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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
I said no such thing. I just want a distro that comes with both GNOME 2 and GNOME 3. I can then choose at login time which I want.
GNOME 3 can then be developed in any direction, I don't care.
> You have been informed about disruptive change before but choose to disregard it for the sake of selfiness.
Being informed of a disruptive change doesn't stop it from being disruptive.
The fact is there is no distro that comes with GNOME 2 and GNOME 3.
> Some journalists are supposed to be objective but, in Gnome case, displayed the level of fanaticism and extreme bias.
I didn't actually make any argument about that. But I will now. It's dangerous to label anyone who criticisms GNOME 3 as non-objective and not worth listening to. Irrelevance lies in that direction.
> You liked Gnome because it matured in time, did you like it on its first release? Every desktop environment on early release has their own quirks
People keep making that argument about GNOME 3. But I don't think it's down to bugs. It's a deliberate paradigm change.
I don't think the GNOME developers intend on bringing back the taskbar or having static workspaces, or a configurable top panel.
And that is their choice and I'm ok with that. But why deny me from using GNOME 2 which does have those things?
And even if that were not the case, why should I not be able to use the mature GNOME 2 until GNOME 3 matures?
Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users
Posted Nov 10, 2012 22:08 UTC (Sat) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
There were in a past prior to Gnome Shell preview aside of Gnome 2.28 from 2009 to 2010 before the launch of Gnome 3.
> I didn't actually make any argument about that. But I will now. It's dangerous to label anyone who criticisms GNOME 3 as non-objective and not worth listening to. Irrelevance lies in that direction.
Careful. With that quote: "Yeah, users/journalists suck and GNOME developers are super awesome and never do anything wrong, we get it."
Who are "we"? When that post appears with that style, prepare for better reaction. The "we" definitely do not represent the entire users.
> People keep making that argument about GNOME 3. But I don't think it's down to bugs. It's a deliberate paradigm change.
Based on research and attempt to break the old paradigm.
> I don't think the GNOME developers intend on bringing back the taskbar or having static workspaces, or a configurable top panel.
Why should they with the advent of extensions that provide that taskbar (https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/368/taskbar-with-d...), static workspace that can be enable via gnome-tweak-tool or recently setting center(https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/341/settingscenter/), top panel that can be moved via panel setting extension(https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/208/panel-settings/)?
> And that is their choice and I'm ok with that. But why deny me from using GNOME 2 which does have those things?
You can easily configure your Gnome Shell all you want thank to the extensions (https://extensions.gnome.org). In fact, you are more than granted for having that flexibility.
Posted Nov 10, 2012 22:58 UTC (Sat) by rleigh (subscriber, #14622)
> Based on research and attempt to break the old paradigm.
The old GNOME2 HIG was mostly based upon quality work by the Sun Microsystems usability engineers. While it might not have been "exciting", it was mostly good stuff, and played an important role in GNOME2 becoming the refined, usable desktop environment that it was, including all its applications. I'm unconvinced that there were any "paradigms" that needed "breaking" here. All that happened was that GNOME got broken.
I hate to think what those (ex-) Sun engineers' opinion is of how their hard work has been ruined in favour of "branding" and "experience" above actual real usability and functionality.
> You can easily configure your Gnome Shell all you want thank to the extensions
No, you can't. Having a "broken by default" setup, which can be made "slightly more usable" by downloading untrusted code from a random website (rather than being an integrated part of your distribution) is just insane.
This stupidity is all because the "designers" of GNOME are so full of themselves they don't want their "vision" or "branding" changed by mere end users unless they jump through difficult extra hoops. Deliberately sabotaging theming in GTK+ is part of that, and it's absolutely disgraceful.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 3:40 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Can those ex-Sun usability engineers give their views so posters can hear them? What are those broken functionalities? Gnome Shell is designed to be minimal as possible so users can add extra functionality themselves similar to Mozilla Firefox as an example. While several posters wasted their time complaining how their holy functionalities are missing, other decided to work on extensions. I kept insisting on that point.
> No, you can't. Having a "broken by default" setup, which can be made "slightly more usable" by downloading untrusted code from a random website (rather than being an integrated part of your distribution) is just insane.
Hence the creation of extensions.gnome.org where quality of codes can be improved based on feedback unless Extensions from gnome.org based is random website by itself.
Having myself let regular users (who don't visit technical website and such) play with Gnome Shell running laptop, neither of them complaining about usability, majority of them already familiar with cellphone interface and few of them never touched a computer in their lifetime. Reading some posts, it appears the complains are from those who heavily optimized their desktop environments.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 7:48 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Of course these users are not complaining about usability - they have no reference for comparison. All of us technical users do: many other systems, including Gnome 2 (against which all those usability problems are actually regressions). Duh!
