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GNOME GUI Software X

Nicholas Petreley Slams Gnome 818

Posted by timothy
from the bit-vitriolic-there-aren't-we? dept.
FreeLinux writes "Mainstream computer rag ComputerWorld, has posted a review of Gnome 2.6 by Nicholas Petreley. This opinion piece review, titled Living Down to a Low Standard, positively lambastes Gnome 2.6 over the new spatial Nautilus and Gnome's design choices. The review is quite the opposite to a previously reported review from PCWorld, last month. While this latest review is bound to be a polarizing and heavily debated issue (read flamebait), it is important in that this review will be seen by so many mainstream readers and corporate types who may have been considering Gnome."
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Nicholas Petreley Slams Gnome

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  • Vicious (Score:5, Funny)

    by two_stripe (584918) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:21AM (#9127818)
    Why doesnt he pick on someone his own size?
    Those poor gnomes. :(

    • Re:Vicious (Score:5, Funny)

      by ThrasherTT (87841) <thrasher AT deathmatch DOT net> on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#9128442) Homepage Journal
      Shouldn't your sig be:

      Dont drink and derive. Alcohol and calculus dont integrate!

    • Re:Vicious (Score:5, Funny)

      by identity0 (77976) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:34PM (#9129025) Journal
      Obviously, you've never been attacked by a pack of wild Gnomes...

      The horror! The horror! They came at me from every direction! There were sidebars everywhere! Pastel-colered icons went flying! When they were through, I was left without my precious KControls or KApps...

      ...and then a horde of Ximian monkeys showed up...
    • Re:Vicious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ksheff (2406) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:22PM (#9130654) Homepage

      Petreley is a long time KDE fanboy. It's not surprising he gave GNOME a bad review. It would be a surprise that he DIDN'T give it a bad review.

      • As a Gnome user (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nailer (69468) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @07:06PM (#9134265)
        I think its got a long way to go til it becomes usable. Too much effort is spent on making Gnome a next generation desktop when its not yet up to the standard of a current generation desktop.

        Emblems, spatial Nautilus, contextual sidebars etc are great. So are Evo, Gimp 2, XChat Gnome, etc.

        But the current Gnome desktop:

        * No menu editor
        * No way to modify what a launcher points to
        * A file manager that acts like it can display web pages, then can't
        * A bloody complex file associations menu that doesn't know about either the programs in my Gnome menu, or $PATH.
        * No display of emergency messages when your hard disks decide to melt (apparently users have to be proactive and read /dev/console themselves all the time, you know, just in case...)
        * No decent looking, comprehensive theme. Minor in comparision to the rest, but still...

        Thanks for fixing the File Open dialog though.
  • by Allen Zadr (767458) * <.Allen.Zadr. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:21AM (#9127823) Journal

    Sadly, the article brings up some very good points, albeit in a very inflammatory way.

    The most damaging part of the "review" is that it says nothing aboout Gnome as a whole. It's just a rant about this user's opinion about how Nautilus was designed ( changed) to work in 2.6.

    This sort of rant, if done constructively could certainly help the developers make better choices, but to put it directly to mass media as a review just sucks.

    Well, as a Pointy Haired type myself, I can assure you, these mags hit the coffee table in the lobby - and very few people actually read the articles... However, if this review makes the front page, Gnome is toast.

    • by Curunir_wolf (588405) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9128168) Homepage Journal
      Petreley is not a reviewer, he writes an editorial (opinion) peices. His articles are always inflamatory, by design.

      Seeing as a reference to his column has been posted on /., he seems to have gotten his point across. He must have gotten tired of ranting about SCO and blasting Microsoft.

      And he has a good point. Why, when Windows users typically change that default behavior for explorer, would the Gnome folks break Nautilas, then obfuscate the setting to change it? It was a dumb move, as he says.

      • by justsomebody (525308) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:27PM (#9128932) Journal
        Actualy, I said the same thing.

        And after that I tried spatial Nautilus.

        What now? I love it. First File manager that got better than OS9 Finder (I was considering this one as the best approach so far).

        There's one only thing that I miss, some gconf key to swap middle and left click for my notebook. I don't have middle button and clicking both is a bit painfull. But then again there's still Close parents shortcut.
      • by ImpTech (549794) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:35PM (#9129055)
        Ok, I'm not sure how the GNOME folks have 'broken' Nautilus. It seems to do precisely what they designed it to do. And frankly, I don't see why they should follow the Windows trend in this case. I read the case for spatial when 2.6 came out, and frankly it makes a lot of sense. For one, it makes drag-and-drop useful for file management again. Its also kind of nice that windows open exactly where you saw them last time. And as far as screen clutter, as long as you're pretty much living in your home directory, whats the big deal? Looking quickly I can't find many directories more than 4-deep in my home dir, and I'm more organized than most. Seems like people are always complaining that GNOME and KDE don't innovate, and when they do everybody gets upset.

