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LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 20, 2013
Pencil, Pencil, and Pencil
Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
GNOME 3.8 to drop fallback mode
Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:28 UTC (Fri) by GhePeU (subscriber, #56133)
I could list all the subscribers/guest who were quick to reply "you can always use fallback mode" whenever someone complained about a new GNOME (anti)feature... I could, but I'm not going to. You know who you are.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:51 UTC (Fri) by patrick_g (subscriber, #44470)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 11:13 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
GNOME devs want everyone's GNOME desktop to look the same. They keep saying this, there's no reason to disbelieve them when they say this is their goal for GNOME.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 11:21 UTC (Fri) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715)
That's not the reason for dropping fallback mode see:
Yes I know fancy conspiracy theories are more fun then the boring reality but still such comments aren't helpful.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 11:32 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
"In addition to these issues, some people would like to improve components of the fallback mode to work differently -- but in a way that would make the fallback mode work more like GNOME 2, and diverge from the GNOME 3 vision. Those contributions are usually blocked because the goal of the fallback mode is to work the GNOME 3 way."
Note that one of the earlier reasons is that fallback mode wasn't being maintained, but from that paragraph it's clear that those who care enough to work on fallback mode have their contributions blocked because of "the GNOME 3 vision".
It's bizarre that you dismiss comments that were formed by effectively summating public statements from GNOME devs as conspiracy theories, and give links that contain material which actually is consistent with the point you intended to refute.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 12:50 UTC (Fri) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
Gnome (the project) has a vision of a consistent environment, so they don't accept patches that go against that overall design. Very rightly so. If somebody doesn't like Gnome 3, they are free to use another desktop environment. Nobody is forced to use Gnome 3, and nobody should feel entitled to dictate their overall view on the Gnome project. At least not without being actively involved in said decision process, and definitely not by whining in public. If you like Gnome 2 so much, go contribute to the projects which work on grafting the Gnome 2 UI onto Gnome3 infrastructure. "Code talks, BS walks," as they say.
BTW, I do remember all the screaming and shouting about the oh so bad, unusuable, klunky new Gnome 2, with hordes threatening to abandon Gnome, or keeping Gnome 1 alive forever. After a few releases of Gnome 2, the loud complainers were silently using Gnome 2... and AFAICS the very same thing is happening right now, again.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 12:59 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
That's not to suggest they're not entitled to do that.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:03 UTC (Fri) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
After a few releases of Gnome 2, the loud complainers were silently using Gnome 2... and AFAICS the very same thing is happening right now, again.
Maybe. I think there are a number of ways this is playing out:
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:42 UTC (Fri) by alexl (subscriber, #19068)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 16:05 UTC (Fri) by fb (subscriber, #53265)
I would argue that while all these desktops change, the rate of changes is (IMO) a lot higher in Linux.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:07 UTC (Fri) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
Why would a switch to Windows/Mac be any different for the last type?
It wouldn't. But two things: (1) there's a perception that proprietary vendors are somehow more "professional" or do more in-depth UI research than FOSS vendors, and (2) once people do switch to a proprietary system, they're locked in and it's extremely hard to get them back into the free software community.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 19:11 UTC (Fri) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
Only... I got a nice new Lenovo T430 with Win7 pro, 64 bit. I was a good boy and I created restore media. Well done! Then I plopped the disk from my old laptop in the second bay and started dual booting.
All was well -- except that Windows 7 couldn't install the majority of its crucial system updates because it couldn't install them over locked files. But every reboot iteration helped a little there, and I got it up to date.
Then, after two weeks of heavy software development under Windows, I booted the laptop one morning to find it felt it had to check the disk. And yes, the night before I had performed a clean shutdown. And it felt it to repair stuff.
So I let it repair stuff. Turns out that the wifi and "internet time" services got damages. Zut... Let's try that restore media. Zut... It doesn't want to restore: indeed, restore silently fails. Wonderful. Still, deadlines are deadlines, so now laptop is tethered to its cable when doing Windows stuff.
The grass is not greener on the OSX side, either, where a regular OS update made my Mac Mini unbootable. Fortunately, that still came with OS dvd's, so I could reinstall, which is impossible with the Win7 partition on the T430.
Software sucks, hardware sucks, prices are doubling, pleasures are dwindling and nothing is as it should be!
Posted Nov 13, 2012 13:04 UTC (Tue) by nye (guest, #51576)
Well it's a good think Linux runs tickety-boo when your disk starts returning bad data.
>All was well -- except that Windows 7 couldn't install the majority of its crucial system updates because it couldn't install them over locked files. But every reboot iteration helped a little there, and I got it up to date.
I imagine many people here don't have direct recent experience of Windows Update; suffice it to say that the above is a major exaggeration. Windows does indeed still have the crazy file locking semantics and has no equivalent to ksplice, so some updates will still require a reboot, but this talk of 'reboot cycles' is a tired old canard. The only Linux distribution I have recent 'desktop' experience of is Ubuntu, and that pops up 'reboot required' reminders somewhat more often than Windows does.)
