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back to article Sanity saver: Fedora 15 answers Ubuntu's Unity

The Fedora 15 beta from the Red-Hat sponsored Fedora Project has dropped squarely into a moment of uncertainty and upheaval for the Linux desktop. The planned new Unity interface for Ubuntu 11.04, that replaces GNOME, is rough start. And while GNOME 3 - Fedora's new default desktop - is considerably more mature than Unity, it's …

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Vic
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Yes

Fedora has supported SELinux for yonks.

Vic.

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Indeed

We're kinda notorious for it.

Very cool thing (though not strictly an F15 feature): run Firefox in an SELinux sandbox - a protected environment where it is completely prevented from having the privileges to do anything evil. See http://danwalsh.livejournal.com/31146.html

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This post has been deleted by its author

Read it

Read the blog post I linked. If you run Firefox in an SELinux sandbox, yes, it is extremely locked down. Fedora's default SELinux profile for running it normally isn't as extreme, though.

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Minimizing

"especially if you're a big fan of minimizing windows, since that isn't possible in GNOME 3"

This isn't actually true. You can minimize windows; the operation hasn't been removed, just one of the interfaces for achieving it. (But yes, the overall thrust is that minimizing isn't something you're expected to really need to do much of.)

You can right-click on the window title and select 'Minimize' to achieve it. For maximizing, drag to the top of a screen, double click the title bar, or right click and hit 'Maximize'.

"Even Fedora seems taken by the simplicity of GNOME 3's interface; the Fedora 15 theme has been toned down considerably. The characteristic blue icons are now gray (though this may be do to GNOME 3's lack of theming tools) and the new wallpaper is nicely understated."

There is, um, a story behind this. =) The GNOME team (and particularly those bits of it who are also Fedora developers) asked Fedora to stay close to the upstream GNOME 3 design for the Fedora 15 release, to act as a showcase for the GNOME 3 release. There was something of a debate about this among other teams - particularly, naturally, the design team - and we wound up with something of a compromise. If you use Fedora with GNOME you get the upstream window manager theme and GTK+ theme (which was also the case previously), icon theme (not sure if that's changed), and a background which is something of a compromise between the upstream stripes background and Fedora 15's bird-y theme (hence, well, the birds).

(Personally I really like the 'official' F15 background - http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/F15_Artwork#Wallpaper_.28non-GNOME.29 - which you can easily switch to, if you like).

"Themes are one place that small cracks begin to show in Fedora 15. For example, Firefox has been updated to version 4, but the scrollbars are noticeably blue because they still use the old Fedora Firefox theme. Similarly apps like Google's Chrome browser also look a bit out of place. It's a minor point, and not one the Fedora has much control over, but it does hint at a few areas GNOME 3 still needs to work on."

Not quite; they're GTK+ 2 apps and they're using a GTK+ 2 theme (there is no 'Fedora Firefox theme'). I'm not really sure why it hasn't been made to look more closely like the GTK+ 3 default theme, though, there may be technical limitations.

Thanks for the review!

(for anyone who doesn't know, I work for Red Hat on Fedora QA. Yes, blame me for any bugs...)

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Vic
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You'll be the man to ask, then

> I work for Red Hat on Fedora QA

So will there be a Gnome2 package set available? Not just the G3 fallback - which ISTR has some features missing - the full G2 set.

I have no plans whatsoever to run Gnome3. It does nothing I want, and does plenty to get in the way of how I work.

So if Fedora don't ship Gnome2, I'm going to have to port it in to a custom spin. And that doesn't make my day :-(

Vic.

[And before anyone points me at exde.org - it's gone away. I emailed the owner to see if he would sell me the domain, but I haven't heard back]

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No

See title. That train has sailed and that ship has left the station. Fedora stays close to upstream projects, and GNOME 3 is where upstream GNOME is going.

If someone did make a GNOME 2 fork that was actively maintained, and there were no legal problems with it, it'd be open for inclusion into Fedora, of course. But there is no such beast at present, and as far as I'm aware, no-one has any serious plans to make one (EXDE was the closest, and it never got far).

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I don't minimize too but...

I hope Gnome 3 developers didn't confuse themselves with end users and decided on behalf of them.

No close/minimize buttons, no "classic" theme (gnome2 like), gnome 3 guys are really gambling with already struggling desktop popularity.

Microsoft still offers "windows classic" theme and Apple almost didn't touch a thing since 1984. These guys spend millions on consumer research, super secret demos (to general public with nda) and even sometimes "leaking" some screens. Nobody except Gnome had this genius idea of close minimize button removal.

Anyway, just glad nobody could slip mono dependency into it.

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Kind of the point

"No close/minimize buttons, no "classic" theme (gnome2 like), gnome 3 guys are really gambling with already struggling desktop popularity."

Well, that's kind of the point. Nearly a decade of GNOME 2.0 has resulted in the 'already struggling desktop popularity' you identify. Doing the same thing for another decade didn't seem like a great plan to turn things around. (Another odd thing about the GNOME 2 / GNOME 3 debate, if you stand back and look at it for a bit, is that a lot of it seems based on the assumption that GNOME 2 is a roaring success...)

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Vic
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Re: the point

> Nearly a decade of GNOME 2.0 has resulted in the 'already struggling desktop popularity'

Ah, the old correlation/causation fallacy.

Gnome 2 hasn't caused the FOSS desktop to struggle. Vast amounts of propaganda and the absence of AutoCAD has done that.

Migrating people from proprietary software to Gnome 2 is comparatively easy, once the application support is there (and huge strides have been made in that direction in the last few years)

Could the same be said of Gnome 3? I very much doubt it.

> a lot of it seems based on the assumption that GNOME 2 is a roaring success

It's not doing too badly. Throwing out the whole paradigm because other *similar* desktops are more successful would seem to be a mistake.

Vic.

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autocad? really?

AutoCAD? Really?

The excuse 'oh, it's just because of Random Piece Of Proprietary Software X' has been around for over a decade now, and every time X gets fixed, someone comes up with a new one to fill out the blank...with no particular evidence. I've never even *seen* AutoCAD. I rather suspect its user base (out of all the people who own computers) is less than desktop Linux's. You really think if an AutoCAD port for Linux showed up tomorrow, it'd open the floodgates?

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Vic
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Yes, really.

> AutoCAD? Really?

Yes.

> You really think if an AutoCAD port for Linux showed up tomorrow, it'd open the floodgates?

Yes.

Vic.

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Floodgates didn't open

Autocad finally shipped for OS X and it barely made news. The plugins doesn't exist and the opengl support is way backwards compared to (believe or not) Windows. Especially professional cards. The ones which were shipped for OS X, like all 2 of them :)

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Vic
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Hardly surprising

> The plugins doesn't exist and the opengl support is way backwards

So, IOW, AutoCAD (as it exists on the Windows platform) didn't ship for OSX, then.

Hardly surprising that didn't set the world on fire...

Vic.

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Stop

Arrrrg

What is with open source these days, I have used linux for over a decade now and I am getting really sick and tired of the last couple of years of "innovation". Stop screwing around with things and just focus on making the core system faster and more stable.

I used to love KDE 3.x until 4 came along as a buggy pile of junk. They have ruined KDE, they are ruining Gnome and I really question the need for the unity system at all.

It seems software developers, open and closed, currently have some kind of mad fetish in changing interfaces. People want stuff that works, and if it can be done better then fine do that as a side line then phase it in. But this current attitude of forcing massive over night changes onto end users will only damage linux adoption for the sake of being able to say it's cool.

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Anonymous Coward

Fetish

Seems to be a very good word for it.

It has nothing to do with usability, and everything to do with forcing ideas on users. ...for what? The satisfaction of the people having the ideas. ...for why? Because they can. A way of doing business which is part of MS's unpopularity among those that don't subscribe to it.

Do I want to kill the ideas? No way! I enjoy seeing all this possible user interfaces, all the themes, the desktops, the pretty pictures on the Linux blogs. I absolutely subscribe to the freedom to do that stuff. Just it should be optional.

My desktop should about how I choose to work, not what somebody else imposes on me.

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Happy

The reason is very simple...

...and it's always been the case.

Software developers like writing new stuff. They don't so much like maintaining the old stuff.

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Bronze badge

They should have postponed metric conversion till after all the old people died.

Hey folks... if you prefer the older edition of the software, I'm pretty sure you're allowed to go on using the older version. They don't come and take it away. Or, you don't like Unity? Click the "I don't like Unity" button during setup. Although, if you believe KDE and Gnome are now "ruined", then you answer your own question about why there is Unity. In fact, if you prefer Gnome 2, this is open source software right? Get hold of the old source code and maintain it yourself. Or, look at Microsoft's latest offerings. I promise you will not know what the hell is going on.

In fact, the stuff you're talking about is BETA. Preview releases. Not for using yet. Although I think Ubuntu turns gold-ish on Friday, or something.

Actually I have a historic aversion to interfaces that depend on things popping on and off screen or shifting around, because historically, especially with Windows, they took a hell of a long time to do so. This may be no longer the case. Also I minimise a program because it's sitting in front of the other program that I want to use now. Here's where I disagree with the OS stepping aside and leaving you alone with the program you're using: you're likely to be using more than one program. Last night I was browsing web pages and typing notes about them: two programs. I also might want to be notified that e-mail has arrived, or an appointment is due, or something interesting online has been updated. I don't want a computer that's autistic, I can do that myself. So I hope that isn't what you meant.

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Unity is a necessary one ...

... because there is Gnome 3. Something had to be done.

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Well.

One of the major reasons behind a ground-up rewrite of the GNOME shell was performance: taking advantage of the way modern graphics cards work, rather than those from 1992, which is roughly what GNOME 2 does. At the same time, the GNOME team figured they may as well implement a design which wasn't a clone of Windows 95 any more.

It's kind of odd; throughout the history of computing we've mostly been entirely used to encountering different interfaces all the time. Different phones work differently, different pre-PC computers worked differently, consoles have completely different interfaces. Few people complain about that. Yet nowadays it seems like if you have the absolute *temerity* to come up with a desktop interface which isn't what Microsoft pulled out of their ass in 1994, suddenly you're the antichrist. There's nothing about a panel with a start button, a window list, a clock, some quick launchers and some notification icons that makes it the end stage of user interface evolution, so I really don't know why some people seem so stuck on it.

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WTF?

Also

"My desktop should about how I choose to work, not what somebody else imposes on me."

This is also a bizarre meme, because your desktop is not in any way about how you choose to work. It's _always_ been about some arbitrary design concept some guy in Silicon Valley came up with, you just get to choose the concept from those available.

Again, there's nothing inevitable about the Windows 95 paradigm, and you didn't choose it (or if you did, you chose it from a range of extremely limited options). As long as you're not writing your own desktop interface, you're _always_ using one that someone else 'imposed' on you (or, to look at another way, did all the work of writing so you can actually use a computer with something other than a command line interface). This whole little craze of using the dramatic language of freedom, rights and democracy to refer to frickin' desktop interfaces just seems bizarre. As long as you're using code other people wrote, of course you're letting them make choices for you. Unless you actually get involved in development, the only choice you get is which one of the various projects - none of which you have much/any power over - you choose to go with, and it can't realistically be any different.

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what we are saying is

The company, who actually sells "user experience" with 50% profit doesn't touch the basics of its UI. Time travel a 1984 Mac user today and watch him use his amazingly fast mac without problems.

Who did gnome3 guys ask for these serious decisions? Developers? Fanatics on IRC? Who? UI design is something that developers shouldn't do. Ask anyone, even Redmond. Ask what did they do when they decided to change "shutdown" menu of Windows. They went out and bought a Macinthosh. Now, what you are telling is, Apple is stupid and old fashion for not changing UI. MS is also stupid to provide 'windows classic theme" (ask windows admins) and Gnome on the other hand, with the tragic share of linux desktop share is way more ahead of them.

Not.

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The Reg has a cool comment system

Check back in 2016, iPhone 9 and perhaps OSX 16 (whatever). The basic UI concepts won't change. Mac will have dock, finder and iPhone will have very similar UI albeit in amazing dpi.

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I would do a more radical thing

Get rid of Icaza gang who tries to inject mono to everything and even succeeded couple of times?

Guy spends more time than Ballmer at Redmond! I really wonder if they are behind this "lets hurt linux desktop even more" ploy...

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WTF?

Er, whut?

"The company, who actually sells "user experience" with 50% profit doesn't touch the basics of its UI. Time travel a 1984 Mac user today and watch him use his amazingly fast mac without problems."

Erm. Really? You're saying OS X was just a little makeover? I'm not seeing a dock in https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/File:Apple_Macintosh_Desktop.png .

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Again, whut?

You, er, know that Miguel hasn't had an active role in GNOME development for years, right?

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Anonymous Coward

In principle

I accept what you say.

In practice, I still hold the same opinions

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windowmaker is small download/compile

Run windowmaker and see if OSX has anything to do with it except the Dock, which naturally comes because of Object oriented design.

You would be right if Apple branded NeXT as OS X and forced such a radical UI change to users but they didn't.

Even Windows 7 has a classic theme option, that is Microsoft. Ask them why they provide it.

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"it's probably time to start learning how to tweak Xfce"

^ This.

For now anyways.

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re: it's probably time to start learning how to tweak Xfce

I've always liked XFCE. I like to think of it as Gnome-lite and have my root account boot into it.

I'd probably be moving to it full time too if Gnome 3 won't run on my Athlon XP 1700+ with 2GB of RAM and NVidia GeForce440MX 8X AGP adapter. As outdated as the machine is (It was built in 2001 after all, and started out with a then-whopping 256MB of DDR1 RAM, which was upped several times over the past years, with the final 2GB configuration coming last year), it still runs Gnome 2.30 with Compiz fine. I hope it doesn't wheeze and stutter under the Gnome 3.

In the end, it's not about having a flashy desktop. It's about finding one that balances between the flashiness against performance.

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Stop

Oh my

"have my root account boot into it"

Dude! Thou should not be running as root!

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Boffin

I know

I'd rather not give my limited user account sudo powers. I just use the root account when I do apt-get update && apt-get -y upgrade, and I spend 10 minutes tops daily in there. It's only when things get extremely hairy when I stay in as root longer (stable? Not if you're using Debian Sid. The price you pay for demanding cutting edge versions of an app).

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Vic
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Errr...

> I just use the root account when I do apt-get

So why no just do a "su -" beforehand?

It's a lot safer than running a desktop as root...

Vic.

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Zeb

Linux Mint here I come

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted GNOME 2.x! However I would be nice to see GNOME3 fallback mode supported by a distro as default.... or maybe we will see a fork of GNOME called DWARF :P

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Or install LXDE

Uses less resources than XFCE, but you'll need gnome-power-manager or the XCFE one on a laptop, as it doesn't power save otherwise. Otherwise perfect. Using it right now...

Though I'll upgrade to fedora15 when its released

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If I wanted endless keyboard shortcuts

I'd use Emacs. Seems to be a lot of column inches on all this keyboard short cut stuff - and I hardly ever use keyboard short cuts for window management, so its a bit of a non-feature to me.

Have tried Gnome 3, some bits I thought were pretty good, but I didn't like the 'move mouse to upper right' to get the shell for example - you should be able to get that from wherever the mouse is using Rclick or similar. I don't want to move the mouse that far, the desk wasn't big enough.

And why no minimise - still haven't figured that one out. Seems to be a big alienation point, for something that could so easily be incorporated.

I'll try it again though, and Unity once it get s bit more stable, although being brgouth up from DOS through windows, I do like WIMP.

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Seriously?

I dunno how you can live without keyboard shortcuts, at least basic ones: start key and alt-tab? I'd stab my eye out with a rusty fork without those.

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@AdamWill

Adam - something that wasn't covered in the brief review that perhaps you can answer?

There are - to my mind - three big faults with Unity:

1) global menus unattached to the application

2) different behaviour for scroll bars depending on the application; some e.g Firefox, and gnome 2.8 and older applications, have the visible (and preferable) old-style scroll bar within the application window, while others have the new 'two pixels highlighted and we'll draw a thumb somewhere once you're near it' approach - might be inside the window, might be outside, oh, and we've broken the click above/below the thumb to move a page, too'.

3) lack of a mechanism which shows immediately what applications are open in a particular workspace.

There are other idiocies, too: semi transparent backgrounds for switchers which are cluttered and therefore difficult to read, a workspace switcher that requires you to know the position of each workspace to use the keyboard short cuts... meh.

