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GNOME: Possible Recovery Strategies 432

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-better-at-telling-people-to-shut-up dept.
An anonymous reader tips an article from Datamation about several suggestions for the GNOME project to answer user complaints and boost developer morale. From the article: "... with very few changes, GNOME 3 could be much more acceptable to most users. A moveable panel, panel applets, desktop launchers, user control of virtual desktops, menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview -- all of these could be added easily as options. Together, they would reduce at least ninety percent of the complaints against GNOME 3. ... If GNOME is having trouble as a desktop environment, one obvious solution is to find new niches. Lopez and Sanchez suggested following KDE's lead and producing a tablet, while Lionel Dricot recently suggested a suite of cloud-based services. ... The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what they want. Instead, the project has preferred to rely on usability theory, treating it as an exact science instead of a collection of competing ideas supported by usually inconclusive studies that could be mustered to support almost any design. In GNOME 3, testing with actual users did not occur until near the end of the development cycle, when the chances of any major changes were remote."
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GNOME: Possible Recovery Strategies

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  • Staying with gnome2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DCFusor (1763438) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:00PM (#41040375) Homepage
    Because 3 sucks and they don't listen to real users. Theory ain't the same as practice, in practice.
    • by micheas (231635)
      But in theory they are the same :)
    • by Ruie (30480)

      A moveable panel, panel applets, desktop launchers, user control of virtual desktops, menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview -- all of these could be added easily as options.

      Options ?? You mean one cannot move the panel right now ? What were they thinking ?

      • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @10:37PM (#41042107)

        I blame the MS Ribbon. It was the first shot fired in the modern era of UI redesigns, wherein it was decided that the real problem was there was no way to force user's to use it until they like it.

        • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @08:32AM (#41044743)

          I also blame MS, but not for the ribbon (that's just a symptom of a greater underlying disease). The reason MS has dumped the start menu - because their usability labs have decided that users don;t actually use it, 90% of users preferring to stick icons on the desktop (you've seen them) or pinned to the taskbar.

          Now while that is undoubtedly true, and shows that quick-access to often-used programs is a very important feature, it forgets to note that people still use the start menu for all apps that are not quick-launched. But, hey, that doesn't matter, the last 10% of user activity can be sacrificed in the name of statistical user input.

          Same with the ribbon - its basically a quick-launch menu, only forgetting about the bits you do not use often.

          It seems Gnome has the same problem, focussing on a flawed assumption that if a user doesn't use something all the time, then they don't use it at all.

    • by gagol (583737) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:28PM (#41041119)

      OpenSource economics are different from commercial ones. The end goal is offering something unique that will appeal to a set of users. The fact that you can install a DE from many providers means people who prefer traditional desktops can turn to LXDE/XFCE, if you want eye-candy and "paradigm" buzzwords, you can use KDE/GNOME, you prefer a tiling desktop, install AwesomeWM, etc...

      My point is, the end goal is to fill the niche, GNOME3 try to fill them all and failed to find it's sweet spot...

    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @09:14PM (#41041475) Homepage Journal

      Because 3 sucks and they don't listen to real users. Theory ain't the same as practice, in practice.

      The largest screwup was not by GNOME but by distributions in my opinion.

      They abandoned GNOME3 for GNOME2 after it was released, not bothering to offer both choices. Some like Gentoo do provide the choice, for bleeding-edge distros like Fedora I understand that they went with the newest. But user-distros shouldn't have gone for GNOME3 only, and there is no technical reason to not offer both.

      I think GNOME wants to build a interface for users and not for developers, which is why the slashdot community is a bit pissed (not being the target audience, complaints about "dumbing down".

      KDE is elaborate and clunky; XFCE is a good tradeoff; more minimal WM are just toys for having multiple terminals. The choices offered to users by distributions was better a few years ago.

      • by Derek Pomery (2028) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @09:23PM (#41041557)

        According to the MATE developers (the guys maintaining a fork of Gnome2) there is one technical reason you can't have both.
        Gnome is not designed for multiple versions to be installed simultaneously. There are name collisions.

        You can have multiple versions of KDE installed. Not Gnome.

        According to the MATE devs ( irc://irc.freenode.net/mate ), that's why they had to rename pretty much everything.

        I can attest that MATE and Gnome3 *can* be run on the same machine, although MATE is still getting on its feet.

        And some distros are offering both.

      • All this dev is on the wrong path.

        1. Window managers should be kept simple, but highly flexible, but should not contain applets/menus etc..

        2. All control panel stuff, should be really part of the OS and be not tied to any window manager, but run in all of them. Just like windows, can code for win32/.net/wpf/metro, just like the main linux UI api, aka gtk or qt. A WM should not be tied to those two. But perhaps have a higher level abstracted api that can use either. Apps/Applets can communicate to other apps

        • 2. It sounds like both Gnome&KDE need to work together to create a new layer thats common to all linux's, perhaps like a linux core desktop layer spec. XCORE perhaps. And their cute custom Wmanagers can sit on top, where a commonly written control panel system (part of XCORE) can run on both WMs.