Posted Nov 13, 2012 13:31 UTC (Tue) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
No, my hardware didn't fail Windows failed. The disk wasn't actually broken, Windows 7 was broken.
And no, Nye, I did not lie about the windows update problems. I did not exaggerate, let alone majorly.
It was exactly as I described. On starting the laptop after unboxing, the update center informed me that it needed to install a few dozen updates, and I said Ok. Then it informed me that it needed to reboot, and I said Ok. Then it tried to apply the updates, failed, and on showing the desktop told me it had crucial updates to apply I said Ok, and it asked me to reboot, and I said Ok -- rinse and repeat until Windows was satisfied.
Posted Nov 15, 2012 19:24 UTC (Thu) by Cato (subscriber, #7643)
OS X (10.7 Lion) is pretty painful for me at the moment because my Macbook Air WiFi goes mad man times a day - usually turning WiFi on and off, or rebooting, or power cycling the WAP, will fix it. I resorted to installing a driver from previous OS X version just to improve the WiFi. Ultimately I think it's that OS X doesn't like working with my Asus WAP (RT-N10), which works fine with a couple of iOS devices, some Windows laptops, etc. There's a 150 page thread on the Apple forums about this WiFi issue with Lion.
Ironically enough, I got this WAP because of an iPad 3 having WiFi problems with a WRT54G running Tomato.
Macs are quite nice in some ways as a reasonably sane Unix environment that also has nice software you can buy if you want, plus a lot of open source software - but in my experience the Apple WiFi support is truly awful. I suspect Apple only tests with their own Airport WAPs.
Posted Nov 15, 2012 19:27 UTC (Thu) by Cato (subscriber, #7643)
If you are having unexplained file corruption, it could be a RAM error as well, of course.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:18 UTC (Mon) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
Mac OS X was a large change from OS 9 but since then its desktop has remained pretty much the same. It has added a few features and changed a few minor things but I could be just as comfortable using OS 10.3 as 10.7. (10.0, .1 and .2 were a bit too clunky).
Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:06 UTC (Fri) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Posted Nov 24, 2012 7:21 UTC (Sat) by steffen780 (guest, #68142)
PS: Well, "no trouble" may be exaggerated, but I certainly managed to complete what should be trivial tasks like shutting down without assistance.
Posted Nov 24, 2012 9:01 UTC (Sat) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:20 UTC (Fri) by jond (subscriber, #37669)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:12 UTC (Fri) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:32 UTC (Fri) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
Your second point (again, just like in Gnome 1 --> 2) should read "Some technically-savvy people dislike GNOME 3 and are able to switch to XFCE, KDE, or whatever. I'm in this camp, complain loudly on LWN and $ELSEWHERE, and will quietly switch back to Gnome once I get bored with $REPLACEMENT." (Yes, Linus famously decreed Gnome 2 was useless junk when it came out. Now he complains Gnome 3 is different...).
Posted Nov 10, 2012 0:09 UTC (Sat) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 1:48 UTC (Sat) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
and will quietly switch back to Gnome once I get bored with $REPLACEMENT
Very unlikely. I've been a dedicated XFCE user for many years and see no reason to abandon it.
I'm not complaining about GNOME 3 for my own sake... I don't use it. However, it's going to be wrenching for my users (I'll probably switch them to XFCE instead) and I believe it will drive quite a few people away from Linux altogether.
Posted Nov 22, 2012 16:30 UTC (Thu) by TRauMa (guest, #16483)
The loud complainers
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:19 UTC (Fri) by oldtomas (guest, #72579)
I'm using FVWM now.
At that time I went for GNOME mainly for two reasons: QT licensing issues and the promise of less bloat. Ironically, the GNOME of today is even more bloated than KDE, which is quite a feat.
(This isn't intended as offense: I do realize that one person's bloat are the other person's features, and I wouldn't dare to force anyone not to use GNOME, as much as I woldn't like to be forced to use GNOME -- or dbus or whatever).
The feature creep (why has the desktop environment to take over the "mounting" of devices? That' the job of the OS, I thought?) downright scares me.
(I do agree on your other points).
Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:42 UTC (Fri) by dcbw (guest, #50562)
"Mounting a file system into the root file system involves a certain degree of configuration and as such is subject to whatever preferences an user might have. gnome-mount allows the user to control the mount point location, the mount options and what file system to use for mounting a file system. The settings are read from the gconf database (which is per-user) and can also be overridden on the command line using the appropriate parameters."
If you accept that mounting a volume can (a) have user-specific preferences and (b) have specific permissions, then something has to talk to the user session to make those determinations. And a root process reading user settings usually runs afoul of security policy, hence the user-session mounting utilities.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:10 UTC (Fri) by oldtomas (guest, #72579)
Most definitely, totally agree. But then, it's a problem to be fixed at the system level, and to try to provide a dektop-independent interface for desktop environments to hook-in -- instead of kludging it at the desktop level.