How can someone that just touched Gnome know more about it than someone that used that stuff for over a decade, north of eight hours every day and to make a living? On which planet is that? Ridiculous.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 23:54 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Then can we address the regressions instead of wasting time arguing that x DE don't care and actually talk to these DE designers and software developers?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 0:59 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Maybe you did not read the blog post that this LWN article is about in great detail. It is clear from it that people that point out such technical issues (i.e. the technical people, to which the blog post sarcastically refers to as "regular people") are being systematically ignored.
That actually is the real problem - not the software itself. It almost like a "cultural revolution", where everyone that does something even remotely different with the system than what the designers had in mind needs to be re-educated.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:37 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
It started by my watching of Gnome Shell screencasts on YouTube, which looked rather nice. Unfortunately, watching a film about something and actually doing that something are two completely different things. So, when I attempted to _use_ the system, I noticed usability regressions.
Here is almost the end of that thread (i.e. one of my last e-mails to gnome-shell-list):
If you go back to the beginning of this whole thread, you will notice a few things:
- I liked what I saw on YouTube
- I didn't like what I experienced when I used it
- I was _asked_ to explain why
It triggered this whole thread.
In the meantime, I went to read as to why Gnome Shell introduced overview.
Something about users having their focus taken away and having more space
available (I have just about the same space available in my Gnome 2 and
have taskbar and workplace switcher). I wasn't sure whether I should laugh
In order for me not to be distracted when I want to do one of the
- start an app
- find a hidden window
- switch workspace
I get the busiest interface known to man, which contains at least 2/3 of
stuff I don't want. To avoid distraction.
Seriously, who writes that stuff?
I'm wondering how are all the users of Windows and OS X surviving at all.
They must all be sufferring from ADD by now. :-)
So, yes. It's an attitude problem, really.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:39 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Sorry, Apr 2011.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 4:31 UTC (Mon) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
What are those users really focused into? Overview is virtually your task bar including a dynamic workspace switcher(gnome-tweak-took allows setting a fixed amount), notification and dock.
> In order for me not to be distracted when I want to do one of the
> - start an app
- Meta key to go to Overview mode -> Type application of choice or click Application (on gnome 3.6, Application is located at the dock)
- Assign your favourite application to the dock
- Alt+F2 to access a command tool where you can type application
As extra, pick up the extensions suiting your need
> - find a hidden window
Either overview mode, alt+tab or alt+`
- switch workspace
Ctrl+Alt+Up or Down key
> I get the busiest interface known to man, which contains at least 2/3 of
> stuff I don't want. To avoid distraction.
Care to list those distracting stuff? See how the complains are not fully detailed yet wondering why there is no response? By using your own comment, visible taskbar on Gnome 2 is a distraction. Does that mean a technical user is that challenged unable to figure out way or seeking help about the use?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 6:20 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
> Care to list those distracting stuff?
Sure. When I want to start an app, all other elements contained in overview are just distractions. I never asked for expose. I never asked for dash. Never asked for (placed too far to be useful) workspace switcher.
In summary, please see RFC 1925 (6a) for what overview really is.
> Does that mean a technical user is that challenged unable to figure out way or seeking help about the use?
If you cannot parse what I wrote properly, please do not comment. I was not asking for help.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 7:05 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
And just to be clear, that would be on Gnome design documentation criteria, not my own. If people can focus on just one thing at one time, how could they possibly handle the kitchen sink of the overview?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 15:02 UTC (Mon) by davidescott (guest, #58580)
Those are perfectly reasonable things for you to think for yourself, but those features are things that many others have come to expect from modern operating systems. To say that Gnome should not have expose on Alt-Tab makes it harder for everyone else who likes and expects expose, and doesn't want to have to hunt around for a menu option to enable it and set a hot-corner keystroke. Gnome3 "just works" for users like myself. Sure I was happy with gnome2 once I got the correct combination of gnome2+compiz+ccsm+awn+X+Y+Z but it took months to find the correct combination and hours to replicate on new systems. With Gnome3 I can sit down in front of a brand new install and just start working.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 15:15 UTC (Mon) by Otus (guest, #67685)
I think you are missing the point. bojan didn't complain about Gnome3 having
expose or dash, but about all of those features jumping at your face when
you use Activities overview, regardless of what you are trying to do.