        The only valid criticism in the article is that its a bit tricky to go back to browser behavior by default, in that you have to get into Gconf (which by the way is no where near as massive and convoluted as the Windows registry). IMO, it would have made sense to put a checkbox for it in File Management Preferences. But come on, dismiss an entire desktop because of the lack of one checkbox? Outrageous!
        • by spectre_240sx (720999) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:03PM (#9129504) Homepage
          "Seems like people are always complaining that GNOME and KDE don't innovate, and when they do everybody gets upset."

          Did you miss the part that OS/2, Win95 and early Mac OS versions worked this way too? How is it inovation if it's already been done before?

          The whole idea of the spacial file management system is to bring the metaphor of files and folders closer to what it is in the real world. However, that comes at a loss in usability, and there's no reason to try to do this if people are already comfortable with the way that file managers work at the moment.
  • Don't RTFA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:21AM (#9127826)

    ### Warning! ###
    ### CATCHPHRASE ALERT ###


    Nicholas Petreley uses the tired term "paradigm shift" in his article!
    [not that anyone will actually read the article...]

    ### CATCHPHRASE ALERT ###
    ### Warning! ###


  • No big surprise (Score:4, Informative)

    by stephenb (18235) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:23AM (#9127854) Homepage
    No big surprise here as Petreley has always been a KDE rulez, GNOME sux0rs guy. The piece isn't even well written or accurate. Here [whiprush.org] is a decent rebuttal. Petreley hasn't quite figured out that the GNOME v. KDE flamewars are dead yet.
    • Re:No big surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Minna Kirai (624281) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:45PM (#9129232)
      Here is a decent rebuttal.

      It's a poor rebuttal. Aside from the obligatory accusation of bias, it mainly focuses on attacking Petrely's understanding of "spatial browser".

      Problem: he never used the word "spatial".

      Also, when Petrley complains that you need to edit GConf to change the default behavior, instead of finding a prominent checkbox, Jorge (a) lists 3 ways to change the current behavior, and (b) attack's Petrely's technical understanding of GConf. He says that aside from GUI, GConf is nothing like the Windows registry. Well guess what? From the end-user's perspective, the GUI all that matters! If you need to use Registry or GConf to alter a setting, then it's impossible to call that setting easy-to-change.

      The oped comes down to a very simple position: when a piece of software first gets a radically different, optional interaction mode, common-sense dictates that the new mode should be OFF by default. To do otherwise will scare users who were accustomed to the existing behavior. (Or at minimum, the checkbox to "Act like the older version" should be prominently placed, such as an option at install)

      PS. An additional funny part is that both Nick and Jorge manage to mistate what the motiviation for Gnome was: Nick says "freedom from Windows", Jorge says "kickass desktop"... when in reality it was meant for "freedom from KDE" (as is well-documented historically)
  • Simple Solution. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kemapa (733992) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:24AM (#9127875) Journal
    His whole article centers around the difficulty in setting Nautilus to browse files / folders in a single window, which he uses as a basis to bash GNOME 2.6 as a whole.

    The only way to change the default behavior of Nautilus is to set an obscure registry key via the command line or the registry editor. Not even that abomination of operating systems, Windows 95, made users retreat to the registry editor to use a single window to navigate folders. I can only assume that the GNOME developers decided to make Nautilus a worse Windows than Windows. I toast their rousing success.

    Also, he says

    It was deliberately designed to protect users who are invariably too incompetent to pick their own colors but are smart enough to memorize shift-clicks and keystrokes or edit the registry to get Nautilus to work the way they like.

    And Lastly, he says

    But it turns out there is no preference setting that tells Nautilus to use a single window to browse folders.


    All this is actually kind of funny... because couldn't all of his arguments be fix by simply... adding the option to browse in a single window as a menu option???

    Seems like a trivial complaint to bash GNOME as a whole... and one that can be fixed easily.
    • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#9128220) Journal
      How dare he criticize something as trivial as "how you use the fucking thing".

      Most people find that clicking-opens-a-new-window behaviour annoying. It makes browsing around your directory as annoying as closing popup ads - its the same experience, pretty much. Your screen clogs with shit you dont wanna see.

