User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 15, 2012 2:31 UTC (Thu) by wagerrard (guest, #87558)
Parent article: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Defenses of Gnome 3 rooted in explanations of its alleged technical excellence are irrelevant to users, who can make the only judgement about it that matters. Users never see technical quality unless it is so bad that it breaks something. They see capabilities and ease of use. I am stymied to understand how Gnome 3 adds capabilities and increases ease of use.

Gnome 3 has a panel I cannot use. Whatever happens in that panel happens outside my control. It is little more than a narrow band of black paint across the top of my screen.

At the bottom of the screen is a large "Notification Area". That is a misnomer because its primary use is to house icons representing the kind of things Gnome 2 called applets. In fact, the Notification Area remains unseen when Notifications pop up. On the other hand, the presence of the mouse cursor will un-hide the entire Notification Area, even if contains only a single icon. The effect is remarkably like a Gnome 2 panel set to autohide.

The thing that passes for a dock in Gnome 3 is merely an over-large stack of unalterable icons. It is as if the Gnome 2 code that handled favorites in a panel was edited into a vertical stack fixed to the left edge of the screen. with the size of the icons increased to a size comfortable for finger stabbing. I do not stab at my monitor, so their unalterable size is very much a negative.

While most users find Gnome 3 supremely resistant to configuration, there are a few who assert it is highly configurable thanks to its dependence on HTML, CSS and Javascript. That's a specious claim. First, because anyone who knows HTMl, CSS and/or Javascript is a developer, not a user. Ease of configurability by developers doesn't count. Second, even if you do have those skills, nothing is included in Gnome 3 to help you identify which CSS selectors, for example, control which portions of the interface. Even for a skilled HTML/CSS/Javascript developer, tweaking the interface is a trial and error crapshoot.

Some have derided Gnome for allegedly copying portions of OS X's interface. That is not justified because the OS X interface is much more usable than the Gnome 3 interface. For example, the Launch Pad in OS X can be entirely ignored by a user with no decrease in capabilities. The Gnome 3 version of that Apple mistake, called the Application Overview, provides the *sole* access to applications offered by Gnome. It cannot be ignored.

Gnome 3 has, in fact, been subject to much criticism that amounts to little more than Gnome 2 nostalgia. However, it has also received a very large amount of justifiable criticism from people who, like me, find it a disappointingly annoying interface in actual daily use that provides no positive counterweights to the increased amount of work a user must do to accomplish basic desktop tasks.


(Log in to post comments)

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 15, 2012 13:23 UTC (Thu) by james (subscriber, #1325) [Link]

The thing that passes for a dock in Gnome 3 is merely an over-large stack of unalterable icons
They can be altered using the icons' context menus. You can also drag an application window over the dock (if it has an icon to use), or drag an icon out of the dock.

(Fedora 17, Gnome 3.4)

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 12:23 UTC (Fri) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

>>"They can be altered using the icons' context menus. You can also drag an application window over the dock (if it has an icon to use), or drag an icon out of the dock."

Can I change the size of the icons? Can I rearrange them? Can I relocate the dock to the bottom or the right? Can I add an icon for an arbitrary folder and expose its contents with a right click? Does the dock tell me if an applications is currently open? Can I add an icon to trigger the App Overview so I only see it when I choose to see it?

Re: Corner mouse slamming -- I want to see the dock by moving my mouse cursor to *any* spot along the length the dock occupies. When I do that, I do not want the rest of my desktop to be hidden by a useless display of the App Overview and the Workspace sidebar. I.e., I want to see the Dock only when I want to see it, the App Overview only when I want to see it, and the Workspaces only when I want to see them, and I want separate actions to trigger the display of each. In addition, i want them to be mouse actions. (If I wanted to be a keyboard type, I'd just run something like Awesome.)

I'd also really like a way to locate and launch an app that bypasses the App Overview. That display is a blatant ripoff of Launchpad in OS X, but, at least there a user can get along quite happily without ever using it.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 18:29 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

Can I change the size of the icons?

