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GNOME GUI

A User's First Look at GNOME 2.0 550

Posted by timothy
from the will-rankle-or-delight dept.
Gentu writes: "OSNews has just published a review of the Gnome 2.0 desktop environment and its verdict is not so positive. The author feels that the new version is limited in many ways and with a UI not well designed."
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A User's First Look at GNOME 2.0

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  • Maybe it's time to become the INNOVATORS, rather than copying the Win32 line of User Interfaces, which frankly, are getting stale.

    Take a look at the visual inventiveness of Mac OS X for starters. There's a GUI that's worthy of the 21st Century.
    • In my personal opinion WindowMaker is the best wm, but it is still a clone. Check out this [sourceforge.net] promising distro.
    • > Maybe it's time to become the INNOVATORS,
      > rather than copying the Win32 line of User
      > Interfaces, which frankly, are getting stale.

      How is it getting stale? Do you have any mind-blowing new ideas that counter well-established knowledge about the usefulness of GUI widgets as we know them today? Let me remind you that a good feature of a GUI is to be useful, not to be innovative.

      > Take a look at the visual inventiveness of Mac
      > OS X for starters. There's a GUI that's worthy
      > of the 21st Century.

      While the GUI of MacOS X might be "inventive", I find it extremely cumbersome to navigate, dreadfully slow, overly full of bells and whistles pointless animations, non-intuitive, obstructive et.c. In short: a real pain to use. While the animations might be funny to look at the first time, and the GUI looks very sleek, it generally reduces productivity. Most of the work devoted this GUI, is clearly meant to improve visual appearance, and not usefulness.

      It appears obvious to me that people claiming the MacOS X GUI is intuitive have either not really tried it themselves, or never tried anything else. In the same manner, stating that "GNOME and KDE are more or less the same" shows that you haven't really tried both.
      • You are way off base here. I have been using linux since '93 and saw all of the great advances in Window Manager design. Going from TWM -> FVWM -> elightnment -> windowmaker each went far and away improvements to usability and features. OSX is now my favorite UNIX desktop. It takes windowmaker and nextstep to another level. Plus it is all scriptable with applescript. Applescipt is like having shellscript for GUI... very slick. As for performance every new iteration of 10.1.x releases have shown alot improvements, evem on older hardware.
        • by Avakado (520285) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:07AM (#3786036)
          I'll try to be a bit more constructive in my criticism this time:

          Aqua's keyboard navigability: It's well known that keyboard shortcuts will improve your efficiency when using a GUI. Every single part of a GUI should be accessible via the keyboard, so that experienced users can be as effective as possible, using these. These shortcuts must act consistently throughout the entire GUI, and properly marked (like underlining the character that is part of a shortcut in menu items). Moving from one widget to the next, scrolling, opening menus, starting applications et.c. should all be possible via the keyboard. Text widgets would also benefit from having more shortcut keys, like ^U for "kill line", ^W for "erase word" et.c. In many of the applications of MacOS X, most of this functionality is non-existant.

          Multiple desktops: it's obviousely an advantage to be able to have multiple workspaces running at once. Users not wanting this feature can easily refrain from using it or disable it (or not enable it). Aqua does not provide this feature at all.

          Configurable look (themes): if you for some reason can't stand the default look of Aqua, or want any other color than blue or gray, you are out of luck. As far as I've been able to tell, there's no way to change the appearance of GUI widgets (beyond the colors blue and gray), as opposed to virtually all open source widget sets I've seen. You might argue that themeability slows down the GUI, but that can easily be resolved by providing a binary interface (i.e. styles are dynamically loadable libraries) like KDE does (and Mosfet Liquid and Keramik use).

          Scriptability: You mention AppleScript, and claims it is like having shellscript for GUI. No it isn't: you are bound to use that specific language. They could easily have supplied a network protocol (like KDE's DCOP) or any other more generic interface. Since they didn't, everything has to go to this dreadful language. Any experienced programmer would instantly fear "an easy-to-use, approachable, English-like language".

          Stupid messages: "You need to click here to continue" (why not just friggin' do whatever needs to be done, instead of requiring user interaction at every possible step?), "An error has occured" (did you ever hear about strerror()?) and similar. While many of these aren't severly obstructive, they are nevertheless very annoying signs of sloppy programming and interface design.

          Widget usefulness: in certain applications (most notably the QuickTime player), completely untraditional widgets are used for the sake of visual appearance. Many of these widgets seem like they're designed to be handled with a physical hand, and not with a pointing device and keyboard (like knobs and switches).
          • I agree with you on some of your points, but others are pretty touch and go.

            1) While multiple desktops are handy, saying that they're 'obviously' an advantage is abusing the term 'obvious'. Obvious to who? You? Me? The average X11 user? Joe Sixpack with his iMac? Your grandmother and her iBook? Adding an extra UI 'feature' like that (by default) is just confusing to the average person. The Mac tries to present a simple, friendly interface, and such a thing would be decidedly confusing to anyone that thinks Nascar is a sport. People that want it will find a way to get it. Such a UI enhancement is under development by independent developers right now.

            2) Themes are not actually useful. Anything other than purely aesthetic themeability (ie. the theme changes nothing other than some colours) is bad, in terms of UI design. The reason why everyone copies Windows' UI is because it's familiar. Uniformity of interface is a BIG DEAL.

            If you're just talking about colours, is it really that big a deal? I'm just reading my mail and ssh'ing to my mail server. I don't care what the window dressing looks like, that much.

            3) You think that programmers only like hard-to-use, unapproachable, syntactically impenetrable languages? I would argue that Smalltalk is easy-to-use, approachable and occasionally 'English-like', and I don't have any problems with it. I've never used Applescript, but as an experienced programmer, I don't think you should be making generalizations like that.

            4) I agree that modal panels are foolish, but Apple has sort of met the user half-way. Ideally, what Apple would do is USE that fancy alpha-blending UI, and drop a translucent panel down explaining the situation while it did the right thing. The panel wouldn't change the focus of anything, and the user could easily ignore the panel while it hung around, and work right through it. However, if you ever talk to an ordinary user, they hate having their machine do things without telling them. They LIKE feeling a bit involved. If you pop up 20 modal panels with an 'okay' button on them and nothing else, they'll get irritated, but they want to feel like they're in charge. If the machine starts going off without them, they start to resent it.

            More or less, I agree with your assessment, like I said. I didn't see the parent, but I'd assume that it was trying to defend Aqua.
            Aqua is a fine interface, and it's clear that a fair amount of design went into it. Personally, I think that THAT is the real lesson that we should take away from it. It doesn't do everything perfectly, fine, but at least it wasn't just thrown down by a programmer that was too lazy to actually read some interface books, which are what the Windows, KDE and GNOME interfaces feel like to me. I use (and like!) GNOME, but it's clear that almost none of it is thought out to any greater extent than 'Windows does it this way, and X11 does things this way. Let's go!'
            • Multiple desktops are such an obvious advantage that I can't believe they aren't as prevalent as overlapping windows. Its all about being able to categorize when I organize. I am amazed that this wouldn't be considered obvious.

              Themes are useful to people who spend alot of time in front of their computer. Changing the appearance without breaking the pattern of functionality is stimulating. It prevents a form of "highway hypnosis". Its fun. Its pretty.

              Your parent posts' keyboard shortcut concern is also of concern to me. Keyboard shortcuts are essential.
              • Did you read the post?

                The part about it depends on who your talking to.

                Multiple desktops are not obvious to a newbie. The desktop is not obvious to a newbie.

                If somebody is unfamiliar with a computer - then I would say that multiple desktops are not obvious to them.