          In that case, it could become a part of Wayland, so that all DEs can benefit from any Control Panel/Configuration settings. Or if it is a part of the underlying OS, it can be something in Wayland that enables the WM to make that tool available to users. That way, it will work the same no matter what the DE.

          3. Linux needs to redesign how X + WM + GNU work together. X11 + XCORE(qt+gtk+scriptbased api) + WM on top.

          This way, the WMs can be more like 'theme styles' with applets.

          Any way , too late, nothing will happen, and googles Chrome Desktop OS in JScript/Dart might take over, or some sort of hybrid Android 5 GUI with full desktop features might end up killing both GNOME/KDE if it + ADK can run inside any linux.

          You seem to be suggesting for Qt/GTK/... to be a part of Wayland, which currently is just OpenGL plus some basic compositing functionality. I'd think that adding another layer on top of X would be j

  • Not just Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Meshach (578918) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:02PM (#41040405)

    The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what

    Almost all software has that problem.

    • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smpoole7 (1467717) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:41PM (#41040723) Homepage

      > Almost all software has that problem.

      This. Especially among open source projects. I deeply appreciate their efforts, but when you go into their forums with a suggestion, or to ask why they are doing something a certain way (or more often nowadays, why they stopped doing something that everyone liked), you get scolded. Or talked down to. "Trust us, little man, we're the experts and we know what we're doing."

      This article is about Gnome, but I'm still sore from the way the KDE developers handled their transition to version 4. Even the politest request was greeted with outright hostility. Gnome is by no means the only offender, nor is the offense limited to desktop environments. But it's a real problem.

      I much prefer open source to proprietary software, but there's a price for the "free" stuff. I guess this is just part of it. A commercial software product that treated its "customers" the way that some FOSS projects do would be out of business in a matter of weeks.

      Just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it. :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, Apple and Microsoft have never pissed of thousands of users by redesigning GUIs and ignoring complaints.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)

        Writing software is not "art". It's not there to be appealing. Writing software is about building tools, and when you're dealing with tools, the "right way" exists.

        I've written a ton of commercial software, and if you're going to do it right, the first step is convincing the customer that they don't know what they need, and that your very first task will be interviewing them so you can give them a document that tells them what they need.

        If you can't convince the customer of this truth, you're usually bett

        • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jbolden (176878) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:24PM (#41041077) Homepage

          Sure it does. KDE (which is really quite good). Cinnamon (a fork of Gnome 3), Mate (Gnome 2) and possibly XFCE or LXDE.

        • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:4, Interesting)

          by gagol (583737) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:32PM (#41041153)
          Try XFCE4... you will be surprised.
        • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:37PM (#41041203)

          > Writing software is not "art".
          Sorry, you're wrong. Yes, there is a lot of science in Computer Science, but since this topic is about UI -- as soon as you start interacting with users, there are times when it is OK to break the UI rules. The *hard* part is knowing when to be consistent, and when not to. People, nor how they interact with computers does NOT always fit in a nice little black-n-white box that naive programmers love to think.

          And just to be pedantic, here is real-world example: (Since /. is a POS for code formatting, replace the _ with spaces...)

          The most important thing for writing code is: proper variable names, whitespace to align common idioms

          function SwapInt32( x )
          {
                  var n _= (x >> 24) & _____ 0xFF;
                      n |= (x >>_ 8) & ___ 0xFF00;
                      n |= (x <<_ 8) & __0xFF0000;
                      n |= (x << 24) & 0xFF000000;
                  return n;
          }

          Proper alignment makes it easier to read code. There are no hard and fast rules for whitespace.

          > It's not there to be appealing.
          Methinks
          a) you missed the joy of optimizing code and coming up with a smaller and faster algorithm, nor
          b) even grok the purpose of whitespace in the first place. Hint: Whitespace is NOT for the compiler's / interpreter's benefit but _humans_.

          > the first step is convincing the customer that they don't know what they need,
          Yes we understand your point that "No, the customer is not always right".

          But riiiiight, like the customer is always some clueless schmoe. News flash, sometimes, they have been using software *longer* then your little code monkey shop has been in business for. While they may not know exactly what they want, it pays attention to try to understand their perspective and what are they *really* getting at. One of the best ways to learn how bad your UI is, is to give it to someone who does not have the same preconceived ideas that you automatically *assume* all your clients and other programmers have.

          In the *real* world, *sometimes* client ARE knowledgable -- AND sometimes they are completely clueless. Your job as a programmer is to bridge that gap, and learn to get at what they are *really* wanting.

          If you think programming is black-n-white you obviously haven't been doing it very long, or you suck at it.

          • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

            by smpoole7 (1467717) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:39PM (#41042533) Homepage

            > One of the best ways to learn how bad your UI is, is to give it to someone who does not have the same preconceived ideas that you automatically *assume* all your clients and other programmers have.

            Another thing I have suggested for ANYONE writing software -- whether FOSS or proprietary -- is to hand your software package to an end user. Then go sit in another room and watch them through a window. You can't help them or give them tips. Watch whether they struggle with it.

            I've done this myself and 15 minutes watching a real, live, end user is more profitable than anything I can think of. Speaking from experience, the first thing you'll likely discover is that there are libraries on your development machine that aren't on the end user's, and you forgot to include them in the package (even if only as listed dependencies for the package manager). But once you get it installed, you sit back and watch. Look at their frustration as they try to figure out which menu items to click to do what they want.

            More often than not (I've seen this, too, unfortunately) is they'll just give up and go back to what they're used to. If they can't easily navigate around your Brand New Thing(tm), they're going to blow it off.

            I think that if everyone who developed software would do this simple bit of research, it would be a much happier world. :)

        • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:53PM (#41041337) Homepage Journal

          No offense, but I hope I never have to use your software.

          User interfaces are all about art. A right way doesn't necessarily exist. Is right clicking better than a button? Are four buttons too many, or is seven? How many view types should be on one screen?

          These vary from system to system, function to function, and a piece of software may work perfectly but suck because the user can't use it efficiently or simply hates using the software.

          Lots of picky examples exist from the mundane like when I mouse over the chat window in Facebook, I expect the chat window to scroll, not the main window, when I roll the mouse wheel -- to the customer I have who want Enter to go to the next field in a form not tab because that's how it would work on a spreadsheet or a calculator.

          Form shouldn't override function -- but form is very important, and almost entirely art.

          • Re:Not just Gnome (Score:4, Insightful)

            by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @12:15AM (#41042715)

            The problem with today's software is that these aesthetics are taking more precedence than functionality and usability. for example, gnome 3's window management makes egregious assumptions about what I want my windows to do. Just because I move a window to a certain spot doesn't mean I want it radically resized. Something reasonable would be snap-to-grid or to-edge, which is nice, WITH an option to disable it if it causes a problem.

            There is a reason for such hatred, and that reason is likely embedded in the workflow assumed by the software. Today's modern UIs are rife with this sort of thing..the looks matter more than the workflow, the latter being designed for mouth breathing idiots. I realize this is a necessity for input limited devices like tablets, but it does not belong on workstations. These 'designers' know this, but they'd rather cash in on stupid fads and hot trends than develop good software, or in the case of gnome devs, brownnose apple.

            The problem with facebook and other web 2.0 'applications' is that the browser was never designed to handle the sort of contexts you're referring to. Money and control freakery drive 'web apps,' not good design, aesthetics, or user interest. Use proper tools for the job, in this case, a real IM client.

    • by fnj (64210)

      The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what

      Almost all software has that problem.

      Those are both very perceptive remarks by the article and the poster. The difference with Gnome is that they not only (1) didn't ask, but also (2) went with stupidly awful ideas of their own. Obviously you can survive (1) but not if (2) is also active. And not all software projects have stupidly awful ideas of their own. A lot of them do, but nowhere near all. For example, Xfce is dead on the mark with their instinct.

  • What Gnome 3 Needs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rcjhawk (713563) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:09PM (#41040463) Homepage
    Is a big button on the panel that says "Make it Work Like Gnome 2" Or FVWM, I'm not picky.
    • by 2.7182 (819680)
      Dead on. FVWM especially. I regret the day I left FVWM, thinking there was something better out there...
      • I love FVWM but it is really an interpreter which can be used to create a pretty good desktop environment. I still run it on a workstation which I keep around for doing network administration. My main desktop currently is unity. I think it does a pretty good job of keeping things simple.

    • by Ruie (30480)

      Is a big button on the panel that says "DO NOT PANIC" and makes it work like Gnome 2.

      FTFY

  • Extensions (Score:3, Informative)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:10PM (#41040475) Homepage

    The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

    • by redmid17 (1217076) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:11PM (#41040483)
      Great point. Everyone prefers a piece of shit out of box that you have to shine and polish to make look nice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sqldr (838964)

        I'm one of those rare people who stuck with that piece of shit and actually got the hang of using it efficiently. None of the suggested windows-95 throwbacks in the article are things I WANT back. I install about 5 extensions out of the box, and the only "tweak" I use is turning on focus-follows-mouse and making better keyboard shortcuts for desktop switching. The auto desktop management thing is a really efficient way of working once you get used to it, rather than assigning 4 desktops to different acti

        • Re:Extensions (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:57PM (#41041369) Homepage Journal

          I don't want to think where I put my windows. I know my personal browser sessions are on 3, along with any game I might be playing, my E-mail and other contact managers are on 1, and my database interface and Eclipse are running on 2.

          When I want to save a window for later, I toss it over to 4.

