back to article GNOME 3: Shocking changes for Linux lovers

At five years in the making, and with code contributions from more than 3,500 developers, the just released GNOME 3 is not a small upgrade: it's a radical departure with an entirely new approach. GNOME 3 will no doubt prove polarizing for the GNOME community, at least initially. But, the reality is, love it or hate it, GNOME 3 …

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Linux

Looks Good

Seems worth a try, particularly on netbooks. But where does that leave Ubuntu who seem to have pinned their hopes on a very unfinished interface in Unity?

Also what are KDE doing to respond? Interesting times ahead.

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Anonymous Coward

KDE respond?

KDE4 was ahead of GNOME3 in this respect and included such features 2 yrs back. They took a time to become complete enough for mainstream use, but have been stable and mainstream for a year or more

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Anonymous Coward

I am a paranoid title - there are people out there and they're out to get me

Your comment is reasonable and positive and asks two good questions. Come on man, get with the program ;)

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Joke

@AC

Yeah, but KDE needs a Cray for all it's graphics.

Let the GUI wars commence!

Oh, and which Window Manager do you prefer? Oh, then you're WRONG! HA HA HA!

(See the fun you Windows users miss out on? :) )

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Anonymous Coward

KDE? Cray?

I've run KDE4 successfully on an old EVO600C which has a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Hardly a supercomputer is it?

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Silver badge
Joke

@AC

KDE is (generally) more demanding on graphics cards than Gnome.

But I really would have thought that the "Joke Alert" icon would have given the games away.

KDE users. Tch!

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Grenade

WM Wars..

KDE is too bloated for me,

And this new Gnome 3,

is just plain blasphemy,

Unity? Oh, please spare me....

XFCE is the way, you see....

Try it, try it and you will know,

How good it is and how far it goes....

Do I win?

(By the way, windows users can and have had GUI wars, remember classic vs fisher price lol!)

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Silver badge

Bah!

The "drag to top of screen to maximize" is also a feature of Windows 7.

When I met it I assumed it was for the benefit of people who would be using it on a small screen on which the button cluster would be so small and so close together you couldn't reliably pick one without hitting them all.

Don't blame it on the sunlight, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times, blame it on the iPhone (and its imitators).

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KDE also

"The "drag to top of screen to maximize" is also a feature of Windows 7."

You'll also find this in modern versions of KDE, along with the half-screen snap-to-sides behaviour. Personally I use them all the time, especially on multi monitor systems. Grab window on one screen, start dragging, and it comes out of fullscreen to follow you. Drop it on the other monitor and it restores itself. Neat and efficient.

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Silver badge

Drag behaviour is 50% useful, 50% annoying

I sometimes use the drag action occasionally in W7 and it is useful. But at the same time there have been plenty of times where I've inadvertently triggered it by stepping into some invisible area where the OS thinks I want to do when I don't. The result is dragging a window around, often by a few pixels is suddenly 3x as slow.

So it is useful but it's not perfect. I think it should be implemented as a drag-pause-snap kind of action where you have to explicitly pause a little bit in the right place to trigger it.

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WTF?

WTF?

The iPhone is responsible for confusing design decisions in Windows and now GNOME?

You trolls need to find a new subject to rail on - you're starting to sound desperate.

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Grenade

The linux desktop is doomed!

To be honest, I didn't even bother reading the article. One look at the screenshots was enough to prove to me that Gnome has gone down the crapper along with Ubuntu.

Looks like they're trying too hard to compete with DisUnity in order to try to win back Shuttleworth. I, for one, won't touch either interface.

Quite offputting to see the direction the linux desktop is heading in. I much prefer usability over looks.

Grenade, as someone needs to have a live one stuffed in their trousers.

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Happy

Thought the same...

I thought the same...until I tried one of the live iso's from the gnome3 site. I find that the desktop seems to get out of the way. I find it much easier to work changes in gnome3 using the keyboard, meaning controlling the apps and workspaces with out strange key combinations [these can be personalized], or needing mouse/touchpad input.

It is also lighter by half on resources, compared to my current system.

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FAIL

Feeding the Trolls

"To be honest, I didn't even bother reading the article."

"Looks like they're trying too hard to compete with DisUnity in order to try to win back Shuttleworth."

Had you read the article you may have noted that Gnome3 has been in development for 5 years, much longer than Unity has been and clearly not around solely to compete with Ubuntu.

