back to article Ubuntu and Fedora clash in beta race, but who wears GNOME better?

Both Fedora Workstation 39 and Ubuntu Desktop 23.10 are now in beta, preparing for release next month. We looked at their official GNOME-based flavors to see what to expect. Fedora beat Ubuntu out of the gate this release cycle, with its beta version appearing a week or so earlier than that of Ubuntu "Mantic Minotaur". They're …

  1. ianbetteridge

    Most of the more popular extensions -- Dash to Dock, Applications/Places menus, etc -- already have versions available for Gnome 45, which is good to see. It's the smaller ones which are most likely to fail to make the jump.

    One thing I found interesting about Fedora 39 beta is that the installer doesn't actually install Gnome 45, or any of the other big new versions of packages -- they're all downloaded in that first big update.

    1. AdamWill

      beta to final (gnome)

      "One thing I found interesting about Fedora 39 beta is that the installer doesn't actually install Gnome 45"

      Beta had GNOME 45 Beta. On first update you get GNOME 45.0.

      "or any of the other big new versions of packages -- they're all downloaded in that first big update."

      probably similar. Beta *does* have pretty new kernel and everything else, but then a lot of it has been bumped to even newer versions since.

  2. ChoHag Silver badge

    Fedora comes with LibreOffi..., LibreOffi... and LibreOffi... preinstalled? And do I see a Vi for images?

    On the other side, Ubuntu has both kinds of software: country and western! Are the blind expected to distinguish them based on their almost identical icon too?

    Such incredible attention to the most trivial of details. Every pixel screams that these were built with a focus on the user experience first and foremost. I definitely know what "Cheese" does.

    ...

    Maybe next year?

    1. AdamWill

      The amount of elision depends on your display size and resolution to some extent. I don't know *why* that's the case, but it does. On my display (32", 4K), "LibreOffice Writer" and "LibreOffice Calc" are fully displayed, for impress I get "LibreOffice Impr..." (which, amusingly, is exactly as many characters as "LibreOffice Impress", sigh). Also note that when you mouse over an item, the full name gets displayed. But it does generally feel like this could be optimized a bit, I'll file some bugs.

      GNOME has been trying over time to give apps more sensible display names - in the past this was worse, you didn't get "Image Viewer", you got "Eye of GNOME", for instance, and you got "Totem" instead of "Videos". But it is a bit of an ongoing effort. Cheese is a tool for taking photos or videos from a webcam (you know, say "cheese", har har). To be fair I can't immediately think of a better name that wouldn't get elided to death. :P

      1. AdamWill

        Filed: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-shell/-/issues/7063

    2. AdamWill

      hey, good news - as of https://pagure.io/fedora-comps/c/239e52066f0d21ad71d32bdc91e97d33c6e3cdae?branch=main in Fedora 40, you'll see "Camera" not "Cheese".

  3. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    Gnome is horrible, that being said, Ubuntu wears it better because it's not vanilla Gnome with it's lack of basic features (like a dock).

    1. ovation1357

      I completely agree... GNOME 2 got to a stage where is was pretty decent and then some egotistical maniac decided sone years ago that the best option was to scrap it, write something half-baked and completely different but still call it GNOME.

      Years later it's still a clunky mess with a horrible user interface and barely half the functionality of its predecessor. I genuinely don't get why people like it - unless all you do is live in a web browser all day it's pretty useless.

      I've ranted many times in other comments about the abhorrent UI changes in GTK which are universally screwing up everybody else's non-GNOME desktops so I won't get myself started again on that now.

      Needless to say I am indebted to the developers who forked GNOME 2 into MATE and continue to maintain it. But I have to credit to the other great desktop environments such as Cinnamon, XFCE and KDE. But GNOME? No thanks.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        [Author here]

        Responding out of order...

        > unless all you do is live in a web browser all day it's pretty useless.

        I think it's aimed at people who live in a terminal window all day, and occasionally switch to a browser, both full-screen.

        > I genuinely don't get why people like it

        I am working on a story analysing this. My supposition is this:

        * I keep seeing people talking about the great efficiency of keyboard-oriented text editors such as Emacs and Vim.