          I shouldn't have to think about it. That's how proper organization works.

          Imagine for a moment if your clothing drawers automatically created and deleted drawers so you had to figure out where you'd put something, and if you took the last sock out of the sock drawer, the shirt drawer wouldn't be where you expected it. We use metaphors on desktops to help users organize their data, including the folder system. Making those metaphors less realistic kills their ability to use them for organization.

    • by Meshach (578918)

      The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

      That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn. It it is not enabled by default most installations will never see it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:18PM (#41040539)

        The functionality is available as Linux comes with a C/C++ compiler.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:29PM (#41040627)

        That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn.

        We're talking about desktop Linux here - "regular users" aren't really a concern.

        • by Meshach (578918)

          That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn.

          We're talking about desktop Linux here - "regular users" aren't really a concern.

          This exactly why the perennial "Year of Linux on the Desktop" prediction is never realized.

    • by armanox (826486)

      Far from it. Can I move the panel? Remove it? Have a system tray in it?

    • And that will work fine, right up until some dev changes something and breaks the extensions. And when the users complain, the devs will say, "We don't care. We warned you that we weren't going to make any effort not to break extensions, and we meant it."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

      And this is where they fail. No one wants to program a fucking extension for every little bit of "useful" feature that should be there right out of the box so to speak. And that by virtue of being an extension could go away anytime. It's the same disease that affects the Firefox developers. Until this simple concept is hammered inside the gnome-tards thick skulls the project will remain a big fail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:14PM (#41040507)

    GNOME devs are not going to aknowledge their mistake. No, for them, it's everyone else who are mistaked about the way they should handle their work. And, of course, it's GNOME devs who know it best. Their design is marvelous, all that is left is for user to bend himself to it.

    That's why GNOME 3 is stripped of so much functionality, deemed "unneeded" by devs on the basis of them not needing it. And they continue upon this path: http://blogs.gnome.org/mccann/2012/08/01/cross-cut/

    KDE has it, too, but to a lesser degree and most of the time they let user configure his environment.

    • by Junta (36770) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @09:52AM (#41045157)

      Holy crap:

      A lot of reasons people have been using this view are due to the other two views sucking for various reasons ... The role for compact view is unclear. Our research suggests that it is something like: the only view that works for browsing a lot of files at once. This is really hard to reconcile with providing good defaults that just work and having consistency with the file chooser.

      So you admit people are using the view, it works best for browsing lots of files, and somehow, this means the reason for existence is unclear somehow so you should delete it because you don't use it yourself?

      Meanwhile, they try to circle the wagons and discuss what to do to address an issue of dwindling support:
      http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTE0ODg [phoronix.com]
      Their conclusion including how to address brain drain and exodus of users? *MORE* Gnome 3, stop thinking about the desktop paradigm as much and make it more different, and Gnome hasn't taken over *enough* and needs to be its own OS.

      Oh well, guess GNOME will descend into oblivion. They had some neat aspects in Gnome 3, but it's just so hard to deal with some of the intended design choces that they clearly have no intention of revisiting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:15PM (#41040519)

    GNOME 2 wasn't broken when ivory tower developers decided to fix it.

    Why not spend development resources optimizing accelerated graphics performance and squashing bugs?

    Don't screw up the perfectly fine UI because you have nothing else to do. (GNOME 3)

    Don't bloat the whole DE beyond belief and require users run multiple heavy daemons with a questionable approach to privacy. (KDE)

    Don't be an incomplete and lacking project borne of frustration with other ones. (Xfce)

    • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:34PM (#41040671)

      "Don't screw up the perfectly fine UI because you have nothing else to do. (GNOME 3)"

      Al UI should constantly change because change is progress.

      That's why the letters of the alphabet are revised every few years.

  • Hubris (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928)

    The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what they want. Instead, the project has preferred to rely on usability theory, treating it as an exact science instead of a collection of competing^W contradictory (fixed) ideas supported by usually inconclusive studies that could be mustered to support almost any design.

    And thus we are also stuck with Metro^W "The Interface That Dare Not Speak Its Name."

    Gnome's insistence on "the one true way" sound so much like the justifying of putting a touch

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Metro makes sense financially. If it works it buys Microsoft a generation of desktop domination. If it fails, then most likely Microsoft couldn't have done anything to save consumer, falls back and spends the 2020s defending enterprise.

      Gnome is in a different position.

  • The best thing the Gnome project could do is start cutting features. Get rid of the bloat. Cut out of the complexity. Drop most of the "features" and come back when they have a simple, well designed, reliable and FAST desktop environment. After that, purge the people who got the project into the state it's in now.

    The problem with freeware is that people will only volunteer to contribute stuff they're interested in. That normally means stuff the developer thinks is cool, or that they think is clever (more t

  • "Find new niches" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattsday (909414) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:28PM (#41040619)

    Why does GNOME have to find new niches? It's the de-facto desktop installation for an awful lot of distributions and has been the primary choice for an awful lot of people for the past 10+ years.