For one data point, I just finished "fixing" the Gnome metadata of one user: the emblems and comments disappeared just because this user's harddisk changed and the metadata are tucked away in some obscure database in the home directory... tied to the disk's UUID. Eek!
Look, I do understand that the desktop folks want to get things done, but this stacking up of leaky abstraction on top of leaky abstraction just scares me. I prefer to stay clear of that and to think of better alternatives -- if there are any. That's all.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:41 UTC (Fri) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 0:08 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
These days I don't even bother trying to report bugs in udisks. The maintainer just doesn't care.
Sorry, this is not good maintenance.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:30 UTC (Mon) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
upower is a critical system daemon these days because Gnome won't suspend the laptop on lid close without it. But of course, any tiny difference in sysfs configuration and it dies. It either crashes or does a g_error log and exit. Now who thought doing abort in a power management daemon was a good idea?
This has caused me to have a drained laptop at least three times.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 15:33 UTC (Sun) by oldtomas (guest, #72579)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 18:55 UTC (Fri) by LightDot (guest, #73140)
Anyway, this kind of stance produced Mate, Cinnamon, Nemo, etc., so all is well, open source works as intended. Significant parts of Gnome user and developer base dislike the way project is run enough to spring numerous forks, which are gaining serious momentum too.
Code talks, bs walks... I personally think code is doing the talking and actual walking here, BS is staying put. :p ;)
Heh. And I actually like many things about Gnome-shell. Imagine all those that don't...
Posted Nov 10, 2012 0:24 UTC (Sat) by ikm (subscriber, #493)
How did you know that given that they were silent about it? I was among those who used Gnome 1 and did not like Gnome 2. I could never start to use it comfortably and silently switched to KDE in the end. I am sure a lot people have silently switched to another DE as well.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 13:20 UTC (Fri) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
If you disagree that fallback mode was a fallback when hardware support was not available: it is called fallback mode; customization was not impossible, but the default obviously had to look like GNOME 3. Various applets were ported during 3.2. Various work still went into it in later versions (ibus).
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:14 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:20 UTC (Fri) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
Unfortunately, it seems that various other projects have specific support to make fallback mode work. So initially I was happy that as a side-benefit people would be able to get a GNOME 2 experience. At the moment I'm doubting if it is feasible because it involves way more than just gnome-panel and metacity.
To give a bit more concrete insight: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=fallback. That is the tracker bug.
BTW: Fallback mode has been discussed during the development of 3.4 already. Only since 2-3 weeks I heard that Unity apparently depends on various fallback mode bits.
So sometimes things are not intended in a bad way, but they can easily be interpreted as such. E.g. "GNOME fallback removal to kill Unity".. while in practice we (at least me) had no idea despite having discussed this for 6+ months. For the Unity case we did ask Canonical before doing an announcement... though we work in the open so official announcement is often way later than sites reporting it as news.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:58 UTC (Fri) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019)
It looks like LXDE and Xfce do as well.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:40 UTC (Fri) by gpoo (subscriber, #56055)
"Compile a list of gnome-shell extensions that can help people who prefer the GNOME 2 UX #685744" (which points to https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=685744).
That is besides of people who want to take care of gnome-panel et al. However, I really doubt there will be people stepping up to help with those packages, considering the many calls for help in the last 2 years. I would like to be proven wrong, though.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:01 UTC (Fri) by gpoo (subscriber, #56055)
In the last 2,5 years there are just very few patches submitted to gnome-panel, and only one (yes, 1) has been rejected for the reason given in the paragraph. Which is the following one: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=674580
There were others bugs reported before GNOME 3.0 that were declared obsoletes, but those can't count as contributions to provide an alternative UI to GNOME 3.0.
I have been following gnome-panel bugs since I helped to ported it to GTK3. Even back then there was a lot of rant and, as we see today, some people assumed bad intentions, but the truth is that there was almost nobody really stepping up to give a hand.
Posted Nov 22, 2012 16:25 UTC (Thu) by TRauMa (guest, #16483)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:26 UTC (Fri) by gpoo (subscriber, #56055)
When the resources are scarce, you have to choose the battles you are going to fight.
There were several calls for people to step up and help to maintaining those bits of code. Guess how many people stepped up.
There are people who say what [project] developers should do, there are people who say they are going to help and there are people who actually help. The last ones are the valuable, everything else is just wishful thinking.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:36 UTC (Fri) by thebluesgnr (guest, #37963)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:11 UTC (Sat) by patrick_g (subscriber, #44470)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:24 UTC (Sat) by deepfire (subscriber, #26138)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 19:32 UTC (Sat) by thebluesgnr (guest, #37963)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:42 UTC (Fri) by mmonaco (guest, #84041)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:46 UTC (Fri) by kragil (guest, #34373)
The future of Gnome3 is Gnome2.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:22 UTC (Fri) by jond (subscriber, #37669)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:09 UTC (Fri) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
A packaging/fork issue of Cinnamon resulted in a massive GNOME bug in Mageia. Basically Cinnamon didn't rename something, resulting in the auto provides/dependencies getting screwed up. At the moment there are only GNOME and KDE live cds, no MATE and no Cinnamon. To be clear: I help with Mageia and my interest is solely GNOME, as long as GNOME works I don't want to know what else is available or happening :) Cinnamon breaking GNOME (didn't start up) obviously was not something I want though ;)
I noticed MATE packaging in Fedora and Opensuse. Also Unity, but there often they packaged forked projects... which IMO is just wrong.