                I am amazed that you are amazed at that.
            • You think that programmers only like hard-to-use, unapproachable, syntactically impenetrable languages? I would argue that Smalltalk is easy-to-use, approachable and occasionally 'English-like', and I don't have any problems with it. I've never used Applescript, but as an experienced programmer, I don't think you should be making generalizations like that.

              I think the point that was being made here is that English and other human languages are great for communicating with humans, but they are just not structurally appropriate for writing programs. A programming language should be concise and clear, and must be absolutely unambiguous. Human languages are not, by nature, any of these things. The requirements that the two kinds of languages are designed to meet are completely different.

              The problem with English-like programming languages such as AppleScript and COBOL -- both of which I have used -- is that they are designed to solve the wrong problem. It is assumed that end users cannot understand programming languages because they are syntactically obscure. This is, of course, crap. You can teach any person of average intelligence the syntax of C in a couple of days, possibly excluding the irrational mix of pre- and postfix pointer notation. Given a couple of months, that person could have a pretty good grasp of the ISO/ANSI specification for the language. But even if Joe Average could go on ANSI Jeopardy and answer, "Alex, what is dereferencing a NULL pointer?" he still could not write a complex application.

              And that's really it -- knowing a programming language no more makes you a programmer than knowing English makes you a novelist. Having an English-like programming language like COBOL will not make it possible for non-technical management to look at source code and understand what's going on. All English-like syntax accomplishes is to very slightly shorten the initial learning curve for the syntax and the syntax alone, while it becomes a real pain in the ass later on once you understand algorithms and data structures and all of the meta-linguistic knowledge that is the real meat of writing software.

          • Ok, that was quite a list. I'll bet someone has replied as I type, but here are some replies.

            Keyboard. Hmm, try turning on 'full keyboard access' in System Prefs. You can now hop around the UI using just the keyboard. As for delete word etc. try emacs equivalents (work in all cocoa apps at least). There are alternatives as well. I just use those since I devote brain space to the damn things.

            Multiple desktops. space (http://space.sourceforge.net) does a little of what you want. However I agree, Apple should add it themselves.

            Themes. Colors are ok, but I generally against the ui makeover that some apps seem to delight in. They usually just cover for faults in the original UI. (not an original pov, I should add).

            Scriptability. I think you should look at scripting again. There are many languages for scripting, including (IIRC) javascript. They just hook into AppleEvents which provides the underlying functionality. They can also go over the network (see sharing - allow remote apple events).

            Stupid messages. I'm surprised by this, since Apple are generally pretty good at this. But they aren't perfect. I think asking whether it is ok to continue is fine, but I don't know the details of the case you cite.

            Widget usefulness. Let's hear it for the volume dial on QT 4 (was that the one?). Terrible. They seem to have been fixing these (QT has certainly improved). The worst offenders seem to be Apple's own media apps, which is pretty bad.

            I think some of your points are valid, but OS X is generally pretty good. They seem to have half an idea about this stuff.
          • Scriptability: You mention AppleScript, and claims it is like having shellscript for GUI. No it isn't: you are bound to use that specific language. They could easily have supplied a network protocol (like KDE's DCOP) or any other more generic interface. Since they didn't, everything has to go to this dreadful language. Any experienced programmer would instantly fear "an easy-to-use, approachable, English-like language".

            Way to do your research, lil buddy.

            The AppleScript system is open. In fact, AppleScript just happens to be the default language Apple gives you to use within their "Open Script Architecture" (OSA).

            For example, you could use JavaScript [latenightsw.com] to tie into all the hooks AppleScript can. There is an older list [applescrip...cebook.com] of other OSA languages available as well.

            As an experienced programmer, I find AppleScript useful. When I'm scripting a bunch of Mac apps, the english-ness and gimpy-ness of AppleScript has never bothered me. Why? Because I'm not doing any "real" work. If I'd like to do a combination of "real" work and scripting apps, I could easily use a language from the above list, or call the script events from C or a C module access by a real language.
          • You're running up against the weight of history on the Mac GUI, which so far has proven pretty successful. Most of the common commands are accessible via keystroke and are the same in every program. Multiple desktops is not a huge requirement with Mac users, nor is the configurable look.

            The one part I don't get is "Any experienced programmer would instantly fear 'an easy-to-use, approachable, English-like language'". Why? Because it's not arcane enough? Because people might actually understand what you're doing?

            Go work on your own interface. Leave ours alone.
          • Aqua's keyboard navigability...Moving from one widget to the next, scrolling, opening menus, starting applications et.c. should all be possible via the keyboard. Text widgets would also benefit from having more shortcut keys, like ^U for "kill line", ^W for "erase word" et.c. In many of the applications of MacOS X, most of this functionality is non-existant.

            Most of these do exist. Command arrow moves that direction to the largest extent possible (beginning/end of line, beginning/end of document). Holding shift at the same time selects the text. Option does the same movement, but by the word. Many developers choose not to use these shortcuts, but that is hardly the fault of the GUI. (indeed, Apple has gone out of there way to make Cocoa easy to use and design to their standards).

            Scriptability: You mention AppleScript, and claims it is like having shellscript for GUI. No it isn't: you are bound to use that specific language

            Wrong again. You do not need Applescript. You only need to use an OSA (Open Scripting Architecture) compatible script. Applescript just happens to be Apple's branded solution that they (duh) ship with the machine and support.

            Stupid messages...

            This whole complaint translates to "It doesn't do things the way that I'm used to *wah**wah*"

            Many of your complaints seem justifed to me, i.e. themes and multiple desktops, but I think that on the others you should learn more about the OS (and the conventions/metaphors behind it) before you complain. Different doesn't mean worse

          • There have already been many replies to this, but here's my two cents anyway.

            Every single part of a GUI should be accessible via the keyboard, so that experienced users can be as effective as possible, using these.

            I don't accept this blanket statement. While there is a case to be made for full keyboard access to the UI for movement-impaired users (see "Full Keyboard Access" under the keyboard prefs pane), I think the jury is very much out on the subject of whether the keyboard is a good interface at all. There's no question that too much keyboarding is related to repetive stress injury. Being even more dependent on the keyboard than we already are could very well turn out to be a bad thing, not a good thing.

            Multiple desktops: it's obviousely an advantage to be able to have multiple workspaces running at once.

            You say "obviously an advantage" when what you mean is "I like it." Some people like having multiple workspaces or desktops. Personally, I don't. I prefer overlapping windows, so I can see what I'm doing without having to shuffle things around. So this issue boils down to personal taste.

            I don't think "I like it better another way" is a very valid user interface design critique. And before you respond with "they should have given me the option," please remember that a good user interface is not one that gives the user every possible option. Simplicity is a virtue.

            Configurable look (themes)

            We'll argue about this forever. The bottom line is that lots of people spent a lot of time designing the Aqua user interface. They designed it to be easy to use and visually appealing. What possible motivation would Apple have for implementing an interface that lets little Jason from down the street make all of this windows black and purple and change the "File" menu to read "Zeppelin Rules!"

            As a person of strong aesthetic opinions, I consider Apple's refusal to include an API for modifying the interface to be a good deed, worthy of praise.

            All the rest of the comments in your post have been responded to elsewhere more or less as I would here, so I'll just skip to the end at this point.
          • Your comment echoes a number of standard arguments against the Aqua, and while I don't agree with all of them, there's no point in covering that territory again.

            However, I think you missed a number of positive elements to the full OS X user experience that are missing from most other desktop environments, which might help to balance the evaluation somewhat.

            First, we have the Dock, borrowed (though not without modification) from NeXTStep. Some people love it, some people tend to just ignore it, but personally, I find one feature it has to be *extremely* useful: dynamic icons for applications. The most commonly-seen example is the Mail app, which overlays a small red circle with the number of unread messages any time new mail arrives.

