back to article Linus Torvalds dubs GNOME 3 'unholy mess'

Linux daddy Linus Torvalds has dropped GNOME 3 in favor of the Xfce graphical desktop interface, dubbing GNOME 3 an "unholy mess". Last week, on Google+, various penguins discussed the possibility of creating an incarnation of the Linux 3.0 kernel that would masquerade as version 2.6.40 – a 3.0 version number, you see, causes …


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  1. Anomalous Cowturd

    And the funny thing is...

    He's bloody well right.

    Gnome 2 will be staying here too, for the foreseeable future.

    Lemon entry, my dear Watson. ;o)

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      And while I'm on the subject of Uis...

      Unity can fsck off too!

      KDE 4 is almost there... XFCE is on my list. Thanks Linus. And thanks for that Linux kernel thingy too! ;o)

      1. Charles Manning


        Gnome 2--> is just KDE3-->4 all over again.

        KDE4 caused me to switch to Gnome 2.

    2. Anton Ivanov

      Welcome to the Club Linus

      Well, he is not just right, he is doubly right because that is the right choice with KDE4 being a train wreck even worse then Gnome 3.

      I switched myself and switched all of my users a while back and never been happier.

      1. shaolin cookie


        I had much the same view of KDE4 after trying the first releases, but then Unity came along with broken classic Gnome in Ubuntu 11.4 and pushed me to retry with KDE4.5. After a while of tinkering with it I actually got it to work my way, and was so pleased with the result I converted the work computer to KDE4 as well.

        It's all about choice though and I'm sure we all like different desktops, but for the moment KDE4 is doing well for me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Yes, KDE4 started off badly but improved massively. Maybe the same will happen to GNOME3. Maybe not.

          The problem with both KDE4 and GNOME3 seems to be change purely for the sake of change coupled with a lack of user research.

          1. Ocular Sinister

            Change for the sake of change?

            I don't know enough about Gnome to comment, but in the case of KDE it was badly needed change. Many things weren't possible with the 3.x frameworks and the whole thing was beginning to strain under the pressures of a modern, composited desktop. The first four or five iterations of KDE 4 were unquestionably painful, but the changes to the underlying frameworks are beginning to pay dividends as demonstrated by the exciting new form factors supported by KDE - all without screwing up the desktop form factor.

            Maybe the Gnome people are aiming for similar flexibility with all that java (or is it java script?) on the desktop.

            KDE 4.6 is a good, stable platform now despite the bumpy start and I'm looking forward to trying 4.7 sometime soon. These early releases are much like Vista - they need to happen, but are necessarily painful as the underlying technologies shift from mid 1990s to early 2010s.

            That said: I don't like what I've seen of the Gnome (or Unity) desktops and doubt I would be comfortable there. I am too conservative and need my Windows style task bar, menu and window decorations. At least with KDE 4 (even the early versions) you could get something very close to that familiar environment. That doesn't seem possible the Gnome 3.

            1. pip25

              They don't "need to happen"

              Yes, it's been going on for who-knows how long. Windows 95 arrived with a lot of new stuff both UI and non-UI wise, and it sucked. By Windows 98, it started to get usable. There was a feeble attempt from Microsoft to advertise Windows 2000 as the successor of both the 9X and the NT line. It sucked. XP managed to get it right. Repeat the same thing for Vista/Win7 and KDE4.

              Is this really necessary? I don't think so. The sad fact is that the developers are either pressured into releasing too early, take the "release early, release often" mantra too far, or are just plain too egoistical to see that their product is simply not viable for widespread use yet. This happens elsewhere as well, but it is the most striking in radical UI changes like this one.

              Dear Gnome devs, it's not bad that you believe in your UI vision. But why, WHY do you have to repeat the same mistakes for the umpteenth time? If you can't get Gnome 3 to even the roughly same usability level as Gnome 2 in a reasonable time, something went wrong during the development process. Perhaps the changes should have been more incremental. Just get off the high horse and admit that it might be better to view Gnome 3 as pre-beta in certain areas. You will still earn criticism, but at least you will also earn some respect.

      2. Uwe Dippel
        Thumb Down


        what desktop did you switch your users to? Don't tell me an unmaintained Gnome

        1. Captain Thyratron

          Let's just not tell him, then.

          Sometimes, a supported product is sufficiently crap that an unsupported one is actually better.

      3. Blitterbug

        It's cos of tablets innit... seems to me.

        All these desktop-innapropriate aspects of G3 fit a tablet form-factor almost to perfection, n'est-ce pas?

    3. Nigel 11

      The problem is burnt bridges.

      What annoyed me most, and presumably what's annoyed Linus most, is that the Gnome developers created Gnome 3 in such a way that you can't install both Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 on the same (probably multi-user) system. They presented the utterly different UI of Gnome 3 as if it were a mere new release of Gnome 2. It was exactly the same as what Microsoft did with Vista - except Microsoft had a financial reason for shafting experienced XP users, whereas with Gnome it must have been something like arrogance and pride.

      So yes, I really hope that someone goes back a good release of Gnome 2 and renames all the entities that clash with Gnome 3, creating a "Gnome classic" fork which can then be maintained indefinitely, while Gnome 3 developers carry on pleasuring themselves. "Maintained" shouldn't be a lot of work, because we don't want any radical changes. In particular, if any UI changes are introduced, they should be small and incremental, so that whatever way you are used to working, carries on working.

      As for the big picture, one of the strengths of Linux is multiple UIs that you can install and choose between at login. I'm sure Linus isn't flaming the Gnome people because they've created something utterly different, which he hated. He's flaming them because they smashed and burned the old UI that he liked while they were doing it.

      I'll use XFCE if I have to - at least it has workspaces - but I'll miss Gnome 2 if it does die rather than getting reincarnated.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Spacial all over

    This will be just like the whole "Spatial" (say that correctly and it sounds like "special", as in short-bus-to-school) debacle. The community of users is talking, but the Gnome developers have their fingers in their ears and are saying "NYAANYAANYAA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! WE READS US A BOOK ON UI DESIGN AND IT IS THE WORD OF GOD!"

    Yes, Gnome designers are "spacial" all right - they live in fear that there is some way in which Gnome might be easier for a computer-literate person to use than Apple, and thus must stamp that out.

    1. Goat Jam

      Jumped the Shark

      First KDE4, now Gnome 3, not to mention Ubuntu going with that toy Unity interface, it's starting to concern me that Linux has jumped the shark, so to speak.

      And this from an OSS fanboy who has weaned himself off Windows for everything sans a couple of games and the dreaded itunes for nearly 10 years.

      I don't really like XFCE either. I sure hope someone does fork Gnome 2.

      1. Ru

        "Linux has jumped the shark"

        Oh no, the big desktop environment projects have all turned to shit. I guess I'd better start uninstalling debian from all my headless servers and replacing it with a different OS instead. Woe is me.

        1. Goat Jam


          Who is talking about headless servers?

          I use Linux as a desktop as well as for several servers.

          I assume you are one of those *nix guys who operate via Putty, right?

          Otherwise your comment is utter nonsense.

          1. CD001

            "linux jump the shark"

            I kinda suspect the point he was making was the Linux the OS is NOT Linux the GUI, this ain't Windows we're talking about here... Linux hasn't "jumped the shark" but perhaps the GUIs have.

            1. JEDIDIAH

              Lemmings all jumping the shark...

              Yeah, but what happens when everyone is jumping off the same cliff?

              What do you do then?

              You are left with few choices anymore except old versions that have been abandoned in favor of the new insanity.

              Of course that leaves the new users in a bit of a pickle then because they aren't familiar with all of the old standbys like dfm or windowmaker and have to start sorting out this crap from scratch.

          2. Anonymous Coward

            Sin of omission ...

            I think somebody forgot the /sarcasm tag

          3. Anonymous Coward

            Re: WTF?


            I assume you mean 'the console' -- putty is a *GUI* terminal emulator

            1. Stupidscript

              @AC 18:16 Re: WTF?

              puTTY is a telnet/SSH client, in additional being an xterm terminal emulator. The poster was obviously referring to a tool that many sysadmins use to manage Linux boxen remotely from within a variety of operating systems, almost all of which have practically useless "console" applications.

              But you're one of those guys who just likes to correct people.

              Oh ... and it's NOT "Putty" ... it's "puTTY".

              Like it's not "pedANT" ... it's "pedant".

              1. Anonymous Coward

                If you want to be pedantic...

                Stupidscript.... Hmmmm, your name gives away your bias

                He was talking about DESKTOPS, so your comment that he was referring to managing servers remotely is still nonsense.

                If you use a desktop without a gui, you won't be running xterm, or putty or any other *GUI* application.

                And if you think that console applications are useless, you are obviously a GUI fanboi like he is

              2. Dazed and Confused


                <pedantic mode>

                > Oh ... and it's NOT "Putty" ... it's "puTTY".

                Not according to the copy I have installed,

                it is "PuTTY"

                </pedantic mode>

              3. Anonymous Coward


                Oh ... and it's "boxes" not "boxen"

                Fixed it for you.

      2. Captain Thyratron

        Oh well!

        You mean the big, bloated "desktop environments" that try to be everything but your kernel have jumped the shark. As long as I can still install StumpWM, the rest can burn for all I care.

        I need something that lets me work with windows in X. I don't need gconf. I don't need windows that do cute things when I close them. I don't need "social networking applications". I don't need riced-out redundant analogues of common Unix tools. Draw the damn windows and let me use them. Plenty of window managers will do this without any fuss, fortunately.

  3. Jack 4

    I'm glad someone is saying it...

    Particularly someone with this sort of weight in the Linux community. Both Ubuntu 11.4 and the latest version of Gnome have had completely insane changes made to them and any complaints as a user that they're a steaming, unusable pile get met with, "If you don't like it, write your own," which is not a helpful attitude.

    I'm running Linux because I want a *choice*. I don't want a sidebar, I want links on my desktop, I want to be able to configure my interface as it works for me, to store things how and where I want, to put tool bars where I like them, and to hide things that I *don't* like. Why they seem to have suddenly developed a case of Apple envy and have decided to lock down and dumb down the interface is beyond me, but if I wanted an Apple-like interface, I'd buy an Apple. But I don't and I didn't.

    Anyway, Good for Linus for speaking up. Let's hope that it restores a bit of sanity to Linux user interface design. :)

    1. Martin Owens


      I've made the old ubuntu netbook interface available for maverick and natty so if you want a desktop full of icons, just install that.

