Nautilus multihead desaster

Today I tried out Nautilus with dual-head, i.e. two monitors that share a large virtual screen using XRandr. It was a desaster! Not XRandr – I love it! But it turns out that Nautilus miserably fails to be useful in a dual-head layout.

I already fixed Nautilus 2.24 to never move any icons outside the (virtual) screen area some time ago, but for dual-head we have horrible issues:

* Dead space is not detected, icons are put happily there

* The icons are not laid out per physical monitor, but per virtual screen. You can easily have icons that are “shared” between two monitors. While the actual icon layout is a bit tricky in the case of overlapping monitor regions, in the non-overlapping case we should perfectly be able to do nice per-monitor icon layouts.

* When there is a loading error for a file launched from the desktop, it is displayed in the middle of the (virtual) screen, and not in the middle of the monitor you used to open the location.

* The first navigation window is always opened on the monitor where the last navigation window was closed, even when you open it through the panel on a different monitor (patch pending release team approval).

* We don’t begin the icon layout on the monitor that you right-click to select “clean up by name”

* No background image awareness, i.e. the background image is just centered across monitors, even if it fits on the first monitor. Ideally, we’d have per-monitor backgrounds, of course.

* … any more issues you report, assuming you actually use GNOME in a dual monitor setup …

Now, a serious question: Is our user base so small, that we just receive bug reports evry once in a while, and not constantly? Are our users masochistic or unprofessional enough to tolerate this in a desktop environment that is supposed to be used in business environments?

While I frequently use beamers in combination with my laptop, I miserably failed to use them with Linux and used Windows for my (university) beamer needs from day two on. An educated guess is that almost every GNOME user out there does the same and uses Linux for non-serious business only. This is somewhat frustrating, as we are still trying to deliver a robust and business grade desktop environment – aren’t we? Note that this is NOT a rant about XRandr, which is really, really neat. It’s just we who suck!


Some comments suggest that some of our users feel insulted, and rectify themselves that they actually filed bugs, gave up on us or something along those lines. It is interesting how some people describe their use-cases, griefs and work-arounds. I love how everybody cares about quality, files bug reports and kicks us in the arse when things are broken. I certainly did not write this to insult anybody. You have to understand that I somehow feel like an innkeeper who thinks that he has some good wine in his cellar, realizing that half his wine from a certain country is decomposed.

I need a helping hand: Make Nautilus tabs a joy for users! :)

This is a message to all the people who want to get involved with GNOME/Nautilus development, and do something useful! 🙂

As of writing, I am the only active Nautilus maintainer, and I am totally running out of time due to my studies. I’ll have a high frequency engineering exam on Wednesday, and it’s getting worse due to various time-consuming activities in my spare time.

Therefore, I am looking for an interested hacker who wants to finish my work on Nautilus user interface tab support (“multiview” branch). You should make sure that all the keybindings and mouse interaction patterns are consistent with Epiphany, and that the overall user experience is flawless.

You should have good communication skills since you would work with the usability team on a GNOME-wide policy for tabbed applications (i.e. keyboard and mouse interaction), and make sure that Epiphany, Nautilus, gedit and gnome-terminal behave accordingly.

Do some hacking for hugs and fame! 🙂

Update: Jareed Moore volunteered, and already published an analysis of the keybindings and mouse interaction shortcomings. Feel free to add any issues you find.

“Compact View” has landed in Nautilus trunk.

Manny: you should totally blog this, I’ve been waiting for this kind of view for a long time

OK, official announcement: Yesterday I merged the “Compact View” into Nautilus trunk (which will become Nautilus 2.24). You may have read my blog entry about the view back in February.

It mostly works like the column-wise view of Windows Explorer, but it has more bugs. For instance, under some mysterious conditions the window sometimes constantly re-calculates its size. This bug could be observed very seldom with the “Icon View”, which uses the same infrastructure.

Oh, and it has a preference for toggling whether the column width is determined separately for each column. Otherwise, we use the same width for all columns displayed in a view. We probably still need some fine-tuning for satisfying at least 95% of the users, but it is a good start.

Obligatory screenshot, with variable column width:

“Compact View” (variable column width)

Oh, and we are working like mad to fix the regressions due to the GVFS migration. However, hail to GVFS and Alex Larsson. GVFS is just cute. You should all fanboy GVFS! And of course use it in your applications… .

In simliar news, we really need more manpower at Nautilus and GVFS. Cosimo Cechi, A. Walton and Paolo Borelli (Nautilus), and Christian Kellner and Benjamin Otte (GVFS) all do a great development job, but as all big projects there are so many tiny glitches and issues, you just have to help us.

As a start, compile a list of 3-5 (Nautilus or GNOME) issues that are totally cumbersome and fix them, or help us to fix them! 🙂