      He makes the point that no modern desktop OS does that, and for a reason.

      Why is everyone so defensive? It's a perfectly valid criticism. It makes the desktop frustrating to the point of unusable for many folks.

      • Re:Simple Solution. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mr. Frilly (6570) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:16PM (#9128777)
        Nautilus in 2.6 by default acts in "spatial" mode. To find a good summary as to why spatial mode is good, check out: About the Finder [arstechnica.com] or Inside the GNOME 2.6 Desktop & Developer Platform [arstechnica.com]

        I've had Fedora Core Test 3 installed for about a week now, and I gotta say, I love Gnome 2.6. It's very clean, polished, and the gnome bundled apps are consistent with each other.

        That being said, I still haven't decided if I like the spatial file navigation of nautilus, although I'm trying to give it more time. I'm a command line guy, so I tend to think in "browser" mode, and I think most of the people here on /. are probably command line/browser mode entrained people.

        For people who started their computer experience on Mac's, they'll probably love the new nautilus, but I started on DOS 2.0, so I might be to old of a dog to teach.

        For a better rebuttal of Petreley's article (and how to access "browser" mode in Gnome 2.6), check out: Crack Pipes for Everyone! [whiprush.org]

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:34PM (#9129967)
          The thing with "spatial navigation" is that it is only effective with a small group of commonly used folders. Back 20 years ago when you were lucky to fit 800k on your Mac floppy, you could justify the spatial finder as making it much easier to navigate your few folders.

          The problem is that this thing doesn't scale! As a pathological example, say I have a 800GB volume with 400,000 files (mostly photos I've taken as a professional photgrapher) spread out over 3,000 directories. I'm not going to memorize the screen location of each of those 1000s of photo shoots. Dragging my mouse back and forth across my 24" monitor half-a-dozen times to get to the photo shoot I'm looking for is almost the worst scheme I can imagine. The Windows Explorer 2-paned tree model (as opposed to the MacOS tree where there's only 1 pane) is about the most efficient I can imagine for this scenario.

          Now that disks are 1,000,000 times bigger than they were 20 years ago, why is somebody trying to introduce the metaphor that was only appropriate for use back then? Granted, it works fine if a novice user has maybe a dozen commonly used folders, but beyond that it is unwieldy.

          I think the best solution is perhaps to use the "spatial" metaphor only for folders created on the user's "desktop". That way your ad hoc folders work the way your real desktop does (spatially), while proper hierarchies are still navigable the way they were intended -- as a tree.

          aQazaQa
  • by grendelkhan (168481) <scottrickettsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:25AM (#9127890) Journal
    Apart from flaming the spatial Nautilus, there's nothing short of a rant in generalities here. Nothing is mentioned specifically, and it's just the author whining about GNOME's design principles. Are we sure this wasn't written by Rob Enderle?
  • I don't use Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jlechem (613317) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:26AM (#9127913) Homepage Journal
    But man that wasn't much of a review. It was little more then a rant about the way the window manager works. I agree that you should be able to change preferneces like that easily but come on give some more evidence other then that for trashing the system.
    • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:04PM (#9128555) Journal
      I'm glad you noticed that it wasnt much of a review.

      That's because it's NOT A FUCKING REVIEW

      Look:

      Living Down to a Low Standard
      Opinion by Nicholas Petreley


      So while the zealots line up to flame him for his "unprofessional review", keep in mind it's an OPINION, and he can have whatever opinion he wants.

      Let's talk about slashdots "unprofessional article" that criticizes this guy for being an "unprofessional reviewer" for merely voicing an opinion, which happens to be that $YOUR_PET_PROJECT sucks.
  • Article Text (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:27AM (#9127921)
    Living Down to a Low Standard

    Opinion by Nicholas Petreley

    MAY 10, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - I recently spent the better part of a week working with the latest version of the open-source GNOME graphical desktop environment on Linux. I've decided that the only way to explain the regression of GNOME over the years is that Microsoft and/or SCO moles have infiltrated the GNOME leadership in a covert effort to destroy any possibility that Linux could compete with Windows on the desktop.

    To paraphrase the humorist Peter Schickele, who was describing what it was like to discover a new music manuscript by the (fictional) inept composer P.D.Q. Bach, "Each time I get a new version of GNOME, there's this feeling of anticipation and exhilaration -- a feeling that this new version of GNOME can't possibly turn out to be as bad as the last one. But so far, each new version lives down to the same low standards set by the previous one."