In any case, GNOME 2 is dead. Maybe future is MATE.. but nobody picked up on GNOME 2 (they could've, I've offered git accounts in the past).
Posted Nov 9, 2012 11:32 UTC (Fri) by LightDot (guest, #73140)
There are of course other options, like KDE, Xfce, LXD. Or simply using a distribution that still carries and supports Gnome 2 and will do so for years to come, such as CentOS 6 or Scientific Linux 6. I do this in such cases for now.
Personally, I'm currently testing Enlightenment e17 alpha release and I'm very pleasantly surprised.
I should mention that I reasonably like Gnome-shell too. But I strongly dislike the general attitude of the project towards user suggestions and the butchering of existing UI functionality. Their "improvements" of Nautilus file manager UI were what finally did it for me.
Then again, there would be no Cinnamon without this, no Nemo without them "working" on Nautilus. Competition is a good thing and all this is a showcase for open source approach to software.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 12:07 UTC (Fri) by tao (subscriber, #17563)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 16:08 UTC (Fri) by dashesy (subscriber, #74652)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:47 UTC (Fri) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
I'm waiting for the stable release.
I haven't used E since the Red Hat days (was that 6?), so I'm looking forward to trying it again.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:52 UTC (Fri) by mmonaco (guest, #84041)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:44 UTC (Fri) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
Call me cynical, but I suspect this was "Plan A" from the start.
But I'm not complaining -- I quite like Cinnamon on top of Gnome 3.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 18:16 UTC (Fri) by intgr (subscriber, #39733)
"Cynical"? "Suspect"? What's wrong with you people?! You make it sound like developing GNOME 3 was a big conspiracy with the only goal of conning people into using the fallback mode and then drop that when users expect it the least. And now you're saying "I told you so! I suspected it from the start!" :)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:49 UTC (Fri) by sionescu (subscriber, #59410)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 23:18 UTC (Fri) by ebassi (subscriber, #54855)
i.e. cite your sources, or cut the bullshit.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 13:30 UTC (Sat) by sionescu (subscriber, #59410)
Posted Nov 22, 2012 16:37 UTC (Thu) by TRauMa (guest, #16483)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 23:51 UTC (Fri) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
Well, speaking for myself, I'm a dinosaur that doesn't want my desktop to look (and act) like a giant smartphone.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 4:26 UTC (Sat) by ncm (subscriber, #165)
Posted Nov 18, 2012 17:06 UTC (Sun) by Jandar (subscriber, #85683)
Posted Nov 24, 2012 7:31 UTC (Sat) by steffen780 (guest, #68142)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 19:12 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:14 UTC (Fri) by nicku (subscriber, #777)
How about simply let them try the new shell to see if they either like it or not while staying objective as possible?
Some parents or grand-parents adapt faster than these users know despite complaints.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 11:57 UTC (Fri) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
SHOCKED, I say.
Good thing I've had several years to get used to and grow to like XFCE.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 12:53 UTC (Fri) by freemars (subscriber, #4235)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 13:00 UTC (Fri) by hummassa (subscriber, #307)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:01 UTC (Fri) by jbicha (subscriber, #75043)
Posted Nov 13, 2012 13:37 UTC (Tue) by nye (guest, #51576)
Windows 7 is supported until 2020. That means it will have been possible for a Windows user to use the same basic UI paradigm without significant interruption - but *with* incremental improvement - for *25 years*.
Twenty. Five. Years.
None of those projects has even *existed* for that long. Do you think Gnome 3 will still be around in 2020? Anything's possible, but let's say I'd be mightily surprised.
Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:12 UTC (Tue) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185)
Twenty. Four. Years.
Gosh! That's almost as long as Windows!
And it has given its users the same basic UI paradigm -- windows, titlebars, buttons, panel, start menu from 1997 onwards. That desktop will still be around in eight years.
I'll grant you your "interruptions" -- for people eager enough to always install the latest version, instead of going with the supported 3.x versions while 4.x was settling down, but then, living through Windows 95, ME, XP, NT, 2000, Vista, 7 (and 8) hasn't been the bed of roses. Not for users, not for developers.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 13:29 UTC (Fri) by aryonoco (subscriber, #55563)
Reading LWN, it feels like the Gnome devs have designed Gnome 3 just for 'me'. It's so bizarre to feel that such a huge project has went out of its way to design my perfect desktop UI, when in fact I was a diehard KDE user for a long time...