    It seems to me that they already had a huge user base and many more coming on-board through the likes of Fedora, Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They had a good thing going with a consistent toolkit (GTK+2), LGPL and some really nice software. From my humble perspective, this is a great starting point.

    Instead they released GNOME 3. I have no idea who it's for? I remember GNOME 1.x and the thousands of configuration options - it was definitely overkill for a standard desktop environment. I think GNOME 3 is bad for exactly the opposite reasons - completely no customisation. I have no idea why they can't get this right and understand their target audience.

    Fortunately, there are solid alternatives. However, I find it a great shame that GNOME seems to be determined to lose its userbase to meet some CS/HCI textbook ideal.

    • by Dracos (107777) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:37PM (#41041205)

      I have no idea why they can't [...] understand their target audience.

      Because starting with Gnome3, they decided their target audience is tablet/touchscreen users. There has not been, nor is there ever likely to be, hardware installed with Linux+Gnome3 out of the box. They decided to cater to an audience that does not exist.

      Gnome3, Unity, and the UI-formerly-known-as-Metro all suck donkey balls, assuming you don't believe the few users who have completely adapted their usage patterns and workflows, after much effort, for minimal gains. Any perceived simplicity is actually just more complexity hidden beneath the surface.

      And this is all beside the fact that touch UIs are innately less capable than the traditional keyboard+pointer paradigm.

      • Re:"Find new niches" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pscottdv (676889) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:17PM (#41042389)

        I keep reading this, that Gnome 3 is for tablet computers. Where does this come from? I'll tell you where it doesn't come from: people using it on tablet computers! I tried to use it on a tablet computer. It does not work. If you ever used it on a tablet computer you would discover in the first two minute, as I have, that Gnome 3 IS UNUSEABLE ON A TABLET COMPUTER!

        Gnome 2? Works fine. KDE? No problem, LXDE? Works great. Gnome 3? YOU HIT THE WALL IN TWO MINUTES! TWO MINUTES!

        I actually like Gnome 3. I want to use it. I use it on my desktop and my laptop. But the Gnome developers won't fix bugs even when they are complete show-stoppers. Hey Gnome team! How about making a password dialog box that, I don't know, maybe actually allows a guy to bring up an onboard keyboard instead of taking over the desktop?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:34PM (#41040661)

    From wikimedia stats we see that Linux users on the desktop aren’t growing. Only Android on tablets and smartphones is doing good. Linux is stagnating at 2%the only change is about users that switch to anoter distro.
    Is it important that Linux isn’t growing on the desktop?
    I think it is and we can’t just say: “oh I’m fine with my OS. Who cares about the rest of the world?”. The reason is that while on the servers you can choose to use whatever software you want. For example you want to use mysql, apache, python etcfor your website? It’s fine! Do you want to deliver videos in ogg/theora format? Yes you can. Who can stop you? That is because on the server you’re the king and the users must take what you give. It’s one of the reasons why Linux had not problem to grow in popularity on the server side.
    But on the desktop you (as user) don’t decide everything, because in many cases you’re just a passive actor. The Linux market share is only 2%? Well the consequences are that Adobe stops delivering the Flash Player (while before was delivering a flash player that was crap). Netflix doesn’t ship his client for Linux. Games are not made for Linux (yes I heard about Steam but we’ll see how it goes). Maybe the Olympics in your nation will be streamed using a DRM that is not available for Linux . And most important: many professional programs will never land on Linux. So not only Linux won’t attract any new users, but also this will have the consequence to cut you out from many different things that will make Linux an inferior OS choice for the Desktop.
    Then some Stallman’s fan could jump out and say: but I don’t want those things! I want to stay pure and do what Stallman says: use only software that respects my freedom. Yes suretoo bad that I don’t see a lot of the Linux people using gNewSense, having no proprietary drivers installed, no proprietary codecs and watching youtube videos without using the Adobe’s flash player (probably there are better examples) . I believe that most of the Linux users are not so strict to desire a 100% open source software on their machines. They love open source, but they also don’t want to be marginalized and they care about being able to use their computer to satisfy their needs
    So I said all this to explain that:
    a) The small market share has side effects on users on the Desktop and so is very bad that doesn’t increase
    b) Most of the people want to use Linux not because they’re crazy about Free Software, but because they want an alternative between Microsoft and Apple
    c) You can’t increase the market share if you have less to offer in respect of the other operating systems

    So how do you increase the market share? In my opinion: You need to make great software that is not available for Windows and OSX.
    Is it possible to do that with open source software? I’ve no idea. Probably not. Also I’m sure many open source developers don’t even like it.
    I think most of the Gnome developers just don’t care if Linux is at 2% of if there are some annoyances, especially because I believe most of them don’t use Linux as their primary OS. They just love working together on Gnome, but they don’t have the pressure to reach real pragmatic goals. Because that would require some compromises.
    So the only way to create an alternative to Microsoft and Apple (that is what I care most) will be to hope that one day some big company creates a new brand and ships computers with Linux and at the same time makes available some of the coolest proprietary programs you’ve ever seen. That someone could only be Google. Not like Dell and HP that keeps selling hardware with Linux as a third class choice, with no marketing and no ideas behind.