"Quite offputting to see the direction the linux desktop is heading in. I much prefer usability over looks."

Also if you had been reading you may note that the whole point of Gnome3 is usability via improved work flow and reduced clutter; not looks.

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E 2

KDE3.5

... is stil available as add on repo for OpenSUSE 11.x and latest Fedora.

With any luck the current UI design fad will soon die the death it so richly deserves.

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FAIL

Clutter?

Where exactly is the clutter in a pop-up "Start Menu" style interface?

There is none!

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Silver badge

Length of development is not a meaningful market

"Had you read the article you may have noted that Gnome3 has been in development for 5 years, much longer than Unity has been and clearly not around solely to compete with Ubuntu."

Yes and it was the flaws in GNOME shell, and the reluctance of fixing them to Ubuntu's liking which spawned Unity. Now we have the chance to compare solutions we find them both lacking. Unity seems less radical but it still leaves the user feeling lost. I'm surprised how immature Unity feels because it's been in the netbook edition for 6 months now and is lacking even a control panel to configure it or sensible defaults.

I think both projects will get there eventually.

"Also if you had been reading you may note that the whole point of Gnome3 is usability via improved work flow and reduced clutter; not looks."

GNOME 2 was not cluttered. Workflow improvements are laudible additions, and some functions such as window lists / task bar / app menu be combined into a dock but it all boils down to pulling the rug from people's experiences or removing useful functionality. Indeed OS X got a slagging in early incarnations for not offering the same functionality as what came before and tossing out spatial metaphors.

It appears with GNOME Shell (and Unity) that entire areas of functionality have been dropped on the floor. Things like applets are there at all for example. I hope in time both projects mature but it's kind of sad it's ended up like this.

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Gates Halo

a title

"usability via improved work flow and reduced clutter"

Wow, that's the sort of rubbish microsoft usually come out with. Does Gnome3 give us faster access to the internet as well?

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Troll

Re: Feeding the Trolls

>>> Also if you had been reading you may note that the whole point of Gnome3 is usability via improved work flow and reduced clutter; not looks.

You hit the point right there - the trolls don't actually read the articles they post on or learn about the subjects they troll about.

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sounds more liek Apple crap to me

Workflow is one of those unmesarubale ambiguous phrases that Apple fanbois use alot when explainin why their system is "better".

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Overall, I like it.

But the lack of a keyboard status indicator for StickyKeys breaks it so much I can't use it as my day to day interface.

I really hope that will be fixed soon. I rely on StickyKeys due to physical issues I have managing the various twists and finger gymnastics needed to hit metakey combinations. Ubuntu's Unity has the same problem, and KDE4 did when that launched too. Seems odd it slipped through in GNOME 3.0 though, given the prominence given in the new panel to the Accessibility Menu, that they don't seem to have finished implementing such. Ho hum. I've filed a bug.

The customisation stuff will be back, if maybe not quite so detailed as before - the GNOME team acknowledge that's something people want but it wasn't really a launch goal for them. GKT3 is nice, but it could look a lot prettier than it currently does.

I do miss minimising windows - it's not something I do often, I tend to just switch to an empty desktop - but it's nice to have the option.

All things considered, a good first (and big) step, and with a bit more polish it'll be great.

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This is not a title

I'm downloading it now. I'll give anything a try. Gnome 3 looks like its been designed with a touch screen in mind. For those who like something more traditional there is always Xfce.

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Coat

Gnome Shell? Not for me...

I've tried to "love" Gnome Shell. I've really, really tried. But in the end, I just can't.

GNOME.org has, IMHO, somehow gotten into its head that the whole desktop GUI paradigm -- as it stood before now -- is totally "broken," and that the only way to "fix" things is to completely up-end tried-and-true Human Interface Guidelines (HIGs) that have been developed through years (even decades) of ergonomic and semiotic research.

I believe that Canonical's Unity desktop environment, which admittedly still needs a lot of work (and contrary to popular belief, is or will be based on GNOME 3, just not Gnome Shell) has some neat ideas behind it, and seems like it could eventually become a great desktop environment. Even so, what Canonical is planning for or doing with Unity is nowhere near as far-reaching and radical as what GNOME.org is doing with Gnome Shell.