Posted Nov 9, 2012 13:38 UTC (Fri) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
Aside from the occasional bug, it has been made of epic win. And that was before the extension list started to grow.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:00 UTC (Fri) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:54 UTC (Fri) by dcbw (guest, #50562)
Granted, I'm not doing much that requires me to view two windows at the same time and transcribe data between them, which is usually what people who use focus-follows-mouse and tiled windows tell me they do. Now that GNOME 3 is more keyboard friendly people will just find something else to complain about.
People. Will. Always. Complain. No matter what you do. That's just life.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 16:18 UTC (Fri) by dashesy (subscriber, #74652)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 18:30 UTC (Fri) by luto (subscriber, #39314)
"plus my laptop screen is 1280x800 so it's pretty hard to have more than 4 tiles at any time if I did use tiles"
This is my main objection to GNOME 3. I really like GNOME 3 on my laptop. It's a major step backwards on my multimonitor desktop. I think MS is making exactly the same mistake with Windows 8. On small devices, optimizing use of single applications (whether those applications be tabbed or otherwise) makes sense -- keeping lots of terminals and such around on a little screen doesn't work very well.
Sadly, having the GNOME 3 big-screen experience be different from the small-screen experience would be "inconsistent". Sigh.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:03 UTC (Fri) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
I never ever got used to multiple monitors. I tried during GNOME 2, but quickly removed the extra monitor. Also at work it is easy to request an additional monitor.. I just don't like it.
Quite interesting to read about the different experiences. Would be nice to analyse the way you work :)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:21 UTC (Fri) by luto (subscriber, #39314)
At work, I tend to have a web browser opened (usually Firefox, with a handful of tabs), two or three gnome-terminals (some of which are tabbed), and four or so emacs windows. I tend to move the windows around all the time. I currently have two 1680x1050 monitors, but I'll probably move to one 2560x1600 (or 1400 or however they come these days) and one smaller one off to the side eventually. I've never used multiple desktops effectively -- I'm usually working roughly on one task at a time, but that task involves looking back and forth between reference code (in emacs), reference material (in Firefox or maybe evince), and terminal output.
This is a lot of windows. I am very unproductive without some kind of efficient navigation. I have decent short-term spatial memory, so finding things on a dock (currently Cinnamon's, but I'm not really partial) is efficient; using fancy overviews is not because windows move around and, zoomed out, they all look more or less the same. (I can imagine this being reversed if I edited graphics or something like that.)
The Alt-Tab to change applications feature is counter-productive for me. My emacs windows are <i>not</i> all related to one task -- I'm much more likely to have an emacs window logically paired with a terminal.
Compositing is slow. This may not be Gnome's fault -- I have a low-bandwidth Radeon, and the drivers are not up to the i915 standard.
The top bar doesn't help me. I want a clock*, Pidgin (so IMs don't pop up but instead get my attention when my eyes wander up there), and a list of running programs. That's it. A name telling me what program has focus does nothing for me. Similarly, the notifications that hang out invisibly on the bottom of the screen are useless, because I can't see them. Programs like Pidgin and Remmina are completely usable on other WMs; I don't see why gnome-shell should make them suck.
On my laptop, this is all different. I'd still like a dock of some sort, but screen real estate is at a premium, and there simply isn't space for the mess of windows I use. gnome-shell does pretty well in that environment. (With caveats -- the focus on pretty black system-modal dialog boxes is bad -- the first time you try to connect to a wireless network and need to look up the password in your handy list of passwords, you'll curse at it, because you can't actually get to your list of passwords. The fact that the text entry widget doesn't really work right is a bug, not a mis-design, but fixing the bug wouldn't actually make the dialog box as a whole work better.)
P.S. I wholeheartedly support the elimination of fallback mode. If people want a different WM, they should use a different WM.
* Can someone please give me a clock that doesn't show seconds on the dock / top-bar but that *does* show seconds when I click it for a full calendar? This has always seemed like the Obviously Correct (tm) way to do it, but nothing works like that. (Again, not a GNOME 3 regression; I don't think I've seen any built-in clock get this right.)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 0:12 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 3:38 UTC (Sat) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:39 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 15:06 UTC (Sat) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
I wonder… :)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 16:20 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
RHEL on the desktop
Posted Nov 10, 2012 17:53 UTC (Sat) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841)
One example: my university has a licensing agreement to mediate distribution and support of RHEL on all (so far as I know) campus machines, including individual desktops. So individual labs and individual desktop users have some incentive to use RHEL. I personally don't think RHEL is a good choice for my lab machines, so I don't use it. But I can certainly understand why other labs do.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:31 UTC (Sat) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 22:04 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
every kiosk interface needs to be built on top of some desktop interface, try it sometime.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 19:09 UTC (Fri) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
If nothing else, the stack-oriented workspace approach. I tend to use one workspace per active project, with anywhere from two to twenty windows on each workspace. As I type this, I have seven workspaces on this system.
And that's seven dual-1920x1200-monitor workspaces, mind you.
