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GNOME: Staring Into the Abyss 535

New submitter zixxt writes "GTK+ Developer Benjamin Otte talks about the stagnation and decline of the Gnome Project. He describes how core developers are leaving GNOME development, how GNOME is understaffed, why GNOME is a Red Hat project and why GNOME is losing market and mind share. Is the Gnome project on its deathbed? Quoting: 'I first noticed this in 2005 when Jeff Waugh gave his 10×10 talk. Back then, the GNOME project had essentially achieved what it set out to do: a working Free desktop environment. Since then, nobody has managed to set new goals for the project. In fact, these days GNOME describes itself as a “community that makes great software”, which is as nondescript as you can get for software development. The biggest problem with having no goals is that you can’t measure yourself. Nobody can say if GNOME 3 is better or worse than GNOME 2. There is no recognized metric anywhere. This also leads to frustration in lots of places.'"
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GNOME: Staring Into the Abyss

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  • Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:56PM (#40797479)

    GNOME was a good thing until version 3. It changed everything. The warning signs were there for years before. The attitude of a few dictating what was 'best' for the users, even when the users were screaming NO! NO! NO! started with the GNOME2 rewrite. They finally listened to some of the loudest arguments that time and restored enough functionality that it could become the standard Free Desktop.

    GNOME3 turned that stupid up to eleven though, putting it a whole different category. It is explicitly declared it OK if any/all existing users leave, a pure "my way to the highway" deal. It is pretty much accepted that it is unusable on a standard desktop with a mouse and this isn't debatable as an issue in need of repair. The only rational explanation is that somehow, someone in that project assumes they are going to get an OEM preload deal on tablets somewhere. But GNOME's hardware requirements are higher than Android so it won't be some low end creep into the market through the back door deal, it will have to be on somebody's mid to top end hardware. Maybe RedHat has struck the deal in secret already and we are all going to be in awe of their mad negotiating skills. But it isn't the way to bet.

    Or perhaps they assume that Win8 will force everyone to accept touchscreens and everything running maximized... even on 27" displays... so they just want to be there first, like how Compiz was doing the Vista eye candy a year or so before Vista shipped. Doubtful. If Win8 doesn't quickly get a recognizable default desktop on desktop class hardware users will just insist on Win7. Everything doesn't benefit from a touchscreen, keyboards and mice still have a place and aren't likely to go the way of the dodo anytime soon.

    Guess if the article is right about the number of active devs left it really doesn't matter anymore because there doesn't appear to be enough left to rewrite their way out the the GNOME Shell disaster. Several of the alternates have similar manpower except KDE which has much more. It was a good desktop, it will be missed.

    • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:02PM (#40797521)

      GNOME was a good thing until version 3. It changed everything.

      Mod up. The purpose of a DE is to enable the user to get his work done as fast and as efficiently as possible. Not eye-candy bullshit. If you can imlement eye candy that doesn't hinder or get in the way, I'm all for that, but never forget: **Enable the user to get work done fast**

      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aztektum ( 170569 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:43PM (#40797847)

        You know, I felt the same way a year ago. I still wish it was more tweakable, but the extensions are helping. I am much faster at getting around my desktop in Gnome-Shell than I am with Gnome2. Reason being is I can do more with just the keyboard.

        I was a big Gnome-Do user. That's pretty much built-in now. I don't have to touch my mouse to move around apps. Their Alt+Tab feature is pretty slick. It shows Chromium and Alt+~ moves through the multiple instances I have open (OK so I don't usually have more than one thanks to tabs, but as an example...)

        It's a bigger resource hog, but I have 12GB of RAM in the box I run it on. It doesn't feel that polished, but I really have few serious problems.

        What they should be doing is focusing on the extensions paradigm. Let people create extensions to turn it into whatever type of system they want. If you want a traditional taskbar, get an extension. Distros could apply whatever extensions they want to create varying types of "Gnome". That would give them some direction that they say the project has lost.

        • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:40PM (#40798885) Journal

          The problems at Gnome are common across much of GNU/Linux these days. I tried as hard as I could, yet failed to get Gnome GTK+ guys to accept (or offer an alternative) an accessibility patch fairly critical to the blind community (allowing icons to have verbal descriptions). It's possible to work with the Debian guys, but unless one of their inner circle is interested in your specific project, you've got no way to reach all the Debian users who want to use what you have to offer. This is partly why Google has 600K apps and Debian has 30K packages. If I want to reach Android geeks, I can be published by next week, and the only real challenge is being noticed among those other 600K apps.

          What Linux needs is a rewrite of dpkg, just like Torvalds did when he wrote git and replaced subversion. This concept of upstream golden source is BS. What we need is distributed git-style repositories, where users can easily point their machines to the upstream branch/fork of their choice. That way, if I'm in my favorite distro and I hate this new desktop manager, I just point to the branch/fork maintained by people I consider more sensible. Machines shouldn't be GNU/Linux boxes. They should be bare metal Linux boxes, and groups like Ubuntu should just be famous repository managers who get so much right for most users, that lazy geeks like me put them first in my list of distributed repositories. But when Fedora has a better package, or a better version, I should be free to pull that specific part from them, and have it work with all the stuff I pull from Ubuntu.

          NOT impossible. Only pie in the sky because of the lack of will to move forward in the calcified GNU/Linux community.

          • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Informative)

            by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:52PM (#40798915)

            Umm, that's all already the case.

            You just run your own PPA or apt repository if you don't want to play by the distro's rules about getting into their repos. Then if people want your software they can add it. And it is incredibly easy through the various frontends or by editing sources.list directly.

            Google do this for chrome, debian-multimedia for this for their extra codec offerings, skype have a debian repo.

            It's not pie in the sky, the only barrier to this is your own incompetence and ignorance, which you seem quite intent on displaying here.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I guess my suggestion that the current system is screwed up didn't make you happy. Well, it's screwed up, and I'm sorry about hurting feelings.

              The PPA system is great. I used it extensively. It's a bandaid, not a solution. If I want to pull my upstream Gnome packages from a fork of Gnome, good luck making that work with existing pre-compiled Ubuntu binaries. It's simply not possible, not with a custom PPA and a month of compiling 100 custom packages (which no one will be crazy enough to use, because th

              • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Insightful)

                by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:34AM (#40799055)

                What you seem to want really isn't posible. You can't just mix and match in one part of a major subsystem and you certainly can't mix Debian and Fedora packages beyond the very end user applications that have no connections into the different plumbing that seperates the two trees of development and that basically static link everything.

                You seem enamoured with the Android package system without undertanding it. Android packages work because they are very restricted in what they can do. For example, they must be Java; that means they cannot alter any of the system level components. So replacing part of GNOME would be like replacing the native binary parts of Android, which an .apk can't attempt. They also work because there is only one Android line and it is carefully kept backward compatible. While Linux distros can upgrade from one major version to another entirely via the package system you could never upgrade from Android 2.2 to 2.3 via the Play Store. The OS components involved simply aren't part of the package manager on Android. The kernel on most devices isn't even in a file.

                Every few weeks some kid shows up on a Linux forum demanding that we rebuild everything to support a binary only cross distro 'app' model. Usually with notes about how much more successful Windows or OS X is and attributing that success to this binary model. Not happening. The reason we have different distros is because they aren't all alike except for the package manager, each is trying new things. If a consensus emerges that one has really done something right the others of course adopt it but there is no central planner and we don't want one. Good luck convincing a Gentoo ricer to adopt binary packaging and a strict binary API. Systemd or sysV init? PulseAudio, ALSA, ESD, ARTS or OSS?

                Feel free to create yet another distro and show us all how it should be done, that is of course where the existing ones came from. And maybe you will succeed in attracting a following and eventually some of your ideas will migrate.

