back to article Looking good, Gnome: Digesting the Delhi in our belly

GNOME 3.20, released recently, sees the project beginning to find its footing again. It has been a long road from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3.20 and there's been plenty to complain about along the way - there still are things worthy of complaint - but 3.20 is the first release in a long time that feels like GNOME has its mojo back. …

  1. thames

    Gnome Software

    Gnome Software has copied a lot of features from Ubuntu Software Centre, but it still has a long way to go before it's a full replacement for it. When I tested it a couple of months ago it s till couldn't handle more than a small subset of the available packages.

    To handle the majority of packages you had to install another GUI package manager such as Software Centre or Synaptic, or apt-get the package from the command line (assuming you know the name). And if you have to do that anyway, then why bother with Gnome Software?

    People wonder why Ubuntu went off in their own direction with Unity. The reason was simple. Gnome was going off on a decade long wander into the realms of fiddling and experimentation, and Ubuntu saw what a train wreck that was going to be and hopped off at the next station. Whether or not you happen to like where Gnome 3 is going, it's pretty hard to deny that the way that the Gnome developers went out on that trip was appallingly bad.

    Of course Gnome is controlled by Red Hat employees, and Red Hat has only a marginal interest in the desktop. For Canonical their Ubuntu desktop is a core strength and they weren't willing to risk that, hence their need for a "plan B".

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Gnome Software

      I hate Unity, When I ran Ubuntu, I used the old Gnome 2 desktop.

      I still hate Unity.

      So is Gnome 3.2 more like a traditional desktop or is more like Unity?

      1. gmogmo

        Re: Gnome Software

        You've got it backwards.

        Unity is a way more traditional desktop than gnome 3.x.

        Furthermore in order to modify gnome 3.x, you have to write javascript or resort to horrendously buggy extensions written by the community.

        1. Hans 1
          Mushroom

          Re: Gnome Software

          >Furthermore in order to modify gnome 3.x, you have to write javascript or resort to horrendously buggy extensions written by the community.

          Spot on, but buggy because gnome devs keep changing things.

          And, if they have not restored the power settings that once were in Gnome 2, then this whole thing is futile. Gnome 3 is utter useless on a battery-powered device.

          1. Put gnome 3.x back into alpha, everybody revert to gnome 2.

          2. Get gnome 3.x on feature parity with 2.x and start the beta ... anything else is brain dead. Actually, seeing as you should have done that 6 or 10 years ago AT THE VERY LEAST, too little, too late ... byebye gnome, you were good, you suck balls through garden hoses today and I do not care if you add recursive renaming or whatever feature to files or nautilus or whatever you call your file browser ... too little, too late ... piss take, actually - why bother ? Teach them a lesson ...

          Tip: Nobody liked Window 8 ui, WTF you copied just that !@#$%, won't you just die, bitches!

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge

    Did they fix the *REASONS* why Mate was forked from 2?

    It's always good news when open source developers actually LISTEN to what the users want and DELIVER IT (and without the condescending attitudes pointed out in the article). I've been using Mate since it existed, and Gnome 2 on my FreeBSD desktop since forever. There has been *NO* compelling reason to "up"grade to Gnome 3's way of doing things, and a ZILLION compelling reasons *NOT* to (and to use Mate instead).

    My biggest concern with Gnome is in line with my biggest concerns about what Microsoft did to windows, starting with "Ape": Gnome 3 made it NOT possible to cram 20 icons on the panel, along with 6 system monitor thingies, the date and time, the menu, and some extra white pace between groups of icons arranged *MY* way, not *THEIR* way. Fat-finger spacing *RUINED* the panel. And don't even get me started on the bizarre key combo needed to edit a Gnome 3 panel icon's settings.

    When Gnome 3 "bothers" to fix THOSE kinds of problems, I'll re-consider it. My mouse+keyboard system does *NOT* need "fat-finger-friendly" spacing between things, enforced because some arrogant developer "feels". I want pure user-customization, even if "they feel" it's WRONG for me to have it "that way". It's why Mate exists, after all.