I love that I don't need to take my hands off the keyboard most of the time. I love that it's all dynamic. I love the simple, austere approach that stays out of my way. I love the lack of a "desktop".
I don't care about nautilus, or indeed most of the "gnome ecosystem" -- Just the gnome-shell, and the various applications/tools/whatever I use regularly. It Just Works.
Oh, as an anectdote, my linux-illiterate roommates figured out gnome3 all on their own (ie, how to launch a web browser, file manipulation, removable media) without so much as a single question. (Contrast that to them managing to get the old Win7 install rooted within two days...)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:23 UTC (Fri) by paravoid (subscriber, #32869)
GNOME "fallback" provided a nice familiar environment to me and immediately restored my productivitiy to its initial level.
It's sad to see it go. I really hope someone competent enough steps up and forks gnome-panel/metacity and maintain it. I'm fine with the rest of GNOME technologies and evolution, it's the Shell that I can't stand. IOW, I think MATE is trying too much to keep everything as they were.
Sorry GNOME, I guess it's time to remove the foot sticker from my laptop :)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 14:46 UTC (Fri) by alexl (subscriber, #19068)
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:05 UTC (Fri) by njwhite (subscriber, #51848)
Isn't that exactly what Cinnamon addresses?
Posted Nov 10, 2012 1:54 UTC (Sat) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
Xfce is the way to go. They've built something which is, in my opinion at least, better than GNOME2, rather than just trying to hold on to the past. Simple, fast, configurable. The right philosophy.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:32 UTC (Sat) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
It's a nightmare to configure compared to Gnome 3. There are a hundred little files and changes you need to make all over the system to get anything done. On multiple occasions I find myself mentally reverse engineering various XFCE features to try to figure out how to get things working properly.
It's not terrible, but it's certainly not simple or easy to setup. I put a huge personal investment in time back in the day to get a custom Linux desktop setup how I like that, but I abandoned that approach long ago when Gnome finally got usable around 2.8 series. I suppose if I stuck with editing rc files and such XFCE would be easy, but right now it seems like a huge step backwards.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 15:35 UTC (Sun) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
There are a hundred little files and changes you need to make all over the system to get anything done.
Could you give examples, please? I use XFCE on a number of machines and have never edited an XFCE configuration file. I've done all the (minimal) configuration I needed through the graphical XFCE settings manager.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 18:30 UTC (Sun) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
When I do want to change something, I use the control panel, accessible from the bottom menu bar. You can also right-click on various things to get configuration menus that way. It's basically the same as GNOME2 as far as configuration goes, except GNOME2 had that horrible registry thing, and Xfce just uses files (I think?) But that's just an implementation detail.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:31 UTC (Fri) by Zizzle (guest, #67739)
The biggest issue I have is that all the application names have changed.
e.g. gedit -> pluma
Posted Nov 9, 2012 18:06 UTC (Fri) by david.a.wheeler (subscriber, #72896)
--- David A. Wheeler
Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:14 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:36 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
So, yeah. Great idea this Gnome 3 concept of overview...
Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:15 UTC (Fri) by mchehab (subscriber, #41156)
I tried gnome 3 for maybe 3 months, highly tweaking it, adding dozens of extensions. Gnome 3 + 15 extensions is _almost_ as usable as gnome2.
- if one of the extensions fail, instead of trying to just disable the broken extension (or retry it, as it is generally transitory errors), it just forgets about all enabled extensions, forcing the user to re-work on all tweaks;
- I never found one usable extension that un-hides the notification area. I use 3 monitors (19', 32' and 17'). I have absolutely no reason why keeping anything as important as a notification bar hidden on my screen. Also, the notification bar should be on my middle monitor, and not at some
smaller one where a notification might not be noticed at all.
- gnome3 with 3 monitors is very painless to use; pop-up screens for applications opened on one monitor sometimes opens on another one; there are 2 (of the 3) top-left places where the mouse needs to run away, in order to avoid opening the unwanted "activities" mode; lastly, from time to time, really odd things happen on one of the monitors (maybe due to some DRM bug?).
For me, it seems that Gnome development simply lost its direction, causing major regressions at users environments.
To be fair, there is only one Gnome 3 feature I found useful: the application "search" bar, with is very nice to find some not-so-used tool (a typical developer like me don't use more than 5-7 graphical apps - even so, with 3 monitors, there are plenty of space to put all daily used apps).