            Second is my favorite "window dressing" feature of Aqua: the drop shadow applied to each window. It's a subtle thing, which I didn't realize the value of until I installed a hack that removed it -- suddenly, I lost what I had gradually come to rely on as a stable visual clue as to which window had focus.

            Third is the standard design for toolbars in (Cocoa apps, anyway) that allows drag-and-drop addition or removal of commands, and a browser-like selection of displaying just the icons, just the text labels, or both. That means that since I like preserving screen real-estate, but still use a toolbar in some apps, I can switch things to only a text label, while my girlfriend, who uses OS X but isn't a hardcore techie, can leave all the icons in.

            It's exactly these kinds of details that take real usability testing, good design, and *time* to do well. When you come right down to it, the biggest advantage that Windows and the MacOS have over open source desktop environments is years of little tweaks and polishing.

            Personally, I think that the KDE crew is on the right path: start with a simple desktop environment similar to what people already expect, and just pound away on the little stuff until the whole interface looks good, works consistently, and offers users in widely different experience levels a worthwhile experience.
      • I use OS X as my client now

        why ?
        it has a port of X (windows)
        and it has THE best terminal app IMHO

        other things are that fonts are far nicer than anything that I could get under X even when using the sgi font server

        oh and ssh is in the box (alright then a update )

        regards

        john jones

      • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:31AM (#3786461)

        It appears obvious to me that people claiming the MacOS X GUI is intuitive have either not really tried it themselves, or never tried anything else.

        As someone who uses Mac OS X extensively after much Windows and X experience, it appears obvious to me that anyone complaining about OS X's GUI was too attached to the horror that was OS 9. The animations can be turned off, later versions of the OS will be faster, and you're simply speaking nonsense about it being obstructive or non-intuitive.

    • by anpe (217106) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:07AM (#3785743)
      Yeah! Lets be original, stop to copying Win32, copy MacOSX !
      • For the love of god, don't copy Mac OS X! It will inevitably be awful, ugly, make a thousand geeks cum in their pants, and annoy everyone who's actually used OS X.

        For example: Check out the Mail.app tries-to-look-alike in GNUStep. Most people think that it's a reasonable clone of Mail.app from NEXTSTEP. It's not by a longshot. The thing is butt-ugly, misses all of the GUI tweaks that make the latter a sheer delight, and feels like it's going to completely give up and go away at any time. I hate most Linux GUIs. They all seem to be unacceptably fragile and have the artistic sense of an unguided tractor. I simply feel that if I click too much the program is going to crash. That's not a feeling I want in software on which I'm going to rely.
    • True, KDE and gnome may not be innovators. But I am not looking for that right now, and nor will I in the near future. What I am looking for is

      a stable desktop

      easy to configure, out of the box solutions for multimedia

      applications with fast response times

      So far gnome seems to implement only the latter, while KDE scores points in the first two departments. KDE is becoming faster though. And yes, win2K (and possibly MacOSX) seems to own all these points, but is not

      free, open source. as gnome and KDE are.

    • You are invited to join the Berlin (soon to become Fresco) project at http://www.fresco.org/. We are going very slowly these days, but we are trying to do something new. We can do all (even more) then MacOS X can with our architecture. Of course lots of stuff is missing. We are not ready for even the most adventurous of users, but we could definitly need some developers.

      Regards,
      Tobias
    • Well, I would tend to agree with you, but Apple loves to send out their lawyers everytime they even THINK some one is copying their GUI design (remember the AQUA theme fiasco?). I don't think any developers are willing to invest time and effort to incorporte "OS X-like" ideas into their work just to have Apple's lawyers tell them that they have to scrap the whole thing under threat of "look and feel" violations.
    • Well, you just can't please everybody. If you copy windows, people complain that you are not innovating. If you do something original, then people say it is non-intuitive and hold it against you.
  • So basically.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blackbox42 (188299)
    So basically it still has most of the flaws normally associted with desktop linux: poor configuration utilities and a UI that was only tested by geeks running the code. The text rendering sounds like a nice new feature but not a compelling one to upgrade just yet. I'd give it two years before a truely great GUI comes out for linux. Till that time I think I'll stick with cli or my OSX box :-).
  • first try: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by C_nemo (520601)
    i gave gnome 2.0 spin the other day, one of the things i missed the most was the good old control centre. as for me i think ximians version of gnome is a very good user environment. i still get "hey, thats not the normal gnome" from KDE and regular gnome users(they often gasp in awe).

    • I switched to Ximian Gnome (from KDE 3)when I did my last reinstall and I don't think I'll ever leave it. The interface is simple to configure and use, and easy on the eyes. Everything seems to just do what I want it to. My only real issue with it is that nautilus tends to devour ram. Other than that, I think it's wonderful.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:28AM (#3785616) Homepage

    Gnome has a large bunch of talented developers, BUT there is a massive difference between that and being a talented HCI person. There are two key phrases that come to mind

    WILI and KISS

    The latter is the word famous Keep It Simple Stupid which isn't being obeyed by Gnome (or KDE IMO) and they are tending more towards WILI which is the Well I Like It approach to design. This is normal with a bunch of developers who knock up a GUI and whose response to critisism is the phrase mentioned above and the intemation that anyone who doesn't agree is wrong.

    It is hard to see how a talented HCI person could actually get involved in an open source project as HCI is not at all about writing the code, its about the approach and ethos, and most importantly telling other people what to do and what not to do. Open Source is about individual expression, good HCI is actually the exact opposite, the best interfaces are those that you don't notice, they just do the job and you are never wowed by the pretty colours and never annoyed by anything.

    Now as to why MS can't manage it I don't know, but for an Open Source GUI to be a good one it would require a non-developer to be the lead.
    • by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotm a i l . c om> on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:47AM (#3785674) Journal
      There are a few simple steps that could to some degree improve HCI in open source projects.

      1: Read it like a book, that is the UI should read like a book or newspaper, with columns and menus appropriately positioned etc.... (and don't forget about right to lefties)

      2: Like the user said, IOW always use the users default settings. (white backgrounds on web pages are a classic for this!)

      3: If it clicks, it clicks. Or don't make buttons not look like buttons, and images etc.. look like buttons. useable elements should be 'tactile' and non useable elements shouldn't be.

      4: Cosmetic/Usability bugs shouldn't be brushed under the carpet (like most places without HCI peoples do).

    • Did you read the article? The author actually keeps whining that the GNOME 2 has lots of options simplified and/or removed. And he also doesn't like the defaults (i.e. the review itself is a bad case of WILI).

      Well, GNOME 2 took some drastic UI steps which in fact did come from the actual usability testing. For example, the gnome control center has been eviscerated and turned into something that's actually navigable. And something that the author doesn't like (quote: 'The menu settings now only have 3 options'. Duh!)

      Basically, I just strongly disagree with both the tone and the content of the review.

      --
    • The latter is the word famous Keep It Simple Stupid which isn't being obeyed by Gnome (or KDE IMO) and they are tending more towards WILI which is the Well I Like It approach to design. This is normal with a bunch of developers who knock up a GUI and whose response to critisism is the phrase mentioned above and the intemation that anyone who doesn't agree is wrong.

      Before doing such criticism you should take a look at what Gnome is currently doing in the user interface and usability realms. I would say the whole point of Gnome 2 is eliminating a lot of the creaping featurism that had acumulated along the time in the user interface. The new Gnome 2 user interface is *much* simpler, and has been designed with the KISS principle as one of its main driving forces.

      Taking a look at the GNOME Usability Project [gnome.org] may give you a better idea of how things are being done right now in Gnome. The mailing list archives may be specially useful to see the change in mentality. Enjoy!

