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Gnome Switches Nautilus Back To Browser Mode 311

Posted by timothy
from the open-in-new-window dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In one of the do-the-developers-actually-use-their-own-software decisions in the Linux Desktop World, back in 2004 Gnome switched to the 'Spatial' view by default with their Nautilus file manager opening a new window with each new folder viewed. Many derided the decision as poor design or as being different for the sake of being different. Well, after five long years the Gnome powers that be have decided to switch back to browser mode."
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Gnome Switches Nautilus Back To Browser Mode

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  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:36AM (#30550128)
    Nautilus and most other file browsers also default to Icon view, which is fine if you have only about 5 files on your computer, which was probably true for Windows for Workgroups 3.1, but these days List view should be the default.
  • Should be forced to use a browser that opens a new window every time a hyperlink is clicked

    I'm pretty sure you misunderstand **spatial** mode. I don't want a spatial idea of all the pages on the internet, my head is not quite big enough for that, but I do like my spatial nautilus.

  • by hebertrich (472331) on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:56AM (#30550180)

    Look 5 years ago indeed , in a gnome devel mailing list , we were a bunch to comment on that
    and a few others .. like the dual mode in other file browsers at the time where we have two panes to
    work with. Well .. lo and behold . a devel asked me why one would use a dual pane file manager.
    I gave up on it at that point. I suspect the corporates running the Gnome Foundation have a lot to do
    with most the bad design decisions and the stubbornness at making Gnome bad in general.
    As far as im concerned .. if it takes 5 years to change a bad default .. by 2020 we should perhaps have
    a delete command by default too :) Im cynical yes. But i loved gnome till 1.4 at 2.0 they hosed everything
    that was truly good about it and made it into the lesser desktop. A shame.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @07:02AM (#30550202)

    Yes, they have copied the "split view" (one of the killer features of dolphin/konqueror).

    Now Gnome needs to fix the file chooser dialog so that it can 1) have views other than "list view", 2) view generate thumbnails of all kind of files that nautilus can (PDFs, videos, etc) 3) a list view that can order the files by something that is not modification date or size (for example, the type of archive) 4) a list view with BIG icons, not miniatures that are so tiny that you can't tell what picture is in the thumbnail and need a ugly extra panel on the right side of the dialog to show the preview

    The main reason why Gnome can't do all those things is why the file chooser dialog is not a "gnome file chooser dialog", but a "GTK file chooser dialog". The KDE guys don't use the QT file chooser dialog (which exists), they use a KDE file chooser dialog that can use any part of KDE (including parts of konqueror/dolphin) while the gtk dialog can't use nautilus or anything besides the basic GTK building blocks. They have been adding some hacks to avoid the need of writing a decent file chooser, but it still sucks and misses a lot of functionality.

  • NEWSFLASH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anonieuweling (536832) on Friday December 25, 2009 @07:39AM (#30550294)
    Will we get another Slashdot newsflash when they fix the copy/cut situation?
    Please see [] for this age old 'unimportant' bug.
    Even the basics take ages for them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:00AM (#30550352)

    IMHO it's not 'corporates', it's developer group-think coupled with wilfully ignoring what damn near *everybody* is telling them.

    When this was rolled out, the forums were *filled* with people complaining, people explaining exactly why it was a poor design choice, etc. But this was simply ignored because someone had a nice academic theory about why "spacial was more intuitive". Never mind that it wasn't, and that everyone hated it, and that it wasn't how people were used to computers working. They had a theory! All the users must be wrong!

  • by Budenny (888916) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:14AM (#30550550)

    Back in the 80s there was some point in HIGs, and Apple back then was generally felt to lead the way. The reason was that there were, among your users, a very high proportion of new users. So we conflated ease of use with ease of learning, and it was not completely stupid, for much of the market using and learning were the same thing.