      All my students at the community centre seem to think it's the bees-knees.

      1. Spiracle

        Unity icons

        While Unity does have its (well documented) annoyances as far as I remember it does allow you to have as many icons and shortcuts on your desktop as you've got room for.

      2. Sam Liddicott


        The UNR interface was great, although it has some gnome-3 deficiencies in relation to launching new instances of terminal.

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      I'm surprised...

      ... that no-one seems to be using or developing Trinity, the KDE 3 fork. I may be wrong, I sincerely hope so, but it seems to be being totally ignored. If I could get hold of a distro with Trinity I might be able to abandon my Mandriva 2008.0 setup!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spatial Stupidity

    Thanks for reminding me about that horrendous default spatial file manager.

    You mention Apple, but Apple has an infamous problem with their spatial Finder too. John Siracusa of Ars Technica has almost built a reputation of Finder-bashing. In his defence, he's completely right. It's a horrible combination of both a spatial _and_ navigational file manager, which in trying to please everyone, winds everyone up. The spatial fans can't understand why not every window is therefore spatial (different windows can be opened by default with spatial or non-spatial views), and navigational fans don't want the view to be spatial at all.

    Interface stupidity isn't therefore unique to GNOME 3. Even that supposed paragon of usability, Mac OS X, has stupid bits in its interface too.

  5. Wisteela
    Thumb Up

    A true mess

    Sticking with GNOME 2 here, and Xfce if I ever have to change.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he is right...

    ...because when I took a look at just now I thought I was at a Windows development site. Congratulations Linus, you've finally discovered the closest open-source thing to the 'Useable' interface most of the world actually uses.

    1. Anton Geijsendorpher



    2. Old Handle

      I know, right?

      But there's no shame in admitting Microsoft got some things right, is there? You can at least console yourself by remembering that MS too jumped in the UI failboat with basically everything they've done since XP.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        "Console yourself"?

        Yep, bring up that terminal.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Whilst Cognisant of enraging lots of people here, I actually think that the W7 interface is rather good. However, I certainly agree about Gnome 3 being an absolute train wreck of an interface, which is why I have forced mine to run the older version.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        MS did indeed fail badly after XP and for the same reasons that GNOME3 fails. All these UIs fail because, like washing poweder, they feel they have to be "new and improved".

        MS need to realise that the XP UI doesn't just have momentum because it's what people are used to. Yes people find it easy to use because it's what they are used to, but also because it actually is easy to use. MS tried with Vista and more successfully with 7 to try to come up with a new and different UI that would convince people to spend money upgrading from XP.

        Where GNOME and KDE puzzle me is that unlike MS there is no financial incentive to try to make people upgrade so why are they trying so hard to fix what isn't broken?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I'm not sure MS got it right since they stole it from IBM and the OS/2 UI, and even then they didn't get it to work properly.

        1. The First Dave


          I thought it was well known that all of Windows had, at one time or another, been "borrowed" from Apple? Probably about time that Linus accepted reality and bought an iPad...

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            I thought...

   had all been "borrowed" from Xerox PARC in the first place?

          2. Brendan Sullivan

            @The First Dave RE: untitled

            While quite a bit of Widows 3.x was likely taken from the early Apple GUI system, Apple had taken all of that from Xerox PARC. Not to mention the fact that the UI design introduced with 95 and continuing through to 2K (and even hanging around somewhat in XP, especially if you switched the theme to 'Classic') was very different from the design that Apple has been using since the late 80's and which MS used for the 3.x series of Windows.

            1. ThomH

              Depends on your definition of "taken"

              Microsoft "took" from Apple in the sense that they had a contract with Apple that a court found to have given them access to the relevant intellectual property. Apple "took" from Xerox in the sense that they paid millions of dollars worth of shares in order to have access to the research centre.

              In both cases, ideas migrated due to business transactions.

            2. Dazed and Confused


              Actually quite a lot of Windows 3 was taken from HP, with their agreement. The whole 3d look to start with.

              A lot of the ideas for the way the windows were managed on the screen was pinch from twm.

          3. Jonjonz

            Kettle Calling the Pot Black

            O Really, you know that spiffy translucent plastic Fisher Price UI look that Apple likes to crow they invented, not so, It was a Windows Windowblinds skin long before ever showing up on any of Mr Copy Kat Job's kit.

      5. Dave Lawton

        @ Old Handle

        The Windows interface, like most of their stuff, is just a poor copy of someone elses.

        Google "RISC OS", but don't just read the first site.

        Official ones

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only partially agree.....

        While Vista was an abomination, 7 is actually pretty good once you get used to it.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      We aren't all fanbois

      Oh Paul Turner 1, you funny old troll!

      As a GUI unix user since well before windows 95, I was pleasantly surprised by the windows95 GUI,

      Much better than the SunOS thing I was using at the time.

      The operating system itself was and still (even under the NT kernel) is a different story.

      Your swipe is therefore invalid - GUI != OS

  7. Piloti
    Thumb Down

    This is the quandary......

    For years Linux has been lambasted as being "too difficult" for mass market. Maybe correct, maybe not. It is still "waiting to happen", that I'll agree with.

    One of it's downsides is that there is too much choice, which makes it difficult for newbies to get into, so very often they don't.

    Of it's upsides, is that there is so much choice, which means that fi you don't like A, change to T. Why not T? Give it a whirl....

    What Linus is doing is being a bit of a child about Gnome. Gnome have decided to go a route, but Gnome is only one of many desktops. As shown, Torvalds has moved to another desktop. Try that with Apple or MS. Personlly, I have mixed views about Gnome 3, mostly because it is taking some getting used to. But that is becuase I have been using the very MS like KDE for a while. In lots of ways, XFCE is little different from the initial ideas behind MS Windows 3.1 : all menu driven drop downs. Nothing wrong with this, lot of people do it. Ubuntu have Unity, which is Gnome-like [or is it the other way around ?] and there is a Enlightenment, very minimalist....

    The thing that Linus has missed is that there is choice out there for people who like to try. And Linus should do very well to remember that and not lambaste people [the Gnome team] for trying something new.

    Sorry Linus, but thumbs down for this rant.

    1. A. Lewis

      I think his thinking... that the default DE is the thing that new users will experience AS linux. If they don't like it, they won't like linux and probably won't stay long enough to try any others.

    2. Chris Thomas Alpha


      just because it's free software doesn't make you free from crisitism, gnome team can do what they want and linus can do what he wants too.

      he decided to flame the team for their stupidity which I happen to agree with, so thats fine, it's how open source works.

      you seem to think that because it's free software, you can just change if you want to, yes, you're right, but I can also call you on your bullshit too.

      which is what happened.

      1. Piloti

        I think you've not understood.....

        The point I was making is this :

        The Gnome team have decided to do something new and are being criticised for it by the man who wrote the original kernal. As far I know, Linus Torvalds does not lead a desktop development team for a desktop.

        Yes he, like everybody else is entitled to an opinion, but he is also entitled to be 'wrong' and to mis-judge things. Should the Gnome team just keep churning out the same UI, drop after drop or should they try something new ? Discuss. I am not a Gnome fanboi, far from it [I have been using KDE on Mandriva for a few years] but I applaud their efforts. Not Only that, I am giving it a try to see if it is any good.

        And finally, my friend, my point about FOSS was not that you /should/ change just because it is there, but that you /can/ change, Linux gives you options. ANd the right to chop and change, swap and choose is right in there from the beginning..... wasn't that what Linus wanted when he asked for feedback, all those years ago : feedback, choice, freedom..... ?


        1. Nigel 11

          Burnt bridges, again

          If anyone is criticicising them for trying something new, they shouldn't be.

          What they deserve to be flamed for, is telling the world that the completely different and (IMO) horrible new thing is merely a new release of the old thing, and inplementing it in such a way that one cannot run the new thing and the old thing on the same system.

          I can install KDE, XFCE, and one release of Gnome on the same system until I decide which I like the best. On a multi-user system I can install them all and let each user make that choice for him/her self.

          But I cannot install Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 on the same system. The Gnome folks have deemed the change to be an upgrade, not a new product, even though in effect they've taken away a car and given us a boat. Once a distribution embraces Gnome 3, Gnome 2 becomes un-usable thereon. Which is why I now hate Gnome developers.

  8. Antti Roppola

    And Lion and Win 7

    There's a smart phone mania gripping all OS developers who assume that you now have a tiny 3" x 4" screen andd cannot see more than a playing card sized chunk of document at a time. I gave single task foicussed Gnome 3 a red-hot go and just ended up hating it even more. I notice Lion is enthusing about the same mis-features that annoyed me in Gnome 3. Windows 7 takes a POV if one user action is good, three actions are better (here's snarling at you ribbon bar).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Ribbons are not the only fruit

      But I do agree that I find them a step backwards in usability. My biggest gripe with Windows 7 is having both alt+tab and windows+tab for cycling through applications. If it were just eye candy I could ignore it but it manages to confuse me so much I've started looking and away and just rely on counting windows. Add the weird mouse over stuff in the taskbar and I spend most of my time trying to stop my computer be so clever!

      1. A handle is required


        Different commands mapped to different keyboard combinations is confusing?

      2. doctorjbeam

        Dearie me

        You're complaining that you have a choice between two window switchers? If that's your "biggest" gripe, then I'd say that the Windows developers have done damn good job.

        PS - you can disable the Aero window previews ("weird mouse over stuff in the taskbar").

    2. lurker

      Spot on

      Unity and Gnome 3 are both designed with Tablets in mind. Problem is, they are forcing it down everyone's throat when the huge majority of us are still using plain old Pcs or laptops.

      Linux Mint will be one of the big winners from all of this, as they're pretty much carrying on where ubuntu left off when it went 'Desktop 2.0' crazy - Gnome 2, with a tidy and effective UI and a decent amount of thought given to usability.

      1. Goat Jam

        Linux Mint

        "carrying on where ubuntu left off"

        Are they? How exactly do you know that? I have trawled their website in an effort to determine where their future direction points regarding Gnome 3 and unity and came up with nothing.

        Considering that until recently they were pretty much just a reskin of Ubuntu I was interested to see if they were intending to diverge from that path. They have Mint Debian now (which incidentally lacks a tonne of polish at this point) but I am still in the dark as to whether Debian (or Mint) plan to drink the Gnome 3 koolaid or not.