    • The latter is the word famous Keep It Simple Stupid which isn't being obeyed by Gnome

      That may have been true in the past, but it certainly isn't know, and you'll notice it when you use GNOME 2.0. One of the most important goals of GNOME 2.0 was to improve usability and keeping things simple. Most, if not all, of GNOME should now follow the Human Interface Guidelines [gnome.org] and avoid redundant and confusing ways of configuring exotic options that clutter the interface.
      Pardon me for saying this, but it seems that you are not basing anything you say on GNOME 2.0 or what the current state of affairs is.

      (And yes, what the review says in this case is basically pointless as it is based on a broken install [slashdot.org] with lots of cruft that isn't there in vanilla GNOME 2.0, and lots of pieces from vanilla 2.0 missing).

    • Well... fwiw, it's not an individual working on the HCI for Gnome. Sun actually pays a team to work on the UI, perform usability studies, etc..
  • Menu choices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ratface (21117) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:39AM (#3785643) Homepage Journal
    The reviewers comments about theme management menu choices seem very sound to me. As a long time user of Linux on the desktop I often find that default menu layouts for Gnome & KDE are confusing and unintuitive.

    I'm also less than keen on what I have experienced of Nautilus so far and hearing that turning it off presents a naked desktop doesn't do much for my confidence in this product.

    *sigh* I guess I'll be waiting for the next release before upgrading.
    • The reviewers comments about theme management menu choices seem very sound to me. As a long time user of Linux on the desktop I often find that default menu layouts for Gnome & KDE are confusing and unintuitive.

      Some of this probably depends on what distribution you are using. Anyway the way Windows does it isn't exactly intuitive.
    • Re:Menu choices (Score:4, Informative)

      by GauteL (29207) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:25AM (#3785815)
      Eh? Your comment on Nautilus makes no sense.

      Nautilus is a desktop and file manager. Of course turning it off gives you a naked desktop, because you no longer HAVE a desktop-manager. How is this Nautilus' fault?

      But please do not listen too much to what the reviewer said, because it is totally opposite to most others experience.

      Firstly, for all persons I've ever spoken to about GNOME 2.0, it feels way faster than GNOME 1.x

      Secondly, there is a centralized place for configuration. It is called "Desktop preferences" and it is either in the GNOME-menu, or in "start-here:". The reviewer got this fact completely wrong, almost on the edge of malciciousness.

      He does have some valid points however. The theme-issue is inherited from GNOME 1.x, and was sadly not possible to fix in GNOME 2.0 without much delay.

      The other issue, which does speak against intuitivity is the menu-panel. It makes no sense to move the menu-panel, as it is totally meant as a top-menu in all it's design.

      However it is still possible to remove the menu-panel and just use a bottom GNOME-panel like Windows or KDE. You just have to create the new panel before you remove the menu-panel, as GNOME won't let you remove all of your panels.
      • Interesting points. I understand where the reviewer was coming from though regarding Nautilus - when I first installed Ximian Gnome I was using a slow machine and Nautilus chewed through pretty much all the memory I had - and then some. At that point I could kill Nautilus and return to my old desktop. However, Nautilus was still set as the default file manager and openenig it would start up Nautilus on the desktop again. The only way to stop it was to remove it from the running programs in the Gnome session list and restart Gnome. Pain in the rear!

        Since I upgraded my machine I haven't really noticed it as much. I'm still not a grat fan of it as a file manager though...
        • Since I upgraded my machine I haven't really noticed it as much. I'm still not a grat fan of it as a file manager though...

          Try the 2.0 version. Speed-wise and performerance-wise there is simply no comparison between the GNOME 1.4 and the GNOME 2.0 versions of Nautilus.

  • by JanneM (7445) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:39AM (#3785648) Homepage
    Some of the issues he brings up seems valid. That said, I run Gnome2 and I don't recognize many of the problems he brings up.

    First, for me, Gnome2 is far faster than Gnome1.4. This goes for most individual applications, as well as the desktop overall.

    Lack of options: Well, yes and no. There has been a serious attempt at providing sensible defaults for a lot of stuff, and hide away rare and/or strange options into the gconf system. While some people like being able to tweak their desktops to hell and back, for many users it is just plain confusing to have as ridiculously many options everywhere as Gnome1 had. Note that for those serious about tweaking, gconf is there for your time-wasting pleasure. :)

    Gedit: I've tried repeatedly, but I am unable to duplicate the marking thing he talks about.

    Galeon has continued to work flawlessly for me, as have all other Gnome1 apps I have. he mentions that he does not have a Gnome1 installation; that may be an explanation as to why Gnome1 apps do not work...

    As for 'scattered settings' - huh? I get all settings neatly in the 'Desktop Preferences' menu. That certainly includes things like xscreensaver settings and pretty much everything else he gripes about in this area. I do not have a 'Desktop theme', as he seems to have, but just the 'theme' option - as it should be.

    I get the feeling there is something rather wrong with the reviewers setup; something like an incomplete install, or a mix of older and newer packages or something like it.

    /Janne
    • I think it's because he is using a mandrake setup.
      It has some really odd menu/icon stuff in gnome2, which i know isnt in the 'default' gnome2.

      He should try a clean slate, on top of that -O3 wiht gcc 3.1 is just _not_ an good idea, yet =)
    • by redtuxxx (588925) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:54AM (#3785700)
      What the reviewer has done is done is very simple

      Ignored release notes
      Ignored Various READMES
      Ignored known gotchas

      The reason galeon wont work is that the mandrake rpm sounds like it is compiled with nautilus1 support, and nautilus 1 has been clobbered

      The one thing loud and clear through all the development process is INSTALL GNOME2 IN A SEPARATE PREFIX!!

      Personally I cant think of anything missing with my install of gnome2 (parallel with gnome1.4)

      If people cant read release notes they should just pull down ximian RPMs

      REDTUX
      • by Shelled (81123) on Friday June 28, 2002 @11:19AM (#3786764)
        Ignored release notes
        Ignored Various READMES
        Ignored known gotchas

        Doesn't exactly sound like a ready for the desktop product to me.

        • by Xiphoid Process (153566) on Friday June 28, 2002 @12:25PM (#3787146) Homepage
          did you manually upgrade all the desktop and widget libraries when you updated from windows 2000 to XP? No? You just inserted the cd and let the whole OS updater do it for you? If you tried to manually update all the different interdependant libraries on windows without reading any documentation, do you really think it would work? i think not.

          This is exaclty how it happens with gnome too: if you arn't a power user (ie, if you can't read and follow the instructions in the release notes) wait for your os distribution (ximian, redhat, debian, madrake, what-have-you) to release an update.

          Most of the "reviewers" problems would never have come up if he A) followed directions, or failing the ability to do that B) let his distribution (do the update)

          if you want to live on the bleeding edge and update packages left and right inbetween distribution releases, be prepared to read the instructions or pay the price, its really not that hard.
    • Lack of options: Well, yes and no. There has been a serious attempt at providing sensible defaults for a lot of stuff, and hide away rare and/or strange options into the gconf system.

      What is and isn't a commonly used option is a rather subjective thing. That's before you consider that any configuation really should be settable or even mandatable by the sysadmin. Quite possibly on a per user/group basis to deal with tweakers who'd never get any work done if they could tweak all day.
    • I've been using Gnome-2 betas/RC1-2, and found that I must erase/rename all the standard Gnome configuration files (.gnome, .gnome2, etc.) in order to avoid problems and see the default desktop that the developers intended.
  • by MartinG (52587)
    If you're the kind of person who decides which desktop to use based on reading a few reviews or asking your friends, then maybe this review is for you. Good luck.

    If you're like me and you like try things for yourself, then you're probably already downloading it, and you probably already know that you're more different from the average person than you think, and you already know that you are constantly surprised by how much you disagree with reviews of this kind.

    Seriously, I would recommend that everyone tries gnome 2.0 if you have time.