                • by grumbel ( 592662 )

                  You can't just mix and match in one part of a major subsystem and you certainly can't mix Debian and Fedora packages beyond the very end user applications that have no connections into the different plumbing that seperates the two trees of development and that basically static link everything.

                  That's a symptom not a cause. Of course when every packages just barfs all over /usr/ and spreads itself everywhere you can't just install another package of the same name and not expect things to explode. But that's a problem of inflexible namespace management and nothing else.

                  Every few weeks some kid shows up on a Linux forum demanding that we rebuild everything to support a binary only cross distro 'app' model.

                  Yeah, and guess what, that kid is right, maybe not in the way it should be implemented, but in the features the system should provide.

                  The reason we have different distros is because they aren't all alike except for the package manager,

                  Distros are like 99% alike, because they all run all the same software, just in slightly different

          • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Informative)

            by M. Baranczak ( 726671 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @01:06AM (#40799195)

            just like Torvalds did when he wrote git and replaced subversion

            Git was never intended as a replacement for Subversion. From the way that Torvalds talked about Subversion, I doubt he ever even used it. Git was a replacement for BitKeeper - which worked on a distributed-repository model, just like Git.

          • What Linux needs is a rewrite of dpkg, just like Torvalds did when he wrote git and replaced subversion.

            Sounds like what we need is to convince Torvalds to rewrite dpkg. After all, he made the kernel, and now it's taken over everything; then he made git, and that's one of the most popular revision control systems now used (probably the most popular in OSS), so now he just needs to go for a hat trick and make a successor to dpkg/rpm.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I switched from GNOME to KDE because of GNOME 3.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I switched to Xfce (on Fedora) without even trying Gnome 3. Just the description of what it was going to be like was enough to drive me away. My sister uses Ubuntu. After about a year trying to learn how to like Unity (Ubuntu's version of Gnome 3) she asked me to help her migrate to Xfce because it doesn't keep getting in her way and making it hard for her to do things.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When some of my classmates who have never touched another OS ask me for a recommendation on a Linux distro, I've always recommended Xubuntu ever since Unity came. XFCE is just very useable and customize.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I have two suggestions for people when it come to those. Lower level people get LXDE and higher level get Xfce. Personally, I flip between which I like more. LXDE has more windows-like UI features, which makes going between the two easier; Xfce always seems to follow what I want, rather than fighting it or figuring out how it wants me to do it.

        • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@[ ] ['hot' in gap]> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:42AM (#40799095) Journal

          I switched to Xfce (on Fedora) without even trying Gnome 3.

          I switched to a fork of Gnome 3 [] that works and looks beautiful. Isn't it great when open source helps us users the way it's supposed to?

      • by archen ( 447353 )

        I've pretty much always used KDE (or fluxbox / i3 depending on what I'm doing), and have never liked Gnome. However the prospect of Gnome's death troubles me. We can't say for sure the software we use now isn't going to go in some assinine direction. If KDE completely screws up next, then where do us KDE users go for an equivalent desktop? Xfce and other options exist, but it's always been KDE and Gnome as the full featured options.I think the real health of either project depends on the strength of the ot

      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Clived ( 106409 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:39PM (#40798259)

        Well I run Gnome 3 on my Fedora 17 box and Cinnamon 1.4 on my Mint 13 box. Both desktops are new and there are a few rough edges, but I enjoy using both. Remember, we are Linux guys (and gals), we are supposed to work around the edges, tweak stuff, and stuff, goes with the territory ..:P

        My two bits

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iserlohn ( 49556 )

      People love complaining about Gnome Shell. I'm sure that the number of people that have been converted to Linux because of Gnome Shell greatly outnumber the gnome/start menu diehards from the 1990. What is actually preventing you from using Gnome Shell with a mouse? I do it everyday on 2 computers and 4 screens. Controls are logical and the default settings customise the desktop to you - virtual desktops are created automatically, you can drag and drop windows between desktops in the windows screen, and so

      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:18PM (#40797649)
        Because it tried to fix something that wasn't broken. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Gnome Panel for mouse and keyboard. Sure, GNOME shell might be nice if you've got a 10 inch touchscreen, but it gets in the way if you use a keyboard or mouse.