        The fact is I'm getting old. There was a time where compiling kernels and farting about was fun for me, but that time is fading into a distant memory recently. These days I just want to install something and expect it to work without a lot of farting about.. I find myself having less patience when it comes to fscking around getting shit working all the time.

        Up until now, Ubuntu has done that for me, sans a few annoying bugs every now and then.

        Unfortunately I'm yet to settle on a new distro that "just works" like Ubuntu (mostly) does without all the pandering to morons that Shuttleworth seems hell bent on doing these days.

        Rational suggestions for a replacement distro with minimal admin requirements gratefully accepted. *

        * P.S. I don't like yum/rpm much but I'm willing to give it a go but apt-get/deb is much preferred.

        1. Chris Thomas Alpha


          just to pull you up on that point, why do you say apt-get is preferred, when yum in fact does the same thing.

          are you in fact mixing up issues here such as packaging and the technology used to deploy them?

          why do you care whether it's yum or apt-get?

          1. Goat Jam

            Yum vs apt-get

            I'm coming from Centos / RHEL here but it seems to me that their repositories are seriously lacking.

            Example: CentOS 6. Try installing netperf *

            yum install netperf


            "Nothing to do"

            On Debian/Ubuntu it is right there in the repo and installs.

            On CentOS, you are forced to ;

            a) Goolge, find and and add a "non standard" repo to yum


            b) trawl for a "should be" compatible RPM and risk descending into "dependency hell" as a result.

            I keep seeing Redhat guys claiming that yum is "just the same as apt-get" and that may be true on a technological level, but it is all for nought if the repositories are relative wastelands which don't have half the packages you are looking for for a given release *.

            * Try installing php-mcrypt or php-excel on Centos6/RHEL6, you will come up with nada on those as well.

        2. Dozy


          I was the same - compiling kernels and stuff from source! But like you, feel the need to get out a bit more.

          I agree - Ubuntu Unity and Gnome 3 are taking us to Apple's lala land of idiots and dolts.

          However, I find Linux Mint's Debian edition (LMDE) fantastic, and as it's a rolling ditro, all you need is to keep updating to keep with current software. And it's mighty stable too (given that it's based on Debian testing)!

          To all you out there complaining about Gnome 3/Unity, give LMDE a try!


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least with linux..

    At least with linux, a big name like Linus can say something and have an impact on the situation. Or at least make everyone stop for a moment and say, "wow hey there." There was no such words protesting the win7 start button interface replacing the classic menus. Any who protested were told to get bent.

    Just an observation, but the whole gnome 3 and unity thing to me just felt like it was transforming my desktop into some kind of mobile device. Maybe, just maybe with Linus's clout perhaps it will be taken more seriously now.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So what's the difference?

      "There was no such words protesting the win7 start button interface replacing the classic menus. Any who protested were told to get bent."

      I don't see a difference here. Common people apparently protested against Gnome 3 and got ignored. Now Linus speaks up and he gets a lot of attention. But lets not kid ourselves; its because of who he is; not so much because of what he has to say.

      As to Windows... What do you think would happen if a well known related big shot would suddenly comment that he's still using the classic theme all the time because the rest is icky ?

      What you seem to ignore here is that MS is a company who's selling their products for a profit whereas Gnome & KDE have totally different motivators. Maybe its all for the show, I dunno, but its been my impression so far that MS seems to be getting one thing right these days: paying attention to their userbase (check the several MS fora yourself; including the complaint threads).

      Granted: listening to & using the information are different things. But so far its also too early to tell if the Gnome team will be doing anything with Linus' comments.

      Even comments like: "No other developer liked it" is a dangerous one IMO. Because how many Linux developers would disagree with Linus and actually spit it out as well? I dunno, but it wouldn't surprise me either if many agreed for the sake of it.

  10. DaemonProcess

    what is a desktop for?

    Gnome3 and Unity are both so different from what we had previously that they prompted me to think from scratch again about what a desktop should be for.

    the answer was - launching apps, seeing what is running and killing apps. Both unity and gnome3 mske all 3 of those things harder and seem to be trying to turn my device into a tablet.

    i found myself using the command line again until i remembered a sleek desktop that loads in under 1 second and under 100 meg, saves cpu for the apps. i re-discovered Enlightenment.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Bodhi FTW

      A proper implementation of E17 on top of an Ubuntu base - highly recommended:

      1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge


        Didn't know Enlightenment desktop manager was still alive. I can take a look at Bodhi for his fact alone... I loved that manager, running over slackware, in the college network

        Ah, memories

      2. Chris Thomas Alpha


        please take your toy desktop manager and jump a cliff, enlightenment is a complete failure of a desktop, I remember in 1997 when I first started to play with it, it was a buggy piece of crap then and last year I tried it again and it was still a buggy piece of crap 13+ years later.....

    2. A. Lewis

      Enlightenment dawns...

      I'd forgotten about enlightenment. Maybe I'll see if I can give it a try!

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha
        Thumb Down

        don't bother

        it's full of bugs and has functionality similar to that of a window manager in 1996

  11. Stinky
    Big Brother

    Linux Desktop in need of real leadership

    Not sure how this could come to pass as RedHat and Oracle (Sun) are vested into Gnome Desktop. KDE I can understand those people have been drinking the kool-aid too long.

    Message to Linux Desktop Groups - give us a interface that is usable, and doesn't stand in the way of what users want. Before you do another release, rework, or add a new feature, somebody please do a usability study. Forget the eye candy, forget the semantic desktop. Stop the "This, is cool, it can be done, and I can hack it in week in 1000 lines of crappy code" mentality. And for God's sake stop the dependency hell and oceans of code bloat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: give us a interface that is usable

      "Message to Linux Desktop Groups - give us a interface that is usable, and doesn't stand in the way of what users want."

      The choices are out there, and there are many, for those with the time and inclination to try some of them. A possible starting point is

  12. jake Silver badge

    He's right about Gnome, anyway ...

    Gnome blows dead bears. Always has, and it's getting worse.

    KDE 4.x might get there, someday. Maybe.

    Unity is just plain wrong ... Five blind men describing a camel comes to mind.

    I use xfce (mostly); most of my installed base uses a custom KDE 3.x interface.

  13. Doctor T


    been using windowmaker for about 12 years now, and it still does the trick just fine.

    1. Piloti
      Thumb Up

      You are right about that.......

      ......... I love Window Maker. Nothing there, right mouse click and a menu appears.


      I'm often torn between WM and 'trying something new'. I am using Unity, with mixed results. But, is that me and my 'stuck int he old ways' attitude, or is it Unity ? Dunno.....

      Will try a bit longer and see if it sticks. If not, I'll try something new : the joys of Linux.

      1. Ru

        try something new...

        Be daring. Drag your desktop kicking and screaming into the twenty first century. Fire up Fluxbox.

    2. A J Stiles
      Thumb Up

      Another one for WM here

      Ah, yes, Window Maker. One seriously underrated desktop environment. Has the exceptionally cool feature that it isn't even *trying* to pretend to be like Windows, so it might even be easier for n00bs to get to grips with.

      The Clip (stop shuddering, it's *nothing* like Microsoft's one) and the Dock are great. Install the GTK2 libraries (and the bindings to your favourite scripting language of course), and you can even run GNOME applications.

      Someone needs to pick that up and work on it a bit; my C++ isn't there yet, unfortunately

      1. Hungry Sean

        Love Window Maker

        Such a nice, clean, un-fucked-up window manager-- run it on top of XFCE or Wings and everything gets to be light weight and zippy.

        But I'm not sure about using it for work nowadays because I'm stuck on Ubuntu which seems to be best maintained via the various gui tools and have no idea what their executables are (SuSE was easy-- yast2 and everything comes up). Does anyone know of a pre-canned WM that integrates these?

        1. A J Stiles

          Debian have WM

          Debian already package up WM as "wmaker". If it's not already in the Ubuntu repositories, cop hold of the Source package from Debian Sid (.dsc, .orig.tar.gz and .diff.tar.gz -- you need all 3) and build your own .deb files. Poke about in debian/rules to set "configure" options.

    3. Tim Walker

      On a similar note...

      I'm now running an Arch Linux setup on my Eee 701 netbook, using Fluxbox as the window manager. You wouldn't believe that a machine as underpowered as the 701 could go from login to a usable desktop in barely more than five seconds, but it does - think I'll have to shoot a YouTube vid to prove it ;-)

      Fluxbox also suits the 701's tiny screen (800x480). I briefly tried Gnome 3 on it (what was I thinking?) - never again...

      1. A. Lewis


        I sometimes miss my 701. I didn't go as minimalist as fluxbox, I stuck with XFCE. But for a five second boot it sounds worth it!

      2. Greg J Preece

        Tried out Fluxbox and XFCE

        And while they're nice and lightweight, something about XFCE rubbed me up the wrong way. Fluxbox I liked initially, with its very minimalist interface, but I soon realised that any kind of configuration at all would be opening text files and mucking about with a syntax I'd not seen before - adding items to the menu, for example.

        Now, I'll freely admit this was a while back. It's probably improved a lot since then. Might try it out, actually...

  14. david 63

    I persevered with Unity for a week... is now history.

    I don't want a desktop with the interface of a phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OS X?

      I was using the latest ubuntu on my netbook. It was even worse to use then Win 7 was (which was actually quite useable!).

      Then I discovered how to stick OS X on there. It's not perfect - but kicks the arse of both of those options.

    2. Jim 59


      Agree. Gnome3/KDE4 are amrtphone wanabees. They make my 21" screen look like a giant phone, thereby negating the whole advantage of the big screen.

      After rooting round in my loft I recently found some old Windows 3.1 disks. Cranked up Windows 3.1 in vmware, it looks and feels a little bit like Android.

  15. Jean-Luc

    Thank you Mr. Torvalds

    Once upon a time I was on Mandriva and I liked the KDE 3x interface. Sure, Mandriva had none of the apt capabilities of Ubuntu and I was stuck with RPMs and their dependencies. Sure, Mandriva had none of the polish and user-friendliness that Ubuntu has been so good to provide.

    But it looked like Windows, mostly. Not quite, but mostly looked the same.