  • > find new niches. ... tablet,
    > ... cloud-based services.

    If only someone had said "social media" also, we'd have had the whole set.

  • Oh really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:41PM (#41040719)

    You mean by fixing the standard issue list of complaints and noticing that linux nerds are NOT using their computers like large cellphones, would reduce almost 90% of complaints?

    What took you so fucking long Sherlock?

    Will I return to gnome even if they do what they say? I dunno ... On one hand I do like spiffy new UI's, on the other hand I dont like wasting CPU and GPU power on dumb shit like windows and special effects I never pay attention to.

  • Actually listen to your users and do what they say. It's so radical it just might work.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:45PM (#41040751) Homepage Journal

    Just stop telling people how to work and think.

  • by sqldr (838964) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @07:53PM (#41040807)

    A moveable panel

    There's an extension for that..

    panel applets

    Many extensions do that.. it goes against what gnome say, but they work. I've got my unread mail count in my panel..

    desktop launchers

    Urgh.. I'm sure someone could write one. I always turn off "file manager on desktop" because having to move a window out of the way to start something is a waste of time. I normally use my desktop space with, er, windows... you can already put files on the desktop. You can turn it on with the tweak tool. KDE got it right by adding a desktop widget, so it didn't take over the entire desktop. If I want to start an app, I go "t..e..r.." ooh, a terminal in 5 key presses!

    user control of virtual desktops

    There's an extension for that, although once you get used to it, the "new desktop every time you use the last" option is something I really don't want to go back from. It's really efficient once you've mapped better keys to desktop switching. Especially once you have 2 monitors and you CAN'T switch desktops on the other one. It acts like a sort of main work screen while all the web/email crap is the stuff you switch. Of course, there's an app to enable switching on the other screen.

    menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview

    there's an extension for that. Although i'm not sure of the "remove the need". I prefer the overview - you don't have to use the mouse in it.

    all of these could be added easily as options.

    They ARE options. Try http://extensions.gnome.org./ [extensions.gnome.org] There's even a single click on/off button for each extension to turn them on and off.

    Honestly, people use it for 5 minutes and suddenly think they're an expert on desktop design by saying "lets make it like gnome 2!"

    • Car analogy (Score:5, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:03PM (#41040871) Homepage Journal

      So out of the box every control is a switch under the instrument panel but you can install your own extensions with steering wheels, pedals, etc if you want.

      • That's a bad analogy because it implies that these extensions are required to use GNOME 3. They are not. GNOME 3 is functional without any of these extensions. In fact, I only use one. Your analogy implies that, to do anything with the OS, you have to install an extension. This is completely false. It might make it easier or more comfortable for some people, yes, but it is absolutely not required.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:05PM (#41040891) Homepage

    The first thing that would get everyone's attention is an apology and/or acknowledgement that they did it wrong.

    There was nothing wrong with wanting to create a tablet friendly UI... nothing at all. What was wrong was trying to foist it onto desktop users. Wanna make a tablet UI? Great! Do that in ADDITION to what you already had *AND* make them compatible with each other so that a user or a program can work easily in either.

    The desktop isn't going away any time soon. The very notion that people are ready to move on into the tablet hype world is ridiculous.

    It's understandable that no one would want to be left behind or to have a fear that you might be considered late to the party or irrelevant if you don't have one ready when the market wants it, but to push it onto the market before it wants it? What were they thinking?

    And I'm sorry developers might have low morale, but that bad smell they've been wondering about isn't coming from the breath of the users complaining, it's because they had their heads up their asses... which might explain why they couldn't hear the users...

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:08PM (#41040917)

    ...are doing what they choose.

    Developers don't need users so they don't need to give a fuck about what users want.

  • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:19PM (#41041015)
    I personally left Ubuntu for the Mac with the whole Unity debacle. For me Unity was a step backward for several reasons:

    I hated having to search for applications before being able to use them. Being able to search is fine, but I found the menu structure (eg. administrator tools vs applications) in earlier Gnome was actually better at helping me find what I want than an ab initio search (which assumes I know and remember all the often-bizarre names of all the programs now on my system).

    I also hated how the control panel was dumbed down to the point of being unusable. A lot of configurability that was present in Gnome 2 was removed. So when I went to change a setting I couldn't. Einstein said "As simple as possible, but no simpler". Notice how there are two parts to that sentence. The Gnome 3 crew designed by the first part of it only.

