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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 16, 2012 3:03 UTC (Fri) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
In reply to: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users by bojan
Parent article: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

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.


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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?


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