    Now however HIGs have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution, because they make the implicit assumption that everyone works in the same way, and has the same basic skills. We just do not. And anyone who experiments a bit with end users will find this out in a flash. I have had people who loved spatial browsing because it might be cluttered, but they always knew where they were. Then there are people who love Gnome and the desktop and love to put all their files all over it where they can see them. And then you have the odd case of some totally non-technical person, who you try out with Fluxbox, and you get the reaction that this is great, this is how I always thought Linux was supposed to be, no clutter and very minimalist and above all fast. It turns out that hand edited menus and the explicit startup of the file manager are actually something some non-technical people welcome and find refreshing. Others of course will run a mile. One size does not fit all.

    The Gnome ideal, that there is such a thing as the right way to set up a desktop, an application, is the problem. There simply is not, and when you take that approach, the penalty is that you inconvenience and impair working for at least one third of the people using it. Far beter to have a few broad choices, and then let people refine within it, and offer some guidelines. If you are not very computer familiar, start out with this, then see if, a while later, you want to move to this, and here is a very minimalist alternative.

    HIGs are a snare and a delusion, very apt that they are sometimes rudely referred to as 'interface fascism'.

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:33AM (#30550598)

    Its amazing how people agonise over minute features of software that hardly anyone actually uses in the real world. Linux has 4% or less of the desktop market and around half of that are gnome users. Its not a whole lot of people compared to Windows. This is not entirely due to Gnome or KDE but it has a lot to do with it. These systems are in general difficult to use and have not undergone the same useability testing that something like Windows has. Lets face it, windows just works while Linux is usually a pain in the ass to configure. This is due to the arrogance and elitism of its developers, especially its kernel developers. The fact that Linux has horrendously documented hardware APIs and that it has no stable driver binary interfaces and that getting anything to work is a huge mess of kernel header errors, compiler errors, etc. Do you really think grandma is going to be able to debug source code and figure out why some crazy driver doesnt install, when on Windows you just put in the disk, click install and it works? I have always said that the deployment of open source software would increase by 100X if we allowed there to be a stable binary driver ABI on linux and we made it easy for hardware developers to write drivers for it. It would make Linux far more practical and useable. Hardware developers put drivers through extensive QA testing to make sure it works well so it would be more reliable than open source drivers. But the binary drivers could speed up development of open source ones since the binary drivers could be back engineered by watching communication with them. Though, The fact is, people dont want to wait years for someone to back engineer some piece of hardware and the idea that hardware companies will provide the specs is unrealistic idealism, even with specs it can be months after Windows users have been able to use the hardware.

    The UI developers have somehow created a UI system that somehow blows dozens of MB but actually provides less customisability and ease of use than Windows. Often important features that allow people to customise it are removed or don't exist because some developer decided they didn't use the feature and just didn't care that there might be someone else who used it. The key to developing is in offering many features and flexibility, but in laying it out so that most used features are up front. useability is all about layout not in few features. The system can be expert and average user friendly by simply allowing everything to be done with CLI or GUI and building software in a layered modular fashion with a user friendly layer on top of nitty gritty layers that the experts can directly work with.

  • by Narishma (822073) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:45AM (#30550630)

    I think you don't get his point. He's not talking about the change from spatial to browser mode, he's talking about the overall new UI, which you have to admit looks like nearly a perfect copy of Dolphin.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:55AM (#30550660)

    Actually I personally in my long kde time always found Konqueror superior to total commander in everything except that much of the goodyness was hidden behind kio::slaves (sftp://blabla for instance)
    and in shortcuts, you could reach various notworked filesystem you could split and tab as youd like and etc... but it took time to learn it, most of the functionality was not obvious.
    I never missed total commander in Linux, on OSX however... sure there is pathfinder, but it is not the same!

  • Having a stable ABI ( which is something as a retailer I have suggested for years) would allow a penguin on the box and I predict would help Linux explode as it would solve the "Walmart problem" in that folks wouldn't have to study like it was a college entrance exam just to avoid the paperweight roulette game, but sadly it will never ever be. Why? Politics. It all comes down to RMS and his SCoN! (Source Code or Nothing!) brigade.

