Where is GNOME2? GNOME2 is in EXDE!

6:54 pm gnome

I knew it was a matter of time till somebody would decide to continue development of GNOME2, “tried and true”. Here it is, EXDE. There was a number of GNOME forks before – none of them had anything close to some form of real life. I wish this project all the luck – just because too many people find GNOME3 … well … “too different to be acceptable” (putting it mildly).

And, above all, I hope that some good ideas from EXDE (if they are going to happen) could be fed upstream. That would be win-win scenario.

We’ll see…

17 Responses

  1. Jason D. Clinton Says:

    I see only one contributor with no coherent reason for existing and no apparent understanding of the status of how to contribute to GNOME.

    In short, exactly like every other historical GNOME fork: going nowhere.

    The right thing to do would be to volunteer to maintain the old panel and Metacity since they are very much part of our GNOME 3 story going forward and very much in need of developer attention. Any help would be welcome. He hasn’t offered any.

  2. Joe Buck Says:

    Actually, I think it would be best to try to provide the Gnome 2 experience on top of mostly Gnome 3 libraries (particularly GTK+), to maximize the amount of re-use and sharing of bug fixes.

  3. Joe Buck Says:

    Sorry, after reading the article I see that what I suggested in my previous comment is exactly what EXDE intends to do: Gnome 2 experience with as much Gnome 3 code as possible, not a fork that keeps Gnome 2 doing.

  4. Jeremy Messenger Says:

    I hope EXDE will success. If it does and I will want to create a port of it in FreeBSD ports.

    I can’t stand gnome-shell and even with their ugly classic session fallback. I don’t really understand why they are removing more features and make it harder for us to work on desktop. We aren’t supposed to work harder in our own desktop. With gnome-shell, I have to click and click more than what I have to do in GNOME 2. Also, the gnome-shell slows me down pretty much compare to GNOME 2. No matter how many days I have used gnome-shell.

  5. Milan Says:

    I hope project will be successful, and wish them all the best.
    After many years I switched from Gnome to KDE. Many people whined about KDE4 destop icons and what not, those are nothing compared to Gnome3.
    Now, in KDE I can configure what I want, exactly how I want, it even has an option for default WM so I can choose openbox, Gnome will never have this. No new features, but confusing new UI and hiding options, granny desktop, or idiot proof, even windows is not anymore like that.

  6. Sergey Udaltsov Says:

    @Jason: Most probably you are right. And most probably that project is going to end with nothing. But if there is a slightest change for it (or some other project of future development for GNOME2) to succeed – I would pray for them:)

  7. prokoudine Says:


    Yeah, GNOME 3 is so confusing that people who never used it just do whatever they need to do, without any fuss. Whereas all that some experienced users can do is grumble, grumble, grumble.

  8. Sean Says:

    So, I’m the guy behind EXDE.org.

    There’s a reason I haven’t announced EXDE anywhere other than a couple feeler-posts on forums. It is going to be a TON of work just to get the basics done, and I’m not convinced it’s worth it to me. EXDE was an idea of what I wanted, and an exploration into what it would take to get there, and not an actual project looking for volunteers or support of _any_ kind. I’ve also spent some time trying out XFCE as a basis, although it turns out they’re hostile to having a person do all the work to port their desktop to GTK 3.0 ahead of their glacially slow schedule. I particularly liked the argument that porting to GTK 3.0 would make it too hard to port bug fixes back to the last stable release… which is logically ridiculous as that would mean that they never ever want to port to GTK 3.0 since there will always be a last stable release to port bug fixes to. Sigh.