    What do I like about Windows? Hmmm, not much. But I liked the fact that an XP link, even if it is a binary file for some ungodly reason, can be dragged & dropped to the start menu or desktop. Copied and pasted. Then you can right click and add some command line parameters. I.e. with very little effort, you can tweak GUI program launches. Just like you can tweak command lines with 'alias' under bash. Pretty soon, either on the desktop or _nested_ on the menu, you can have all your frequently used programs set up just the way you want them. Yes, even lame DOS batches.

    I don't get this kind of love from OSX and its Dock. Herr Jobs knows better than me. Gnome 2.x always knew better than me as well and I never quite figured out what incantations to use to tweak the menus, easier to drop to command lines. KDE 4.x... is much too clever for me: icons are dead, let's all have widgets. You know, I don't get the widget paradigm and I'd rather spend my time getting more clever at bash than play with stupid GUIs that don't seem to improve things much.

    KDE 3.x was about the closest to letting me decide what to do, easily. OSX, my primary personal environment nowadays, is tolerable and consistent, and I can live with it, but I miss XP's iconic freedom.

    So it's refreshing to have Torvalds, with his street cred, once again bash the nitwits who insist on deciding how users should interact with their GUI, regardless of said users' opinion. Change for the sake of change (which is also a criticism one can level at Windows 7 when it comes to configuration option locations).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps I have misunderstood you

      I use OS X (still Snow Leopard till everyone else irons out the Lion bugs).

      I have no difficulty at all in adding any application or URL to the desktop. I tend to put apps in the dock and have a folder on the desktop to hold, for instance, BBC radio player links I use a lot, or things I really want to leave on my desk for attention next time I log on. Just drag and drop, even easier than Windows (and that hardly strains the brain). I could put them straight on the desktop; but then I would have too many obstacles obscuring my pretty pictures on the background.

      What's more, it is trivial to configure each application to start in a different virtual screen to reduce the overlapping clutter of all applications on one desktop.

      I do get the impression that denigrators of OS X (and other systems) have no personal experience with the system.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Macs? Yeah, I have a couple.

        > What's more, it is trivial to configure each application

        > to start in a different virtual screen to reduce the

        > overlapping clutter of all applications on one desktop.

        No. We've been there and done that and we're not impressed.

        It's not enough to make it easy to merely jail your apps onto one desktop. You also need to be able to easily move them around. You also need to be able to have windows from the same app spread out across different desktops. Don't need to "configure" anything.

        That's the 1994 level of X functionality.

        MacOS still isn't there yet and has a really crappy switcher.

        1. ThomH

          @JEDDIDAH: what are you talking about?

          OS X doesn't jail apps onto one desktop, and hasn't at any time since it gained virtual desktops. It's trivial to move them from desktop to desktop and there's no requirement for all the windows for a single app to be on the same desktop.

          Moving from one desktop to another is achieved through drag and drop.

        2. PJI

          re Macs? Yeah, I have a couple.

          I rather think I do not believe you, or you have been incredibly lazy and inept. There is no such concept as "Jail" on OS X and it is clear you have neither used nor understand virtual desktops and how to move a window from one to the other.

          If you found that difficult and got it so wrong, I suggest you should stay well away from the full UNIX terminal interface, that you probably worked in as "root".

          What do you mean by "jail"? Even you found the terminal shell interface, giving full UNIX access to every facet of the system.

          OS X is, arguably, a purer UNIX than Linux, both supporting GNU programmes, but OS X also having the advantages of its BSD heritage an all its functionality.

          Back to the topic, Linus Torvalds is fully entitled to his opinion and more entitled to express it publicly, where it concerns Linux, than most of us. He is even entitled to be wrong, even though it is a well known fact that nothing concerning Linux or its fans can be wrong or defective.

          However, I installed KDE, see little advance over when I used to use it full time on other UNIX boxes and no advantage over the standard Mac windows manager. One vote for Linus T..

          No, by some correspondents we are not impressed.

          1. M Gale

            "OS X is, arguably, a purer UNIX than Linux"

            Correct. OS X is a certified Unix.

            Gnu is, quite deliberately, Not Unix.

            Unless you're hacking the kernel though, I challenge you to tell the difference.

          2. JEDIDIAH

            MacOS and Unix collide

            The windowing model on MacOS collides with the concept of virtual desktops and makes them less useful. You can't split windows across multiple desktops.

            There is nothing "pure unix" about MacOS.

            The only reason for anyone to bother with MacOS is where it deviates quite distinctly from every other Unix out there in a highly proprietary manner. Otherwise, you could just run a real BSD.

            It's much like calling Windows "a real Unix" just because you can run cygwin on it.

      2. Jean-Luc

        @"Perhaps I have misunderstood you"

        You did.

        I've never been a big fan of putting stuff on the desktop, on any system. I think it sucks that Gnome 3 would take away my freedom to do so, but I rarely choose to. So I am mostly interested in menus/dock management, not desktop. I really don't see the point of dropping URLs onto a desktop either, that's what bookmarks are for, either browser-based or web-based. But, again, it's your choice and I'll defend your right to make them.

        Second, a symlink/alias is not the same thing as a windows link. In a windows link you can specify command line parameters by right clicking on it, and... adding them. You can't do that on OSX, can you? So, for example, something like 'pside.exe -T MSFT' -U JL', which tells the pside.exe that your target database type is SQL Server (those are not the exact options) and that you will be logging on as user 'JL'. Given little time and effort, you can set up all your often-used commands at a few clicks reach. Symlinks/aliases are brilliant, but don't really shine as a command storage mechanism.

        Third, I still haven't figured out how stacks work on OSX, so they hardly seem as easy as just dropping a link into a menu's subdirectory, which implies a sub-menu - (XP, not Win 7). The virtual screen bit isn't that helpful to me either, but I do appreciate the option.

        I rather like OSX's elegance, but some of its UI design decisions grate on my nerves, even as I realize they make for a simpler experience for most users. No 2-button mouse and resize only from bottom right have been fixed, but there is a lot of simplicity-at-all-cost embedded in its UI. Some more advanced-user configurability of the Dock would scratch my itch.

        Bottom line: keyboard&mouse-driven desktops are not touch-based tablets and I resent the trend to dumbing them down.

      3. Nick Pettefar

        Please Do Not

        Upgrade to Apple OS X Lion.

        It is simply ghastly. I am seriously considering in going back to Snow Leopard. The mistakes and ugliness of this new OS are unbelievable!

        Cannot browse Windows shares.

        No Save or Save As in vital programs (I have lost several files because of this).

        Ugly scroll bars which are difficult to use.

        No Spaces numbers - you just have to guess.

        Many plugins no longer work - you have to switch back to 32-bit mode and pray.

        Too depressed to continue writing...

  16. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    KDE 3.5 is alive and well

    It is called Trinity now:

    1. Flossie

      Re: KDE 3.5 is alive and well

      Trinity is now supported on Mandriva. See:

      1. Tony Green

        Maybe not

        Sadly the download link on that page leads to a 404. So maybe it isn't available for Mandriva after all.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge

    He should go back to KDE4.

    It's really rather good now. Just remember to lock the taskbar widgets and panels after arranging them the way you want it, one errant mouse swipe can cause mayhem[1] otherwise.

    Although he's right, as usual, it was a right, royal pig's ear in its early incarnations.

    [1] As in; Two hours fannying around working out how to get the ruddy task switcher panel back the first time you accidently nuke it.

    1. Greg J Preece

      With you on that one

      My users have done that to themselves enough times that I am now a ninja at restoring the KDE GUI.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: With you on that one

        I don't know how many users you look after, but have you considered using kiosk mode?

  18. davcefai

    Window Insanity

    I can only speak about KDE. 3.5 was a small step down. 4 is insane. It has massaged the developers' egos at the expense of the users' experience.

    Don't developers talk to their users any more? I am waiting for when I have enough free time and inclination to try something else.

    1. Paul Shirley

      kde vs gnome dev cultures

      KDE4 hilights the major difference between KDE and Gnome: both do batshit insane stuff in new major releases, then:

      KDE devs listen to the feedback and start fixing some of the broken software

      Gnome devs listen to their own self serving feedback and try to fix the broken users

  19. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    Time to return to KDE4?

    Well it's the old upgrade/break everything and start fixing routine. KDE4 I find is now highly usable - almost back to KDE3 - still not keen on many desktop widgets. Too like a mobile phone UI and it kills reasons to have virtual desktops (I keep 4).

    Windowmaker is great for low overhead [but scares the hell out of the uninitiated - wonder what Enlightenment would do to them..).

    AfterStep I quite like but maintenance and develpoment seemed to have stopped several years ago - time to revisit?

    XFCE get's job done but there's something not tight for me in it's feel.

    However - at least there's choice and at least you can even mix'n'match DE components

  20. Gavin 8

    maybe haiku will save us?

    ars-technica recently reported it's in a semi stable state now.

    1. Ru

      If it were a window manager, sure

      Instead, its a basically experimental operating system with a terribly small developer and user base and less than awesome application support, poor hardware support, etc etc.

      It is only ever going to be a toy. BeOS is long gone.

  21. Greg J Preece

    KDE 4 has recovered

    4.0 was a mess, but more recent releases of KDE 4.x are just fine and dandy, now that they've filled in the blanks and polished it up a bit. I much prefer KDE to GNOME, if I'm honest, and everything since 4.2 has worked fine. 4.4 and up are great, especially after they rolled kcm_touchpad into the main control panel. I'll be sticking with it for the forseeable future.

    Hopefully GNOME can recover in the same way.

  22. petur

    Unity fallback

    What really sucks is that when upgrading Ubuntu to 11.04, I didn' t like Unity so I let it fall back, which gave me gnome3. Needless to say, I went back to 10.10 for now, and going to move to a sane dist in the near future....

    1. Goat Jam


      11.04 still has Gnome 2 dude. Maybe you have been playing with 11.10 which is still in alpha/beta?

  23. trog-oz

    KDE4 has the same usability problems

    I have similar experience to Torvalds. I've always used KDE; I like KMail and KOffice, etc and I loved the KDE3.5 desktop. When I installed Fedora 11, I went through great pains to install KDE3.5. It worked wonderfully. Sometimes, we watch BBC iPlayer and rather than huddle around the PC monitor, I plug the PC into the TV, configure X for two monitors and watch the program on the TV. Recently I upgraded to Fedora 15 and bit the bullet and went for KDE4. I found it to be unusable. When trying to use BBC iPlayer, the picture would constantly pause for 3 or 4 seconds, while the sound carried on playing normally. I didn't want to upgrade my hardware just to cope with KDE4, so I upgraded to IceWm. KDEapps play nicely with it and it is very quick.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Well if he doesn't like Linux

    Well if he doesn't like Linux why doesn't he go and write it himself

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Fix it yourself then Linus

    You don't like it? You've got the source code. Just change it to how you want. Wasn't that why you insisted on all this linux stuff being open source?