    By the time a software project gets to Version 2.6, a user might reasonably expect that he wouldn't have to adapt to yet another paradigm shift in basic user-interface design, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as how you navigate through desktop folders. Yet this is precisely what users will have to relearn with this latest version of GNOME.

    The GNOME file manager, Nautilus, no longer allows users to navigate through folders as one might use a Web browser or Windows Explorer. You no longer browse with all your options accessible in a single window or a split window with a directory tree on the left and icons on the right. Instead, each double-click on a folder icon opens a new window on the screen. If this sounds familiar, it's because this was the default behavior of Windows 95, OS/2 and early versions of Mac OS. The fact that this isn't the default behavior of any mature desktop operating system might have served as a warning sign to GNOME's developers, but never mind that.

    Having used OS/2 for years, I found GNOME's retro approach to be a rather pleasantly nostalgic experience. But now that I'm used to navigating folders the way one does on virtually every other desktop, however, I decided to tell the file manager not to open a new window for every folder. But it turns out there is no preference setting that tells Nautilus to use a single window to browse folders.

    The only way to change the default behavior of Nautilus is to set an obscure registry key via the command line or the registry editor. Not even that abomination of operating systems, Windows 95, made users retreat to the registry editor to use a single window to navigate folders. I can only assume that the GNOME developers decided to make Nautilus a worse Windows than Windows. I toast their rousing success.

    Granted, there are myriad unintuitive keystrokes and shift-key/mouse-click operations you can use to make it easier to navigate folders, all of which will mean squat to the daft simpletons the GNOME developers say they are targeting as their users. But GNOME developers have long since abandoned logic when defending their design choices. For example, one GNOME developer says there's a good reason why users can't change individual colors in desktop themes: Someone might accidentally make both the text and background white, thus rendering the text unreadable.

    Of course, this flaw has nothing to do with the inflexibility of the primitive graphical tool kit upon which GNOME was based. It was deliberately designed to protect users who are invariably too incompetent to pick their own colors but are smart enough to memorize shift-clicks and keystrokes or edit the registry to get Nautilus to work the way they like.

    Of all the criticisms one might lodge against GNOME, it's the hypocrisy of its design philosophy that looms largest. GNOME grew out of the desire to free people from Microsoft's ability to dictate what users can or can't do. Yet GNOME is built on the premise that its developers are so much wiser than users when it comes to navigating folder

    • Re:Article Text (Score:5, Informative)

      by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:51AM (#9128324)
      "The GNOME file manager, Nautilus, no longer allows users to navigate through folders as one might use a Web browser or Windows Explorer."

      jorge [whiprush.org]

      Misconception #1.
      The standard tree view is available by right clicking on a folder and choosing "Browse Folders", via the menu using "Browse Filesystem", or via the panel icon that looks like a file cabinet (it's there by default). So, three seperate methods to access the old view, one of which is even on the panel by default, yet Nicholas, with his years of Linux experience, can't seem to find it, naturally GNOME has robbed him of this ability.
  • Unbiased (Score:5, Funny)

    by Embedded Geek (532893) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:27AM (#9127922) Homepage
    Mainstream computer rag ComputerWorld...

    I'm glad the author of the slashdot story managed to keep his biases concealed until the third word of the story. If the article had praised Gnome, however, why do I suspect we'd be hearing about "Esteemed technical journal ComputerWorld..."

    • Re:Unbiased (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dielectric (266217) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#9128096)
      No, you wouldn't, because there really isn't an esteemed technical journal for mainstream computing. The IEEE puts out some good stuff, but no one outside of the engineering community reads it.

      I go to the cockfights when I need to make a decision on this sort of thing. I label one chicken Choice A and the other chicken is Choice B, and that has pretty much worked for me. This explains why I'm using a C-64 right now. That was one tough chicken.
  • by unmadindu (524636) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:28AM (#9127944) Homepage
    Jorge Castro, one of the Ars Technica writers has written a very nice article refutng Petreley's claims at his site [whiprush.org].
    • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:15PM (#9128753) Journal
      From Castro's blog:

      [PETRELEY:] Not even that abomination of operating systems, Windows 95, made users retreat to the registry editor to use a single window to navigate folders.

      GConf is nothing like the Windows Registry, except for the similar appearance of their respective editors. If Mr. Petreley cares to compare and contrast GConf and the Windows Registry he would know this. In fact Nicholas, I will paypal you $100 US if you can name three architectural similarities between GConf and the Registry.

      Ho-ly crap.

      Here you have the GNOME fan arguing with a straight face that the user might care about architectural similarities or lack thereof between the Windows Registry and the GNOME equivalent. Earth to Castro: nobody gives a shit. The users just want to be able to configure the OS.