    I'm a Mac user these days and I *loath* the single menu. Gnome 3 is cursed with this also. One of the things I missed when going from Gnome to Mac is that each application window could have its own menu. When you are doing stuff on two or more screens then moving back to the main screen to access the menu is a PITA. And no, I use so many programs for different purposes it is impossible to memorize all the menu commands for each application - so menu use is essential.

    Reliability matters more than anything just about else. Unfortunately with Gnome 3 being new it hadn't got to a mature point where stuff works flawlessly and reliably. It's nice if the backend is "teh new shiney" and will support stuff in the future, but if you are continually reinventing the core all the time then the system never gets to be stable (plus, it takes time for applications to be built on new core tech, so every time you change the core you lose applications - and it is the applications that end users actually care about).

    Just because you want to work on tablets don't forget your existing userbase. Making a better tablet workflow at the expense of smoothly working (fewer clicks) with mouse, keyboard and multi-screen is of no use to me. Hence, bye bye Gnome ol' pal.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @08:22PM (#41041043) Homepage

    I think one of the things that often gets forgotten was that Gnome 3 ended up in a war with Canonical in March 2011. Canonical represented somewhere between 50-80% of the user base. Once Canonical came to believe that the Gnome foundation simply would not listen to their point of view and their only alternative was to fork things went downhill badly. I think its time for Gnome to admit they lost this war.

    Canonical instead of pushing the advantages of Gnome 3 focused heavily on the minus. Instead of easing their customer base into Gnome 3 they moved them away from it towards their Unity / Wayland vision. Canonical could have helped to soften some of the rough edges and at the same time Gnome thought deeply about consistency and functionality issues which have haunted Canonical.

    The most popular Gnome desktop is now Cinnamon which is a fork. The second most popular is Mate which is a rejection of Gnome 3 entirely. KDE developers consider Gnome to have bullied and lied to them about cooperation so Gnome is likely to see less cooperation.

    There are some brilliant aspects of Gnome 3. And I could see it evolving into truly the best desktop OS around. But it won't have the time or support to do that, in the current state of alienation. They have minor technical problems but large political problems. It is time to address the politics and compromise a bit to get back to a situation where they aren't decaying rapidly.

  • by causeless (2702887) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @09:04PM (#41041417) Homepage Journal

    in Japan, to launch Gnome shell,

    1. click "Dash" or hit Windows-key.
    2. check IME is disabled.
    3. Alt+Space to disable IME.
    4. wait a moment.
    5. double-check IME is disabled now.
    6. type "Tanmatu" and hit Space.
    7. check IME suggests "" ("terminal", in Japanese) properly.
    8. hit Enter twice.
    9. Alt-Space to disable IME.

    What's a great userbility!!

    There are no shortcut like Windows, type "term", Enter.
    and additionaly, Japanese users must guess which translated words associated to what one want to get.
    Terminal, shell, command-prompt and many other words may be translated to "". Accept both English and Japanese in launcher does not help us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:41PM (#41042549)

    I'm an old core GNOME developer, around for the 1.4 - 2.x days. I haven't been involved in GNOME 3, but I think they're on to some really cool things, even if there are serious problems now. These flamewars make me sad.

    Many (most) of these comments remind me of the same slashdot.org discussions between GNOME 1.x and GNOME 2... I should remember; I was one of the core GNOME 2 devs who was flamed to hell.

    Now people are talking like GNOME 2 was some sort of epitome of Linux desktops, and couldn't-we-just-stick-to-that-pretty-please. It also reminded me of the flack that KDE 3 developers took. Talk about whiplash. I don't think many people comparing GNOME 1.4 to GNOME 2.32 would prefer the former, and yet, to hear the cries on slahdot at the time, GNOME 2.x was doomed and nobody used it, and nobody would ever use it. Dooooooooomed. Doooooooooomed I say.... because we were all such complete idiots that we couldn't tie our shoelaces without shitting our pants. ;-)

    I notice two things:
    1) Free software desktops are often a little half-baked between major UI revisions. This does suck, but I think its a outcome of volunteer hackers... sometimes its hard to wait long enough to add all the features people like and miss before doing a major rev. Frankly, an effect you often see is a decrease in hacking if a project goes too long without a release (makes sense psychologically, right? sort of related to delayed gratification....).

    For example: GNOME 2.0 was stinky. People flamed the hell out of us (in many ways, rightfully, it was half-baked), and not JUST about our current state, but speculatively that this represented some insane mis-step for the project. Instead of imagining what the negative-changes could allow in the future, they pretended like we were retarded, and driving the ship as fast as possible straight to hell. No benefit of the doubt. Now I don't want to apologize for this, I think free software should be held to the high quality standards of commercial software, but I mention this because its important context to the sort of panic-reaction people are displaying, assuming GNOME 3.0 betrays some fundamentally flawed direction rather than viewing it as "released too early, too half-baked, before certain necessary things happened".