    1. Gareth Gouldstone

      That's the attitude that creates this situation

      Instead of thinking 'what is the best thing for usability?', the programmers think 'how do I want to implement this?'. In open source thinking, everyone can program and everyone will adapt the source to their taste. No wonder we are still waiting for Linux to take off with the general public!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I see everyones sarcasm detectors have failed

        I *know* that the fix it yourself reasoning is what creates this mess. However being able to fix it yourself is so often touted as a reason why open source is so great. Obviously its not always, it seems even the person who created the most famous open source operating system in the world would actually like something that just works and in a sensible way out of the box.

    2. Ilgaz

      Linus isn't that arrogant

      Linus (or rms) doesn't claim to be end user/business user GUI designers who knows even better than Apple and MS.

      Basic rule is, there is an actual job/profession that is called user interface/interaction design and these people aren't really developers. Rule number 1 in that profession is: customer/user is always right.

      I was testing OS X Lion before it came out. I don't have any developer tag or even a good relation with Apple. What they wanted is, ask to people who actually USE the GUI. The fastest cared bug reports were GUI and user interaction issues. The people who are in charge of GUI may be less knowledgable than me, about how OS works. Their job is different.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        False Idols

        > Basic rule is, there is an actual job/profession that is called user interface/interaction design

        ...and these people get it wrong so consistently then it would be insane to keep on holding them up as people to pay any attention to.

        The problem here is when "professionals" try second guess the users rather than actually listen to them.

        It sounds like the real issue here is accepting end user feedback and acting on it. That's more of a Quality Assurance thing then any sort of "design" thing.

  26. Gareth Gouldstone

    Open source suffers from "'Cos we can" syndrome

    Many open source projects suffer from this attitude. The programmers want to do 'clever' stuff and there is no-one to ask who it benefits (other than the clever programmers).

    Just look at Python 3. They spend al the time messing around, adding in or removing clever features, when what we need is a stable, well-supported language which does not require scripts to be updated with each new release of the interpreter. What they should be doing is making sure that all the modules from Python 2 are updated to work with Python 3; but NO, that's not exciting enough, they need to add new niche features to a bloated language, just 'cos they can.

    1. A J Stiles

      "what we need is a stable, well-supported language"

      That'd be Perl, then.

  27. A. Lewis

    Right on, Linus!

    I ran the dist-upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04 and got Unity with it, and must have spent a whole ten minutes before deciding it was a complete bag of spanners. I also briefly flirted with Fedora 15 but discovered, like Linus, that Gnome3 is just as bad if not worse.

    So now I too have moved over to XFCE, which was always good enough for my netbook in the past. It's quick and clean and configurable enough to be pleasant. It might not have all the bells and whistles, but it certainly doesn't actively get in your way when you're trying to accomplish simple tasks.

  28. Len Goddard
    Thumb Up

    Too right

    I was very happy with gnome2 - it did what I wanted it to unobtrusively.

    Unity makes it impossible to work the way I want to, and gnome 3 is just a mess. I'll be moving xfce or lubuntu once support for 10.04 LTS expires - unless sanity prevails in the gnome/ubuntu camp.

  29. Hubb

    constructive huh

    It would be nice to think that such a high profile figure would show a little more maturity in his comments. Sadly he's got a track record of similar 'helpful' comments.

    If you've tried it with an open mind and dont like the layout, fair enough, each to their own, but don't act so suprised that what is effectivley a new Linux desktop is rough as hell for a while (and it most certainly is) If the Gnome folks want to try something new respect this with grace and walk away.

    I remember squirming with embarrassement at the forum posts when Amarok jumped from 1.4 to 2+ Crap as hell for a year or so and now as good as, if not better in my opinion, than 1.4 ever was.

    Walk away, chill out with a beer and maybe check back in a year when the emotional trauma from your experience fades a little.

    1. lurker


      He's a plain speaker, and frankly he's saying what a lot of people in the community thinks. I respect the fact that he's not a smooth talking, mealy-mouthed media wonk; he's a coder, and if he thinks something's lame, he says as much.

      Gnome 3 and unity are interfaces optimised for netbooks and tablets, which might be what some people want, but it's left a lot of other people - who were really quite happy with the 'normal' desktop metaphor - having to scramble around trying out less mainstream alternatives. Not a bad thing for those of us who were using fvwm a long time ago, but a real pain if you're one of the many 'converts' recently attracted to Ubuntu and linux by it's familiarity and ease of use.

      If they'd been branch projects, leaving a sensible continuation of the Gnome 2 stream, then there'd be no problem. But they're pretty much forcing it down everyone's throats; if you want Gnome, it's "their way, or the highway".

  30. Mage Silver badge


    I'd not agree with Torvalds on much..

    But Unity, Gnome3 and KDE4 are stupid.

    I'm not that fond of OS X or Win7's candy mode. At least Win7 can be "reset" to be somewhat like NT4.0 / XP, except the configuration tools and Control panel are designed like some evil web site done by a secondary school work experience student.

    1992 to 2000 the GUIs were improving. Now eye candy is replacing functionality and usability on all OSes. Not just a Penguin problem.

    Are Desktop GUIs getting designed by Webinista Arts Students these days?

    For Linux there is also Ice Window Manager? Very basic, but at least it does what it says on the tin.

    1. DrXym

      Not just eye candy

      I see nothing wrong with having an attractive desktop, eye candy as you put it, but there is more to it than that. OS X, Windows 7 and more recently Linux now compose their desktops using hardware acceleration which means each window is a surface. Dragging a window over other windows is faster because underlying windows do not need to be repainted.

      In the old world, every damaged window would require a repaint (i.e. wake the app up and tell it to repaint some damaged clip region) whereas now the desktop just needs to be recomposed. Furthermore since windows are loaded into surfaces in the GPU it means the CPU isn't working so hard. It also allows the desktop to do nice things such as show thumbnails of windows (e.g. in the task bar hover or ALT+TAB) to zoom, scale, rotate, filter / blend windows too. So by disabling Aero in Windows you're basically crippling your PC and making it work harder.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    He should write one

    Seriously. Make it an optional part of the kernel, framebuffer to avoid X completely, then it would become a de facto standard.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    ... mascarade ... ?!?

    ... masquerade ...

    There, fixed it for you.

  33. pabc

    my kids like unity....

    and I think that says it all. I have unity on my small screened netbook and it fits a purpose. my desktop is gnome 2.

    when my 10 and 11 year old kids saw unity they nagged me until i gave in to put it on each of their laptops and desktops - it's an interface they are used to coming from playing on their bliddy phones all the time and they like it. They don't need to be particularly productive.

    horses for courses i suppose.

    1. Turtle_Fan


      My 6 year old loves Unity too.

      It runs on an archaic dell from 2003 but I added a touchscreen to it and hey presto he's quit using the mouse in most cases.

      Unity works well for touchscreens and kids, but had my nerves in tatters trying to configure it for him. I'd need to be paid top dollar to be subjected to it again...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    He is mostly correct.

    All Linux on the desktop is a horrible mess, with loads of different companies and projects pulling different directions.

    Had they all pulled in the SAME direction, Linux Desktop could be a s good as Windows, even better perhaps, but as it is, it's a joke.

    (BTW, I have Linux as a server and it's great, so I'm no Windows fanboy by any stretch).

  35. poohbear

    why icons on desktop?

    I'm using KDE 4. Took a while to get used to it, but thankfully Gentoo stable only switched to it when upstream support for KDE3 stopped, and a lot of issues had been ironed out by then.

    As to icons, I don't have them on the desktop. My desktop (as with KDE3) is a hybrid of Win 95/XP and OS/2 interfaces ... I have an OS/2-style toolbar at top with icons for my normal programs, and the clock, pager, notification icons, etc.

    At the bottom I have another toolbar with the Windoze-style running programs buttons.

    The desktop is populated with a few useful widgets, mostly weather and sysinfo related.

    This setup gives me the best of three different worlds.

    Now if only KDE/Linux could sort out their sound issues ...

    Screenshot here for the curious:

    1. David Dawson

      Pulse Audio

      I've been using kubuntu for ages. I like it, and KDE4.

      The Pulse Audio setup has worked out of the box for me on pretty much anything I want it to with no struggle (since 9.10 time if I remember right)

      Even lets me do fun things like piping my currently playing spotify output down across a skype call; all via a nice gui control.

      Much nicer than when using arts, direct alsa et al.

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Icons on the desktop

      If you have got your desktop set up as you wish that's great. What a lot of people posting here are saying is that they should be allowed to setup their desktops as they wish. If that includes icons then why should they be denied them?

      No, the desktop environments should get out of the way and let the user have the last say in how things are organised. Speaking as a someone who cannot get on with KDE 4 or any flavour of Gnome I am still stuck on KDE 3.5 and am currently looking at Trinity 'cos that works the way I like it.

      1. Ocular Sinister


        > If that includes icons then why should they be denied them?

        Indeed, and KDE allows them to do just that and has done since 4.1. The absence of desktop icons in 4.0 lies somewhere between bug and missing feature - it was always expected that support would be there in the form of the "folder desktop view", but for whatever reason it didn't make it in to 4.0. In hindsight maybe that should have been a priority and a blocking bug/feature.

        The current releases of KDE4 can work much like KDE3. Since you like KDE 3.5, I can assume that you don't want all the animations, transparency, desktop searching, indexing and general glitz. That's fine, neither do I for the most part. And that's why there are options to disable those features.

        Configurability really is KDEs strong point...

  36. Neil Lewis

    KDE4, or LXDE

    KDE4 went through hell, but it's really pretty slick and usable now. And getting better with each new release. If you want something simpler/lighter have a look at LXDE, which I believe is GTK based. It's clean, simple and functional and runs fast on low end hadrware.