      Years of experience with Windows tell us that the Registry is a terrible place to put important config choices. Why not learn from that lesson instead of flaming users because they don't understand the architecture?

  • I agree... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by perly-king-69 (580000) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:30AM (#9127984)
    Whilst writing a 1000 word rant on a single feature is a nice way to earn one's money I can't help but agree with him.

    This so-called 'paradigm shift' of spatial browsing should not be enforced on users. We like Linux. We like choice. Stop being fascists and give us a 'turn off spatial browsing' button.

    • So use it... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Azureflare (645778)
      And use a different filemanager! (Or different WM). Personally, I've fallen in love with XFce [xfce.org] as my Window Manager (I think I just love gtk...) and ROX-Filer [sourceforge.net] as my file manager (Man I love ROX-Filer =)

      BTW I thought I read that the new spatial mode could be turned off, and the filemanager could return to normal operation... Ah yes, according to a post on Linux Today [linuxtoday.com]:

      I actually have tried spatial mode in Garnome. i don't like the clutter either. But it definitely does make browsing the filesystem easier. A

      • Ack.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Azureflare (645778)
        Should have read that site a bit more... I pasted the wrong post in. Here's the right one:

        You can turn off spatial mode in nautilus in 2.6. There's a GConf setting to revert back to browser mode as default (search the net for it). Also note there is a file browser nautilus app in fedora 2 test in the menu.

        Here's a direct link [linuxquestions.org] to the linuxquestions.org page about hacking the gconf (looks pretty simple really).

    • Re:I agree... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coryoth (254751)
      This so-called 'paradigm shift' of spatial browsing should not be enforced on users. We like Linux. We like choice. Stop being fascists and give us a 'turn off spatial browsing' button.

      You have choice. Use KDE [kde.org]. Use Rox Filer [sourceforge.net]. Use Evidence [sourceforge.net].

      You like GNOME but don't like the new nautilus? You can use Konqueror from inside GNOME no problems. You can use Evidence from inside GNOME.

      Dearly love Nautilus but don't like spatial? GConf is far from cryptic. The choice is right there.

      Don't want to have spati
    • Re:I agree... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)
      This so-called 'paradigm shift' of spatial browsing should not be enforced on users. We like Linux. We like choice. Stop being fascists and give us a 'turn off spatial browsing' button.

      It's questionable whether it should be offered, much less enforced. If you're so close to your code that twiddling the interface of a fnarking file browser strikes you as a paradigm shift, you really need to get out more.

      Personally, I'd like to see at least one fast, tight file browser that mindlessly clones Windows Explor
  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mars Ultor (322458) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:31AM (#9127994) Homepage
    Not too surprising really - here's [linuxworld.com] an earlier article when GNOME 2.2 was still hot. From the article:
    KDE is delivering a better version of what GNOME's goal has apparently morphed into: becoming a great component framework that you can write to in multiple languages. Nicholas Petreley rebuffs the common GNOME battle slogans and explains why the window-manager's name needs reworking.
    Other than boosting ad views, I'm not sure what continuing a KDE/GNOME flamewar here on /. really contributes to open discussion (pardon the pun)
  • Not flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BuddieFox (771947) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:31AM (#9127996)
    There is one fundamental problem in the open source community (and as an occassional open source developer I know what I am talking about):
    It's the old "dont you dare critisize my darling project!"-dilemma, it somehow seems that some people think that because a commercial entity is not behind a piece of software it is all of a sudden beyond any criticism.
    Open source adoption and progress would be better served by taking criticism more constructively and try to actually address the problems put forward (even those that are put forward undiplomatically), instead of retorting to "no, you are stupid", "why would you want to do that?", "no you are really really stupid"-flamewars in a pathetic attempt att diverting criticism back.

    Check the ego at the door and see the community prosper.
  • and it's right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:31AM (#9128000)
    I am all for simplification, but there is no reason to go back to kinder and ABC wooden blocks.

    The biggest argument against spatial navigation, as produced by gnome 2.6, is that it requires the user to learn TWO different styles of navigation: one for their browser and one for their files.

    That is NOT simplification. And they didn't ask the community, and they are going against the gain of EVERY other OS.

    If spatial is going to pay dividends when "database" filesystems arrive.... introduce spacial THEN. And even then, have it as an option. Besides won't a database file-system be based on searches? So won't we need "back" and "forward" buttons???????????