Yet, it is _by_far_ better to have a GUI that works ok all the times, even missing some nice features (like Gnome2/Mate), than to have to daily deal with Gnome 3 bad behaviour, just because once a while it may be needed to seek for some weird application.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 1:03 UTC (Sat) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
I can suggest Gnome-Do or Launchy. Both excellent tools that will get you the same feature.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 4:21 UTC (Sat) by ncm (subscriber, #165)
Gnome is openly aiming at people who don't use their computer for much, like those making cars for people who don't drive, kitchens for people who don't cook, boats for people who don't sail, and books for people who don't read. There are many more of those people than of the rest, and collectively they have lots more money. The problem is that when you make the perfect system for them, they won't find it, because they can't be bothered to look. If they do happen across it, they won't tell anybody, because they won't notice.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 4:52 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:26 UTC (Sat) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:41 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 11, 2012 11:52 UTC (Sun) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
I fail to understand this obsession with remoting entire desktops when you can fire up any application you want, remotely, and just use that.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 13:21 UTC (Sun) by cortana (subscriber, #24596)
xpra disclaimer: I've tried it, it doesn't work *for me*, probably because the version I'm trying is a bit too old. I am encouraged that its success demonstrates that Wayland will drastically improve remote working on Linux systems.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 22:14 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Your suggestion is a bit like that of late Steve Jobs during the antenna problems with iPhone 4 - just don't hold it that way. Really?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 3:02 UTC (Mon) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
Of course, in the real world, what actually happens is that old systems are never replaced, only stacked upon, which is why my local auto parts store have POS terminals running fancy web-based UI running on an in-store server which just translates everything into a console/textual terminal session, which in turn tunnels over IP (instead to replace dedicated POTS phone lines) to a decades-old inventory-management application running on an emulator running on an IBM mainframe (which itself may be emulated...)
And of course, the source code to all of those intermediate components is long gone, so no changes could be made even if they were willing to risk breaking the whole stack to improve the efficiency of even one component.
Fortunately, the Free Software Movement is braver than that. Which is how we have the likes of KDE4, Gnome3. And KDE3, Gnome2/MATE/Cinnamon, and XFCE, Enlightenment, and many, many others.
We control the entire stack by virtue of having full source code to everything, and the rights to change it however we like. It's downright stupid to cripple our primary advantage by treating any part of that stack as a sacred cow that can't be slaughtered.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:03 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:42 UTC (Sat) by deepfire (subscriber, #26138)
Posted Nov 11, 2012 12:04 UTC (Sun) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
And the X800, also eight years old, is a full *seven* generations old now, and the last two (or three?) generations of even integrated Intel graphics is both more powerful and more capable.
Modern Linux Desktop Environments actually use the capabilities of semi-modern graphics hardware.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 22:21 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 2:46 UTC (Mon) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
Only in la-la land (and Debian) is the answer "don't decide, and just go with all of the above."
"Running optimally" on modern graphics hardware means that you still have to support obsolete graphics hardware, which means your entire decision/design tree has to incorporate that. It's double to triple the initial amount of design/coding work, and exponentially increases the support cost, and does not gain them anything significant on their strategic long-term goals of building a kick-ass *desktop* environment.
They decided to focus their effort into building a single opengl-driven path. For a fallback for completely obsolete hardware, a pure software opengl rasterizer would be used, keeping the complexity at the natural component boundaries, rather than have to have the entire stack aware of everything else. It's sound software engineering practice.
We're at the same situation with desktop 3D as we were in the earlier days of Linux-wireless, before there was solid internal infrastructure and enough common code to make things consistent. Each driver had its quirks, so all applications had to know about those quirks to ensure consistent end-user behaviour.
NetworkManager was a major disruption, because its maintainer took it upon himself to actually fix the underlying buggy drivers so they all behaved in a consistent manner. This is where the Gnome3 folks are at now; a great deal of work is going on behind the scenes to drag the 3D stack kicking and screaming into the modern era.
This means prioritizing development effort -- fix the backend bugs, and everyone benefits in the end, rather than work around the backend bugs, and do three times as much work each time something new comes along.
(and as an aside, modern hardware doesn't even have any sort of 2D engine beyond a dumb framebuffer any more; do we "emulate" the old 2D stuff via the 3D engine, or target the future, and make everything 3D which vastly reduces the overall amount of work necessary?)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 9:50 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:08 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
But if you do that on x86, you break the BIOS. So video cards on x86 keep dragging around at least VGA text mode (and probably the whole panoply of even more ancient CGA/EGA/Hercules-compatible text modes and a bunch of VESA modes too).
Now you'd think EFI BIOS would give a chance to fix this -- only my new machine's EFI BIOS boots up in VGA text mode! So it doesn't look to me like VGA text mode is disappearing any time soon, and i fthat's not vanishing I suspect the 2D layer is sticking around too, even if in emulation, even if as merely a dumb framebuffer.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:59 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Any part of the '2D acceleration hardware' has been gone for a while now. At least from modern hardware. Any sort of acceleration support based on 2D hardware is done through emulation, if it exists at all.
VGA mode and such things are more related to modesetting which is a bit orthogonal to that issue.
Modesetting issues were one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reasons to keep the old driver framework inherited from XFree86. Without modesetting support you couldn't really display anything useful on the display, especially if your display isn't one of the 'standard' resolutions and support for that resolution wasn't programmed into the BIOS (a typical issue on old pre-GMA Intel IGP laptops)
Now that mode setting has moved to the kernel rather then in the XServer having the Xserver direct access to hardware or their own special drivers is more of a detriment then anything else. Hopefully Wayland turns into a usable solution for running X applications on Linux since it will simplify the driver situation quite a bit.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:44 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
I use one of those low-end AMD Fusion laptop. One of those were the CPU and GPU are integrated together. Gnome 3 runs as well on that system as any desktop, thank-you-very-much.
