaller squares each time I fire an Application? And the menu itself is so unintuitive! Besides I fail to understand the need to include a lot of bling bling in the basic configuration of the desktop. Rather having a robust, USABLE and fast environment in the basic configuration while having the additional glitter being optional sounds much better. The gnome developers seem to forget one thing, the quintessence for a desktop environment is for it to be transparent to the users rather than be a thick layer of goo, obstructing the user in his/her activities. As for me, if gnome ends up being this, I might seriously consider moving to xfce. 2009-11-13 10:07 pm vivainio The gnome developers seem to forget one thing, the quintessence for a desktop environment is for it to be transparent to the users rather than be a thick layer of goo, obstructing the user in his/her activities. Gnome shell actually obstructs the users activities than gnome2 shell, in the sense that you’ll be spending less time finding the correct window. The best way to verify this is to actually try it out. 2009-11-14 1:39 am sbenitezb So in order to achieve usability you need to have a bazillion of windows? What about people who only have a couple programs open most of the time? Gnome people spend too much time thinking about entreprisey desktops it seems, and little thinking about home users. But then it shows: Gnome is developed by Red Hat, Novell, Canonical… Not exactly the paradigm of home desktop providers. 2009-11-14 12:02 am wirespot No need to panic, those “new” things are most likely just panel applets, a bit advanced versions of current ones. If you don’t like them you can just remove them. I customize my panels anyway. The default layout is ok but I have my own preferences. Too bad though, when I first saw the icon and the name of the app up there for a moment I thought they FINALLY made Global Menu Applet work (like on OS X, with the app menu on the top bar). I’m still hoping that’s what it is, not a simple Window Selector. 2009-11-14 12:35 pm steviant The current preview doesn’t offer the ability to turn this crap off, so it’s not a given that there will be some way to return to the classic Gnome desktop. It’s beginning to look like KDE4, a whole lot of UI fluff that they know most users would turn off immediately if they could, so they have to force it on everyone to satisfy themselves that it’s being “given a chance. For once I wish they would just copy OS X and Windows. 2009-11-16 4:44 pm Laurence The current preview doesn’t offer the ability to turn this crap off, so it’s not a given that there will be some way to return to the classic Gnome desktop. It’s beginning to look like KDE4, a whole lot of UI fluff that they know most users would turn off immediately if they could, so they have to force it on everyone to satisfy themselves that it’s being “given a chance. For once I wish they would just copy OS X and Windows. Errr, Windows is /the/ worst offender for turning on the UI crap by default. Besides, to get Linux to compete with Windows 7 / OS X, then Linux DE’s will need the fluff turned on by default because many n00bies will want it to “just work”. So it makes more sence to me to have this stuff enabled and ask power users like us to disable what we don’t need. Particularly when GNOME is the DE of choice for most desktop Linux distros. 2009-11-13 7:00 pm imiric Aside the fact that the “Activities” menu is a blatant borrow of Microsoft’s post-Vista Start Menu, it appears to be an inferior version of it as well. But the biggest thing bugging me about it is that I had to actually read the description in order to figure out what’s going on in the screenshots. It could be the all-black theme making this harder, but a program launcher should be intuitive and quickly grasped. Nothing I’ve seen so far screams “impressive” to me, and that’s a bit worrying for what’s supposed to be the next big version. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a current Ubuntu user and don’t have much complaints about GNOME, I’m just having trouble seeing the new direction. 2009-11-14 12:09 am wirespot It’s more like a proof of concept or mock-up, I have trouble believing some of those things, such as taking out the task bar from a PC desktop. And FWIW, I think the applications menu first came out in SLED 10, in 2006, whereas Vista was launched in 2007. Not that it matters, since after a brief period when all distros rushed to include it on their desktops the trend died out. I’m not sure it’s seen much use, on Gnome anyway. The standard menu bar applet (Applications, Places, System) seems to appeal much more to people, for some reason. 2009-11-14 11:18 am Delgarde But the biggest thing bugging me about it is that I had to actually read the description in order to figure out what’s going on in the screenshots. That’s hardly unusual with static screenshots, is it? Any time an application does something new, it takes a little time interacting to understand how it works… 2009-11-13 8:02 pm leech I love the menu how it is. This looks too much like the Slab menu that Novell pulled out of their butts, which I absolutely despise. You can’t launch anything with just one fluid motion of the mouse. Composited desktops are the new rage, but if you happen to have non-working acceleration, does it drop down to a ‘safe mode’? I’m thinking if this turns out as crappy as it looks, I’m going to be switching to Enlightenment or XFCE. 2009-11-13 9:28 pm vivainio Ah, osnews… the amount of negativity hurled at pretty much anything new that is not QNX/Haiku/BeOS never disappoints. If you are on Karmic, you can try gnome-shell yourself (safely!), following the linked instructions: http://digitizor.com/2009/11/10/get-a-first-hand-feel-of-gnome-3-sh… Edited 2009-11-13 21:30 UTC 2009-11-13 9:35 pm OSGuy Looks like these people have never heard of the word “ecstatic” & “professionalism” just like the rest of GNOME & KDE. Example One: http://digitizor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/gnome3_5.png <- Look at how close the text label to the buttons is + pay attention on its X an Y coordinates. It is a joke and *no* do *not* tell me it is “alpha beta blah blah whatever” because based on my observations in the past, I know *nothing* will change for the final release. Example: 2 http://digitizor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/gnome3_1.png <- Again text is not on the middle, not positioned properly + it is too large and I know when you try to make it smaller it will look awful because as usual fonts suck in X when you have them in size 8, they are all squashed overlapping each other. The entire GUI is extra large and non-sleek. Too much wasted spaced between Item 1 and Item 2….Everything just looks out of proportion + dark background does not make it look good. And please don’t even get me started on KDE… Edited 2009-11-13 21:41 UTC 2009-11-14 2:49 pm Soulbender You do realize that this is en extremely early development version, right? You’re just not mindlessly whining, right? 2009-11-14 9:11 pm OSGuy and *no* do *not* tell me it is “alpha beta blah blah whatever” because based on my observations in the past, I know *nothing* will change for the final release. Obviously you did not pay attention to my comment and if it does change, good but I am not expecting it. Some tips and hints to GNOME developers: (these are based on 2.x) 1. Did you know that when you “second” click on an icon, you should set the icon in “Edit” mode so that the user can rename the icon instead of doing nothing? 2. Did you know when you go to “File Properties” and when you are done with it, when you hit “Enter” box dialog box should actually close rather than doing nothing? 3. Did you know when you move icons on the panel, the space between each icon should be automatically assigned/set for the user and all of the icons to the right automatically should move to the left with equal spacing instead of doing nothing and making the user to move icon separately? 4. Dragging menu items from within the menu itself makes it a lot easier to re-arrange menu icons. 5. When you assign a text to an icon such as the desktop menu or a toolbar, the text’s “assignment” should appear on the middle of the icon, *not* on the top? + both the size of the text and the size of the icon should be with acceptable sizes. Each icon should be equal in size and the spacing between should be equal. These above are “some” of the common usability guide lines that would make using GNOME at least more user friendly. Edited 2009-11-14 21:30 UTC 2009-11-13 10:45 pm FealDorf I’m more of a KDE guy, so I was originally sceptical of what GNOME3 might be like. But I think they’ve done a great job in improving the interface. This is the most usable virtual window management implementation IMO.. It’s probably gonna be more intensive on resources though; but I think I’ll keep track of their progress soon too. 2009-11-13 11:31 pm tubatodd At this stage (11/2009) Gnome-shell looks like a disaster. YES, I have tried it out in Karmic and tested out the features. The fact that the UI is depending so heavily on the graphics card just to function is troubling. Everybody points to KDE4 as how not to radically change direction. BUT, the direction Gnome3 APPEARS to be heading is very concerning. We COULD see radical changes between now and Sept 2010. I just doubt that to be the case. Since Gnome-shell’s introduction I haven’t seen too many changes that address what will be the vast complaints about to be hurled in the developer’s direction. Here are 3 very simple (and usually available in any OS) features I would love to see. 1) Applets for the panel. Are they just going to can all of the very useful applets they already have? 2) Shortcuts on the panel. FTW! Bring it back. 3) Window list. Mac has a Dock. Windows has a start bar. Gnome3 has……alt+tab and virtual desktop view. What?!?!? ========= If Gnome 3 wants to look in a new direction, fine. Just don’t take away staples of most standard OS’. Developers…you like that Activities menu? Take a look at Moblin 2.x. At least the bar/menus make more sense and are targeted at the proper audience. Even with this rant….I have my hopes up. I have faith. I’d like to think that Canonical and other distro communities will not allow their first Gnome3 release be a disaster/revolt. There is much work ahead. 2009-11-14 11:22 am Delgarde There is much work ahead. A fact totally acknowledged by the developers. For all the noise about Gnome 3 lately, the new shell is totally a work in progress, and I think the biggest reason for choosing Gnome 2.32 over 2.30 as the 3.0 release. 2009-11-14 4:30 am Praxis Most of my problems with this desktop shell at the moment is their decision to combine their application menu with the virtual desktop and window manager. Now don’t get me wrong I like their virtual desktop and window manager a lot, its a very attractive and intuitive design, I just don’t see why it has to be activated every time I use the menu. That will be very distracting and while I can see why a couple people could desire such a combination, its unsuited for the default behavior. They are two separate functions and so should be separate by default. The menu is workable but also seems to have taken a step back, the separation into Application, places, system was great and should have been kept. I expect that someone will come up with fixes for these things though, since these are mostly superficial things. 