    I am not going to swear here, but I am MAJORLY pissed at gnome. I am on 2.4 atm because of it. It is at worst elitist insanity, at best a poorly executed jump of the gun.

    • Re:and it's right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:25PM (#9128893)
      And they didn't ask the community, and they are going against the gain of EVERY other OS.

      Yeah, until Apple switches back to a spacial finder and everyone praises them as visionaries.
  • by Soko (17987) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#9128072) Homepage
    Jorge "whipirush" Castro, of Ars Technica's Linux.ARS fame, has made a level headed, informative reply to this trol^Warticle on his blog. Here is the text of relevant entry [whiprush.org], to try and save whiprush some bandwidth:

    May 10, 2004
    Crack Pipes for Everyone!

    I stumbled upon this review of GNOME 2.6 by Nicholas Petreley via OSNews. Now, I'm no self-proclaimed Linux desktop expert, but I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable GNOME user, I even wrote up a review or two that were considered pretty decent. Given the longevity of Nick in this community, I was appalled by the utter disrespect shown in this article. Luckily for us, fools choose emotion over straight facts, so in this entry I will simply refute his comments with facts.

    Obviously Mr. Petreley has chosen to outright lie about GNOME and its capabilities, so you can call this an open letter, in which I will happily debate in public, or whatever, since most of what he says, just plain ain't true. Sure, not everyone likes GNOME, and surely everyone has strong opinions about the spatial Nautilus, but misdirection is just dishonest.

    Let's start off with this gem:

    "Each time I get a new version of GNOME, there's this feeling of anticipation and exhilaration -- a feeling that this new version of GNOME can't possibly turn out to be as bad as the last one. But so far, each new version lives down to the same low standards set by the previous one."

    Does anyone reading this quote, right off the bat assume that this is going to be a fair review of GNOME whatsoever? I can't even formulate a response to this.

    The GNOME file manager, Nautilus, no longer allows users to navigate through folders as one might use a Web browser or Windows Explorer.

    Misconception #1. The standard tree view is available by right clicking on a folder and choosing "Browse Folders", via the menu using "Browse Filesystem", or via the panel icon that looks like a file cabinet (it's there by default). So, three seperate methods to access the old view, one of which is even on the panel by default, yet Nicholas, with his years of Linux experience, can't seem to find it, naturally GNOME has robbed him of this ability.

    If this sounds familiar, it's because this was the default behavior of Windows 95, OS/2 and early versions of Mac OS.

    Windows 95 was never spatial. It was mimicked, poorly. Since Mr. Petreley can't seem to define what spatial is in the first place, and which OS implemented it in which way if at all, we're left with ye olde "Doesn't work like Explorer, it sucks." excuse. There's more to spatial than one folder per window. I'd explain it, but there are plenty of resources available that define this, unfortunately Nicholas failed to comprehend even one of them.

    Not even that abomination of operating systems, Windows 95, made users retreat to the registry editor to use a single window to navigate folders.

    GConf is nothing like the Windows Registry, except for the similar appearance of their respective editors. If Mr. Petreley cares to compare and contrast GConf and the Windows Registry he would know this. In fact Nicholas, I will paypal you $100 US if you can name three architectural similarities between GConf and the Registry.

    Of course, this flaw has nothing to do with the inflexibility of the primitive graphical tool kit upon which GNOME was based.

    This is another passage that I can't even comprehend, and isn't worthy of replying to. I'd like to quote it for the record though. Note the lack of evidence when defining "primitive" and "inflexibility". I don't think anyone that has used GTK's language bindings will use the word "inflexible".

    GNOME grew out of the desire to free people from Microsoft's ability to dictate what users can or can't do.

    Well someone better tell the GNOME developers, I'm pretty sure that they're out to make a kickass free desktop. I su

    • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:55AM (#9128408) Journal
      The standard tree view is available by right clicking on a folder and choosing "Browse Folders", via the menu using "Browse Filesystem", or via the panel icon that looks like a file cabinet (it's there by default). So, three seperate methods to access the old view, one of which is even on the panel by default, yet Nicholas, with his years of Linux experience, can't seem to find it, naturally GNOME has robbed him of this ability.

      I'm not using gnome now, but this sounds like it turns it off for the current window, but there's no easy option to turn it off completely.

      And his later point about gconf vs windows registry is irrelevant. He admits the interface is similar. They both accomplish similar things. So hey, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck its a friggin duck. Who cares if one uses an LDAP backend or a flat text file or a dunebuggy full of cockroach asses.