Even the KDE folks, when they started designing KDE 4.0, held certain desktop design and use-case elements sacrosanct, and provided basic controls such as:

-- -- window maximise/minimise/close buttons

-- -- a functional taskbar/application switcher

-- -- a working systray/notification area

and other familiar desktop features. Granted, when KDE 4.0 was released, it broke a LOT of stuff, and it didn't really "find its legs" until it evolved into KDE 4.3 or so. But on the whole, it wasn't really all that much different -- with regard to its HIGs -- from KDE 3.5.

Guess I'll just have to head on over to Xfce; pardon me while I get my coat...

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Coat

Mine's on the hook next to yours.

User interfaces shouldn't suffer radical new departures. Change should be gradual and slow, and according to real life users, not the crazed egos of idea evangelists.

I have just incorporated the Compiz cube (Ubuntu 10.04) into my way of working, so I'm not exactly a Luddite, but the menu, and window look and layout that I use owes more to W2000 than to anything more recent. Ubuntu/Gnome gave me the ability to build on that and extend it. From having a top panel with all sorts of useful applets and indicators on it, to having a bottom panel that (main menu moved down there) contains the elements I was used to having Windows put at the bottom of the screen.

It works well for me, and I don't see why it shouldn't go on working well for the foreseeable future. New stuff, like multiple work spaces and cubes, can be accommodated, and enhance the whole thing. Different themes, to taste, can make it easy in the eye. Changes and improvements should add to what I have, not discard it: if anyone wants to decorate my house, they're welcome, but my way, not there's.

Unity (Offtopic) is going to become an ego thing for Ubuntu. Making the interface the whole point of the computer. It isn't, and shouldn't be. The people and the apps are the important things.

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FAIL

Oh Joy.

All the bad features of Unity. How wonderful.

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Nothing wrong with the concepts

Just the implementations. I think Unity is terrible and commits the sin often committed by open source projects - it's trying to play the same tune as commercial operating systems without understanding the notes.

I don't see how they can release the way it is - so many really annoying features and default behaviours. That global app menu has to be toggleable for starters with the default behaviour being off. Of course 10.04 was pretty wretched too when it was in beta and most of the problems got resolved at the last moment. I'm not so confident it will happen this time around.

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Troll

Get in gear, boys.

It's a linux thread about something controversial! I expect a massive flamewar by the time I get done with dinner and put my son to bed. That gives you about four hours to get things going; I expect nothing less than a 'natty narwhal is the worst beta ever' performance.

Get cracking!

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I refuse to enter a title.

We seem to have seen this sort of thing before.

I mean, it sounds a bit like Unity, but that's not what I meant.

I'm thinking of KDE, which had a radical reworking into something weird from which apparently there is no going back.

I tried KDE4 six months ago. After ten minutes of "What the F**K is happening?" I gave up and de-installed it.

Disclaimer: I still use Openbox, which runs in something like 500k and just works...

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Flame

I knew I was right to move to xfce4

Call me a troglodyte, but I like my buttons and my workflow as it is. I switched to xfce4 to avoid the kde4 trainwreck and looking at this I am not regretting it.

By the way - the activity madness was introduced by KDE though it never went so far with it.

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No Mono dependency right?

What I care about is, hope there is no Mono dependency at Gnome core. There were some rumors around.

On the other hand, congratulations for such a radical UI change, not trying to be sarcastic, hope there is a way like "classic gnome" theme or something.

If UI could be changed that easily, Apple would do it since '84. Or, we would be using joysticks to drive cars etc.

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Thumb Up

Touch screens influences

I guess this & Unity are influenced by touch screen devices & the popularity of iOS & Android etc.

Youthful readers will wonder what all the fuss is about, a bit like the backlash when KDE 4 appeared.

I have users that don't/won't explore the relatively simple menus in ubuntu, but happily play on their phones. This latest Gnome might be just what they need.

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Unhappy

KDE4 Backlash

The backlash against KDE4 was not because it introduced radical and deeply questionable changes to the GUI.

The backlash was because KDE4 did NOT change the GUI metaphor very much at all - but it broke or removed almost all the customization options present in KDE3.5.x.

Even now, with KDE4.6, the only added really new features still are widgets and Vista bling.

KDE devs explain on the KDE site that a major rewrite was needed, I do not recall the details go look at the site. Some major behind the scenes subsystems were found by the time of KDE3.5.x to be insufficient to go forward. Well and good. Redesigning the guts of the UI did not require the bling blast and gutting of the UI's customization options.