Posted Nov 9, 2012 20:04 UTC (Fri) by juliank (subscriber, #45896)
Visual hints: The user menu status is hard to recognize, as everything is monochrome, making it hard to know for users whether they are online or not.
Visual hints (2): You don't see whether you have new notifications (e.g. chats). I have installed a plugin to fix that, but it's not packaged for Debian AFAIK, which means extra work.
Chat integration: Having two ways to chat with people might be confusing to users.
Stability: I'm not sure how stable it is. I only have Debian's 3.4, and it's clearly less stable than GNOME 2 (or likely fallback mode). It crashes from time to time, probably about once per month. It also does not like resuming that much, and can crash, probably because it tries to render something before the Intel GPU's 3D driver is properly re-initialised.
But there are problems with fallback mode, too:
Flash performance: Flash performs much better in Shell than in fallback mode. In fallback mode, you will see lines on your screen as it draws a new frame.
Uglyness: Media applications look slightly ugly, as they are rendered with the dark theme, but metacity uses the normal theme.
In the end, I don't know what I'll choose for my users' systems. I personally am happy with GNOME Shell and don't want to miss it, but I don't know whether my users will be happy with it.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 8:02 UTC (Sat) by suckfish (guest, #69919)
I'm guessing due to a lack of man-power...
I've come to the conclusion [from a position of blissful ignorance] that gnome's main problem is simply a lack of developers.
Gnome 3 did have some really great ideas. But trying to use it, I've simply never found it mature or fleshed out enough for day to day usage.
So which came first and caused the other; the lack of manpower or the ongoing slow death of Gnome?
I suspect the lack of manpower - Ubuntu are the only people making a serious investment in the Linux desktop, and they've gone their own way. Gnome seems to have a handful of active developers; compare that to e.g., Mozilla's 500 odd employees; how many people do you think MS has working on their desktop and basic UI infrastructure, I'll bet at least 10 times as many as gnome, wouldn't be surprised if it's 100 times as many.
Lack of manpower
Posted Nov 12, 2012 9:00 UTC (Mon) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
At this point it is not a question of "should have innovated"; everyone else (Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu) is moving ahead with the "tablet-oriented" paradigm, so the Gnome people embracing it was just logical; an outdated interface (such as . So abandoning fallback mode makes sense: either they improve the overall desktop or maintain two different versions. Those dinosaurs (like me) who want an outdated, functional desktop are better served by other options such as Xfce; Gnome needs to move full-speed ahead now because there is not any other path left, and perhaps make the desktop usable again for everyone in a few years.
Oh, and extensions are a ticking bomb: they have solved their immediate problems but at the cost of adding lots of configuration options. Anyone having used a classic Mac OS 7-9 desktop will start shivering at the mention of extension conflcts.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:46 UTC (Sat) by deepfire (subscriber, #26138)
GNOME (et al): Rotting In Threes -- https://igurublog.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/gnome-et-al-ro...
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:57 UTC (Sat) by deepfire (subscriber, #26138)
> mccann replies:
> I guess you have to decide if you are a GNOME app, an Ubuntu app, or
> an XFCE app unfortunately. I’m sorry that this is the case but it wasn’t
> GNOME’s fault that Ubuntu has started this fork. And I have no idea what
> XFCE is or does sorry.
> It is my hope that you are a GNOME app…
This article needs publicity.
To me, GNOME developers seem having come from some different planet.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 19:26 UTC (Sat) by rleigh (subscriber, #14622)
When such issues, clearly spelled out, still don't seem to have made it into the collective GNOME consciousness, it does not bode well for the future of GTK+. There was (and is) a massive userbase of GTK+ application developers who use GTK+ outside of the confines of GNOME. Are they all going to be completely screwed over by these people? It would unfortunately appear that this is exactly what is happening.
The main problem seems to be the unhealthy obsession with the "brand" and superficial appearance of the software to the detriment of all else. There are much bigger fish to fry than this superficial frippery.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 2:19 UTC (Sun) by LightDot (guest, #73140)
Did it really come this far that even extensions and themes are considered detrimental to Gnome project goals? Which is... what? Corporate branding?
Posted Nov 11, 2012 22:04 UTC (Sun) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
That one Gnome developer has aired a view that grates you the wrong way is truly appalling...
Posted Nov 11, 2012 23:34 UTC (Sun) by LightDot (guest, #73140)
I won't list the developers names here as I don't want to make this in any way personal (it really isn't), but I believe I have counted at least five persons, all presumably employed by Red Hat to work on Gnome, GTK+ or related tasks.
I just don't see these as merely sporadic private views of people that don't have any weight. I also don't see these views as uncharacteristic of the way Gnome 3 is taking lately. Am I wrong? I'd be glad to be wrong.
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