  • no kidding. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by 7-Vodka (195504)
    "The author feels that the new version is limited in many ways"

    Yeah. Tell me about it. It seems gnome has declared it's position; it targets absolutely innexperienced users and the rest be damned.

    • Re:no kidding. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HiThere (15173)
      Sorry. I think you have that backwards. KDE is much easier for inexperienced users. Gnome has cleared off all the eye-candy (except screen-savers).

      I feel that experienced users will have fewer problems with Gnome. E.g., to extract a tar file on KDE one right clicks on it and chooses: extract here. Under Gnome one opens a text window, cds to the appropriate place, and issues `tar -zxvf some.name .`
      (OK, that was a compressed tar file.)

      Gnome doesn't seem to be any less powerful, but it's a bit less obvious in how to use it. (I rate myself intermediate.)

      KDE concentrates more on ease of use. Gnome concentrates more on conceptual elegance. I think that they are very important to each other, and each should strive to learn from the other's strong points.

      It feels as if Gnome should be more adapted to use on less powerful computers, but I haven't really tried. To the extent that it have tried, this seems to be accurate. (Of course, really limited computers don't even hav X Window.)
  • Talk about laugh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nagora (177841)
    The new Gnome 2 environment starts up much-much faster than Gnome 1.4 used to! It loads on my dual Celeron 533 in about 2-3 seconds,

    Windowmaker loads in a fraction of a second on my 300mhz uniprocessor box.

    TWW

    • by Avakado (520285)
      >> The new Gnome 2 environment starts up
      >> much-much faster than Gnome 1.4 used to!

      > Windowmaker loads in a fraction of a second
      > on my 300mhz uniprocessor box.

      I bet Tab Window Manager (aka. twm) starts even faster! It must obviousely be far better!

      Note: comparing the startup speed of software with completely different sets of functionality makes no sense.
    • Re:Talk about laugh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by satanami69 (209636) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:44AM (#3785911) Homepage
      Waimea ~1.5 seconds
      FVWM ~4.0 seconds
      Gnome 2.0 ~25 seconds
      KDE 3.0 ~1 minute

      hell, all i usez it for it to open mozilla anyway. I'll take waimea.
    • Amen to that! And ROX-Filer makes a nice, lightweight companion for Windowmaker, too.
    • What's with all the "my WM starts faster than yours" hoo-ha I'm always hearing?

      Doesn't anybody actually *use* their computers? When I start (kde) I leave it up for days (on a laptop, no less) and I *use* it. I write code, lot's of it. I write mail. Etc etc.

      However, I can't help but wonder, what do you types do? Do you just grab a stopwatch and repeatedly time how long it takes to start different WMs? Is the whole goal of modern computing to provide the most obscure functionality as fast as possible? As nice as fluxbox and windowmaker are, I'll take KDEs rock solid APIs and frameworks any day, even if they take ~30 seconds to start on my little thinkpad. But of course, *using* my computer isn't very l33t of me, is it?
      • I do use my computer all day for work. The speed of WindowMaker is indicative of its efficiency rather than a goal in itself.

        KDE as an environment is bloated and slow and contributes nothing to productivity that WM doesn't do better.

        The longer you have KDE (the very epitomy of "obscure functionality") running the more time you've wasted waiting for it.

        TWW

      • I don't leave my computer at home on 24/7 because

        a) It's noisy
        b) It seems like a waste of elecricity to leave it on when I'm not using it

        Therefore, speed of start-up is quite important to me*. I leave my computer at work on all the time because it gets put on the render farm when I'm not using it.

        * One of the things I love about WinXP is the hibernation feature - turn the computer off - it saves the memory and powers down - turn it on, it restores it to exactly what you were doing before you turned it off.. lovely!
  • configurability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Random Walk (252043) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:51AM (#3785683)
    anyone who complains about a lack of configurability apparently never had to deal with:
    • people who managed to tear off a taskbar by accident, and could not figure out how to put it back in place,
    • people who managed to switch off a taskbar by accident (this evil M$ Word ...), and could not figure out how to switch it on again,
    • countless other examples ...
    Many, perhaps most, users use their PC only occasionally, are not familiar with configuration options, cannot 'fix' even the most trivial issues, and would rather need a well thought out configuration that cannot be modified by any means.
    • Re:configurability (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dixie_Flatline (5077)
      Exactly! Thank you, thank you.

      Here's something people fail to realize: even if you dislike your interface in some way, with a well designed interface and some training, you can be faster with the interface that is subjectively offensive than the one that you feel is somehow 'comfortable'. Configurability is the hallmark (in general) of a poor UI design. It means that you didn't know how to do it properly in the first place, so you're passing the buck to the user.

      The advantages of a rigidly stardardized interface are often completely ignored, but they're what allow most people to sit down at any computer and start typing.
  • by smithwis (577119) on Friday June 28, 2002 @07:57AM (#3785707) Journal
    Something I'd like to know is...

    How well does Gnome2.0 work without Nautilus? I've never been a big fan of Nautilus and so always removed as much dependence of Nautilus as I feel safe removing from my instalations of Gnome. I've noticed that as I've updated Gnome, that Nautilus has been more and more integrated. For instance Gnome tries to get you to use nautilus to navigate to different control panels, Fortunately I was able to dig up the Gnome Control Center utility last time I updated. Anyways, with Gnome now using a new and incompatible GTK do we lose the gnome control center in favor of the not so nice Nautilus interface?

    It's a shame if we have to use Nautilus. One of the reasons I liked Gnome so much was that you weren't really forced to use much of anything. You didn't have to use Sawfish(or now metacity) for your window manager and you didn't have to use GMC or Nautilus(I prefer an XTerm window for the most part)

    Thanks for any light you may shed on my questions. And excuse me for being a lazy ass and not doing to much research b4 asking;-)

    Steve
    • No problem here: my nautilus is gone, and everything is still accessible through the Applications menu.
      (it'll be back as soon as I apt-get it back, but I'm lazy :)

      Actually, Nautilus is a *pain* when used w/ transparent terminals, as each redraw of the icons will cause each terminal to redraw. Besides I don't like desktop icons anyway. What I miss in nautilus is:
      1. middle-click to open new windows
      2. split-screen for easy DnD
      3. Konqueror, that's what I miss, actually. :)

      But with nautilus gone, everything is quite snappy on my PIII450. Of course "everything" is a lot damn smaller now :).

  • Sade?? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:08AM (#3785744)
    The guy listens to Sade. How much can he really know about computers?

    He didn't even know enough to hide the Sade before taking the screenshot.

    • Re:Sade?? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Salsaman (141471)
      What do you mean ? Sade is *obviously* a big computer geek. What are her two most famous songs ?

      Smooth Operator (an obvious reference to overloaded operators in OO programming languages); and Diamond Life (obviously a reference to hardened carbon based nano machines).

  • Ah, memories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gryphon (28880) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:11AM (#3785754)
    Reading this review of Gnome reminded me of the days (about a year and half ago now) when I was still trying to use Linux and Gnome (somtimes KDE) as a desktop machine.

    Nothing coherent about the UI design, hunting around to find configuration panels, getting messages that tell the user to download this package or that package (which leads directly to Dependency Hell).

    These days, I use Mac OS X. Sure, it's UI isn't perfect. And I know, it's an apples to oranges comparison, Free Software to commercial. But man, do I ever enjoy using a coherent desktop with one place to change settings (System Preferences). No fuss! No muss! I'm far more productive.

    And my Linux server continues to hum away in the basement, quietly powering my website.

    Life is good.
  • Wow... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    By this point, I expected about a hundred Linux jockies on here personally attacking OSNews for this.

    Anyway, sounds like Gnome 2 is a lot like Gnome 1... very amateurish and lacking the 'polish' of the commercial OS's, especially where the help files are concerned. At least the fonts are better and Nautilus seems workable but from reading the review, it's nothing to write home about.
  • that got described accurately in the software industry. Don't use the .0 version.