This is a problem because (for example) I still cannot set the task bar to be a nice easy to read low key non-shiny light grey color with black font. I find the KDE4 black task bar hard to read - which genius dictated that such ergonomic details were not important to end-users?

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Exploration

The KDE4 taskbar can be changed to pretty much what you want. It's customisable in terms of colour. Somewhere in the System Settings is the "Workspace" tab - this allows different taskbar themes to be downloaded and applied. If no one's made the colour balance you want - make it yourself - KDE4 does not lock you out of such endeavours.

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KDE4 can look & behave like KDE3

It took time, but now (KDE 4.5.3 for me) KDE became as usable and stable as 3.5.9 was. The only real difference I see is the Kwin window manager, that can use compositing efficiently. The rest can be brought back to look almost exactly as KDE 3

.... which of course asks the question : what was that all about ? Couldn't they just make a new window-manager for KDE-3 and be done with it ? Well, if the devs thought that it was worth their effort, why not. But KDE-4 turned out to be no paradigm shift at all. Some nice transparency effects, some funky widgets, and that's it.

.... which again brings the question : didn't the Gnome people learn ? Do they really think they'll revolutionize the UI where even Apple keeps the good ol' desktop ? As Einstein put it: "clever people learn from other's mistake, stupid ones don't even learn from their own"

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Bronze badge

@E 2

"This is a problem because (for example) I still cannot set the task bar to be a nice easy to read low key non-shiny light grey color with black font. I find the KDE4 black task bar hard to read - which genius dictated that such ergonomic details were not important to end-users?"

What distro are you using? The default KDE theme (I assume it's default, I'm on Gentoo and haven't changed anything) has had a pale-grey (or translucent) taskbar with black text for the last couple of versions (currently on 4.6.2).

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@Havin_it

OpenSuSE

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New configuration system?

Well, I won't say it can't possibly be worse than gconf -- which is the Windows registry all over again -- but it'd certainly have to work hard to be.

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WTF?

Ubuntu?

It seems odd that this article is tagged 'Ubuntu' (a distribution whose next official release will contain exactly no GNOME 3 components), but not 'SUSE' or 'Fedora' (the major distributions whose next official releases will contain all the GNOME 3 components, and which have been working closely with the GNOME project to integrate and stabilize GNOME 3). Sigh.

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Grenade

Umbongo

Indeed. Yet again we see that too many users out there link Ubuntu to everything Linux. As I've said so many times now, Linux is Not Ubuntu.

Having said that, and comparing Unity, GNOME and KDE, I can see that too many of these projects are being released as betas when, in fact, they are barely ready for Alpha release. KDE4 was unstable in its early versions and, now we have it, 4.6 still has its bugs though it is a vast improvement on versions I tried on openSUSE. I could point the same finger at GNOME, to be brutally honest.

While I can accept that the various Linux distros are often used as a trial platform for various projects, applications and so forth, there has to be a line drawn between releasing new stuff and maintaining older kit where Linux is in use by people who need it. I can excuse KDE to an extent as 3.5.10 can still be got and does appear to still get some support but cutting the older versions off should never happen until the replacement is stable and usable from the user's POV, *not* just the developers, and especially where such big changes occur as with this version of GNOME.

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Headmaster

You've made a mistake in your title...

"GNOME 3: Shocking changes for Gnome lovers"

There, I fixed it for you! :-)

Seriously though, I really wish people would not equate Gnome (or, for that matter, any other window manager) with Linux. Depending on which computer I'm using, I use KDE, xfce, or even no window manager at all (straight-up XWindows on my mediacenter, and nothing but a shell on my server).

It's an easy mistake to make - Microsoft Windows is irrevocably tied to its GUI, so when you see that green hillside as a background, you immediately assume it's Windows XP. Linux is not Windows, though - the GUI doesn't (or at least, shouldn't) define it.

On reflection, I think I'll make another change:

"GNOME 3: Shocking changes for Ubuntu lovers"

Even so, my statement applies - just because Ubuntu is Linux, and Ubuntu by default uses Gnome, doesn't mean that Linux is Gnome.

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FAIL

A sort of MOVIE OS interface?

Oh, my...

This seems to be a sort of "Movie OS" (as in every computer you see in a movie) interface. A lot of "oooh, cool!" but no usability at all. Should I give up graphical interface and move to a text-only shell, to get some usability back?

Oh, what a glorious FAILURE!

