GNOME 3 Almost Ready, or is It

by Susan Linton - Feb. 23, 2011Comments (18)

gnomeGNOME 3 Shell is nearing its projected released date and development snapshots have been coming from openSUSE and Fedora. GNOME Beta 1 (2.91.90) was released today with lots of listed improvements. But not everyone is thrilled.

 

Tarballs are available for building and at gnome.org. Live CDs and packages will be coming from some distributions as well. But some folks aren't all that anxious to switch to GNOME 3.

Blogger PV said of the last developmental release that "I still have high hopes for this new major release, and I think many people will start using it, but frankly, I don't think I'll be one of them." He wasn't impressed by Mutter and felt that it was a step back due to its lack of effects and incompatibility with Compiz. He also said since the focus seems to be on the immediate task at hand, it takes more clicks to do things like "switch windows, switch desktops, bring up an application category, et cetera." He does say, "Aesthetically, GNOME 3 looks quite nice" though.

However, former Mandriva contributor Frederik Himpe is less giving. He has very specific issues with GNOME 3. A controversy concerning the handling of laptop suspension arose recently.  In GNOME 3 the  default will be to suspend on lid closing, and developers have not provided a way to change that setting. Himpe finds this as problematic as the developers' lack of concern over the consequences. Another issue that seems justifiably troubling is "the minimize and maximize window decoration buttons are now removed. It is estimated that these buttons are not useful actually, and users should be using Alt-Tab, the dock or different workspaces to switch between different applications, and maximize windows by double clicking on the title bar. As this will also make the desktop more difficult to access, I guess this also means that there are no plans to re-implement desktop icons." Himpe also said earlier, "I have the feeling that a lot of space is wasted in the top bar" and that there is no way to show the date or add custom applets and application launchers in panel. He concludes that he'll "skip GNOME 3.0 and hope that GNOME 3.2 will be better, once developers have taken into account users reactions? Or shall I finally switch to KDE?"

QT developer Robin Burchell gives a detailed laundry list of pros and many more cons as well.

Comments over the extended development period have often said that GNOME 3's fate will be very similar to that of KDE 4's. KDE 4 landed with a thud, but eventually became usable. Hopefully GNOME 3 will become usuable for most people after a few updates as well, but will probably have to weather through a lot of bad press and angry comments at first. It won't be that long either as Fedora 15 will be shipping with GNOME 3 this May.

GNOME 3 is scheduled for release in March.



John Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?



18 Comments
 

GNOME Shell 2.91.6 was released on the first of February. 2.91.90 was released on the 23rd. Please take a few minutes to check the information in the articles you publish.


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“Mandriva’s Frederik Himpe”: I want to note that I have never been an employee of Mandriva. In the past I was a Mandriva contributor, but currently I am not contributing to, nor using Mandriva anymore.


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Well, looks like now is a good time to take a look at the Enlightenment desktop...


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I was going to say, Mandriva isn't supporting GNOME anymore... On the comments section of the latest news about the technical preview they said that GNOME is support by the community now, Not Mandriva.


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Sorry Hussam, I got the announcements mixed up early in the day. I even linked to the wrong one on my site. :blush:


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Why do developers think they have to consistently change things. Do you know why Windows is the dominant desktop today? Because of its consistency. Sure, it sucks as far as security and performance, but people know when they boot up that their icons will most likely be right there on the desktop. Even with the change from XP to Vista, there were the icons. Every bit of functionality was there; albeit moved around some, but it was there.


Linux is a great OS, and I have been using it sense the 90's, but, seriously, I'm thinking about going back to Windows so I can have a consistent environment to work in again.


With KDE screwing up their software and now Gnome doing the same, what else is a user supposed to do... Someone mentioned Enlightenment... Are you smoking something today? Have to EVER used Enlightenment... Heck, lets all go back to raw X with a terminal and call it good.


There is a reason why Gnome and KDE have been the dominant Linux desktop environment in the past; because it worked 99% of the time without issue and it was familiar to those coming from a Windows environment. KDE 3.x was far superior to 4.x. I actually switched to Gnome because of KDE 4.


Now I have a choice; try yet another desktop environment, or back to Windows - Keeping Linux on my server, of course!


Shhesh!


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I agree partly with Joe on the constant 'need' for developers to change things in the GUI. However I think even Microsoft change too often. eg: Office ribbon bar, icon names in Control Panel.