I.e. if you want to start a new app, why should most of the screen first
be taken over by your currently open apps and workspaces?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:26 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Wow, I never noticed. That's a really good question.
Especially on my Thinkpad X120e where it takes two seconds to show all that stuff that I don't need.
Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:42 UTC (Tue) by davidescott (guest, #58580)
I understood his point. I'm saying its easier (and makes more sense) to put the expose in the start applications functionality over forcing the user to setup the hot corners.
I also think you are using some (unintentional) rhetorical devices to make your point. When I go to "start a new app" that doesn't literally mean "I want to start a new app" it means "I want to start an application AND SWITCH TO IT." You almost never seen anyone start a gui application and want it to be immediately backgrounded (exceptions being things like chat or file-sharing).
So its perfectly natural to show the application switching at the point of starting an application, because it IS application switching to start an application. I might have started the application I needed already; I might want to start the application on a new workspace, and having the switcher appear at that point means it appears at the exact moment I need it.
The moment you start typing in the name of an application, the overlay of other windows is replaced with the full screen display of relevant applications, because that indicates to the shell that you know you need to start a new application and not switch to a running one.
Compared to the GNOME2 model where:
1. You start applications in the (not a hot-corner) upper left (unless you move it)
2. Expose is not enabled until you configure it (and you cannot put it in the same place as starting application without risking overlaying a hot/non-hot corner)
3. If you start searching for an application and then remember its already running (or vice-versa) you have to start over from the beginning
4. If you want to start a new application on a different workspace you have to wait until it is running and then move it.
GNOME3 has all that functionality in a single hot-corner/hot-key, and there is no configuration step. It just works... so I'm extremely pleased with GNOME3 it finally makes sense.
Posted Nov 13, 2012 17:01 UTC (Tue) by Otus (guest, #67685)
What does "setup the hot corners" mean? In Unity I have one button for
launching apps (opening the dash) and one button for changing workspaces. *
I didn't need to do any hot corner setup.
I don't disagree that having better defaults than in Gnome 2 is a good
idea. However, you don't need to push all of them under one button.
> So its perfectly natural to show the application switching at the point
> of starting an application, because it IS application switching to start
> an application.
Sure, you can consider "opening the app" a common action regardless of
whether it's currently running. This is why I used to use a dock (dockbarx)
even with Gnome 2.
However, the expose shown seems IMHO counter to that point: You scan the
open windows and don't find what you were looking, so you use *another* way
to launch the app. It doesn't help you launch the app faster if you don't
know whether it is open, and can in fact introduce a delay.
> Compared to the GNOME2 model where:
Again, I don't think the Gnome 2 defaults were very good. However, I find
the Gnome 3 setup worse that my customized setup was - and worse than my
current non-customized Unity setup is.
* There isn't a button (only keyboard shortcut) for expose on all apps, but
clicking the active app in the launcher opens expose on its windows.
Posted Nov 13, 2012 21:36 UTC (Tue) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Just because the corner is not hot is no justification for overview. In fact, compiz could do hot corners just fine.
> 2. Expose is not enabled until you configure it (and you cannot put it in the same place as starting application without risking overlaying a hot/non-hot corner)
Nobody asked for expose.
> 3. If you start searching for an application and then remember its already running (or vice-versa) you have to start over from the beginning
You don't have to remember anything. You can see the darn things in the workspace switcher or the taskbar. Or you can use expose directly, if you so desire (it used to be upper right hot corner in compiz).
> 4. If you want to start a new application on a different workspace you have to wait until it is running and then move it.
Rubbish. First, you can actually _see_ which workspaces are available and without lifting a finger. Then you can switch to one with just one click and without your screen being repainted and your mouse travelling all the way to the left, followed by all the way to the right. And you can start the app there. So, it takes _less_ actions to do this in Gnome 2 or Gnome3 fallback than it does in Gnome 3. In fact, I do this a hundred times a day.
Nobody is saying that improvements to the way applications are started in Gnome 2 or Gnome 3 fallback are not welcome. Of course they are. Search is very useful, menu could signal that the application is already started somewhere etc. But overview is unnecessary and really just another indirection.
Overview also causes the desktop to be managed half here and half there. Why can windows be moved in normal view? Isn't that a distraction and "difficult" (according to Gnome developers/designers)? Shouldn't that be done in overview? Etc.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 21:07 UTC (Sun) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019)
>Hence the creation of extensions.gnome.org where quality of codes can be improved based on feedback unless Extensions from gnome.org based is random website by itself.