    You see, if there was actually a stable ABI some manufacturers might actually pull an Nvidia and release drivers without code. While this would be a good thing, as those that completely ignore Linux now would at least have motivation to release drivers, penguins on the box would fix the Walmart problem, and word of mouth would quickly weed out the bad manufacturers, it would severely piss off those "Give us your specs!" and "Give us all the source code and we'll incorporate it in the kernel" zealots.

    Never mind that this approach is ultimately fail because by the time the code trickles down from being approved by the kernel devs, who frankly should be maintaining the kernel and not printer drivers, to all the distros your hardware isn't being sold in stores anymore, but frankly making Linux easier is NOT something they care about. To them Linux is NOT an OS, but an ideology. To them it is all about "RMS style" freedom, where there can NEVER be compromises, even though hardcore political zealotry is never good for the people and helps to keep Linux locked into a niche. After all, what non developer wants to study like it is the ACTs just to keep from playing paperweight roulette? And what retailer like me is gonna want to carry your product knowing that less than 35% of the devices in Walmart actually work and the users has NO WAY of actually telling that by looking?

    So I'm sorry dude, but Linux will always be a niche. In servers, where the hardware is very limited and rarely changes, and the corporations that build the hardware have millions invested in Linux? Yeah it will work great there, same as in cell phones and other devices where the hardware is locked down tighter than a nun's thighs and the user can only do what the developer allows them to. But in the consumer desktop market, where there are literally 1000s of hardware manufacturers, devices have a short window of shelf life, and keeping developers around to constantly update drivers because Linux is like a shifting sand, where if you actually tried to put a binary driver on a CD with your device the odds are that it won't work by the time you make it to market? Yeah not gonna happen friend. Back when Win9X was the buggy crap that folks had to deal with daily I thought "Surely they will come out with a stable ABI soon and then we'll have real choice in the market". But it has been 10 years, and the SCoN! brigade have kept everything the same. Just look at how many "update foo broke my sound" posts you have on Ubuntu. Yeah, good luck with that pal.

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:29AM (#30550996)

    The idea that all manufacturers will release code or specs is sheer fantasy. There is little or no business motivation and Linux is really a small group of users, 95% using Windows, there really is no point and no monetary reason for them to support such a small minority. In thinking that they can get hardware makers to release source the kernel developers think they are more important than they really are. All their actions do is keep Linux an OS that no one really cares about on the desktop. If thier ideology works, Linux would have decent 40% market share by now but it has hardly grown at all in the past 10 years. Linux is exactly where it was 10 years and really not any easier to use. The nightmares and headaches with installation, the infuriating and incomplete documention, the hours of studying and troubleshooting, and the obnoxious elitist assholes on IRC who think that all users including grandma should be able to edit source code are all still there. I have concluded that many Linux people are elitists, and keep the OS intentionally difficult to use so that it remains a minority OS, this makes them feel special and superior that they can figure out this OS that average users cannot. They dont care about making the OS easy to use for average users and in fact they do not care about the free software cause, their actions keep Linux and free software fringe.

    By putting up with some binary drivers what these people dont understand that a system that is 99% open source still could be made viable for many more users and thus the deployment of the OS would increase substaintially, and far more open source code would be run than if we had kept linux as it is now, with its impossible and difficult driver situation and so on.

    About RMS, he opposed providing any modular API in GCC or any kind of output format so that GCC could generate output for its syntax trees, because he thought that it would make it too easy for other parties to make code generators or front ends for GCC that were not covered by GPL. Now, to make architectural decisions based on political ideology is an extremely bad move. GCC is now being rendered totally obsolete by LLVM which is fixing all of the problems with GCC and has built a clean new compiler, with a modular code base.

  • by cptnapalm (120276) on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:35AM (#30551016)

    If Windows is so easy to use, why am I constantly asked "How do I do this?", "Why won't this work?" and "How do I make this work?" by Windows users?