Depending the number of icons, they will dynamically reduce their size.|

Can I rearrange them?

Yes throught Drag-n-drop

Can I relocate the dock to the bottom or the right?

Yes, via dock extension provided by your distribution, you can even modify through /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions

Can I add an icon for an arbitrary folder and expose its contents with a right click?

Yes you can.

Does the dock tell me if an applications is currently open?

Yes, with highlighted icon for that application. Overview mode also display that current open application depending the workspace. Can I add an icon to trigger the App Overview so I only see it when I choose to see it?

Yes. You can also disable the left corner if you desire via noripple extension denpending of your distribution.

The rest of tools available via https://extensions.gnome.org, explore and custom your working environment as you please.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 19:18 UTC (Fri) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

Dynamic resizing is out of my control. I only put a few icons in the dock. I want to decide how big the icons are, not go along with an anonymous developer's opinion. I know this can be done by editing CSS and/or javascript. (I've done it.) But, as far as I can determine, no user documentation for this exists (the edits are hit and miss, because there's no way to determine, for example, what CSS selectors control which portions of the interface other than via hit or miss.). Nor is there any guarantee that the edits will be preserved through upgrades. What I really want is a preferences panel that allows me to manipulate the dock. I'm a user. It's bogus to expect me to accomplish my objectives by editing Gnome source files.

I'm running Gnome 3.6.2 on a updated Fedora 18 nightly. I don't see any extensions at extensions.gnome.org to relocate the launcher.

I'm also wary of relying on the availability of extensions from one upgrade to the next, and do not know if Gnome stands behind them or if users are at the mercy of the extension writers.

How does one get a folder into the launcher? I can get an icon for Nautilus in there, but not a folder.I can't drag a folder from Nautilus into the dock. The dock is visible only during overview mode, while an app like Nautilus is active only away from Overview mode.

I had not noticed the little glow in the dock signaling an active application. It is subtle.

I don't want to kill the single hot-corner. I just want to have the dock behave as a normal dock. I.e., either autohide and be made visible by pushing the mouse cursor against that edge of the screen. Or, remain displayed permanently. In other words, I want to be able to access the dock without overlaying my desktop with the App Overview and the Workspace sidebar. The reason a user accesses the dock is to launch something, so forcing a display of the App Overview at the same time is unnecessary. I only need the overview if the app is not already in the dock.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 22:01 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

> What I really want is a preferences panel that allows me to manipulate the dock. I'm a user. It's bogus to expect me to accomplish my objectives by editing Gnome source files.

Dash to dock extension which I tried allow to resize the icons. Make sure to install SettingCenter where you can select Extensions preference under your usename on top-right.

> I'm running Gnome 3.6.2 on a updated Fedora 18 nightly. I don't see any extensions at extensions.gnome.org to relocate the launcher.

Excellent, I am also running updated Fedora 18 on my laptop. Some extensions like dock or weather are not available to extensions.gnome.org but are present in Fedora repository.

> I'm also wary of relying on the availability of extensions from one upgrade to the next, and do not know if Gnome stands behind them or if users are at the mercy of the extension writers.
Gnome do. Lessons could be taken from Mozilla, extensions developers track the changes and make sure theirs are compatible as soon as possible. Given the pace of development, it is much easier to let extensions do the job so they can be selected to be part of the core.

> How does one get a folder into the launcher? I can get an icon for Nautilus in there, but not a folder.I can't drag a folder from Nautilus into the dock. The dock is visible only during overview mode, while an app like Nautilus is active only away from Overview mode.

As mentioned above, "Dash to Dock" allows your dock to be visible regardless the mode. You are right that Folder drag doesn't work for the dock. The reason of its non-available is probably due to broken API. However, you can enable the file manager behaviour background through Gnome-teak-tool -> Files which will display all files and folders. Prob

> I don't want to kill the single hot-corner. I just want to have the dock behave as a normal dock. I.e., either autohide and be made visible by pushing the mouse cursor against that edge of the screen. Or, remain displayed permanently. In other words, I want to be able to access the dock without overlaying my desktop with the App Overview and the Workspace sidebar.