    The short of it is that it's still a tad beta, and still needs work. It looks gorgeous, but then again, I'm a Gnome user (KDE feels too bubbly to me, and I can't find a theme to trim it. yes I've looked on a couple of sites). it still needs to be tweaked. I'm sure the Ximian guys will have a very solid version in not too long.
  • by SuperCal (549671) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:26AM (#3785821) Homepage
    Since the site is now /.ed, I'll do a little karma whore'n...
    ' First off for those of you who don't read OSNews, The author Eugenia is almost always right on the money, despite some of the posts to her message boards. Also I'm impressed with the way she responds to the message board posts with solid information. In this case she simply posted her opinions on the latest release. She had a few crashes and didn't like the feel. One App particularly caused problems, I believe it was a Control Panel or major settings dialog.
    Also of interest, some of the message board reads posted that they had no crashes and generally liked the experience, so if you care is to give it a try and see if it works for you. I'm going to stick to KDE, it works for me. '
  • Quick Analysis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Leimy (6717) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:45AM (#3785914)
    GNOME-1.4: Still hard to figure out when you first sit down on it.... I personally had trouble changing an Emacs icon to use Xemacs and ran around looking for a "property list" for it... I think you have to manually edit some text file is what someone said... I stopped using GNOME immediately.... That's no way to do a GUI IMO.

    KDE3.x: Slow... very slow. Too many virtual functions need to have code relocated at runtime. Luckilly This site [sf.net] is addressing some fundamental linking issues with C++ [among other things] on GNU tools. In fact the GNU tools are starting to be built with some of these optimizations now as was evident on my RedHat box at work. FreeBSD needs to try to do the same since its my main development platform [luckilly its a dual Athlon MP 1600 so *nothing* seems slow there :)]. There are also a few UI issues like the Author of this article suggested but I must say that people want a snappier [speedwise] desktop and don't want the power of an industrial strength server just to run their desktop. [note: I love KDE... I have committed code to KDE... this is as objective as I get :)]

    I spend most of my time on Mac OS X. The concept of being able to run the Microsoft Office Suite [which I actually don't yet on my Mac] on a Unix environment with 75% or more of my favorite tools either in place or on their way is very attractive. Let's face it nothing does DOC like Word [thank god!] and for compatibility purposes with all of my coworkers there just isn't a real substitute for everything it does. We use the revision control built into Word and other things so please don't offer Abiword, StarOffice, OpenOffice or KWord as alternatives. You can suggest till your blue in the face but you can't make my company change its stance on what tools must be used.... Its a fight not worth fighting based on my experiences with the alternatives out there. [I write a lot of stuff in LaTeX now... then I cut n' paste to Word when I have to... Time consuming and stupid yes but I don't have Word for OS X yet... :)].

    I never got around to experiencing BeOS first hand but I heard it was a thing of beauty... There has been a fair amount of talk about adding the BeOS file system to OpenDarwin's CVS but I don't think anyone has committed the time to it yet.

    Advice to KDE: Please please please don't get too bloaty... [application duplication seems to be a bit of a problem there... Why does the standard source distribution have to include these things anyway?] I love IOSlaves and KParts and think they are uber-cool but the end user doesn't give a shit about any of that because it doesn't directly enhance their experience... just gives the developer a woody.

    Advice to GNOME: As a developer I do not agree with C as the tool for doing Object Oriented Code... especially when the manner in which things are being wrapped up is very C++ like. GTKmm has a long way to go before it can do what Qt can last I checked so I think that if you code for GNOME and want full access you must use C [correct me if I am wrong please... its been a while and I want to be as fair as possible]. I have to agree with some of the Author's UI comments if his experience was authentic and correctly reflects the actual situation. I still think GNOME is prettier than the KDE defaults but there are very good things coming in that respect it seems from what I have been able to follow on the mailing lists. [again I am unfortunately biased due to my KDE involvement].

    Advice for OS X... yes.. sometimes you just have to realize that indeed your shit can also stink. The only major boo-boo I remember was the iTunes installer clobbering some linux partitions... That was naughty but obviously not a test case for Apple 'in-house' or it would have been caught. Live and learn! I understand some people have trouble with the lookupd for OS X dropping out on them from time to time [though I haven't seen this myself yet.] but that's not really a UI comment is it? Hmm, I guess keep doing what you're doing and maybe think about allowing users to pick schemes other than Aqua or Graphite in the appearances menu. Don't rush it though... I love the quality thus far and can deal with a minimal set of choices when it keeps the UI simple and straighforward [yes I still use the single button mouse on OS X because its actually possible to do so due to a good UI design around simplicity.]

    I'd invite comments and criticism if I didn't know already that I was in for it.... so go ahead and get your shot in... I don't care - its only slashdot :)

    Dave
  • by GauteL (29207) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:55AM (#3785974)
    Because it is on some points totally wrong. For instance, the speed-issue and the "no central place for configuration issue". Everyone else reports a speed-increase, unlike this reviewer.

    The central place is just wrong. The dialogs the reviewers seem to suggest is kept "all over the place" is in reality in ONE place. No, there is no unified control-panel GUI for GNOME 2.0, like gnomecc in GNOME 1.x or the KDE-panel. This was changed because almost everyone hated the unified dialog, and actually it has some pretty large usability issues as well.

    In GNOME 2.0 the configuration dialogs are seperate windows, much like in Windows. But the dialogs are ALL reachable from a centralized place (Like Windows 2000 and 9x, unlike Windows XP)

    Secondly. GNOME has taken a very far step towards KISS (Keep it simple stupid) unlike some comments on here seem to suggest. Some of the comments seem to be based on the review, and not from actual usage.

    The reviewer tries to make himself out as a GUI-expert, something he doesn't seem to be at all.

    There are ACTUAL GUI-experts and usability exports working on GNOME. Of course there are still lots of little mistakes and bloopers in the GUI. But some comments here, and from the reviewers seem to suggest that this isn't thought of AT ALL. Which isn't the case.

    When it comes to Galeon running. The reviewer states that he does not have GNOME 1.x libs installed, which could be why Galeon (which currently is a GNOME 1.x app) won't run. Even if he does there were several issues with earlier versions of Galeon with GNOME 2.x, which can be solved by upgrading Galeon. The reviewer doesn't state what version of Galeon he uses. This is thus most likely a Galeon issue, rather than a GNOME 2.0 issue.

    The reviewer does have some valid points though. Especially a shortage on help-files.. though it isn't as bad as the reviewer seems to make it out.

    One of the worst parts though is the notion that in GNOME 1.x you could turn off Nautilus for speed, but in GNOME 2.x you're left with a naked desktop if you do.

    First. Turning off Nautilus for speed should be rather unnecessary except for people really short on memory.

    Second. Of course turning off Nautilus gives you a naked desktop. Nautilus is the desktop-manager. Turning it off removes the desktop (apart from the background-image). This also happened in GNOME 1.x, except some GNOME 1.x installations was totally screwed up in the way that it ran BOTH Nautilus and gmc (the old GNOME file-manager) at the same time. And thus if you turned off Nautilus, the old gmc-desktop was shown. This meant wasted memory because you ran two desktop-managers at the same time. I'm a bit disappointed that there is actually an option in the GUI to turn off Nautilus, which will be difficult for Newbies to actually turn ON again.. but that is a seperate issue. People desperate to get rid of Nautilus, could do it via gnome-session-properties, and actually, as of GNOME 2.0 I don't see the point apart from feeling 31337.