    1. Number6

      LXDE seconded

      I use LXDE and it is my preferred GUI now. The only downside was that last time I checked, it didn't handle two monitors, so I've still got KDE on that system. Every other installation I've done (couple of Netbooks, old laptop and a few relatives' PCs) has been Mint with LXDE.

  37. AbortRetryFail

    Gnome Classic

    I installed Ubuntu 11.04 and likewise was aghast at the steaming pile of uselessness that was the default UI.

    Fortunately someone told me to log out, and when logging back in choose "Gnome Classic" as the UI from the logon screen.

    Much usability restored.

    1. Goat Jam


      Except I vaguely recall reading somewhere that come 11.10 there will be no "classic mode", it is Unity or bust from the Ubuntu crowd it seems.

      However, I must say that I have had trouble confirming this statement so it might be erroneous.

      If it is tru however, I will be sticking it out on 10.04 for the remainder of its support window and hoping to god the Gnome and/or Ubuntu folk come to their collective senses and pull their heads out of their arses.

      1. Greg J Preece

        You can always install more

        I would be astonished if they ever had a login manager that wouldn't accept new desktop sets. I once had KDE, GNOME, Flux and XFCE on the same box, and they were all easily accessible from a drop-down on GDM.

  38. Tim Brown 1


    maybe the real future on the Linux desktop is Android. As people get used to it on their phones, move up to it on tablets and netbooks, in a few years I can see it making big inroads on the desktop, especially when touch screen desktop machines become common and the keyboard/mouse gets relegated to text input.

    The key is consistency and familiarity. Designers like to try mess around with stuff to justify their jobs, but there's a reason why even the newest automobiles still follow the same basic control design as the Model T. A steering wheel and pedals, simple and it works.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Why would you want a desktop machine without a keyboard and mouse? If you're using it for things that don't require a keyboard, it's probably not really a desktop machine...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't resist

      Verging off-topic, but couldn't resist wishing you good luck driving a Model T if you're expecting the pedals to do what they do in a modern car...

      "There are three pedals on the floor marked from left to right when sitting in the driver's seat: C (clutch), R (reverse) and B (break). There are two levers on the steering column, spark advance and throttle, and one floor lever to the left of the driver. The floor lever is neutral while in the upright position, second gear when in the forward position while the leftmost pedal (C) is not depressed, and emergency brake when all the way back."

      "The leftmost pedal (C) is first gear while depressed, second gear if the floor lever is forward when released. The middle pedal is reverse gear when depressed and the rightmost pedal is the brake. The right lever on the steering column is the gas, and the other lever is the spark advance."

      As with GUIs, superficial similarities do not necessarily indicate underlying consistency!

      1. Philip Lewis

        I knew that

        I am old enough, that my dad had one of these as the family car, that is to say in the 50s!

        We kept it well into the 80s before it went to a good home.

        When I was old enough to know how cars operated, I was suitably impressed that anyone could operate a Model T.

        IIRC Cadillac invented the modern layout

    3. DanceMan

      Model T and assumptions

      Was just talking with my 95 year old father about early Model T's. They had a hand throttle (no pedal) and the gearing shift from start to running was accomplished at the bottom part of the clutch pedal travel. The spark advance was manual -- another lever.

  39. Tim Walker

    What's worse than Unity on Ubuntu Natty?

    Well, in my experience: Compiz on Ubuntu Natty.

    I've been running Natty on a Foxconn NT-330i "nettop" PC, and it is driving me to distraction, mostly because the version of Compiz in Natty is more buggy than a branch of Mothercare. If I do something rash like, oh, I dunno, open a drop-down menu in a dialogue box, Compiz throws a wobbly (not in the "wobbly windows" sense) and my desktop disappears for ten seconds or so, before returning. And this KEEPS happening.

    I know about the "revert to 'classic' desktop" option, and I'm going to use it soon if Compiz doesn't get fixed first. I would like to give Unity a chance to impress me (and it has a long way to go), but a new desktop environment is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard if Compiz won't stop freaking out long enough to let me see the desktop.

    If this keeps up... well, I'm very impressed with Arch Linux on my Eee netbook, so... Arch with XFCE4 on the nettop? It might happen...

    1. Goat Jam

      Natty "Classic" and Compiz

      "revert to 'classic' desktop" option, and I'm going to use it soon if Compiz doesn't get fixed first.

      I would do some research first because my Natty machine (nvidia drivers) is totally unable to run Compiz. It is a known bug that seems to be right down on the bottom of the priority list for the Unity obsessed Ubuntu devs right now,

  40. Anonymous Coward

    That's what happens...

    ..when it's designed by commitee. Every one has they own little idea, everyone gets to make their own idea, noone want to offend anyone else.

    So you just end up with car crash design.

  41. Slabfondler

    Run Level 3...

    and it is all sorted.

  42. Vanir

    OSS UI developers infected with ...

    sales and marketing virus.

    It seems to me that the Gnome, KDE, Unity, developers are in a very malign competition of features and supposed eye candy. Questionable features too.

    The new UIs in Linux are becoming crushed under their burden of hidden features that are consequently not often used, with no documentation / help.

    Torvalds is just pointing out, in his own inimical manner bless him, a failure to provide a basic user requirement in a UI.

    So developers, do not try and change the fundamentals because you cannot.

    1. Turtle_Fan
      Thumb Up

      Good point

      I have to concur that even if a myrriad of options exist, the help and documentation for the newbie average Joe is abysmal.

      Joe doesn't want to go to the forum, search through countless posts and then read the chinese wall of text to pry the answer out. Just clicking on the question mark should be enough to introduce him to the wealth of goodies he can't currently access or comprehend.

  43. Dave Bell

    It's a General Problem

    It's not just KDE or GNOME or Unity, I see the same problem in other software.

    1: There is a familiar UI.

    2: A new major version comes out, with a very different UI.

    3: Everyone struggles, and the suspicion grows that the people who designed the new UI have never used the original program.

    I'm currently seeing a bunch of programmers getting it right. Not only have they put a lot of effort into making the new UI configurable, they've changed the program name. And some of the changes to the menu structure make sense. Options have been shifted from a semi-hidden "Advanced" menu because people actually use them.

    I'm not claiming the results are perfect, but listening to the users does seem to work pretty well.

    And Unity? At least we know it's new.

  44. DrXym

    GNOME 3 is not so bad

    It's certainly got some stupid deficiencies and behaviour but I think they're on the right track. I'm hoping that as one may expect with a .0 release they listen, learn and improve in 3.2 and 3.4.

    The biggest fault for me is the offscreen task bar thing. Some people want it on screen all the time, or as some edge activated thing. The lack of desktop shortcuts is also very bizarre seeing as it can be reinstated using a tweak tool. When GNOME 3 drops into "classic" mode it actually is quite pleasant. I think if they fixed the task bar and also filled out on some the notification stuff that it would be a very nice, attractive, simple GUI. But it needs a point release or two.

    Unity is also in the same boat, implementing some really stupid default behaviour. I hope it's recent debut as the default desktop has impressed on devs the need to fix certain things, especially with regard to larger desktops where it works really badly.

    As for KDE... KDE is KDE. It's a kitchen sink of desktops, attempting to play the notes of every other desktop, simultaneously, and badly. It's a mess, it's always been a mess. While GNOME often crosses the line at least there is a sense of coherency underpinning it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well I like Gnome 3...

    and I've used all common desktops and many of the exotic ones. Most other desktops designs are seem stuck in the 90's IMHO.

    If XFCE works for you then fine Torvalds, linux is all about freedom and choice. However, I don't believe all this ranting is appropriate from such a conspicuous figure head in the open source community.

    Gnome 3 has real productivity improvements - for example, it's great for focusing on the task at hand. It's not for everyone (yet) but I'd argue thats largely due to the influence of 20 years of MS Windows.

    Linus has lost a lot of respect from me over the last couple of years, and it's not just this latest outburst. For example, there was also his spat with the fedora developer over the kernel speed patch.

    Calm down Linus, we don't need another Reiser.

    1. Jean-Luc

      @"Calm down Linus, we don't need another Reiser. "

      That was uncalled for, creep.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You find it hard to concentrate 'on the task at hand' on an older desktop like gnome 2/Windows/OS X?

      How small of an attention span must you have?

  46. FuzzyTheBear

    Fall of a giant.

    Used to be the best desktop .. till version 1.4.

    The 2.0 release was a catastrophe then.Introducing Nautilus etc

    What a nightmare ... a file manager that cant even do dual pane.

    Everything good in Gnome disappeared.

    Thank the Gnome Foudation's board which is now owned by the corporates.

    Everytime one tries to send a suggestion it's rejected.Corporates drove it into the ground to be able to tender to their paying customers needs.

    Well it's done and over.I for one been using KDE and XFCE since the 1.4 to 2 version change.

    There's no going back to a desktop that will not ever progress and give me the functionality i need. It used to have it .. no more.

    Thank the corporates at the Gnome Foundation.They kill everything they touch.

  47. Bristol Dave

    Fedora fail

    "3.0 version number, you see, causes problems with Fedora 15"



  48. Anonymous Coward


    I use twm, have done for years on every UNIX-X Windows combination. Only Quiche-eaters would use anythng else.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      ... or you could take ...

      Ratpoison -- maximally minimalist. It does what a window manager should do: it manages windows. It doesn't use up your screen space for stuff other than what you're working with.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    GNOME 3

    I was horrified when I installed Fedora 15 to find that Gnome 3 had turned my PC into a giant iPhone. Being immune to the iPhone fanboi disease, I quickly decided it's a crap interface for a desktop PC and spent an hour installing KDE instead.

    Then I discovered that KDE had taken all the flashy crap I have to turn off in Windows and ported it to Linux. Figuring out how to turn all that off wasted another hour.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Must.. have... shortcuts and files on the desktop...

    .. sometimes it's the quickest way.

    Keep your smartphone UI if all you ever do is launch a browser and other apps, that's fine if it works for you, but it's not just about apps - some of us think in terms of documents rather than the apps that work with them. It's handy to have a document on the desktop, right-click Open With (you may have a number of utilities that run with the same kind of files) or drag-n-drop onto a shortcut.

    Windows has it very workable, and so far I've been able to persuade Gnome 2 to do what I want too, with Mint. Gnome 3 / Unity would make me feel totally frustrated.

    So, Well Said Linus!!


      Android has shortcuts too...

