About Gnome again

Posted by Hendrik Sollich on December 1, 2011

Linux Mint 12 just came out and I had to give it a try the other day. Very nice piece work. There have been quite a few interesting changes the Mint Contributers made to their Distro. So I am not at all surprised about Mints steady rise in popularity.

Therefore I was very excited when I heard they made some changes to Gnome 3 to make it more usable. Unfortunately what they did was just adding a shell extension to Gnome 3 to give it a Gnome 2 like Taskbar.

It did not save me from getting absolutely frustrated by it. There is just so much functionality missing and you can’t even blame it on an early release, because they didn’t even add anything useful in Gnome 3.2 – they added web app integration…

Suddenly you can’t do anything with it anymore. The window manager is minimal, you can only maximize or close windows. The desktops can only be accessed by sequentially walking through a vertical list and if you have more than one window on a desktop you never see a list of windows. The panel is rock solid at the top of the screen, no way of moving it around or changing its functionality. And don’t ask me about the application menu, which apparently is meant to be accessed via touchscreen because the buttons are humongous and searching for an application is causing you to pick up your mouse and scroll all around a grid that looks like is taken off the iPad.

So. Did we all suddenly migrate our Linux desktops onto tablets over night and I did not realize? Do the Gnome people write their code on WeTabs? What about the power users? What about having n×n desktops on your screen? What about having two panels? What about vertically/horizontally minimizing windows? What about having more than just one window on a desktop and actually seeing the ones out of focus? What about having have a panel that is auto-hidden. What about chioce?

I know they claim to have a new philosophy that too many options confuse the user. But again – who do they think is using Gnome? Those who come from Gnome 2 two have no problem with complicated technology – they are using Linux! Those how may start using Linux might like the new look but might eventually want to do more with it than what it can now? I realize there is a gnome-tweak-tool, but that does not nearly cover what you should expect.

Dear Gnome Designers, I know you put a lot of thought into Gnome 3 and have a sound explanation for every change you make but how about this: You ship Gnome 3 looking just the way it does now but you don’t make it mandatory to keep it that way. The magic word in your case would be ‘Sane Defaults’. I’d like to be able to profit from GTK3 and the better system integration and performance but I would also want use my computer the way I liked to again. That was the original reason I switched to Linux.



I forgot to actually publish this post. So this is not so up to date any longer :S