    I'm guessing I can cherry-pick adding Gnome applications like 'maps' onto a Mate-based system, but fresh-installing a Linux system is STILL likely to get a Mate or even Cinnamon desktop instead.

    In any case, it sounds like reason enough to take another look for myself. Here's hoping...

    At least in the open source world, if the devs screw it up (like hamburger menus and fat-finger-friendliness), you can fork it from a previous release yourself (like Mate).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did they fix the *REASONS* why Mate was forked from 2?

      "Gnome 3 made it NOT possible to cram 20 icons on the panel, along with 6 system monitor thingies, the date and time, the menu, and some extra white pace between groups of icons arranged *MY* way, not *THEIR* way."

      Snap! For precisely those reasons, I ended up with TDE (Trinity Desktop Environment) on all my systems (except for the RPis, which run XFCE). I actually have eight customisable ksysguard monitor thingies on the panel on this particular workstation (CPU load, RAM, network, swap, system load, disk IO, temps & fans). Yeah, I could probably drop the swap space graph, but don't really need to; all the clicky stuff is neatly and compactly grouped together in the rest of the panel to minimise mouse travel. My choice.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Gnome

    Worst aspects of MS and Apple Kool Aid. Though not as bad as Unity.

    Not a logical productive GUI or UX as it's designed for appearance over function.

    I'll stick with Mate with stupid bits turned off & tweaked Redmond theme.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Dead Parrot

    Each time Gnome 'Updated' one of their apps I had to go an find an alternative. As far as I'm concerned, Gnome's dumbing down obsession makes them unusable. In fact I don't think there is anything left on any of my systems now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dead Parrot

      Not directly, but the same attitude lurks in systemd, to which gnome had increasingly hitched itself over the last year, potentially at the cost of cross-platform capabilities.

    2. Anthropornis
      Coat

      Re: Dead Parrot

      Almost the same here - I finally got pissed off when the calculator no longer had a memory function.

      However, I still keep evince (its UI is increasingly annoying, but it works and can display eps whenever I have one to look at).

      But there is one app which is still good : gucharmap (I use it a lot when I'm looking at different fonts).

      1. gobaskof Silver badge

        Re: Dead Parrot

        Also the F3 to split screen in Nautilus disappeared. When people complained on a forum that it was a good feature, they were told to set up pack left/right hotkeys. Simply failing to realise that on a small screen the sidebar now appears twice and there is little space. Plus all the move/copy to other pane options disappeared.

        Still, Unity is the worst. An almost uncustomisable is about the most arrogant program you can design. Do you really believe your favorite layout is SO much better than anyone else's in every single possible situation that you can just remove any other options. Are you Steve Jobs?

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Dead Parrot

        Almost the same here - I finally got pissed off when the calculator no longer had a memory function.

        They decided that a calculator doesn't need a memory function? I'm astonished.

        Whatever next? Perhaps they'll decide that no one needs to be able to copy/paste in a text editor, or use the letter Z anywhere.

  5. Christian Berger

    The criticism about Gnome isn't about missing features

    The main criticism is that it's simply overcomplex. I mean if you look at it realistically the feature set you'd want from a GUI is roughly the one you got from Windows 3.1. I mean Windows 3.1 even had it's own OOP-style process communications named OLE.

    Now you have an overcomplex system which doesn't do much more, but somehow managed to require _way_ more lines of code.

    My guess is that there is now a whole generation of people having grown up without gaining any experience in making working designs. After all many universities now teach C++-style OOP as if that's the only way to make software. They see "Open Source" as a way to advance their career. As recruiters typically cannot tell good from bad code, they just stuff their code in where ever they can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The criticism about Gnome isn't about missing features

      @Christian Berger,

      "My guess is that there is now a whole generation of people having grown up without gaining any experience in making working designs."