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Boffin

usability

>>> Should I give up graphical interface and move to a text-only shell, to get some usability back?

eh? have you only just realised that? guis are only about eye candy. they're all fucking useless when there's real work to do. for that, nothing beats the command line and a bit of shell and perl scripting.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah

uis are only about eye candy. they're all fucking useless when there's real work to do.

Yeah, cause everything you can do with a GUI you can do just as easily with some bearded hippie command line. *rolls eyes*

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Silver badge
Stop

Tell you what

Tell you what, I'll race you. You make some 160x120 thumbnails from a folder full of assorted-sized JPEG images by opening them in your favourite graphics editor, clicking and dragging and SAVE AS-ing. I'll open the nearest Xterm and type this;

$ for BIG in *.jpg; do SMALL=$(basename $BIG .jpg); convert -resize 160x120 $BIG $SMALL && echo "Shrunk $BIG to $SMALL"; done

For some number of photos, you could have *learned how that works* quicker than you could have done it by hand.

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Flame

must be some windows (l)users on here

Only a useless MCSE point and click hack automatically downvotes any comment with the dreaded two words command line in it. Funny if the command line is so evil that even M$ saw the point of releasing the power shell. Of course they made it optional so as not upset their supposed "experts".

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Linux

Tell you what - GUI vs. Shell

Can anyone else see the irony in proving the benefits of a shell vs. a GUI with the example of resizing JPEG images?

Steve

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Silver badge

Yes

Yes, it's a bit of an odd one, that! But you don't really need to be able to *see* an image to resize it.

Or consider this slightly more complex example, which replaces every occurrence of "Melanie" with "Sandra" in any file ending with .txt in the current folder or any of its subfolders:

$ for F in $(grep -R Melanie *.txt | sed 's/:.*$//' | uniq); do sed -i 's/Melanie/Sandra/g' $F && echo "Fixed $F"; done

The point is, if you know exactly what sequence of operations you are going to perform, how to perform them and exactly which files you want to perform them on, and you don't mind not seeing the results, a CLI is almost always quicker. (Or at least frees you up to do other things, while the computer gets on with the hard work.)

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@ AJ Stiles

The problem is for 'the average user' who can barely turn on/off a TV without help that is a completely unfathomable line of gobbledegook. There is no way in hell they are ever going to be able to understan that, let alone *do* something like that - *ever*

A computer is there for the user to *use*. If that user just needs it to write letters/email/browse/music/photos - which I would say would cover 98% (made-up number) of people out there then so be it. All the major OSs should be setup to do that as easily as possible.

For the rest of the *tiny* community of people who know how - you can still do it however you want.

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sgb

hmmm

Looks like they've decided that the smartphone interface is the way to go for the desktop. Whether they're trying to create a touch-capable interface that will scale down nicely for the multi-core phones & tablets of the (very near) future or they are just trying to distance themselves from a well-worn interface paradigm, I don't know.

Well-worn or not, I've got used to Gnome 2 over the years and I think I'm going to have serious trouble with this. This may be the most recent cycle in my KDE/Gnome merry-go-round. I think I've swapped four or five times over the last decade.

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Thumb Down

It sucked big time.

I tried Gnome shell yesterday. It sucked big time. Here are the reasons why:

1. No task bar.

2. I tried to tab through the open windows, but the tabbed windows were grouped/nested and thus needed more key presses to select the terminal I wanted.

3. No minimize maximize buttons. wtf?

4. I could not make new panels to customize my desktop.

5. As there were no panels, I could not make clickable shortcuts and thus needed more than one click to open a new terminal. (fail)

6. Everything is animated, I don't want animated menus in fact I don't want animated anything. I just want menus to open so fast I can't see them open.

7. Where is the system tray?

8. Where has the weather gone from the clock?

9. Why has the global time gone from clock? I need this.

10. Is it me or could I not put files on the desktop?

11. The clock seemed to be stuck in the middle of the bar on the top of the screen, why can't I move it. Why?

All in all I found gnome 3.0 to be a total pain to use, fine if you are four years old and the computer is a play thing and you want random animations to impress your friends, but as a power user who needs to do real work and quickly it just does not cut it. It looks to me as if it is a developers wet dream which for some reason got released. All I want is a stable fast desktop which works 100% of the time. No animations, no funky menus.

Fail.

Gnome people please do a reality check asap or I will be looking for a KDE distro - and I never did like KDE.

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