    By GNOME 2.6 it was pretty awesome. By GNOME 2.12 pretty much everyone just shut the fuck up. A number of users found GNOME 1.x more to their liking and moved on to other desktops, but we picked up Waaaaaaaaaaaaay more users than we lost. Today, I think most people would cringe if they had to use GNOME 1.4 instead of GNOME 2.12 (or whatever).

    So: GIVE GNOME3 SOME TIME, and view GNOME releases with a fresh eye. GNOME 3.8 might rock your world, and the 6-mo release cycle means changes happen faster.

    2) I think if you asked the average slashdot reader, they would like to think they are more "open to change" than the average citizen. In fact, I find the entire *nix culture extremely resistant to change, automatically viewing change they don't understand as "change for change's sake". In a way, its sort of unique and cool.... most of the western world is swept up in a progressivist notion of time, always viewing the future as "better" than the best. In contrast, *nix culture often has a distinct note of Indian-style views of time: the gods used to walk the earth, and since then, its mostly been decay. The downside is that its not a very fun community to develop UIs for: instead of focusing on "what's gained", people pull out flamethrowers immediately at the slightest hint of something being lost. CHANGE USUALLY REQUIRES LOSS because DESIGN IS BALANCE. Sometimes the balance is wrong, and sometimes tradeoffs are made when they needn't have been. I think just like GNOME 1.x to GNOME 2, sometimes the first-couple-passes you lose more than you needed to, and this gets balanced out over time.

    As a bystander to GNOME 3, I see many ways they could achieve their goals while minimizing the (very real) losses hackers are experiencing whe

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tajribah (523654)

      The core of the problem is that GNOME developers have the habit of releasing as 2.0 or 3.0 something, which is of beta quality at best. It's quite possible that GNOME 3 contains some great ideas, but trying to attract users to software, which will need a year or two more to reach usability of the previous version, is not going to win anybody's sympathies. Exactly this has already happened with the release of GNOME 2.0: its usability was nowhere near that of GNOME 1.x, but still, it was presented as a repla

  • by allo (1728082) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:30AM (#41043975)

    > A moveable panel, panel applets, desktop launchers, user control of virtual desktops, menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview -- all of these could be added easily as options.
    most of the listed points would be more or less major changes, nothing easily added.

    The best and easiest thing would be to start again working on gnome2, releasing a gnome4 which is based on 2.

  • When I started with Unix too long ago, the philosophy was to develop a tool box that let people customise the box to their liking. FVWM was like that. It was flexible enough to turn something that looked like Windows 95 and OSX, but configuration was not for the feint of heart.

    What I expected to follow FVWM was something even more flexible, that solved the configuration file from hell problem. Something so flexible that you could have emulated the current Android, Windows 8, and OSX interfaces. So, for example, you could decide whether you wanted the applications menu bar to be per part of each window like Win 95, or have a single global one like OSX, or not display it until a button press like Android. Where you could decide whether you wanted to run every application full screen, or in its own window, or something in between split over multiple virtual desktops. FVWM already came with a collection of menu, dialogue, and panel and task manager widgets - I expected this to be expanded in the usual open source way so there were 1000's of them, most of them useless, but spurred on by the toolbox mentality that made experimentation with news ideas was easy. I expected to a fight between API's that allowed you to play with touch and multi-touch, so that someone could in principle make an upward five fingered swipe with pike launch vim, or a three fingered back swipe would invoke the browsers back function, or a two fingered circle would do an Alt-Tab, the direction depending on the direction of the circle.

    But that is not what we got. In fact, the reverse happened. As others have pointed out, instead of making Gnome 1.0 more flexible, the Gnome developers decided to solve Gnome's configuration problems by removing most of the configuration. In Gnome 3 it got to the point that when I decided the fonts Gnome were using were too big even the ability to edit that was taken away. (You have to install some tweak program.) Worse than that, not only can you not configure the layout and behaviour of Gnome 3 for the platform you are working on, it seems to be optimised for a platform no one uses it on - a small screen with a keyboard ?!?!

    Look boys, I'll spell it out for you - the world is NOT converging to one platform everyone uses. The reverse is happening - it is splintering. Whereas a few years ago you could safely assume all your users has a large screen, mouse and keyboard, that assumption makes no sense today. At one end people have 3 x 27" 2880x1440 screen hooked to a single computer with a mouse, keyboard and stylus input device. And then we smoothly move through a number of form factors end up at some 3" screen has a touch screen without a keyboard. In this world you can not dream up the one true interface and expect everybody to be happy with it. The very idea is insane.

    In the world we have today, the Unix way of providing toolbox people can use to customise to their environment should be having it its time in the sun. Sure it's more complex than iOS, but unlike iOS it could be made to work on everything, and unlike iOS we don't have to cater to unsophisticated users. Instead we it seems we have lost the original Unix philosophy we started with, and the result is rejection by the only people who used Linux on the desktop - the people who were attracted by that philosophy.

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