When it's boiled down the only real reason given for the changes is that 'it's for the dumb people'. I would say that OS X is the most consistent probably over the biggest amount of time - but even then that changes for no real reason.


And not trying to sound funny but sometimes I wonder if the CLI isn't the most consistent interface of all!


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XFCE 4.8 should fare quite well. The XFCE folks have made improvements over 4.6 without breaking things that users expect. Also all the minor players are still out there, Fluxbox, Openbox, LXDE, AfterStep, etc, etc. I know they can take work to configure. But if the distro does the work, users will be happy with what they get.


Neither Gnome 3 nor Unity are ready. At least I believe that Unity will be willing to make changes and will grow quite a bit between 11.04 and 11.10. Looking at Gnomes past track record, I don't expect much change. Just the typical Gnome Developer hubris of "We know what is best, so get used to it, because we are not going to change it."


So between Gnome shooting itself in the foot and Ubuntu playing with Unity, Wayland and other UI experiments I expect to see a lot of desktop migration. People are going to be looking for a desktop that behaves in a traditional manner.


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I'm using Ubuntu now, but I'll be moving to Linux Mint very soon. The mint devs have said they have no plans to include Unity or Gnome Shell. Just good old Gnome + Compiz as per usual.


I think moving to Mint is the safest bet until all this "experimentation" shakes out and matures.


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Of course it is not ready. KDE 4.x is starting to get ready and at the current rate it will probably be close to ready sometimes around KDE 4.10. The reason it is not ready is that things like desktop environments are used by so many people in so many ways. There is no way developers will be able to predict what impact their changes will have on various use cases. They need imput from the users, make changes, and then more user input,...


So it would be naive to think that Gnome Shell would be ready in its first iteration. This is a process that will take several years before we even get something that is equally good as what we had in old metacity or compiz, but if we succeed it will be worth all the trouble in the end.


Thanks for all the good work!


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The title of this post seems to be at odds with its content. It suggests that GNOME 3 isn't ready, yet none of the issues that are referred to are concerned with stability or completeness.


It's also a shame that this article ignores all the really impressive improvements that are coming in GNOME 3. I'm personally using it full-time and am loving it. (I am a GNOME contributor and am totally biased, I might add. ;) )


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XFCE 4.8 should fare quite well. The XFCE folks have made improvements over 4.6 without breaking things that users expect. Also all the minor players are still out there, Fluxbox, Openbox, LXDE, AfterStep, etc, etc. I know they can take work to configure. But if the distro does the work, users will be happy with what they get.


Neither Gnome 3 nor Unity are ready. At least I believe that Unity will be willing to make changes and will grow quite a bit between 11.04 and 11.10. Looking at Gnomes past track record, I don't expect much change. Just the typical Gnome Developer hubris of "We know what is best, so get used to it, because we are not going to change it."


So between Gnome shooting itself in the foot and Ubuntu playing with Unity, Wayland and other UI experiments I expect to see a lot of desktop migration. People are going to be looking for a desktop that behaves in a traditional manner.


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I'm glad I switched back to Windows when KDE4 was released. And now, it seems like Gnome is screwing up its users too.


Seriously, what are they thinking?


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I acually like the GNOME 3 interface, I really go with design and style which I was working hard to do for GNOME 2.3.0 and release a nicer GNOME but since 3 is almost out, I will work on usability of my distro. Anyway I just can't stand KDE, I've liked the concept for former windows users and themes available for it but Its just bloated and complicated. I'm on windows right now because I need a constant desktop GUI. Maybe GNOME 3 will sent me back to MINT or OpenSuse. Wi-Fi support! My broadcom wireless driver is not open-source so I have to downloaded and have no availability to ethernet. Linux on my Dell is, eh. Back when my old XP laptop in 2007 got partly corrupted (bootable with constant error) I searched "Free OS" on Google and found Ubuntu, something nobody I know heard of before. I ordered a free disk (my internet was SLOW & Unreliable!) got it in a month and installed it, while it had no Wi-Fi support it was OK when I really just used the computers built in things (I was a kid) It was SO Much better than XP (Ubuntu 8.04) I even installed it on my cousins machine in 2009. Linux has evolved so much but you can always use the old OS's


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All the criticisms of Gnome 3.0 mentioned in the article (wasted space, less usable, more clicks to do things, pointlessly reinventing the wheel) were things I tried to express to the Gnome developers more than a year ago, when Gnome Shell was first getting previews. These obvious criticisms fell on completely deaf ears. Of course, it got no press then either. Now it's too late.