See above.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 2:25 UTC (Sat) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

After doing all that, and assuming it works, what advantage have I gained over Gnome 2? For that matter, what does stock Gnome 3 give me that Gnome 2 does not? GTK3 apps? Yes, but they aren't a Gnome 3 exclusive.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 23, 2012 9:11 UTC (Fri) by TRauMa (guest, #16483) [Link]

If you want nothing the new Gnome offers you, why do you keep talking about it? Apart from being the official successor of Gnome 2 and not being installable in parallel (a problem now solved with MATE), what exactly drives you to go to a comment thread and complain? I'm honestly asking because I don't get it.

Usually people complain about stuff they actually want or have to use. How you could end up in the position of having to use Gnome 3 is beyond me.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 23, 2012 12:31 UTC (Fri) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

1. It's an interesting topic. Interface design is an unsolved problem. No one does it very well. Gnome 3 is actually the only really innovative approach out there at present. Everyone else remains with some version of the panel/dock and desktop icons approach. Those approaches -- MATE, Cinnamon, etc., -- are dead ends.

2. I actually like Gnome 3 and I'm not particularly infatuated with Gnome 2. My frustration with Gnome 3 comes from the rigidity of some of the underlying design decisions. It could be so much better if it allowed itself just a bit more flexibility. For example, I don't agree that preventing resizing of the dock is a positive feature. The App Overview is an attempt to solve the problem of providing access to potentially hundreds of apps. I think its faulty in concept because it is used to locate and launch apps users use infrequently. That infrequent use means they won't find the app by recognizing the icon, but will simply look for the name. So, the icons really serve little purpose there. (The hierarchical menu approaches of Gnome 2 and KDE break down when they contain a large number of entries.)

3. It's "official successor" status is irrelevant.

4. The Gnome team exaggerates the notion that hostility to Gnome 3 is all down to simple Gnome 2 fanboyism. Likewise, users who insist that Gnome "listen" to detractors and let them guide their designs are naive and very wrong. They would have us simply stay with Gnome 2 forever, and that's untenable.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 0:39 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

I had a look at a couple of Windows 8 interface movies on YouTube a few days ago. It is remarkable how many of the ideas are similar to Gnome Shell.

For instance, there is this notion of slamming the mouse in the corner. All well and good, unless you have a few windows open, each of which has a full VM screen in it. How on earth is one supposed to slam the mouse in the corners there? At least Windows 8 offers traditional desktop in one of the tiles...

Ditto keyboard shortcuts, which may not transfer properly over whatever connection method one uses to see the remote side. Confusion ensues - will the workspace locally or remotely be changed? Will we enter tiles here or there? Having GUI that works easily with a mouse is not an option - it's essential.

Then there is the notion of either working full screen or working with two windows side by side. That's it. As if nobody ever needs more than that on the screen. I mean, haven't people seen the screens of stock brokers on the news?

Nobody seems to think about real use cases any more.

And then there are technology choices. Sure, writing Javascript and not compiling is easier than writing compiled C or whatever other language. But, you end up with a desktop that feels like it's a script (which it is) - flimsy instead of snappy. It shows. In a way, it reminds of days when in Red Hat Linux 5.0 lots of little tools were written in TK. Sure, it worked, but it wasn't the best.

So, yeah, I agree with you. It's baffling...

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 3:03 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

I had a look at a couple of Windows 8 interface movies on YouTube a few days ago. It is remarkable how many of the ideas are similar to Gnome Shell.

Having run Windows 8 through Gnome-Box, Virtual Box or even testing through retail, I agree. Desktop environments borrow each other ideas. Difference is Windows 8 interface is a pig in term of storage.