      Yep that rings true. And it's particularly apparent in Gnome, which being an open source project doesn't have the profit motive to guide design decisions. The year of the Linux desktop will never happen whilst outfits like Gnome operate in this way.

      And it does raise questions about RedHat's management, and the merit of their entire offering. With Gnome they have a bunch of programmers who are making a ton of poor design decisions seemingly un-guided by a strong design manager. With systemd they do seem to have such a guy, but he's cocked it up and there's no one to overrule him. So if they're that bad in their more public projects, how bad are they on the rest of their projects?

      If that's the way the rest of RedHat works too then I'm not interested. Redhat makes money only if they can convince customers that they're listened to when a support call comes through. Stuffing systemd and the now godawful Gnome down their customers throats whilst dismissing complaints about deleted features sends the exact opposite message.

      My personal pet hate is Nautilus and the file timestamp column. What's the point in having a file system record timestamps to nanosecond precision and then having a file manager render it as "yesterday", or "5 days ago", or "5 May"? But when yesterday? When on the 5th May?

      Why do these arseholes break these things?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. asdf

        Re: The criticism about Gnome isn't about missing features

        > And it does raise questions about RedHat's management, and the merit of their entire offering. ... With systemd they do seem to have such a guy, but he's cocked it up and there's no one to overrule him.

        You fail to recognize that systemd absolutely is critical to Red Hat's future success. Systemd exists almost solely to make RHEL the new POSIX (why else would you try to shove so much system level functionality into the one vital non kernel process that can't go down (PID 1), unless to make it Linux only?). Poettering has openly admitted he doesn't give a crap about POSIX interoperability and in fact is actively designing against it. Gnome as it exists today main goal also is for Linux to eventually have its own exclusive DE, as porting the thing is already a nightmare. Once Linux is the only UNIX businesses use (already getting close to true) guess who rakes in the bucks. Red Hat is already consistently making hand over fist money.

        1. asdf

          Re: The criticism about Gnome isn't about missing features

          The other point I forgot to mention is systemd exists as a sticky dependency hairball to get as much stuff dependent on it and Linux only as possible. Gnome is moving this way.

  6. bazza Silver badge

    Batch Renames?

    From the article:

    "Even more exciting, there's a plan in the works to add a batch renaming feature to Nautilus in GNOME 3.22. That's right, not an improved existing feature but an actual new feature. Grab your coats."

    Those of us old enough to remember Xtree Gold and who are now probably using the excellent clone of it for modern Windows OSes Ztree Bold" look at Nautilus (and Windows Explorer and Finder and a whole load of others) with disdain. Batch renaming a new feature? My arse - we could do that all the way back in 1985, in DOS with XTree.

    1. asdf

      Re: Batch Renames?

      >Batch renaming a new feature? My arse - we could do that all the way back in 1985, in DOS with XTree.

      And nearly a decade before that with Unix shell scripts. Not to mention probably at least a decade even before that in IBM mainframe land.

    2. Steve Graham

      Re: Batch Renames?

      I use pcmanfm as my main file tool, but I keep thunar installed because it can do a range of batch renaming tasks.

  7. frank ly

    Caja

    It's what Nautilus used to be and it's good.

    1. asdf

      Re: Caja

      >It's what Nautilus used to be

      Nemo?

  8. doke

    appearance over function

    Gnome has a long standing problem with valuing appearance over functionality. They keep making big, fat titlebars on everything that eat up screen real-estate. Yet, their image app is just now obtaining some of the functionality that xv had in 1993.

    They don't understand that a window manager should be a tool that helps you get things done, but otherwise gets out of your way.

    They also have an arrogant belief that their graphic design and use cases are the only things users will ever need. They have been actively deleting customization options.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would think that sensible people would not use Gnome until they completely remove that virus systemd.

  10. FrankAlphaXII

    So basically...

    GNOME is doing what KDE tried to do about a decade ago with the KDE Software Compilation and is going about duplicating that effort, I wouldn't call KDE SC a resounding success either since they went and split everything again (Plasma 5, KDE Frameworks and KDE applications are all separate).