    Anyways, I myself will bet hard cash that EXDE will go nowhere. :)

    @Jason: I’ve contributed to GNOME in the past, back when my interests in Linux/desktop stuff was much higher. You might also notice that the project goals very explicitly state that everything possible is to be developed upstream in the gnome repos where possible, and to only actually fork the components when forced to due to disagreement in vision/direction that can’t be reconciled. The primary code in my EXDE git repos so far is mostly just changing defaults around, and some (abandoned) attempts to have the new name so as not to conflict with GNOME’s identity. I want to minimize the amount of work I have to do and I want to get as much of the beneficial changes out to upstream GNOME users as possible. I’m not as dumb as you seem to think anyone who dares to have a criticism of gnome-shell must be. :/

  9. Sri Ramkrishna Says:

    @Sean – I have always enjoyed your contributions to the GNOME Mailing lists so it hurts personally that you didn’t like the shell. I read everything on exde.org.

    As Jason suggested, why not help out in maintaining the GNOME 2 experience within the GNOME eco system? That sounds much better than anything else. I think you should get even more involved in GNOME not less.

    Secondly, I think you should give GNOME Shell a chance. I think it opens us to new avenues to pursue. I realize it isn’t the same interface at all and it has a lot of rough edges but like GNOME 2 it will end up like a thing of beauty. Have you looked into extensions with GNOME Shell? I think there will be a lot more information regarding what you can do with that soon from a number of us.

    Anyways, Sean I hope you will continue to be active on the mailing list as I would prefer to have your voice there than without!

  10. nate-m Says:

    As long as the ‘legacy’ 2-pane-style Gnome desktop is supported by the Gnome folks then there isn’t much point behind EXDE.

    That’s the honest truth.

    I used Gnome-shell for a couple months when last year, but I abandoned it for performance reasons. Mutter just sucked the life out of my video card. Compiz was much faster in every respect.

    And, yes, this was very noticeable difference. Applications became unpleasant to use in gnome-shell because of the hit.

    Once the Gnome 3 PPA for Ubuntu Natty reaches a usable state then I’ll switch back.

    I’d be using it right now if it was not for the fact that the Gnome PPA hoses the system. Ruins Unity, GDM goes all pear-shaped, gnome-shell crashes constantly on login, etc etc.

  11. Sergey Udaltsov Says:

    @Sean, whatever happens – thanks for another indicator that gnome2 style of UI is still wanted by people. And whatever you do to make upstream GNOME (in fallback mode) usable and close to GNOME2 – people would definitely appreciate that!

  12. Sean Says:

    @Sri: I’ve given the gnome-shell a chance. I’ve been a hardcore GNOMEr since the pre-1.0 days, and I’ve given all the UI a chance and supported it every chance I got. (Also, on a side note, I’m not sure I’m the same Sean you’re thinking of — I haven’t posted to the GNOME mailing lists in a couple years, I think. I was last active before I moved into the games industry, which was in 2009.)

    gnome-shell just flat out does not work for me. It adds needless steps to my workflow. It adds massive amounts of extra mouse movements to do simple things I do on a frequent basis. It hides information from me that I actually need. I am measurably more productive using XFCE (with all its myriad of usability problems; it has a ton of them) than I am using gnome-shell, and yes I’ve been trying gnome-shell since it first hit a “usable” quality level.

    Much of my deeper criticism of gnome-shell is purely technical. Lots of UX complaints, but those mostly stem from the deeper problems with the whole way gnome-shell is built and the whole mindset that led to its creation in the first place.

    To bring up the oft-cited complaint of hardware support, I have some hardware that (surprise surprise) lacks working 3D drivers on Linux, and probably won’t have good support anytime soon. So, I have to wonder a bit about this engineering decision for gnome-shell to require 3D drivers.. Gnome-shell is an incredibly simplistic 2D UI. It has not a single 3D bit to it, it has only simplistic 2D transformations that are mostly unnecessary or easily implemented with Cairo, and doesn’t use shaders for anything interesting at all. Why is it built on a 3D toolkit? Especially when its target platform is known to have crappy 3D drivers? Nobody can explain the logic of this decision, because there wasn’t any. Someone just thought it’d be neat to use Clutter to build a new UX, fuck the consequences, and zoom off they went. Sigh.