For instance, there is this notion of slamming the mouse in the corner. All well and good, unless you have a few windows open, each of which has a full VM screen in it. How on earth is one supposed to slam the mouse in the corners there? At least Windows 8 offers traditional desktop in one of the tiles...

Slamming the mouse to the corner is one of methods, pressing Super Key (usually Microsoft Logo icon) is another access the menu. You have different options to access the menu (or Start/Apple depending the system). You do the same motion to access to the very corner expect clicking on that button on the traditional desktop. What about Clicking start button then meticulously try to select one of applications or items inside the menu? What you describe is how you were hard trained to use that paradigm without giving much flexibility to yourself. Traditional desktop layout can still be made on Gnome Shell displaying its flexibility.

Ditto keyboard shortcuts, which may not transfer properly over whatever connection method one uses to see the remote side. Confusion ensues - will the workspace locally or remotely be changed? Will we enter tiles here or there? Having GUI that works easily with a mouse is not an option - it's essential.

Keyboard shortcuts work fine though SPICE, VNC. Customization of keyboard shortcut is also available. I think that fear is unfounded without giving a try, list what could be improved. Extensions are a good source to experiment different solution before implementing one of them to the core.

Then there is the notion of either working full screen or working with two windows side by side. That's it. As if nobody ever needs more than that on the screen. I mean, haven't people seen the screens of stock brokers on the news?

Gnome Shell has extensions that allow you to work with more than tiles at once on the same screen: shellshape (https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/294/shellshape/). Fullscreen? Reserve one for a workspace and multiple windows to another.

Nobody seems to think about real use cases any more.

Each users have different needs, you have one, I have another. Think Gnome Shell nothing more as a base/core, with plethora of option to choose to suit our different tastes. Your example of tiles above is one of them.

...In a way, it reminds of days when in Red Hat Linux 5.0 lots of little tools were written in TK. Sure, it worked, but it wasn't the best.

That example shows the possibility and an attempt to think outside the box. I leave to that.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 5:13 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Think Gnome Shell nothing more as a base/core, with plethora of option to choose to suit our different tastes.

I think the parent poster explained it best:

> While most users find Gnome 3 supremely resistant to configuration, there are a few who assert it is highly configurable thanks to its dependence on HTML, CSS and Javascript. That's a specious claim. First, because anyone who knows HTMl, CSS and/or Javascript is a developer, not a user. Ease of configurability by developers doesn't count. Second, even if you do have those skills, nothing is included in Gnome 3 to help you identify which CSS selectors, for example, control which portions of the interface. Even for a skilled HTML/CSS/Javascript developer, tweaking the interface is a trial and error crapshoot.

Just to give you an example of how extensions are not a replacement for user configuration, check out all the extensions that, for instance, want to be the left most element in the panel. Which one will actually be the left most? The one that starts last. If it wasn't tragic, it would be rather funny.

> That example shows the possibility and an attempt to think outside the box. I leave to that.

Have you ever even used Red Hat Linux 5.0 (not RHEL5)?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 19:14 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

> While most users find Gnome 3 supremely resistant to configuration, there are a few who assert it is highly configurable thanks to its dependence on HTML, CSS and Javascript. That's a specious claim. First, because anyone who knows HTMl, CSS and/or Javascript is a developer, not a user.

By time, that quote is becoming less relevant. Developers are nothing more than specialized users themselves, the reverse is not necessarily true.

> Ease of configurability by developers doesn't count.
Why? Could it be because it does not suit the argument?

> Second, even if you do have those skills, nothing is included in Gnome 3 to help you identify which CSS selectors, for example, control which portions of the interface. Even for a skilled HTML/CSS/Javascript developer, tweaking the interface is a trial and error crapshoot.

Looking at the gnome-shell.css, each class lists different components are self-explained. Same with javascript. What could be improved is the documentation which is still incomplete.

> Just to give you an example of how extensions are not a replacement for user configuration, check out all the extensions that, for instance, want to be the left most element in the panel. Which one will actually be the left most? The one that starts last.