    GMC was never ported to GNOME 2.0 and probably never will, because it frankly made much more sense to just fix Nautilus speed-wise. Which has been done, and will continue.
  • by MicroBerto (91055) on Friday June 28, 2002 @08:58AM (#3785985)
    I installed Gnome 2 with Garnome [gnome.org] and here's my reactions:

    THERE ARE NO MENU EDITING CAPABILITIES [gnome.org]

    How in the *blue fuck* do you release a window manager without the ability to change the menus! That's AWFUL, and there is absolutely no excuse for this. Gnome 2.0 should not have been released.

    Yeah yeah, the speed is great and Nautilus is now usable. But expect a lot of shaking-up for Gnome in the next 6 months, becuase the UI blows and the configs are impossible and you've seen all of the other [correct] posts about how the devolopers need a REAL ui expert.

    • hey, at least it was intentional? Could have been worse.... "oops, well damn"
      kinda like "hey Bob, great design, where are the bathrooms???"

    • According to the Gnome folks, it was better to rip it out than release it with severe bugs. They've promised a fix by 2.0.1, and in the meantime just edit them by hand. And don't give me any of this "My grandma could never figure out how to do that" crap. What are you thinking subjecting the poor woman to a .0 release in the first place?

      Dropping buggy features is a good thing. Releasing a product promptly is a good thing. Releasing a product without an important usability feature is a bad thing. Two out of three ain't bad. Even if you think it's an obvious blunder, try to keep your criticisms polite and constructive. It's a volunteer effort.
  • the usual whining (Score:3, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:01AM (#3786012)
    Every UI designer will laugh at this

    UI designers laugh at lots of things, most of them completely irrelevant. In this case, the author is complaining about some baroque scheme for the theming UI. But theming is optional--you don't need it. People play around with themes when they are bored; it might even be bad if the theme configuration UI is too slick.

    Gnome 2 does not come without its problems. I do not have sounds on my Gnome 2. I think that Gnome 2 assumes that you have Gnome 1.4 installed,

    That's an issue with packaging, not Gnome2 itself. The same goes for many of the other grips that the author has.

    The new version removes the flexibility found on Gnome 1.x and it does not introduce anything really new or spectacularly interesting in its UI design.

    If the translation of this is "it has fewer options to confuse users and it didn't change its look or feel significantly so that people don't need retraining", then that sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

    Overall, I didn't see a single substantive or informed criticism in the article. There probably are plenty of things wrong with Gnome2, but we'll have to wait for a more careful write-up of those.

    Also, you can't expect too much from any desktop that follows current paradigms. Windows and MacOS have plenty of warts and problems, too. Overall, in my experience, Gnome and KDE are no worse.

    • Re:the usual whining (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rjstanford (69735)

      From the review:

      Gnome 2 does not come without its problems. I do not have sounds on my Gnome 2. I think that Gnome 2 assumes that you have Gnome 1.4 installed

      From the previous post:

      That's an issue with packaging, not Gnome2 itself. The same goes for many of the other grips that the author has.

      And a more perfect example of the kind of geek-superiority that people accuse the Linux community of I don't think I've seen in a long time.

      Here's a newsflash for you: people don't care about technical quibbles like this. Imagine going to a new car dealership and finding out that the car you're looking at doesn't come with a Stereo. Upon commenting on this fact, people tell you, "Its still a good car, that's a packaging issue -- check out the engine timing! Besides, look at the huge hole in the dash into which you could install your own stereo (or even two or three of them) -- most of the wiring is even there for you!"

      This review spent a lot of time talking about usability. If somebody does the "normal" things when obtaining a package, especially one designed (as a desktop is) to hide complexity and produce a more usable system than before it was installed, and it doesn't work as it could be reasonably expected to -- then there is a problem.

      Sure, the internal code may be fine. But from a user's perspective, Gnome is Gnome. You could have the best algorithms on the planet, but if they're not enabled, or not included until you do some steps that only the developers know about, nobody will care. Okay, this is a packaging issue. You know what? This was a review of the whole package -- code, help, defaults, et ceteara. Including packaging.

      Then again, far be it for anyone to offer a rational objection to a favored OSS project... That might lead to open discourse or, worse yet, improvements. Shame on all reviewers.

      -Richard
      • Here's a newsflash for you: people don't care about technical quibbles like this. Imagine going to a new car dealership and finding out that the car you're looking at doesn't come with a Stereo.

        Here's a newsflash for you: Gnome2 is the radio, not the car. We know the radio works because we can hook it up to power and it plays music. If you get the radio with your new car and the radio doesn't work, it was installed incorrectly. Sensible people complain to their car dealer about that.

        But from a user's perspective, Gnome is Gnome.

        There is nothing in the world Gnome developers can do if the Linux distributors screw up the installation. Sensible people complain to the people with the power to fix a problem; venting to some hapless bystander is pointless and aggravating.

        And a more perfect example of the kind of geek-superiority

        Actually, you just gave us another example of populist cluelessness.

  • As a user who have about 3 years of Linux experience, what I need is just X, some window manager that let me have 10 virtual desktops and switch between them easily (quite a few does now), and some pretty widget libraries (gtk or qt does their jobs, although tk and others are okay too). So gnome (or kde) has never meant anything to me other than a lot of potentially useful libraries. The included applications are of little use. If the configuration is difficult to use, I configure my window manager only once, anyway.
  • by idletask (588926) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:18AM (#3786091)

    GNU/Linux, BSD et al will simply never make it to the desktop. Both KDE and GNOME have constantly failed in designing a good GUI (in case you'd wonder, yes I've used them both, alongside with Win9x and MacOS 9 - the latter got the lead in usability, but that shouldn't be a surprise). Keep in mind that the guy who wrote this review is not even an average user. A real Joe user wouldn't even have bothered to write a review given the poor shape of the thing.

    Designing a good GUI requires everything that a geek doesn't have: notions of ergonomy (this goes for graphics too - GNOME icons may look very cool, but their ergonomy is disastrous) and psychology, the ability to sit on behalf of the user, and most of all, not the slightest care about how it works behind the hood.

    Before KDE/GNOME can reach the "usable" qualification, both need a team of GUI designers whom the programmers will *listen to*. The rare persons who have some qualifications in this respect are constantly being bashed by coders who say "That's not how it's supposed to work [in the code]". Said coders therefore don't understand that even if their code is well written and would deserve some note in software engineering courses, it fails at its primary mission: meeting the users' needs.

    The second biggest problem is the existence of GNOME itself. While it was kind of justified given the licensing problems with Qt at first, it has been obsolete from the day when Qt got GPLed. But geeks have their pride. Too much pride. Result: code duplication, well designed toolkits of all sorts but still no consistent GUI on either side.

    In 5 years, Microsoft went from the somewhat clunky but usable win3.x series to the very usable (even apart from the "but-it-comes-preloaded-everywhere" argument - that's one I don't buy, sorry) Win9x series. In 5 years, the MacOS GUI has evolved very little - an evidence that it was built from the ground up with usability in mind (MacOS X is another matter, but I bet the guy who made it is certainly not the one who did the Mac0S 9- GUI). In 5 years, what has most evolved in our two main contenders are the toolkits. Who cares?

  • From the review:
    which is which and what each does? Good question.

    Is that really a good question?
  • This sounds more like somebody that doesn't know much about writing (learn to use commas correctly!) who performed a bad install on a Redhat 7.x machine. Some of the problems described are obviously just RH's Gnome 1.4 setup conflicting, which is no big surprise. And many problems sound like he just didn't bother thinking while using the system. Whoever came up with this idea that "we shouldn't have to think to be able to use a computer" should be beaten with something large. You have to think to use any other machine, right? Even I have to spend a moment thinking about what darkness setting I want my toaster set at. Part if living is thinking about things, people!
  • sawfish 2.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan (79406) on Friday June 28, 2002 @09:59AM (#3786290) Journal
    My experience so far has been a mixed bag. I like some of the simplification, they've tried (with only some success) to use saner defaults and make everything easier to configure and use.