    In a larger context, the whole approach to gnome-shell in concept simply irritates my common sense to a huge degree. You had a working codebase for a window manager, panel, and so on. Instead of evolving those with the new vision, the project rewrote them from scratch. And what does gnome-shell do that gnome-panel/metacity couldn’t have done with some straight-forward work? Not one single thing! The app overview, the workspace management, all that stuff could have been implemented into Metacity and gnome-panel just fine. Your users don’t give a shit about the underlying technology. They wanted a working desktop. Telling people that “features will come back” or “the UX will be polished eventually” doesn’t change the fact that you broke things because you arbitrarily decided to rewrite it all from scratch instead of improving the existing code in a controlled and evolutionary manner. It’s user hostility caused by developer self-gratification based in a desire to “have fun” instead of caring about actual people. That kind of crap is forgivable in a small hobbyist project with a niche userbase. It’s damning in a huge once-professional project used by millions like GNOME.

    The problem with gnome-shell extensions is that it then requires _even more work_ for anyone who wants to experiment with less radical UI ideas. We basically have to reimplement all of gnome-panel into gnome-shell, from scratch, in freaking JavaScript, just to be able to then try some gradual, evolutionary improvements to the existing well-tested years-old UX. How is that situation even remotely a good idea? Oh, and we have to reimplement GTK’s theming engine in the new toolkit just to avoid the break in consistency of the look-and-feel of the desktop (what ever happened to GNOME and its pioneering of the HIG, with its core thesis of consistency?). Asking someone to do that with extensions is kind of confusing since apparently just rewriting it all from scratch would be more inline with how GNOME approaches problem solving these days. Sigh, again.

    I have a number of complaints with the gnome-shell UX itself, many of which I can back up with qualitative data. They’ve all been raised before and all been shot down by the gnome-shell designers with responses like “it’s not in the vision” or “you must not have tried it hard enough” or so on.

  13. Sergey Udaltsov Says:

    @Sean. That’s why I wish your project luck. I share your observations. To me g-s generally looks like a product of NIH-syndrome and “2nd system effect”

  14. Salih Emin Says:

    Why exde.org is redirecting to xfce.org ?

  15. hussam Al-tayeb Says:

    I wish this project luck too.
    I also want to say that the “gnome3 is too different to be acceptable” is 100% wrong.

    The major reason why gnome3 is “not acceptable” is that it is geared towards home users. gnome seems to have forgotten that there was so many companies, schools and universities who use gnome2 and do not wish/have time to train their students/employees how to use a new desktop.

    that’s really all I have to say about this topic and while I doubt it makes any difference, I do hope gnome engineers will read my comment and actually be objective for one second.

    We need to leave the mentality that open source software is only for home users and “foss fanboys” and actually start catering for a wider audience.

  16. jwillar Says:

    In summary, Gnome 3 shell makes my desktop look and work like a smartphone which is exactly where it belongs. Productivity is crippled when using this on a desktop and I see no reason to ever want to use Gnome 3. I wish this fork all the best.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  17. Chandrakant Says:

    exde.org says – “Nothing to see here. Move along” ! I have lost a lot of composure while working in Linux because of all the dictatorial changes that are happening in Desktop Environments (Gnome and KDE) which were actually the driving factors for me switching to Linux from Windows seven years back. The ease of customizability, the user friendliness and openness was far more legendary in my opinion than it is right now. First gnome buttons being left aligned by Ubuntu and then the Shell thing and Unity. I made a switch to XFCE and life is less painful than it was for the past months ever since the release of Gnome 3 and Unity. I believe a Desktop Environment project should be driven more to make it more usable, friendlier and productive for the end user. I thoroughly respect the vision of the Gnome 3 team yet what bugged me is that Gnome 3 and Unity provide you no way you can not accept their offering. Its like thrusting things down my throat against will. Only time would tell whether a gnome fork would happen, whether the same old gnome panel based layout would come back or the shell survives and thrives and grows to full glory. Till then I would silently use XFCE, which brings memories of good old gnome 2 days

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.