The Gnome developers think they know what's best. Such as the idea that people shouldn't minimize windows, they should use desktops (a functionality which ironically they have broken and made far less usable than it is in the current version of Gnome). The problem with this attitude is that it's trying to dictate to users what their workflow should be, rather than keeping the system basic, simple, and flexible for different people with different workflows. Thinking you know best how everyone should do things is plain arrogance.


In the end, Gnome is just trying to keep up in the eye-candy arms race. They have created a desktop which is superficially more aesthetically pleasing,m but what it offers is the appearance of user-friendliness, while actually being far less user-friendly. This is exactly the path Apple has followed with OS X. We don't need another over-designed and under-functional OS X-like system.


What a shame.


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All the criticisms of Gnome 3.0 mentioned in the article (wasted space, less usable, more clicks to do things, pointlessly reinventing the wheel) were things I tried to express to the Gnome developers more than a year ago, when Gnome Shell was first getting previews. These obvious criticisms fell on completely deaf ears. Of course, it got no press then either. Now it's too late.


The Gnome developers think they know what's best. Such as the idea that people shouldn't minimize windows, they should use desktops (a functionality which ironically they have broken and made far less usable than it is in the current version of Gnome). The problem with this attitude is that it's trying to dictate to users what their workflow should be, rather than keeping the system basic, simple, and flexible for different people with different workflows. Thinking you know best how everyone should do things is plain arrogance.


In the end, Gnome is just trying to keep up in the eye-candy arms race. They have created a desktop which is superficially more aesthetically pleasing,m but what it offers is the appearance of user-friendliness, while actually being far less user-friendly. This is exactly the path Apple has followed with OS X. We don't need another over-designed and under-functional OS X-like system.


What a shame.


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I can't imagine anything that better displays the arrogance and condecension of Gnome developers than this post about "Gnome 3 Myths" on the Gnome website.


http://live.gnome.org/GNOME3Myths


First you see a FAQ sytle list of "myths," such as "Gnome won't support the current panel with window manager anymore" and "I can't use Compiz with GNOME Shell!"


One would assume in such a list of "myths" that the myths would be dispelled. But when you scroll down the answer is that yes the old panel is not included in Gnome 3, although some distros may provide it. And no you can't used Compiz in Gnome 3, because Gnome 3's new design requires this.


So let's see. There are myths, except that they are true, because the developers say this way is better, but since it's better they're not myths? It's completely Orwellian. Saying you're dispelling a myth only to confirm the myth is true, but attaching an explanation, as if that makes the lost functionality not lost, because the new functionality is supposedly better, does not mean that you have undone a myth. It means you think your users are idiots and that you can convince them that something that is completely different is not different, black is white, etc.


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I will say I am both excited about Gnome 3, and shaken off. I am not a top of the line PC / Laptop purchaser. I have a desktop its got 512 ram, it runs games at 40-60 fps on windows, that's as good as it gets. When games out grow my desktop (which they have started too), I may actually quit gaming for a while before I push myself to upgrading.


My laptop was a bargain 500$ laptop 3 years ago. It handles shader 2.x something no more. I can run games like Warcraft at 15-30 fps.. It sucks.. It runs linux very well. Ubuntu flies on my 4 gigs of ram, AMD 64 processor. Ubuntu kicks streams of errors as do most of the OS's besides Mandriva. Seems to be the only one that finds all the drivers correctly on its own.


I love Ubuntu though when I want to "control everything and tweak things", I'm not a linux expert, I am alittle more than an advanced user. I run linux servers at work but when it comes to the desktop i'm mediocre but am always looking to make the switch perm. Gaming is the only thing that keeps windows around at all.


However my main disappointment with Gnome 3 is my in ability to utilize it on my laptop. My 3d acceleration I've been able to tweak and manipulate enough to get compiz working and the 3d desktop and it all runs great. But I load into Gnome 3, and I get no Dasher or whatever its called. I only get the top bar, and it doesn't even say activities it just has the ubuntu symbol. After an upgrade I get a white top bar and a white bottom bar and they look classic gnome (and I don't have classic chosen).


So I'm assume my PC cannot run Gnome 3 shell, so therefor I'm disappointed it looked like it would be a fun OS.


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