    I don't get why GNOME thinks they can do this better somehow. Even if Red Hat's paying for it and failure doesn't matter, it seems like a huge waste of time and effort to me.

    1. asdf

      Re: So basically...

      >it seems like a huge waste of time and effort to me.

      And you are not Red Hat management who I may often loathe but they sure know what they are doing company revenue wise. As to the broader non enterprise community that may be a different story.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: So basically...

        Red Hat management's plan (company revenue wise) is fairly obvious: turn Linux into a walled garden by making everything dependent on projects that only they can support because though notionally FOSS, *they* have all the key developers who can say "no" to anyone wanting to take it back in a more open direction.

        Myself, I can't honestly see why someone would use Linux if what they wanted was to get shafted by a vendor with every new release. There are alternatives who shaft you just as hard but who are more compatible with what the majority of the world's users are using.

  11. CAPS LOCK

    I can't see any reason to change from Xfce.

    I've been using Mint Xfce for two years now and it's absolutely fine. Not tried it? Give it a spin...

    1. asdf

      Re: I can't see any reason to change from Xfce.

      Especially with the whisker menu plugin (which Mint comes with I believe). It is probably the best balanced all around DE especially if you don't have cutting edge hardware (but not ancient either). The only bad thing is it uses gtk instead of qt which is fine for Linux users but for other POSIX systems well long term perhaps not.

  12. tonyw2016

    And finally...

    It's hard to add to the above. Gnome has become a byword for arrogance, ignoring users and the worst in Open Source. But for Redhat's support the project would have surely ended long ago. Regrettably, even outside of Gnome there are still some examples of this arrogance.

    When I moved to Mint 13 MATE it was great, not just the Gnome 2 Desktop Environment but the MDM was GDM as it used to be with support for multiple seats, remote logins and so on. Then came Mint 17 and some Bozo got to work on MDM and removed the remote login code. OK, there are security weaknesses without firewalls but this also broke Xvnc which depends on the XDMCP protocol. At least the venerable XDM is still around to support remote login and can run in parallel with MDM.

    The moral of the story: don't remove features you don't like or deprecate - just make them configurable options.

  13. asdf

    bah get off my lawn

    >if you want lightweight, Xfce, LXDE, Fluxbox and Openbox all fit the bill)

    Look at all that bloat (will admit I do like the *box WMs though). JWM at less than 3 megs memory fully loaded gives enough functionality even lightweight wm noobs aren't lost (until they want to start customizing it but always trade offs). That said my favorite minimal wm of choice is still that ancient FVWM version that ships with OpenBSD base. I love that Motif look and don't mind using the CLI to launch apps (could never get into ratpoison and its ilk though).

  14. BitDr

    Change for change sake...

    When KDE went off into the weeds I needed a saner GUI (you couldn't even put a shortcut on the desktop in the first release of KDE 4), and Gnome 2.x saved the day. With a clean configurable interface and a more logical arrangement of it's menu (Applications, Places, System) I found Gnome 2.x to be a pleasant work environment. I missed Konqueror and it's ability to split it's panes vertically and/or horizontally, however Nautilus was good and I could install and run Konqueror if the need arose.

    Then paradise was lost. When Gnome 3 came out I figured they improved things, how wrong I was. There was no clue to the depth to which the lot of them had gone insane, and if Gnome 3 had been adequately described I would never have installed it. "Task-centric", and "unclutterd" was the constant chant being heard from the clearly megalomaniacal devs, who rebuked every critique with vitriol instead of considered thought. While Task-centric and uncluttered are both desireable traits, "usable" and "productive" are far better and Gnome 3 was neither of those. Their attitude and unwillingness to change/compromise has meant that Gnome has not since darkened my desktop, and likely never will, as I now use the more RDP/VNC friendly Mate.

    MATE and Cinnamon have my support, in use and in the case of MATE, financially. Cinnamon is very well done and a quantum leap improvement on usability & customization vs GNOME 3, but does not get deployed due to it being less than usable via an RDP/VNC session.