    The Windows UI is dog shit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:56AM (#30551088)

    The GP knows this, yes, but won't use it because he/she is most likely one of the people who bitches about the "zomg serious inexcusable bug that absolutely EVERYONE sees so why don't they fix it NOW" about how badly Firefox handles eighty hojillion tabs after every click opens a new one, and there's no way he/she is going to give up THAT source of delicious, delicious bile.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:51PM (#30551404)
    I find the Gnome default with two task bars particularly annoying, since the modern trend is to have laptops with short and wide displays, putting vertical pixels at a premium. It seems that in another few years a typical laptop will have a display that is one pixel high and 10,000,000 pixels wide. Yes, the damn taskbar can be changed, but it is somewhat tricky.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday December 25, 2009 @03:19PM (#30552124) Journal

    > The point of a spacial file browser is to use your spacial memory

    I thought spacial file browsers were for "spacial people" e.g. retards ;).

    Seriously though, I agree. Lots of these "fancy UIs" that these jokers come up with only work fine for users who just need to manage a handful of objects (windows, tasks, files, folders) at a time.

    I find this silly since there is evidence that people are already able to manage a handful of objects at a time (,_Plus_or_Minus_Two [] ), but can't manage far more.

    We don't really need help when there are a few objects and need help when there are lots. But that's when all those stupid GUIs start getting in the way.

    For example: thumbnailed windows don't really help when you have > 10 of them (especially if they are similar looking documents - using the same standardized template), same goes for those graphical selectors where they show the windows from a 3d or fancy perspective. Useless if you have 20+ windows, cool looking when you have three or four windows, but why'd you need them when you only have a few windows?

    When you have a few objects to track you should be able to remember which ones are which. When you have way more, you need some help. That's where computers and software should help. But they don't!

    The exceptions are some game UIs. Some of which are proof that you can build UIs that work for "noobs" and still help skilled users.

    Games are also proof that people, when sufficiently motivated to, can actually do far more than what these Desktop GUI makers assume. Very many actions per second. Keeping track of stuff. Learning of difficult combos. So where's the Desktop GUI that actually helps you to sustain a high "actions per second" average?

    I've personally suggested this: []

    And something like it in 2006: []

    I think this sort of thing will help skilled users more, while not getting in the way of "naive" users (you can still leave the flashy stuff for them).

    Car analogy: current OS GUI designers seem to be making cars that look really cool (and are theme-able) but have top speed of 30kph (play a beautiful animation while doing so), have a range of 3km, and have only space for one person at a time.

    Not really helpful when we need to do some serious traveling.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday December 25, 2009 @03:55PM (#30552274) Journal
    > And as soon as there are more than 20 files/directories in a directory, I am on the shell, anyway.

    That's more an indication of how crap the Desktop GUI or file manager is. Seriously.

    Using a CLI may be better over high latency low bandwidth links, or when you are scripting stuff.

    But it is a really terrible GUI if it's better to use the shell just because you need to deal with more than 20 files.

    I bet gamers will still find it easier to manage hundreds of "RTS game" units with a GUI than a CLI.

    Perhaps game GUI designers have more clue than Desktop GUI designers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @05:08PM (#30552592)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trolling: I've been a Gnome user since pre-1.0, but there have been times when I have felt that some of the developers needed a good whack with a cluebat.

    You're not the only one. Linus has personally tangled with these extremely parochial people. []

    The spatial view thing was just more Gnome iconoclasm hell bent on showing the world how misguided and foolish it had been for suffering "browser" mode file managers. It took this long to pile up enough bullshit to conceal the giant egos behind such mistakes and finally make the correction.

    This fixes one issue. All of Gnome, however, is permeated by the sort of thinking that ruined Nautilus. I'm with Linus; just use KDE.

  • by AigariusDebian (721386) <aigarius.debian@org> on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:23PM (#30553950) Homepage

    Have not noticed this thing as Debian and Ubuntu sensibly switched it back to browser mode by default for its releases. That is part of the reason why distributions exist - provide sensible defaults for their users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:52AM (#30554166)

    If no one is noticing, maybe this is a good indication as to how many former Debian people jumped ship to Ubuntu.

If at first you don't succeed, you must be a programmer.