      The problem with pegging these new UIs as "phone interfaces" is the fact that not even all phone interfaces are the same. Android allows for "shortcuts". So it's not just a "phone UI", it's an Apple infatuated one.

      Non-Apple users have bought into all of the hype and nonsense and have started blindly following Apple's lead without actually using this stuff first to see if any of it really makes any sense.

      A lot of it doesn't.

      The blind accolades for Apple need to end.

  51. tardigrade

    Well done Linus. About time.

    I'm glad Linus has said this and I'm glad he has said it in the manner he has. I'd like to hear him say the same about Unity as well, which certainly shouldn't be left off the hook.

    Enough people have been saying it. They are both fisherprice GUI's, two cars driving off the edge of the same cliff, my desktop is not a phone etc. Any criticism or dissent of Gnome Shell or Unity gets shouted down by an increasingly partisan faction.

    Forking Gnome 2 would be good as long as it's done by an organisation that has the clout to develop it. The last thing we want is a desktop that remains still and isn't improved. Look at a screen shot of Gnome 2 a few years ago and compare that with a recent Gnome 2 screen shot, and you will see what I mean. The difference and improvement is fantastic. Someone needs to keep that going, As good as it is, I don't want to have to stick with ubuntu 10.04 forever.

    One things for sure, Gnome Shell and Unity are not the future.

  52. This post has been deleted by its author

  53. Anonymous Coward



  54. Anonymous Coward

    F/OSS is all about choice, supposedly

    But when we want to make a choice to continue with the desktop metaphor, we are met with religious war. Not just "Team xyz likes it" but "Team xyz worships it, you all should too, and you are wrong if you don't".

  55. nederlander

    Sorry guys...

    but Ubuntu isn't aimed at you. It's aimed at normal people.

    And the idea that Torvalds has any idea what the average user wants from their computer is laughable.


      Yeah. Normal people...

      Like fashionistas such as yourself have any idea about what "normal people" want or need.

      Apple fanboys and HID posers are no closer to the average user than "geeks".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Except Apple get praise from almost all quarters on how easy their OS is to use.

        The 'average' user that I know *does* find OS X easier to use than Windows, and were completely baffled on what the new Linux desktops were trying to do.

        Obviously Apple doesn't get everything right - no-one does, but this new Gnome/KDE lunacy is taking it too far.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about X, the kernel, and...

    I think its a bit funny to read the heated debates here about Gnome vs. KDE vs. $other_gui and while everyone talks about functionality and user friendliness no one seems to care about the core which drives all those GUI's.

    Now, by itself Xorg is doing a pretty good job. And when compared to the previous version it has come a long way, but are we already there where one can say that end users should be able to reconfigure X to suit their needs ?

    I'm not too sure there. Its still not as easy to change, say, screen resolution as it is in other environments. Or how about trying to get a serial mouse working (old stuff, I know) ?

    I think the Gnome / KDE / etc. problems are caused by the same thing. Developers / testers / etc. are used to a system and will look at a new version with the previous one in the back of their head. They don't usually check to see how a totally new user will like it; no, its most likely a test to see how much better the new version is in comparison with the older one.

    And that is bound to get you into problems one day and what I think is happening here as well.

    1. Vic

      Configuring X...

      > Its still not as easy to change, say, screen resolution as it is in other environments


      System->Preferences->Monitors. Pick the res you want & click "Apply".

      It would be hard to make it simpler...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No problems ever with serial mouse (which I still use), or screen resizing.

      Everything has always "just worked" whenever I've installed Xorg on any machine.

      But then, I use not Linux, so maybe give that a try?

  57. Jorge Lopez

    Linus knows about user interface design?

    Since when does he know a thing about user interface design? Maybe he should just stick to working on kernels and leave those graphical techs to the pro's.

    Gnome is moving in the same direction as the industry and that is fine by me. I like alot of these features. They are necessary for a mobile environment as well.


      HID posers

      You don't have to be Physics chair at Oxford to realize that apples fall out of trees.

      You've got things backwards. "Designers" don't tell users what to do. Users tell "designers" what to do.

      Your brand of nonsense is why corporations can spend a King's ransom on a new project and it will be perfectly useless as no one bothered to actually ever listen to the users.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "Gnome is moving in the same direction as the industry and that is fine by me."

      All aboard the train to hell.

      Must be the same one where there are lots of "mainstream/gummint economists" in the 1st class wagons.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Blame the users, why not?

      Yes, Linus does know about user interface design, because he's a user. The graphical techs and "the pro's" can whine all they like about how fantastic their new ideas are but if the users don't like them, then that's the end of the debate. As to mobile - I couldn't give a shit; when my lottery numbers come in the first thing I'm going to do is bin my phone and never buy another one. Mobiles have become portable DIY "OK!" magazines for people with more time to fill than they have imagination to fill it with.

  58. CD001

    The desktop is dead

    I think we're all missing one little tiny point here - the next generation of desktop users won't be primarily familiar with desktops. Their first point of contact with GUIs will be, well, phones, tablets, mobile devices.

    What for us is second nature (on desktops) will be anathema to kids brought up on the GUIs of mobile devices... Gnome 3/Unity are preparing for this eventuality I fear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      still life in the old dog yet...

      Will desktops be dead in the short term or will they be used alongside these other devices? If they see usability as railroading desktop users into using mobile operating systems then its just lazy.

      Innovate ways in which can help us all work better/smarter, don't make some dumbed down generic OS and fudge it onto every 'new' device

    2. Ilgaz

      Oh yes, it is dead

      You may see a different reality at Starbucks or some first class plane but believe me, there are billions of traditional mouse/keyboard desktops booting daily. Billions.

      Ask MS and Apple why they assure their operating systems future absolutely will work "old" way besides "tablet way".

      You guys also think Apple is radical about UI. They are but they always make sure the same paradigm started in 1984 (more close to Lisa) is still usable. Apple will always put "Finder", it will always be usable with single button mouse and it will always have desktop. Time travel an Apple user from 1984 to 2011, give him/her Lion OS and watch it easily used using same method.

      That is the trick of Apple and, to some degree, Microsoft. I use Windows 7 same way I used Windows 95. It ALLOWS me to use that way, when I want.

  59. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. fnj

      Re: Stuck with Fedora 14

      @The Electron - I was in the same boat as you, but now I've got a better boat. Much better. The answer to our dilemma is Redhat Enterprise Linux 6.x, or any of its clones, Scientific Linux 6.x, PUIAS 6.x, or CentOS 6.x. That gives us a stable, supported, bug-fixed, reliable platform with Gnome2 until 2017. By then, HOPEFULLY, this mess will be sorted out, and RHEL7.x will offer something as good as Gnome2, and other distros will also be back on track with sane DE offerings.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    no clue

    why to complain? Unity is a decent USER interface. Gnome, OTOH, is a more of disaster.

    I am grateful to the teams of Gnome and, to a lesser extent, Unity. They helped me to discover awesome WM

    Being usable out of the box, it could be configured/programmed endlessly to any control freak's delight.

  61. Geoff Mackenzie

    Maybe I'm going to be unpopular

    ... but actually I like GNOME 3. I used Ubuntu on my main desktop until Unity arrived, at which point I gave Fedora 15 a spin and apart from a couple of very minor UI gripes (e.g. Linus's 'new terminal from an old one only' complaint, and Alt+Tab not working as I want it to between two firefox windows (got to Alt+Tab then choose the one you want, when it should be pretty obvious it's the other one)) I like the look and feel of GNOME 3. Haven't had any rendering issues and am enjoying the relatively uncluttered visual environment and pleasant, smooth and useful animations.

    Going to give Fluxbox a try, but on the big machine GNOME 3 is just fine by me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      alt ` !

      Learned by accident -

      Alt+Tab switches between groups (still miffed that Shift+Alt+Tab doesn't reverse)

      Alt+` switches between apps in the same group (eg between only firefox windows)

      As well as Linus' gripe, what gets on my tits is the limited support for keyboard control. Yes, I'm expert with a mouse with left or right hand, but I just don't want to have to use it all the time.

      To launch a terminal from the 'desktop' (should be called a desert instead)



      type 'ter'


      Ctrl+Esc t would be much preferable.

      and whoever thought that holding Alt down while selecting log out to be able to power off should be dealt with. I want a one step keyboard shut down.

      The file mangler is also lacking. For serious work, I use mc in a terminal and forget the mouse.

      I want weather in the task bar, and to be able to accomplish most things with just one hand on the keyboard, without being forced to use the mouse or stretching to use left alt+left cursor to go back in firefox.

      Even windows Ctrl+Esc u u is better, and more or less predictable in a power cut where the monitor is off and the machine still running on a UPS that needs to be shut down quickly.

  62. deegee

    linux community is as linux community does

    Of course Forrest Gump would have said it his way...

    Look at the state of the linux desktop distros and the community has the nards to constantly trash MS over the Windows iterations. /community fail/

    Personally I'm getting tired of the community, they need some people in leadership who know what they are doing. Every time I install a new distro I feel like there are a bunch of 14 year old kids writing it and coming up with the "new" stuff. And the community attitude of "if you don't like it f-off and write your own" is the type of attitude you would expect from a 14 year old. The LAST thing we need are even more UI's, which ends up as just more half-baked unfinished crap from other people, and a complete waste of man-hours which should be combined into fixing and beefing up only two or three UIs to what they ought to be.

    Unless the community grows up, linux desktop is over for me. I almost never use it anymore since it is becoming a mess.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I was just starting to get to like Ubuntu too.

      Now as far as I'm concerned I'll be using the below:

      New Laptop if rich = Mac OS X.

      New Laptop if poor = Win 7 (or 2 cheap ones for same price as above Mac)

      Desktop = Win 7 (games machine)

      Netbook = Hackintosh.

      Goodbye Ubuntu. Until you fix this mess I'm gone.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Requires: kdebase >= 4.2

    Purely out of curiosity and not quite on-topic, but I wonder how many of the bitchings about KDE4 have been uttered on the basis of experience with post 4.2 versions (i.e., anything less than three years old)? I get the impression some people are just repeating old hearsay (perhaps trying to impress the audience with their "knowledge"?), hence why I ask.

    As for Gnome, I don't use it but I have no beef with it either way. I wish the developers best of luck with their project, and with regaining the favour of any disgruntled users.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Developers do not live in the real world....