        * I have, in the past, had people marvel at how quickly I navigate Windows, because I make extensive use of keyboard shortcuts. (When I learned Windows, on v2.01, my company didn't own a PC mouse; mice were for Mac users. I had no choice.)

        * To use Vim or Emacs effectively, you _must_ learn and use the keyboard shortcuts. So many hardcore Linux users do.

        * With Windows, Windows-like desktops on Linux, and other mouse-oriented UIs, you don't have to. You _can_, they are there, but you can click or tap your way around.

        * So people _do not know_ that there is a whole rich keyboard UI for Windows and compliant Windows-like UIs such as Xfce.

        Combine this with the fact that GNOME 3 -- and Unity -- were _specifically designed_ to be un-Windows like, as I wrote a decade back:

        https://www.theregister.com/2013/06/03/thank_microsoft_for_linux_desktop_fail/

        The result: GNOME 3+ ignores most of the Windows keyboard UI but it has its own, new one. There is little to customise or tweak, and little window management therefore little UI for it, but keyboard warriors can learn the few commands it has and navigate it with considerable speed.

        They believe, like Emacs and Vim folks, that this means it's more efficient. It isn't, not really, but they don't know how to work existing UIs with the keyboard because they never had to.

        GNOME irritates me because all the keyboard UI I've been using since the '80s has gone or is broken. (So, incidentally, it is KDE.)

        1. AdamWill

          It would be great if you would ask the GNOME folks for their answers to this rather than guess, because I don't think either of you are actually right, and I know a lot of them. Having been at conferences with them, none of them to my knowledge "live in a terminal window all day, and occasionally switch to a browser, both full-screen".

          That's certainly not how I use GNOME. I have two displays, a 13.3" laptop display and a 32" 4K display (both at 125% scaling). On the laptop display I run multiple chat clients (because the world is awful and nobody can agree on one). On the desktop display I typically have Evolution, gedit (yes, gedit, I don't use emacs or vi; the existence of https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Builder suggests several GNOME devs don't like to code in them either...), a terminal window and two Firefox windows. I navigate all of this more or less entirely with alt-tab. It works fine.

          If you're a window manager nerd I can understand that you wouldn't love GNOME. GNOME isn't that focused on being a window manager. It's attempting to provide a Cohesive Desktop Experience (tm). I appreciate this, so I use it. If you don't, there are plenty of other choices. Frankly I find it pretty weird that people are still mad at GNOME for not still being GNOME 2, especially when there's MATE and Budgie if that's what you want, and Cinnamon if you want a different take on a 'modern' GTK-based desktop. There are choices! Most distros offer you those choices! What's the point in continuing to get mad in comment sections? GNOME 3 came out *twelve and half years ago*. People need to take a lesson from Elsa at some point.

  4. workrabbit

    All of this for free!

    Amazing work by both teams!

  5. HoraceTheUnicorn

    Upgrade current installs or fresh installs?

    Fedora Workstation 38 came with the vanilla Gnome, which is 'opinionated ', to say the least. The default fonts, start up screen and massive hidden dock icons and the lack of useful short cuts make it look like some UI that is stuck between a desktop and tablet design, without satisfying either. It's better on laptops with smaller screen. A laundry list of 'tweaks' and 'extension manager' is required to get it usable. I'm afraid my attempts at making Gnome work how I want will break if I upgrade to F39.

    Ubuntu comes with a -slightly- better Gnome experience but there's all opinionated packaging stuff, which is tiring after a long day.

    Both distros require a lot of faffing about, if starting from a new install, so to bend one's will.

    In my case, switching to KDE worked ok for a while, as long any changes to the theming and layout are backed up with a tool like Konsave, for easy restore, as it's easy to mess everything if switching the desktop/panels into edit mode. Then KDE started to feel more and more buggy and freeze a lot. So it was back to Gnome, for a few months. Probably be back on KDE next month.

    The woes of choice.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Sounds like it's time to try something else, start with Liam's favourite of XFCE. I'm sticking with MATE, because.

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