GNOME 3 and beyond

5. May 2011

Actually I am been pretty busy writing my diploma thesis so after the Toronto hackfest there wasn’t much activity from my side regarding GNOME. However, as I finally unsubscribed from gnome-shell-list it’s time to write something about my personal experience with GNOME 3 and the feedback that was mentioned on the list.

Personally, I use GNOME 3 on my Desktop and Netbook for some weeks now, both with Fedora 15 Alpha/Beta. It took me some minutes to get used to the concept and reorganize my workflow a bit but overall the experience was quite good. I especially like the way multiple monitors work, so I can always have empathy with IRC and chat on my secondary monitor. This is particularly useful as I definitely use much more work-spaces now than before to organize my tasks. There are still some rough edges, especially when it comes to all the “Finding and Reminding” stuff and the chat integration. Actually, I really don’t want to have both empathy and the shell displaying my chat messages and I don’t want to have the “Contact List” around all the time. But luckily some discussion started on desktop-devel-list to improve the situation. The point annoying me most is that I always have to press Alt/Meta key to switch off my computer as I have connected it to a plugbar to save the energy consumed in standby normally by the computer and the monitors and my secondary monitor doesn’t go into sleep mode when connected via HDMI. Another reason for not using standby is that I cannot sleep when the blinking “Standby-LED” of my desktop is lighting the room. I want a “Power Off” menu item – Period!

Besides my personal experience I followed gnome-shell-list for quite a while until the signal-to-noise-ratio became much too low. I would really like to have some kind of gnome-shell-devel-list that just summarizes all the technical discussion that only seems to happen on IRC currently as IRC is hard to follow normally. Anyway, I want to summarize some of the more interesting feedback:

  • Window title bars seems to be too big for many netbook users and are seen as a waste of space. Allan has a blog post explaining the reasoning behind this though but it might not be ideal for small screens. I know that I reduced the font size on my netbook to have more space.
  • Merge title bar of maximized windows into the top panel. This goes in the same direction as the first one and seems to be useful for smaller screens especially as the top panel is quite empty usually in GNOME 3.
  • Dont’ hide stuff in “System Info: Actually this control-center panel groups a lot of stuff like “Favourite Applications”, “Fallback mode” and (guessed?) “System information”. Seems this is poorly labeled and people are actually not finding what they want to change. Things should be grouped differently here.
  • Persistent notifications are difficult for external developers that are used to the old-style notification system. That probably would be that bad if it would be easier to reach developers by mail as it is quite hard for external people to ask on IRC (in the right time-zone). As mentioned before, it would be important to have developers read & answer at least the technical posts on gnome-shell-list which doesn’t seem to happen. (See this thread).

The rest was a lot of noise in the style “I don’t like it”, “Fedora vs. Ubuntu”, “GNOME vs. Unity vs. KDE”, “But *I* want a task bar“, “I still don’t like it”, etc.

8 Responses to “GNOME 3 and beyond”

  1. Jef Spaleta Says:

    I’m not sure the blog post you cite actually comments on the titlebar size as a design feature. In fact in the comment thread on that blog entry Allen says titlebar height is a bug and a fix is in the works.

    What time Allen spends talking about the titlebar in that entry seems to be restricted to the design choice of only having a single close button exposed instead of a grouping of buttons which is an entirely different discussion than a discussion of titlebar height.


  2. I’ve found that a little application of a black permanent marker to such LEDs does wonders to remove their annoyance.

    It doesn’t make them completely opaque; just reduces the light coming out by about 80% or so. Try it out, I think you’ll like it. 🙂

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

  3. Danielle Says:

    You don’t actually need the contact list. In GNOME3 it’s even a separate process to the chat widget.

    Unfortunately it has this annoying thing where quitting it cleanly causes it to set all your accounts to Offline. If you kill it, this doesn’t happen.

    I’m not a fan of tying connection lifetime to the CL like we do, it’s a hangover from a time when IM was an application, not a service. We should move presence control into the shell, and make the roster a completely optional component. Actually, I’d like to move Contacts into a tab in the overview too and do away with the roster entirely.

    • jhs Says:

      Technically that’s true as everything is handled by telepathy but practically I still want to see who is online sometimes and as you say, showing the window is the only sane way to stay connected currently.

  4. Matthew Berg Says:

    What is killing the experience for me is the ALT-TAB behavior. I don’t want to switch between between applications, some of which are on different workspaces; I want to switch between the windows on my current workspace, like every other desktop environment I’ve used.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I regularly keep two or three overlapping terminals open on my main workspace. Switching from one to the other used to be a single key combo, now it’s the fairly ridiculous ALT-TAB-LEFT-DOWN-LEFT.

    I actually like a lot of the other aspects, but this is jarring enough that I’m likely to drop back to Gnome 2 for the foreseeable future.

    • I am not as I don’t use alt-tab very often but I think there is a gnome-shell-extension that is restoring the behaviour you would like to have.

      • Matthew Berg Says:

        Yeah, surprisingly there was an exposed setting. The default is “Move between windows, using a popup window” while the shortcut for traditional alt-tab behavior is “Move between windows, immediately”.

        Finding it was made more difficult by the size of the setting window being fixed. A lot of the settings are cut off, so I’m stuck trying to figure out the difference between two settings both labeled “Move between windows of an …”.

  5. Juan Ramos Says:

    Noise!? 0.o

    To me, gnome 3 is very tablet oriented… but my pc is a desktop computer, not a tablet. To use my fingers, i have my nexus one.

    Can you imagine using VNC to connect to a remote client using gnome, with all its fancy 3d stuff?? Deal breaker to me.

    Finally, gnome devs managed to kill gnome.

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