    The panels work ok, but there are some serious quirks. If you make a panel with no menu, and you remove the hide buttons... you can no longer configure that panel. Only way I found to fix it is to add a menu to another panel, drag it to the menuless panel, then you can use the menu for configuring the panel. A pretty large oversight if you ask me.

    The other extremely annoying panel problem is... on logout/login, the panel completely forgets the order of the launchers on it! If that's not a huge oversight, I don't know what is.

    Now for my biggest gripe. Sawfish 2.0. Someone was smoking some serious crack. I don't mean to be mean, but it has absolutely been destroyed. It is completely useless. It plain sucks, terribly. First of all, it's crashy, very crashy. See the bugzilla database on gnome.org, serious crash bugs in sawfish 2.0, definately NOT release material. Second, sawfish was designed with extreme configurability in mind, every aspect of sawfish is meant to be configurable, but now they have completely removed 90% of the configuration options. They supposedly tried to choose sane defaults, but with something as configurable as sawfish, that's simply not going to happen. There are some serious problems with the default settings. The new sawfish control panel... what can I say, it plain sucks. The tabs are across the top now, and you have to use the dumb little arrow buttons to scroll across the stupid things. This makes it an extreme pain to search for settings.

    No favorites menu. I always found this very useful, I always put all the little utilities I often use in there. It's gone, and there is no equivalent replacement. Now your stuck browsing through the damn apps menu. A very poor decision in my opinion.

    Now those problems are all extremely annoying, time draining, and basically make gnome 2.0, simply put, not ready for prime time. It's simply not release quality at this point, not even close.

    There are some positive aspects though, quite positive actually. Fonts, gnome2.0's font rendering is really, really great. Fonts are rendered very cleanly, not blurry looking, and not jaggy, they look very good. Speed, despite what the reviewer was saying, gnome 2.0 is pretty speedy, speedier than 1.4. It loads up really quick, probably 4 or 5 seconds on a reasonably fast machine. The menus are much less cluttered by default, a plus in my book, they were simply full of junk before. GTK+ 2.x is much better. The default theme actually looks pretty good, file selectors work better, save dialogs don't wack the filename when you change directories(!).

    All in all, I have to say that I'm pretty disapointed. It's not a lost cause, but it seems to me that gnome may be heading in the wrong direction.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

    • Re:sawfish 2.0 (Score:3, Informative)

      by qweqwe (104866)
      The main reason Sawfish 2.0 sucks is that no-one is working on it right now. It's based on the old GTK+ architecture and despirately needs a rewrite. Metacity is what GNOME (at least Sun GNOME) will ultimately use. It's currently more limitted than Sawfish, but it's really great. Try it out!

      As for the 2 panel quirks, please report the bug to either GNOME or Ximian (who's going to release Ximian GNOME 2.0 soon). It should be *really* easy to fix. It sounds like a bug that no-one noticed. If you're quick, it might end up in the next Ximian or GARGNOME update.
  • Says it all (Score:2, Insightful)

    by minkwe (222331)
    and I compiled it with -03 and -march=i686 using gcc 3.1.1-CVS on my Mandrake Cooker
    Using a buggy compiler on a buggy distribution to compile gnome, and then going on to rant about the result like this, I'll say he/she has an agenda here which I dare not mention.
  • Give it some time (Score:3, Informative)

    by jaaron (551839) on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:08AM (#3786342) Homepage
    Look, I'll admit that I really like GNOME as far as desktops go. More often than not I end up just using blackbox or evolution or windowMaker, but I do like the GNOME desktop and I've been looking forward to the 2.0 release. Anyways, I'd like to offer the thought that it's too soon to be judging GNOME 2.0. A lot of the apps aren't ported to it yet. Distributions aren't shipping it yet. A project like Gnome isn't like Mozilla where you expect everything in one package. There's a lot of other projects, not officially part of Gnome that go together to make it. When all these parts have been put together and companies like Ximian and RedHat start shipping a complete Gnome 2.0 product, then I'll start getting critical with it. Until then, I think it's too early to pass judgement.
  • by mjh (57755) <mark.hornclan@com> on Friday June 28, 2002 @10:12AM (#3786365) Homepage Journal
    I'm not trying to start a flame war here. I just think that it's time for me to express my opinion on this matter.

    I've been tinkering with gnome and kde since pre kde 1.0 days. I have always preferred gnome to kde. Not because I thought gnome was prettier, but because I could get the functionality that I wanted out of gnome and couldn't get it out of kde.

    With the advent of kde3 and gnome2, I will be switching from gnome to kde. Is kde3 slower? It doesn't feel slower to me than gnome1.4. Is kde3 prettier? I think mosfet's liquid is stunning. Can I get kde3 to do what I'm used to doing in gnome1? Not 100% but closer (maybe 90%). Can I get gnome2 to do what I'm used to doing in gnome1? No. I'd say about 50%.

    So, from a functionality point of view, gnome1 wins and kde3 is a close 2nd, with gnome2 a distant 3rd. From an aesthetic point of view, kde3 wins, and flip a coin between gnome1/2.

    So I'm switching to kde. IMHO, gnome is just not going in a direction that I like.

    Remember, this is my opinion. I'm not trying to incite a flame war. I'm just a lone user letting the gnome developers know that they just lost me.
  • by marm (144733) on Friday June 28, 2002 @11:00AM (#3786613)

    GNOME 2.0 has been rushed out of the door, just like GNOME 1.0 was.

    The 1.4->2.0 development cycle has been a lot longer than originally anticipated, due to a big influx of developers (Thanks Sun!) and lots of core systems changing quite radically, coupled with some pretty piss-poor project management (now where have I heard THAT before?). In the mean time, KDE has been gaining a very large amount of traction as the most popular Linux desktop, and Sun has been wanting to push Solaris 9 out the door ASAP.

    So GNOME had to release now, really, if they had any hope of keeping the users they have and for Sun to get Solaris 9 out approximately on schedule.

    KDE underwent a similar change about 2 years ago, in the 1.1.2->2.0 transition, and not everyone was convinced then that KDE would survive, but it did, and look where they are now. Of course, KDE had the advantage of doing it first - although KDE 2.0 was far from perfect UI-wise, it had a considerable lead on GNOME in changing to a component-based architecture, so there was a very big Unique Selling Point for it at the time which GNOME 2.0 does not now have.

    It took KDE 2 further major releases to turn the framework they built into a really nice desktop, and I suspect it will be similar for GNOME. The big question is whether the framework that was built for GNOME 2.0 will be good enough for their future plans... time will tell.

    Personally I'm sticking with KDE3 for now. There are certainly issues with KDE, mostly in terms of speed and size, which themselves mostly stem from the choice of C++ rather than C, but these are being fixed one by one. KDE3 is now quite snappy, actually quite a bit faster than GNOME 2.0 on my Debian machine once you've got past logging in (all those double-buffered GTK+ 2.0 widgets are smooth and dandy, but they sure as hell ain't fast). Also, right now, KDE absolutely has the edge on both functionality and usability. Konqueror in particular is way out in front - indeed, for me at least, it's the best file manager on ANY platform. Nautilus is good, don't get me wrong, but Konq is breathtaking.

    I'll reassess the situation when GNOME 2.2 is out. 2.2 should be the first mature release of the new framework, then we'll really get to see whether it's good enough to compete. I'm hopeful, a lot of the new framework looks good but either needs loose ends tidying up or needs someone to use it properly. Let's keep our fingers crossed. KDE is a class act to go up against though - they crank out the releases on time every 6 months, they seem to have a consistent vision of where they're going, they know where their flaws are, and they have yet to make a serious error. GNOME can't afford any more releases like this one if it wants to stay in the game.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

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