      Gnome developers need to relax. It's just one guys opinion and he's entitled to it. If someone says your product stinks on ice, look into it and be man enough to admit if they're right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9128110)
    For example, one GNOME developer says there's a good reason why users can't change individual colors in desktop themes: Someone might accidentally make both the text and background white, thus rendering the text unreadable.


    A logical choice would have been to remove the first color selected from the second choice and voila.
  • by ave19 (149657) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @11:53AM (#9128365)
    I agree with this article. (I even read it.) I want to give it mod points. Can we do that?

    I used to configure the crap out of gnome, making it do all kinds of weird stuff I liked. Then, version by version, my toys were taken away. I don't get it. If the toys made it unstable, why not fix them? What ever happened to the idea of "advanced" vs. "novice" settings for a UI? Every version that comes out has LESS functionality than the one before, railroading me into a certain way of interacting with a desktop.

    In Soviet Russia, the desktop clicks on YOU!

    Make it easy by default, but don't take away our toys and call it progress.

    -ave
    • FFS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theantix (466036)
      Look dude... you are acting like it's the responsibility of the Gnome developers to produce a desktop that you like. It sounds to me that you like the design choices of KDE over the design choices of Gnome. Personally, I find the KDE applications and general desktop environment ugly and cluttered, while I enjoy the simple and sleek elegance of Gnome. So it should be apparent to you that I prefer the design choices of Gnome over the design choices of KDE.

      Two desktop environments for X11, each optimized f
  • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:07PM (#9128605)

    CANCEL

    The reason given (other than being like Next buttons MS Wizard screens) for using Cancel-Ok instead of the Ok-Cancel was that we read from left to right in western countries.

    By that logic, shouldn't the Cancel button be at the top left, since we read from top to bottom?
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.O K

    Our "left-to-right" reading is what makes Cancel-Ok so awkward.

    Do you agree with the US being in Iraq?

    NO.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.YES

    Since we read the choices from left to right, wouldn't skimming through a page and accepting be more efficient if the default choice is on the left?

    YES.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.NO

    sorry about the x's. slashdot tells me "Please use fewer 'junk' characters when I use ' 's or '.'s "
  • by jd142 (129673) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:08PM (#9128630) Homepage
    First, I'm not sure I agree with his statement that having folders open in the same window is the better way to do things. If I'm moving or copying a file from one folder to its parent, having two windows open is more efficient for me. It's easier for me to just drag the file between two open windows than to highlight the file, say Cut, then move up a level and say Paste.

    The latest version Gnome does seem rather sparse to me. But that can also be a good thing for newbies.

    One thing I noticed in the Ars Technica review at http://www.ars-technica.com/reviews/004/software/g nome-2.6/gnome-2.6-2.html, which really praised Gnome, was that when you open a window for the first time, the review said that the scroll bar can be in a random place. "[I]t doesn't know where you left the window last time, so it places them in seemingly random places." Huh? That's just silly. Make the default to select the first file in the window the first time a folder is opened. So there's a lot of work to be done on usability.

    If this paraphrase from Petreley is accurate, then the Gnome coders do have a lot to learn about ease of use: "For example, one GNOME developer says there's a good reason why users can't change individual colors in desktop themes: Someone might accidentally make both the text and background white, thus rendering the text unreadable."

    Um, if you're concernd about people setting text and background to the same color, just do a simple check before applying the color and prompt the user if the two colors match.

    Petreley may have some good points, but he's made them in an unhelpful way. The same way the article submitter showed a lack of objectivity with the comment about pc world being a mainstream rag.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:11PM (#9128689) Homepage
    What this guy is really complaining about is that the configuration "system" for UNIX and Linux is lousy. It historically consisted of editing textfiles, with no checking that the values or syntax were meaningful. There's been some progress, but not much.

    If you're involved in configuration, go take a look at Susan Kare's original Macintosh control panel. [kare.com] Now think really, really hard about how to get to something that intutive.

  • by TheLoneCabbage (323135) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:15PM (#9128751) Homepage
    "It was deliberately designed to protect users who are invariably too incompetent to pick their own colors but are smart enough to memorize shift-clicks and keystrokes or edit the registry to get Nautilus to work the way they like."

    We have achieved GUI parity with the MAC!!

  • by miketo (461816) <miketo@@@nwlink...com> on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:25PM (#9128896)
    The article spends most of its time on Nautilus, and I'm not going to rehash the debates here. But he makes a valid point, one that I've wrestled with since Day One of Linux:

    Engineers design programs that work for them, not for end users.