    Systemd is pernicious.

  15. IGnatius T Foobar
    Linux

    Remember how Nautilus was born?

    Nautilus needed to be stripped and rebuilt anyway. It had too much "framework." Does anyone even remember how Nautilus came into existence? It was written by a startup called Eazel which came into existence during the dot com boom, and they had this "wonderful" plan that they were going to sell add-on services on top of Nautilus. When the dot coms all went bust, Eazel faded into the night and we were left with the hulking colossus of Nautilus. And all we really wanted was a file manager. It's ok to strip it down and focus on the core functionality that a file manager needs to have.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Funny that Gnome Maps is being lauded so much

    When it stopped working two days ago because MapQuest stopped allowing direct tile access.

    1. intlabs

      Re: Funny that Gnome Maps is being lauded so much

      and still not fixed :( an absolute bugger as i was a great bit of software :(

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different story here! I actually don't mind the new gnome, and I don't understand the massive dislike. I suspect that the people who do dislike gnome have very specialized skills and tasks that are incompatible with the gnome paradigm.

    As for me, I hardly use more than 10 applications, and my standard open windows are a terminal, vim (with sessions), browser with tabs and a couple of pdfs. Oh, and a windows VM for work.

    So basically gnome never gets in the way since I can switch windows with alt tab, and that's about it. Lighter programming/scripting is done in vim/bash, office documents in a vm, reading in evince, and browsing in ff.

    I do not like systemd however. Still do not understand why the previous way of doing things, that nicely adered to the unix philosophy of keeping stuff in text files, was discarded.

    1. Hans 1
      Coat

      >So basically gnome never gets in the way since I can switch windows with alt tab

      Only between "apps", no longer between WINDOWS (this killed gnome 3 for me, along with 99* other issues ), try alt+` on Gnome 2 and 3, ooops .... YES!

      * 99 because it is a nice number, there are certainly many, many more ....

      To quote Monty Python: BASTAAAAAARDS!!!!!!!

  18. Jonathan 27 Silver badge

    Yeah...

    I actually prefer Gnome 3 to any other Linux desktop environment. Yes, a few years ago it was buggy as hell and weirdly slow for no reason, but they've corrected that now.

    My primary reason for liking Gnome 3 is that the interface gets out of your way. All you have to constantly visible widgets is the bar at the top of the screen. I don't want a huge grab-bag of UI elements plastered across the screen all the time (XCFE is good for this as well). Everything looks good and it's easy to customize. Support for High-DPI screens is pretty good too as is touchscreen support, both of which matter to me because I primarily use it on a 15" 4K laptop with a touchscreen.

    I'm currently using Ubuntu Gnome 16.04 and it's working for me. I don't like the unmovable shortcut menu, unified menus (yes I know this is optional now) and overall feeling of self-righteous smugness about the design. It's about at Apple level of telling me what I want. Integration with 3rd party apps can be poor as well, with menus in the wrong place and small graphical annoyances.

    I'm not saying you should use Gnome 3, just that I like it. If you don't I recommend XFCE or Cinnamon.

    1. Hans 1
      Linux

      Re: Yeah...

      @ Jonathan 27

      Wonderful trolling, yet, you forgot the icon ... how big is your screen, may I ask, 30" ? That is what I would need for it to go "out of the way".

      >Everything looks good and it's easy to customize.

      obvious troll or you do not do "custom" as I understand it ... for example, how do you reduce the size of the title bar of a window ? How do you get system info in the panel reliably (temp/usage of cores, meme usage etc) ... no, the extensions do not do what the monitors item in Gnome 2 do. How do you set power options, how do you iterate over a number of windows using alt+<whatever>, how can you have a sane menu where you can point and click (click ONCE, FFS) ... I could go on ...

      >overall feeling of self-righteous smugness about the design.

      Contradicts your previous statement "Everything looks good and it's easy to customize."

      You forgot the troll icon, right ?

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