I am not sure what you mean about the left. It is not very clear.

As for the use of RHEL5, no I haven't. I mostly work with Fedora which suits my need as a primarily desktop for design stuff.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 16, 2012 21:05 UTC (Fri) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

> Developers are nothing more than specialized users themselves, the reverse is not necessarily true.

Beyond that. Firefox and GNOME both have a set of things that are exposed to the user in a control panel. Both have an advanced settings method for advanced users (about:config and gsettings). And both are arbitrarily extensible via HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It is this last point which is the pivotal one here because that's the level at which you're arguing. The argument of the OP is that

> because anyone who knows HTMl, CSS and/or Javascript is a developer, not a user.

Their argument would then be, in the Firefox case, that you cannot claim that Firefox is configurable since in order to configure it via HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you have to be a programmer.

In this light the argument seems ridiculous. Non-programmer users install GNOME extensions (from the website https://extensions.gnome.org/ or through their distro), the same as they do in Firefox (addons.mozilla.org)

(The second part that was not quoted is a fair (assuming completely true) argument that the tooling sucks but not that it's not configurable via the aforementioned methods.)

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 3:45 UTC (Sat) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

Extensions are irrelevant because they are not part of Gnome and are not supported by Gnome. If they were, releases would be accompanied by collections of tested, working, extensions. Their relationship to Gnome is much like that of Wordpress plugins to Wordpress. I.e., use at your own risk.

There is nothing in Gnome3 like about:config. Dconf/gconf are available, but without user documentation. ("Want to add an app to the panel? Here's how..... Want to eliminate the icons from the App Overview and see a list of names? Here's how....")

Besides, almost all extensions attempt to revive Gnome2-like capabilities that were stripped out of Gnome3. The irony of that is apparent.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 6:55 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Their argument would then be, in the Firefox case, that you cannot claim that Firefox is configurable since in order to configure it via HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you have to be a programmer.

Except, of course, FF can be and is configured without writing HTML, CSS or Javascript.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 3:28 UTC (Sat) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

CSS classes do not translate well to on-screen elements. When I want to see the CSS that affects an element in a web page, I use the browser's "Inspect Element" tool to display all the CSS related to that element. Gnome3 lacks that capability. More to the point, I come to Gnome3 as a user. I do not want to be forced to resort to manual coding, even if I have the skills. That's a mark of Gnome's shortcoming.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 6:53 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> I am not sure what you mean about the left. It is not very clear.

I mean, install workspacebar and axe menu extensions. See which one turns out to be the leftmost in the panel. There is no such confusion in Gnome 2.

> As for the use of RHEL5, no I haven't. I mostly work with Fedora which suits my need as a primarily desktop for design stuff.

I was not talking about RHEL5. I was talking about Red Hat Linux 5.0.

As for the rest of the stuff, are you seriously saying that users should edit CSS? Ridiculous.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 17, 2012 2:51 UTC (Sat) by wagerrard (guest, #87558) [Link]

I haven't used Windows in more than 10 years, so I'm not hardwired to use any Start button. Pressing the Apple key at the OS X desktop does nothing.

Keyboard shortcuts are of no use when my fingers are off the keyboard, which is most of the time. And to reiterate, i do not need to see workspaces and a huge stack of oversized icons hiding my desktop when I only want to make the dock visible.

The reasons Gnome3 is widely criticized are legitimate and are rooted in its purposeful and deliberate reductions in capability. (Pointing to extensions is inappropriate because they are unsupported by Gnome and often break with upgrades. I.e., they are undependable.)

Much of the defense of Gnome3 amounts to an attack on the character and working preferences of those who do not like it. Obviously, that is also inappropriate. The burden is on Gnome3 enthusiasts to explain what new non-style capabilities it delivers compared to its predecessor or its contempoaries.

To be specific, I like the look of Gnome3, but it wants me to change more than a decade's worth of Linux habits for no perceptible increase in capability, speed, or ease of use. Why, then, should I bother?


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds