In defense of Gnome 3


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Thread: In defense of Gnome 3

  1. #1
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    In defense of Gnome 3

    In my other few posts lately you can follow my review of my netbook and my "return" to Linux.

    There are two thoughts going on in my selection of the perfect Linux setup:

    Which distro to use (debian, fedora, mint, etc) and which DE/WM (GNOME, KDE, XFCE4, etc).

    I have been a "loyal"(?) debian based user for a long time, starting with debian and moving to Ubuntu, as well as the classic gnome 2 desktop.

    To me, you can't beat "apt-get install package" (or so I thought), nor could the simplicity of gnome 2 (with my own configurations) be improved upon.

    However, I did recently get a new job supporting Redhat (instead of Ubuntu) and gnome is slowly being replaced everywhere with gnome-shell (gnome 3) in most distro's.

    What to do what to do...

    I tried Debian/Mint and XFCE which installed fine, and worked as expected but...I don't know...with the power I have in the netbook, do I really need a stripped down desktop for the sake of saving a few meg's of RAM? I have 8gigs for goodness sake.

    Don't get me wrong...it worked fine and on a lesser machine a very usable option, it just wasn't for me.

    I also tried the classic gnome 2 based Mint install which also worked well, but is a debian distro right for me if I have to support RH all day long?

    So I tried Fedora 16 with the new gnome-shell desktop....meh....it was OK. No "start" bar....everything is kind'a abstracted a bit...I just type an application name and it comes up...workspaces are stacked on top of each other instead of side by side...pop up notifications from chat windows and things that need my attention just kind of appear.

    Blah....that wasn't for me either, so I put Windows back on to get some actual work done for a while.

    While Windows 7 works fine, it reminded me why I started down the Linux path in the first place...I had gotten so used to it and really did miss the comfort of Linux.

    So I tried again, stuck with Fedora 16 (again to re-acquaint myself with RH support) and decided to stick it out with the new gnome-shell....which leads me to this post.

    First, yum has some great features: you can run it "twice" and the second instance will automatically wait for the database to free up and then install a package.

    Perhaps a minor detail but during the first few days of install, I am always remembering more packages to install while I'm already installing other packages. A second yum install package in another shell will work, when it is allowed to.

    There was another yum advantage but it escapes me at the moment!!

    Second, the gnome-shell:

    If you read my other posts, you'll see that I have started to realize that the gnome-shell is doing by default what I've typically had to setup myself using compiz.

    Being primarily a netbook user, I am typically only working with an 11inch screen and either the touchpad mouse (which I don't like) or the classic Lenovo stick mouse (which I love). I don't often have an external mouse with me.

    Because of this, most of my interaction with the desktop is keyboard driven, and the more mousing I have to do, the less efficient I am.

    This lead me to use compiz to switch between applications or workspaces by keyboard tricks (alt tab or window-key tab, etc) or by using very basic mouse movements (positioning the mouse in the top right corner exposed all my workspaces, the bottom right corner showed me all my apps, etc).

    Also, the use of gnome-do changed my life: window-key plus space brought it up and I could start typing just about anything I wanted and gnome-do figured out what I was trying to do and did it.

    Guess what: this is basic behavior in gnome-shell!

    I will say it isn't perfect (I want to switch the default top-left corner action to my preferred top right for instance, but I can't), and the "search" tool isn't nearly as perfect as gnome-do.

    However, after sitting with gnome-shell for a few days, I'm starting to understand how the developers are thinking.

    I am running this on a small screen, with not the most efficient mouse setup, so it has to make great use of my desktop space and be a bit more keyboard-centric than if I had a 21 inch monitor and a "real" mouse.

    Some people complain that the "Favorites" bar doesn't hold enough apps, but maybe I'm a simple user, but how many apps do I use?

    Chrome, pidgin, rhythmbox, file browser...terminal...??? Let's say at the very most 10.

    Since my hands are already on the keyboard at "home position", hitting the windows key brings up the search bar (gnome-do like powers) and I type "ch" and it's already realized I want to open Chrome and it launches.

    Or better yet: hit the window key and type www.justlinux.com and BAM! It opens chrome to this page.

    I've just eliminated the need for 1 of my 10 apps from being on the Favorites bar.

    Window key "pidg"...pidgin opens.

    Window key "rh" ... rhythmbox opens.

    Not only do I need fewer and fewer icons on my Favorites bar or desktop, I am significantly more efficient for not needing to move my hands off "home" keys.

    The "pop up" notification area in the bottom center of the screen is actually very convenient now that I've used it.

    As I sit here and type this (which has become quite long!), a chat dialog box has appeared from pidgin that shows me what someone just sent.

    By simply looking down I can decide to keep typing here, or enter a quick response in that dialog box, never changing apps, never moving off this page, never losing my current train of thought, but also not missing that conversation.

    So I get it gnome-shell creators. I get it.

    I do have complaints, that's for sure (slowness at times, and the lack luster search box (just steal gnome-do), and the extensions need a better manager), but I get it.

    I'll stick with Fedora and gnome-shell for at least a month and come back to this post for an update.

    I look forward to what else I can learn about gnome-shell, and maybe I'll remember that other nice yum feature I still can't recall!
    Last edited by happybunny; 02-09-2012 at 10:28 AM.
    m1ke_l
    Lenovo x120e (gave my wife the Asus 1015N)http://justlinux.com/forum/showthrea...hreadid=153955
    Fedora 16 (but I haven't settled yet)
    8gigs of RAM (in a NETBOOK!!)
    Boston, MA USA/Wondering

    My dad's website (he'll love the traffic) http://www.cafephotos.net/

  2. #2
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    Nice post!
    -------------
    Folding is Fun

    I thought I made a mistake once, but, of course, I was mistaken.

  3. #3
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    Good post,

    I also am trying gnome3 with debian testing(wheezy) for the first day I hated it, then like you I figured I would give it a little time. I'm now at the point that I am going to use it all the time, I didn't like the fact that you can't use compiz with it, but then again I only really liked the wobbly window anyway.

    I like the windows key hit it and start typing and up comes the program I want, or if I have to search for something, windows key, type, and up comes an option for google or wiki.

    I don't know if you have installed it yet but try gnome-tweek-tool it helps with some settings. The good thing about the way gnome3 does the desktops now is you don't have to make any changes to add or remove desktops. If you need two you get two, if you need ten you get ten, gnome just keeps adding a new desktop each time you use one.

    Another thing I like is if you need to have two apps open on the same desktop if you pull one to the left of the screen it will fit it for the left half of the monitor, then drag the other app to the right side and it will fit it for the right side of the monitor. Now you can work on both apps at the same time with out switching the focus from one to the other.

    Now all I need to do is copy this 80gb hard drive to a larger drive and make it my primary OS.

  4. #4
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    Welcome back, did you enjoy your time on the dark side?

    Since my rant on IRC about gnome3 I've come to enjoy it more, but only on my netbook. I still can't stomach it on a full blown desktop with multiple monitors. For desktop I'm still loyal to Enlightenment even though they don't have a huge developer base to keep updates coming as fast as Gnome/KDE. I really wish they would make two modes for Gnome3: netbook/touchscreen (as is now) and a desktop mode that has more legacy options.

    A comment on apt-get and remembering a package after you hit enter (I do this often on new installs) - I don't know of a way to queue it like you mentioned with yum. However, you can ctrl-c it, press up, and add the program to the list - it will pickup where it left off (remembers what it already downloaded).
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

    -Mark Twain

  5. #5
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    I totally agree about gnome-shell/3 (not sure which to call it actually) is only useful on netbooks.

    If I had a full screen (17+) or 2 screens, I would look for something else.

    gnome-tweak-tool is a good start, yes, but like I said we need more configurations options (I think referred to as extensions) and more control (moving the top left action to another corner), but I do see this coming down the road as they develop more.

    As far as the search option (by just hitting the window key), this needs drastic improvement to make it more like gnome-do, which is extensible(?) as hell and not just a search tool.
    m1ke_l
    Lenovo x120e (gave my wife the Asus 1015N)http://justlinux.com/forum/showthrea...hreadid=153955
    Fedora 16 (but I haven't settled yet)
    8gigs of RAM (in a NETBOOK!!)
    Boston, MA USA/Wondering

    My dad's website (he'll love the traffic) http://www.cafephotos.net/

  6. #6
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    Am I the only one who sees a strong resemblance between the Gnome 3 shell and fvwm? I'm serious. Take a look at those workspaces! If they're discarding the Desktop metaphor, doesn't that mean it's not a Desktop Environment anymore, the same way Pluto is no longer a planet?

    I'm not a fan of Gnome, and I'm using Slackware pretty much all the time these days, so it's not even a readily available option for me. My opinion doesn't matter, but I will say this: Having gone through the KDE4 wars on the losing side, I know that it all works out better than you'd expect, so there's no point in getting all nasty and frantic. One reason why I know this is because I'm posting this from a Slackware 13.37 laptop with KDE3.5.10.
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 02-10-2012 at 03:04 AM.

  7. #7
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    I was a die hard Debian fan. I ran through Knoppix, Knotix, before settling into Ubuntu.

    I ended up supporting RHEL at work. I still remembered RPM dependency hell from the old days, and dreaded getting to know YUM. I was wrong. YUM is very usable.

    Some niceties:
    Integrated search - yum search <packagename> vs apt-cache search <packagename>
    What provides - yum whatprovides */program. This has been an amazing time saver.
    yum localinstall [--nogpgcheck] <package> - Adding random RPMs into my local package database easily, and still having the dependency checking of yum.
    n00b

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryon Speede View Post
    I was a die hard Debian fan. I ran through Knoppix, Knotix, before settling into Ubuntu.

    I ended up supporting RHEL at work. I still remembered RPM dependency hell from the old days, and dreaded getting to know YUM. I was wrong. YUM is very usable.

    Some niceties:
    Integrated search - yum search <packagename> vs apt-cache search <packagename>
    What provides - yum whatprovides */program. This has been an amazing time saver.
    yum localinstall [--nogpgcheck] <package> - Adding random RPMs into my local package database easily, and still having the dependency checking of yum.
    I just installed Fedora, which I haven't really used since FC4, and I found your post easier to understand and use than the man page, so thanks. However, I'm not finding everything I need in YUM. I may decide to

    I installed Fedora to try Gnome 3 one more time. Something keeps me coming back to Gnome 3: mostly, I suppose, the knowledge that I don't understand it.

    The problem with KDE4 was that they blew the Desktop up, and then they reassembled it. And they mangled the PR. You hear the KDE folks talk about how the users were fully informed that KDE4.0 was not for the general public, but they let the public know through dot.kde.org, their news site. I had never heard of the dot, and I (and, I suspect, the general public) went to KDE.org, the first site that comes up which was, and (at a glance) still is, all about promotion. The stable 3.5.9 version was barely mentioned.

    With KDE, what we have at the end of an unnecessarily painful transition is a more agile and powerful version of the traditional desktop. Sure, it's a little bit slower. And they really f-ed up Konqueror. But the Desktop metaphor was extended by concepts like folderview. But with Gnome... well, it looks to me like a more agile and powerful version of fvwm. But there's got to be more to it than that, right?

    Right
    ?

  9. #9
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    I think we're paying too much attention, both positive and negative, on the question of where to put the buttons that launch applications. It's just not that important, and it's not that big a difference. The old button locations worked, and so do the new ones. None of this will ever improve the productivity of the average user more than helping them learn the command line. It took me a single afternoon to grasp the command line, probably a tenth of the time I later spent posting angry messages about KDE4 on the internet, and it probably saved me a hundred times that in dull, repetitive drudgery. But Linux is driven by developers, not educators, so this is the way it's gotta go. Besides, the command line is old. You may think this is all about saving a few clicks, but it's really all about the muddyfoggy WOW FACTOR. To release a new desktop that looks like the old desktop is unthinkable.

    Yeah, I know, the average user doesn't want to use the command line, but guess what? The average user doesn't want to use Linux, either. That still hasn't changed, not even a little bit. Anecdotally, i can tell you that Linux was a struggle for me. It was only compulsiveness and microsoft-hate that kept me going for a year and a half, until I learned home to cp mv ls and rm. And then it all made sense. And from what I see, the people who learn it succeed, and the ones who don't fail, and go on to post rants about "lusers" in arious tech blogs.
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 02-28-2012 at 06:59 AM.

  10. #10
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    As promised, I stuck with Gnome-3/shell for over a month.

    While I still stand behind gnome-3 for what the developers are trying to do, I have had to abandon my setup due to horrible performance.

    I was running Fedora 16 with gnome-3/shell as the default and I very much enjoyed the interface.

    However, I still feel that this netbook (Lenovo x120e) should run significantly faster than it currently does.

    To that end, I'm giving up on gnome-3 and the current Fedora 16 install.

    I've installed Linux Mint Debian with xfce4 (again?) but I've had very little time to work with it yet. I will say that I already miss some mousing features of gnome-3, but at least my machine is (seemingly) running much faster (so far).

    I'll also say that I *believe* there were specific issues with AMD/ATI video drivers working properly with gnome-3/shell that were reportedly fixed in newer driver versions. Perhaps it wasn't fixed and this is what was causing my performance issues.
    m1ke_l
    Lenovo x120e (gave my wife the Asus 1015N)http://justlinux.com/forum/showthrea...hreadid=153955
    Fedora 16 (but I haven't settled yet)
    8gigs of RAM (in a NETBOOK!!)
    Boston, MA USA/Wondering

    My dad's website (he'll love the traffic) http://www.cafephotos.net/

  11. #11
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    wwooooww

    incredible things

  12. #12
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    I'm now using Ubuntu Precise, and I've been doing what I call a two-tier /home directory. This means I have a big directory in /home called /home/files, where all permanent storage takes place, and I can can create as many users as I want and they all have equal access to that directory. In other words, the user accounts aren't considered permanent. They get messy, I save what I want, delete the user and move. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. Great for serial reinstallers and live CD hackers.

    So I have a bunch of Desktops installed, and I can access them from different accounts, so I can have an account for running KDE, and account for running Gnome, and another for figuring out AWESOME. I also have an account for Unity. Mostly it's been KDE and Gnome.

    Two things:

    I like Gnome 3. I may actually like it better than Gnome 2. Like I said before, launching programs isn't that big a deal. They can all do it. Gnome does it very quickly and directly and elegantly, and it can manage open windows very easily.

    And, in my opinion, every window manager or Desktop environment goes better with KDE applications, namely Dolphin and Konqueror. Everything that's really essential in KDE (the ability to create a "Desktop" GUI at any location in the filesystem, the ability to perform the maximum amount of tasks with drag-and-drop) can be ported to Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, fluxbox, or whatever when you install those basic KDE applications, Konqueror, Dolphin, and Konsole.


    Oh, another thing, one of the most objectionable things about Gnome 3 has been the inability to disable the turning off of the screen after a timeout. That's been fixed.
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 04-19-2012 at 09:26 AM.

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