2009-11-14 9:18 am vivainio Now don’t get me wrong I like their virtual desktop and window manager a lot, its a very attractive and intuitive design, I just don’t see why it has to be activated every time I use the menu. That will be very distracting and while I can see why a couple people could desire such a combination, its unsuited for the default behavior. Launching new apps is actually quite rare, compared to navigating between existing ones. This is only distracting if you typically stare at your current application while launching the new one (as the new app will obstruct the windows of the old apps anyway). The technology we have now (in gnome2) is dated, because what gnome shell is doing now was not feasible before we got almost-universal compositing capability. The push towards advanced features like this is actually what makes gnome/kde worthwhile – otherwise we could be (and some are!) using any old fluxbox/xfce/icewm. 2009-11-14 9:50 am sakeniwefu The push towards advanced features like this is actually what makes gnome/kde worthwhile – otherwise we could be (and some are!) using any old fluxbox/xfce/icewm. So the reason to replace a working and efficient paradigm by a bunch of floating resizing and translucid thingies is that we have 3D graphics card? I like innovation, but in the common sense innovation means change for good. eg. IE6 vs Firefox 1.5 with tabs or even, why not, having a preview of the window when hovering over a taskbar button. Replacing easily navigable menus by click through adventure games(minus the games and the adventure) or modal “ribbons” that use half the screen do not fit that definition. 2009-11-14 4:32 pm Praxis Launching new apps is actually quite rare, compared to navigating between existing ones. This is only distracting if you typically stare at your current application while launching the new one (as the new app will obstruct the windows of the old apps anyway). They are two separate functions and the use of one does not require the use of the other. I often start new programs without needing or wanting to rearrange my windows and I often want to rearrange my windows separate from starting a new program. Maybe my workflow is completely alien and everyone else does it differently but it works and I don’t want it broken. I have no problem with Gnome/Kde using new technologies but don’t mess up peoples workflow, that was one of the main reasons kde4 was such a mess because they introduced eye candy while breaking basic functionality that still hasn’t been restored in some areas. Gnome 3 should under no circumstances make the same mistake. 2009-11-14 5:38 pm vivainio Maybe my workflow is completely alien and everyone else does it differently but it works and I don’t want it broken. You are a lucky guy to have a window management workflow that works well. It has pretty much always sucked for me (kde 4.3 sucks less than others, but gnome-shell looks promising as well), and I’m eager to see real innovation spurred by composition “bling” in this area. 2009-11-14 12:44 pm spinnekopje I like the screenshots pretty much. I would put the icons of the sidebar on the panel (active apps, most used apps). Personally I don’t see how you can like the menu of vista/7 because of the way you have to search for applications you rarely use. This implementation is much better (I really like the applications menu like it is now). Without effects the graphics shouldn’t be a problem. It just depends on how they save and display the inactive windows. 2009-11-14 3:05 pm yopmaster I think I will first use it before making an comments. But I’m very pleased to see that the are trying something new, with a personality. Not just yet another a Windows copy. I’m really longing to try the stable version. 2009-11-14 3:17 pm helf huh. From looking at the screenshots it doesn’t look *too* bad. I’d still want the bottom panel from gnome 2.x on the bottom of the screen.. but overall, it doesn’t look *too* annoying… I’ll reserve judgment till after I use it some. 2009-11-14 4:30 pm Zifre I’ve been using Gnome-shell on Ubuntu 9.10 lately, and it’s very nice; it just needs a bit more polishing. The only really big issue I’ve been having is that it is using really big fonts in some places (i.e. probably 150 pt or more). The two places where I’m having this issue are when you mouse-over a window in the activities view, and in the time/calender applet when you click on it. The calender applet fills the entire screen (and more)! 2009-11-15 12:22 am nt_jerkface They should build around moblin if they want a unique interface: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsCpIeLLoT8 2009-11-15 2:00 am Delgarde They should build around moblin if they want a unique interface: Not a chance. I’ve played with Moblin on my netbook, and while it’s well suited to that machine, it’s not at all suited to a regular desktop environment, running on, say, a 24″ screen. That said, there is code sharing going on between Moblin and Gnome Shell, since both make extensive use of the Clutter library… 2009-11-15 7:42 am nt_jerkface I said build around as in take the concept and expand upon it. 2009-11-15 11:23 pm diegoviola Good thing that we have KDE. 2009-11-17 3:11 am Quake I guess I’ll have to switch to XFCE when Gnome 3 comes… Edited 2009-11-17 03:11 UTC 2009-11-17 10:52 pm google_ninja So window management has become modal, where you flip a toggle and suddenly everything behaves completely differently until you flip the switch again? It is a great example of what every book and paper on usability in the last 30 years says is a bad idea. I can’t believe gnome would go this direction.