Yet the Gnome designers say:
>Facilitating the unrestricted use of extensions and themes by end users seems contrary to the central tenets of the GNOME 3 design
>I agree with Allan. I am really concerned about this effort to encourage and sanction themes and extensions.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 23:45 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Who is that designer and when was that quoted coming? Has anyone here gone reading and consulting what those group mean? It is very easy to take what was written on mail list out of context.
The person who wrote that quote could change his/her mind.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:41 UTC (Mon) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 3:39 UTC (Mon) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 4:52 UTC (Mon) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 18:50 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950)
Btw: Please leave out personal insults from this site.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 8:01 UTC (Mon) by jond (subscriber, #37669)
And indeed I've read many times how the desktop UI people are trying to make something that works for the users they *don't have yet* rather than the ones they *do*.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 21:04 UTC (Mon) by tao (subscriber, #17563)
Posted Nov 13, 2012 2:23 UTC (Tue) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
Posted Nov 13, 2012 8:53 UTC (Tue) by fb (subscriber, #53265)
IMHO It seems like you are fooling yourself. Honestly.
You should try:
1. handling a "vanilla Gnome install" laptop to someone else,
2. have that person give the laptop to this 'test user' of yours and *leave*
3. while you are far and away from the scene (hopefully monitoring through camera feedback).
1. Just the fact that a "knowledgeable user" is sitting next already improves the experience as it calms people down. Anything goes wrong, the life-guard is right next to you.
2. I assume that once a user doubts about something, it will look at you. Say, if the mouse is going to the right direction, you'll confirm it before you know it. If its the wrong direction, you will guide them (perhaps by just glancing into the right direction, or frowning to indicate that the user should stop and reevaluate).
My experience is that teaching older family members 'new tricks' (how to deal with new interfaces, or solve new problems) while sitting next to them is trivial. I could almost say, "they figure it out by themselves". Remove me from the room and place me on the phone trying to guide them, and we have nothing but frustration.
Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:54 UTC (Tue) by apoelstra (subscriber, #75205)
I've never met a user who (a) would need help discovering a new interface, and (b) could read the entire screen, while (c) simultaneously reading my facial cues for hints.
For this reason, I'd expect Gnome 3 to be more discoverable, since it clears away everything except the stuff relevant to what you're trying to do.
This is certainly how I feel about it -- I have used a tiling WM for years, so most all user interfaces feel foreign and confusing to me. But when I use others' computers, I find Gnome 3 to be very "intuitive". It's comparable to Win7 and beats the pants off of XP, OSX or Unity.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 16:03 UTC (Sun) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
GNOME 3 appears to have been informed by the subjective "vision" of a small set of people. Unlike the 1→2 transition, this time there is objective evidence to say transition is an improvement. There is, apparently, no way to tell if the voices of discontent are an unreasonable minority or if they have point.
It's this lack of empirical evidence that is dangerous for GNOME 3, IMHO.
1. Rather than disliking just the initial instability of GNOME 2, though IME GNOME 1 also had its share of stability problems, and GNOME 2 matured stability wise reasonably quickly.
Posted Nov 15, 2012 11:10 UTC (Thu) by nzjrs (subscriber, #35911)
It is not untrusted, nor random, - all extensions on e.g.o are reviewed.
Posted Nov 15, 2012 11:25 UTC (Thu) by rleigh (subscriber, #14622)
Have they been reviewed and QAed by my Linux distribution? No.
Downloading and running random stuff is a recipe for disaster. Did we learn nothing from ActiveX? It's not that I directly mistrust the original authors or reviewers. It's that it's circumventing the distributor, and is a prime choice for subverting to expose users to malware. So I treat the entire concept with great suspicion. From my POV I place as much trust in this website as I would in any other untrusted random website: None.
extensions.gnome.org is not a solution, it's a problem. These extensions should be properly packaged and released so that they can go through the proper release and distribution process. The entire concept is just a half-assed workaround to cope with the fact that the GNOME shell is a crippled disaster. These should be packaged and provided with/alongside the shell, rather than treated like orphaned stepchildren.
Posted Nov 16, 2012 12:28 UTC (Fri) by nzjrs (subscriber, #35911)
You keep using that word random. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 13:10 UTC (Sun) by cortana (subscriber, #24596)
Posted Nov 11, 2012 13:58 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715)
This error message can be a bit confusing. "out of date" can also just mean "you don't have the browser plugin installed".
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:02 UTC (Mon) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 7:55 UTC (Mon) by jond (subscriber, #37669)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 4:32 UTC (Mon) by prometheanfire (subscriber, #65683)
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