    I've seen this time and again during my work as a software product manager. Everything from base functionality to key UI choices are made by the development team based on what they find useful, or what they think will be useful. It is a very, very rare team that actually conducts any workflow analysis or UI usability studies during the design phase. And, once it's coded, it will cling like a limpet to a rock, difficult if not impossible to change.

    I know enough about my own predispositions and biases to know that my judgment about what's best for me isn't always what's best for everyone. While both Microsoft and Apple make poor function / UI choices, with Linux the problem is magnified because each piece is built by a different design team using a different methodology.

    Server-side and admin people aren't bothered by this, but your average end user is easily frustrated by applications that don't behave in an expected way, or don't have settings that can be easily changed to adapt to the user. If you give your software to a reasonably knowledgable end user, watch the interaction with your product. Don't argue, or explain why the actions aren't correct. Take notes, and figure out a way to accommodate the user. Don't use the mantra of "Read the man pages, foo!" That only leads to reviews like Petreley's, and the ensuing does not / does too debates on /.

    "There is nothing more permanent than a temporary solution."

    --Mike
  • by arashi no garou (699761) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:30PM (#9128969)
    Flame me if you will, but he's pretty much right on the money. I was ecstatic when 2.4 came out. I think it was a vast improvement over 2.2. I was even more excited when I got a chance to try out 2.6, but it took me only a few hours to decide that I was better off with 2.4.

    With 2.6, I felt, as Mr. Petreley did, that I had gone backwards in time. I am back in 2.4 now, and I'm much happier for it. My biggest fear is that I may not be able to upgrade to Slackware 10 because it will surely contain 2.6. I'd love to be able to run 2.4 on Slackware 10, but not if it means installing it without GNOME and then attempting to download and install 2.4, assuming that it would even be possible.

    Basically, thanks to GNOME's design decisions, my next GNU/Linux OS desktop will be either KDE (horrors!), XFCE (not bad), or Fluxbox (fast but too minimal).

  • by lightspawn (155347) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:30PM (#9128973) Homepage
    Is that anything like dwarf tossing?

    (Oh, I see, the subject should read GNOME in capitals. very misleading.)
  • It's not that nautilus is a spatial file manager because that is actually a good thing. The problem is Nautilus does not integrate with the Gnome file chooser! Essentially Nautilus seems incomplete as a result.

    When one edits bookmarks in Nautilus, the gnome file chooser should come up. The directories "added" using the new file chooser should be the directories that make up Nautilus's "bookmarks". This solution removes redundancy. Think about it. People "choose" files from directories their applications use, which incidently happen to be the same files that people tend to manage.

    There should be an "open" option under the file menu that invokes the Gnome file chooser. People still want and need to browse the file system. This solution allows that.

    In summary, the new gnome file chooser and Nautilus should be inseparable bed buddies. File choosing *is* file management in a practical sense, so why doesn't Nautilus take advantage of the new Gnome file chooser?

  • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:38PM (#9129109)
    While this latest review is bound to be a polarizing and heavily debated issue (read flamebait), it is important in that this review will be seen by so many mainstream readers and corporate types who may have been considering Gnome."

    Does anyone else hear MC Chris's voice when they read that last bit? For real, man. Relax already.

    If you hate it so much, why did you submit it? Oh, I know. You wanted to get the link posted so a bunch of /. people will write them bitching and complaining about the "inaccuracy" or "bias" in their article..

    How is that going to benefit the Linux/OSS movement? It's not. You are just going to cause an editor to get a lot of nasty mail just because he doesn't agree with your opinion. Perhaps, next time he will just find something besides Linux to write about..

    It's great to support the one you love, but why strike out like that? Nobody gains anything from it. Oh, and shame on the moderators for letting this get through. You had to recognize it was soley to irritate the editor.

  • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:48PM (#9129278) Journal
    Damn, and all this time I thought you just use it to open emacs and your terminal sessions.

    As an aside, I wan't aware that Gnome had a 'registry' (a la Windoze?)...I always thought you could just edit flat files...another shock for my delicate constitution.
  • by zpok (604055) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:01PM (#9130356) Homepage
    This guy's opinion (yes, it's an opinion piece) is worth solid gold. If you can't see it, you should probably not try to develop software for the masses and stick to making stuff for yourself.

    Average user feedback is something rare for Linux, firstly because it's unappreciated and secondly because there's not many average users on Linux.

    And if they balk at something, two responses out of three are "read the man pages". As if there's any reason to presume the man pages are actually any good or up to date or written with an average user in mind...

    As always, I'm writing for linux people who like the idea of linux desktop.

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