      "Purely out of curiosity and not quite on-topic, but I wonder how many of the bitchings about KDE4 have been uttered on the basis of experience with post 4.2 versions (i.e., anything less than three years old)? I get the impression some people are just repeating old hearsay (perhaps trying to impress the audience with their "knowledge"?), hence why I ask."

      Sorry, but if 4.0 is junk, why do you assume that my time is free and it is OK for me to patiently wait and try out all subsequent releases until GOD releases something which works (i.e. 4.2+ version), doing no work until then (as 4.0 was unusable junk) instead of junking KDE and trying out something which WORKS, and allows me to do some work NOW, not 4 or 6 month from now, when the proper patches are released?

      I liked Ubuntu because it was a usable distro, which did not require a PhD in computer science to run, and had a nice bug fix / update mechanism in place, and a stable interface with minimal learning curve for a Windows NT/2K/XP user (never used Vista, and I have Win 7 configured in Classic Mode, running virtual machines with XP and W2K).

      Now, after the latest updates to Ubuntu, its UNITY interface seems to be really liked by 6 year old children, and hated by most everybody else. ANYBODY HOME?!?!?!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    is where it's at.

    Simple, intuitive, traditional.

    Linus is simply voicing what so many devs have been whinging about - the fact that these 'new cool desktops' (gnome 3, kde 4, unity), fundamentally break everything we've been used to doing on the desktop for decades.

    You don't see microsoft or apple doing that - and with good reason - they don't want to alienate their user base!

    Someone could switch from windows 95 to windows 7 with hardly any trouble at all - that's 15 years of desktop logic with one easy step.

    Go from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3 and it's like WTF? - a mere few years between them and they've gone and thrown the baby out with the bathwater AND turned the bath into a triangular shape.

    I'll also rant about the arrogance of the people behind these changes - as Linus accurately points out, their assumption is that users are idiots and that, they, the desktop devs, know what's good for the end user.

    They don't, clearly.

    1. foo_bar_baz

      "You don't see microsoft or apple doing that"

      MS Office post version 2003? I HATE the ribbon UI with a passion. Die Die Die!

      I used to be good with Office products. Now I avoid them like the plague, and use LibreOffice whenever I can.

      A nuke because it's the only way to be sure.

  65. Anonymous Coward


    I don't usually bother, if there's more than a couple of dozen, because I'm sure it's all been said, and I'm not going to start at #1 to find out, but, said or not, I just have to add my voice to this one.

    After years of procrastinating (unforgivable for a one-time Unix admin) with Windows, I finally threw in the towel, last year, and moved to Ubuntu 10.04. The interface is superb. I can't comment on whether it is everything the techie could ask for, because I no longer am one, but it seems to me to be everything most users could ask for. It has the advantage that no ex-Windows user is going to be baffled; in fact they (and probably ex-Mac users too) will be right at home. It is an interface that really competes, in exactly the way that *could* put it on the desktop.

    On top of that basic offering, there is untold heaps of room for Compiz, Emerald, spinning cubes, and as much fun and razmataz as anybody could ask of their desktop windowing system. Yes, even though I, personally, never want my windows to wobble, I am absolutely enamoured of my Compiz effects, and my Emerald themes and precise window-decorating control, all served up in a way that still doesn't leave an ex Windows man lost.

    * * * Just One Year Later ***

    11.04. Unity. The superb interface is discarded, and the computer now has to look like a Fisher Price toy.


  66. Ilgaz

    Here is my idea

    Install both KDE4 and Gnome, use WindowMaker as your desktop environment which is basically NeXT.

    OS X had to carry some MacOS things with it but WindowMaker doesn't have that issue. Why try to emulate something "lite" on Linux while you have access to rock solid real thing? Apps? Leech the Gnome/KDE stuff. They should work.

  67. ztorage
    Thumb Down

    It's about time someone declared

    Linux an unholy mess, which it is.

    1. Jim Morrow

      at least someone has seen the light

      ztorage is a voice of sanity amidst all this script kiddie bickering! hooray!

      linux is a steaming pile of shit: always was, always will be.

      the kernel source is the mother of almighty train wrecks.

      too bad the penguin-master can't be arsed to sort that out. or anything else. instead he starts yet another holy war about the (3? 4? who cares?) fucked-up guis that his script kiddie followers shit out at a rate that's faster than simon cowell gets rid of talent show winners. fuck the lot of them.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        He thinks he can troll!


        Pathetic attempt at trolling is pathetic.

  68. John Sanders

    The gnome developers...

    Have ruined Gnome just when it became fine.

    Are you listening? you ruined Gnome!

    All you had to do is to keep fine tuning it and improve GTK, but no, you had to be too clever.

    Well FCUK you. Once XFCE/LXDE and the like get some VFS Gnome 3 is dead on the water.

  69. Alan Brown Silver badge


    Is a trainwreck, but I gritted my teeth and stuck with it for a few weeks to see if it was a matter of unlearning old habits.

    Some aspects are ok, but in general G2 is superior. It's a pity noone's solved Xorg's tendency to get cpu-bound every week or so.

    All UIs suck, some suck less than others, but they're all broken in some way or another.

  70. Richard Lloyd

    Never mind the UI's, kernel modesetting is even more broken

    I've tried both the latest Ubuntu and Fedora releases and both have painful GNOME 3 implementations - considering GNOME 3 was very raw at the time of those 2 distro releases, they should have provided a way to choose GNOME 2 vs. GNOME 3 in the installer, IMHO and leave the GNOME 3-only force-down-your-throat to the following release (by which, some of the worst issues may have been fixed).

    Mind you, no-one except me seems to have noticed that kernel modesetting for a fair range of ATI HDxxxx cards has been stupendously broken ever since that "feature" came in (what, nearly 2 years ago/3 distro releases ago?). My HD2600XT and HD4290-shod machines both go to a permanent blank screen within seconds of booting live or install discs of either Ubuntu 11.04 or Fedora 15.

    Yes, adding "nomodeset" to the kernel line (or choose vesa/text modes for the installer) fixes the issue, but why do both distros use highly risky kernel modesetting as the *default*, especially for the installer? BTW, by the time I worked around this issue, installed Fedora 15 and added the closed source ATI driver (needed to get all the hardware accel. for GNOME 3), I got disastrous enough artifacts in the GNOME 3 interface to basically abandon that and try other desktop envs!

    And don't get me ranting about the half-baked Systemd vs. System V init mess that Fedora 15 ships with (yep, half the services start with Systemd and the other half with initscripts - a totally borked system). At this point, CentOS 6 (which I'm now using at work) is looking like "the last great hope" - 7 years of updates, 100% initscripts and a reasonably recent GNOME 2.

  71. Zeb

    GNOME 2 fork....

    GNOME 2 fork.... DWARF?

  72. Anonymous Coward

    User friendly?

    I'm glad that someone as high profile as Linux has spoken up about the UI situation in Linux. Yes, I know that KDE needed a radical change to the underpinnings of the UI to try to make things work in a saner and more reliable way. No, I've no problem with Gnome or Canonical looking into ways that things might be done better, either on a classic desktop PC setup, or for a tablet PC. But it's the way things have happened in each case that has made this p[articular user upset and annoyed. When there's a radical change in an established desktop (as with KDE4 or Gnome3), for heavens sake, present it as something new and possibly not quite ready for prime time until it IS ready for prime time.

    As for Unity - well, I thought I'd try it in VirtualBox to see what it's like. Except I can't, as it apparently thinks it hasn't got what it needs to run and defaults to a rather unlovely fall-back mode, despite having resources considerably in excess available to it of what your average Android tablet has .

    I'm sticking with Ubuntu 10.04 and Gnome 2 or Xfce until things settle down. I was never a fan of Gnome, but it has to be said, Gnome 2 on Unbutu 10.04 is pretty durned goo, if it wasn't for Rhythmbox always 'opening' as an icon on my toolbar insted of opening a window when I start it, and the toolbar bits and bobs being an absolute bugger to rearrange, I'd say its durned near perfect, aside from the usual sound systems insanity that Linux is still plagued with under the bonnet.

  73. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    At least some people like it


  74. jake Silver badge

    Something people are missing ...

    iFad & so-called "smartphone" users aren't actually computer users. They are interface users.

    The computer users in this scenario are the hardware, OS and software developers, and they require a computer interface, not a comms interface.

    If you insist on calling me a "computer snob", I can live with that. You calling me (and others) names doesn't change reality.

  75. Cyfaill

    KDE is back in the saddle as far as I am concerned.

    Linus is right.

    I gave up on GNOME some time ago.

    I gave it a shot when the force of KDE was interrupted (4.0)... and ran a hybrid for a while with Debian as the main distro.

    I became increasingly frustrated with Gnome after about a year.

    I run aptosid now (still a Debian based distro) with a pure KDE environment and am very happy with it.

    Development Platform KDE 4.6.5.

    Running Linux 3.0-0.slh.8-aptosid-amd64 x86_64 [ aptosid 2011-01 Γῆρας - kde-lite - (201102051540) ]

    I am resisting calling Gnome something currently unholy since that would be attributing it with features it never had to begin with.

    I hope for all the Linux people out there that like GNOME... The gnome group takes heed of the warnings from on high.

    Being different should be better than the alternatives, not less than you once were.

  76. minnsey
    Thumb Up

    Er... i actually quite like it

    Who'd have thought it eh?

  77. James Hughes 1


    Lots of anti Unity comments (on a Gnome article?), but thought I would add that I've been using Unity for a while now, and I am starting to get on OK.

    The app finder still requires me to know the name of apps though, so I can type them in - would prefer menus, and the annoying app menu in top bar instead of the window it relates too is a lot irritating (I think that can be fixed - never got round to it. Still, I blame Apple for that one and Unity team for following them), but in general once it's set up, with all your apps in the launcher, it's OK.

    And you can start a new terminal rather than select the current on by middle clicking the launcher icon - that starts up a new instance. Took ages to find that out. And perhaps that's the main problem - not enough documentation and hints and tips to tell people where things have moved to.


  78. Anonymous Coward

    Another "Never Mind the Interface"

    One day, I'll be able to plug in my Firewire Audio interface and have it just work.

    Yes, today was one of those days when I got it out of the box, yet again, and completely wasted a few hours.

  79. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Bah. Also humbug.

    The last good X11 window manager was uwm. No window decorations, no icons, fully configurable. And the source was small enough to be easy to hack.

    Kids, lawn, etc.

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