My problem is that 1) and 3) above are *showstoppers* for me for unity; 2) is a severe pain in the rear. 3) daft as it sounds though is the biggest issue I have: I can't tell what I have open (and the keyboard alt-tab short cut, instead of a small clear icon on a plain background, shows the window associated with the application - cluttered and difficult to read) and every window looks as if it's falling off the bottom of the page.

So the questions are:

1) does G3 have local menus?

2) does G3 have a sensible task switcher?

3) does G3 have a task bar?

Thanks.

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Answers!

1) no, GNOME 3 does not use this system. There are plans for something vaguely similar in future, where some apps will lose the 'menu bar' paradigm entirely and instead have a smaller list of options available from their application icon (the currently fairly useless bit of the top panel next to Activities, where you see the name and icon of the app). But not in 3.0.

2) The alt-tab dialog shows icons and the app names; if you have more than one window open for a given app, you get a little drop-down from the app's icon which shows a preview of each window.

3) There is not, by default, anything which shows you a list of all open apps. The Overview (shortcut: start key) does the Expose-type 'zoom out windows' thing for the current workspace and shows thumbnails of all workspaces in the workspace switcher.

One of the currently available third-party extensions for GNOME 3 implements an always-visible dock on the right-hand side of the screen; I'm not sure exactly how this behaves (and if it would fulfil the function you want) as I haven't used it. Another thing I've seen people doing is running avant-window-navigator on top of Shell to satisfy their panel/window list desires, though that's not in any way a 'supported' configuration, I hasten to add.

4) GNOME 3 doesn't do anything odd with scrollbars, they look and work like they always have.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't fret too much about the global menu

It can be uninstalled.

It would be nice to have a simple configuration switch (wish list), but it *can* be uninstalled. Crazy, senseless idea that it is!

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It's OK.

I tried the Beta last night and it seemed really good; Gnome 3 is fast and I don't think it would take very long to learn some 'new ways of doing things'.

I'm not sure who's idea it was to remove the Reboot / Shutdown command from the user menu though - I spent ages trying to find it, only to discover through Google that you need to hold down Alt when mousing over the menu (I hate it when software makes you feel stupid).

The only thing that I really struggled with (and this isn't unique to Fedora 15 beta) is the font rendering - it was awful. I'm an Ubuntu user and find that the font rendering in Ubuntu is perfectly readable. It's the opposite in Fedora... which is a shame as it's the only thing that would stop me from switching from Ubuntu.

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FAIL

Oh, no, not another Apple-ism

Apple do this alt key crap. If you want 'extended' features hold down alt when you've opened a menu. My favourite is textmate - replace in current selection needs you to hit alt when you've selected some text - this is one of the reasons I stopped using it.

It can be quite entertaining to select the menus in your app of choice and press alt and shift and see what functions they think you're too stupid to see.

It's in the Apple style guidelines somewhere - and it's complete arse.

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You got it wrong

Alt key is used as "force" or sometimes do advanced user things like iPhoto library rebuilding.

For example, alt+empty trash means "force empty trash". You can live without pressing alt button a single time while using your system ordinarily.

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In shell mouse gestures?

*drool*

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GRUB2?

see title

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No.

also see title.

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Linux

and now for something different

I was a Ubuntu fan until Unity appeared and now GNOME 3 is out that's killed off Fedora as well - I don't want a touch screen style interface being forced on to my desktop. Yes there are many options of changing the window manager, customising the themes but strangely much like certain hair products, I just want to install and go rather than install, customise, customise, customise, customise then go.

Windows Vista/7 are just polished glass versions of XP and if I am going to have to pay for something then it might as well be the fruity desktop.

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Agreed.

Forcing the likes of Unity and GNOME3 onto people is going to cost customers. Desktop and touch UIs are too different to merge into one - Apple proved this with iOS and it's why they won't release a touch Mac. A touch-optimised UI operated with a mouse is a kludge.

Here's hoping someone forks GNOME2.

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Another odd meme

Hey, another odd meme: Shell is 'touch-optimized'. It really isn't. There's been some vague consideration of touch screen use cases in the design, but I can't see how you can use it for ten seconds and call it 'touch optimized' with a straight face. Hell, look at the top right hand corner of any given Shell screenshot; does that look 'touch optimized' to you? Maybe with a stylus...

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