        Don't "fix" what is broken, especially when it is a basic part of the system.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Zamphatta ( 1760346 )
        Fact is... on Unity or Cinnamon or KDE, I can just switch to a new windows with one step -- move my mouse over to the window & click to bring the focus to it. On Gnome 3, I have to move my mouse up to the top left corner and click on a word, then move my mouse back down to click on the window I want to do something in. That's a convoluted way to just go to another window. It's akin to go to the bathroom by walking in the opposite direction, and touching the wall, then walking over to the bathroom. How c
        • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Informative)

          by drjones78 ( 961270 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:18PM (#40798507)
          I can't for the life of me figure out how you must be using Gnome 3.

          You certainly can you move your cursor to other windows to click on them, give them focus and raise them. Heck you can even do focus follows mouse, and autoraise, getting rid of the click.

          Secondly, you don't have to click the word "Activities" at all. It's a hot corner. You're supposed shoot your mouse to it quickly. And the beauty of the hot corner is, you don't have to look for it or locate it on the screen, you don't have to aim for it or click it - you just whip your cursor up to it in a fast, imprecise motion - and voila - you have the overview. The targets there are also large, so you can don't have to be precise.

          Or you can leave your left hand on the keyboard to hit the super-key...
      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtkluttz ( 244325 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:29PM (#40797735) Homepage

        I'm feeding a troll, but here are the few no go's I have personally ran in to. The lack of configuration options are enough by themself but these are functionality that is lost. Over and under dual monitors doesn't work, such as a laptop panel as the primary lower and secondary monitor above. No go.. can't move apps through the ENFORCED top bar. Static IP addresses can't be done with the gui with default software. When trying to add Network printers from the gui, it doesn't allow you to see properties for each printer until AFTER it has been added, so no way from the gui to tell which printer is which in the list if you have multiple printers of the same model on the same network. You have to use the CUPS web interface. The old gnome 2 printer additions dialogs and wizards were just fine. The programmers are idiot control freaks..... their way or the highway.. at least cinnamon restores some level of sanity to the gnome 3 desktop.

        • This is the reason why I switched to KDE from Gnome back around '05.

          Gnome and its related applications presume to know how best to use an application, regardless of peoples' varying workflows and, by extension, their preferred configuration.

          To sum up my experiences with Gnome:
          1) Find something that doesn't act how you want it to
          2) Open configuration menu for that particular application / OS function
          3) Find out that the configuration menu only has one checkbox, and it's not for the feature you want to ch
      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hazem ( 472289 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:38PM (#40797803) Journal

        The one thing I like on gnome 3 is pushing the mouse cursor up in the upper left and getting a choice of windows. But other than that, it makes things harder.

        I tried for a while to find a way to have a CPU and Network monitor like you could have it docked on a panel in gnome 2 but finally gave up.

        I also often use more than one terminal window, but when you click on the terminal icon in the apps list, it just takes you back to the terminal you already have open.

        For vitual desktops, I personally prefer a fixed layout... email and web browser in upper left, work vitrual computer in lower left, etc. The ever-changing dynamic list doesn't work well for me.

        The worst is that I can't get it to behave right with my laptop and external monitor. Laptops today come with shitty short screens, so when I work at home, I keep the lid closed and just use my external monitor. Gnome3 can't seem to grasp this and always assumes the laptop's monitor is the primary monitor, so I can't reach the widgets, menus, etc. Sure, I can muck with the display settings to fix it during a session, but I have to do it all over again if I reboot or need to open the lid for some reason.

        For me, it just has an illogical way of doing things and completely breaks my work flow.

        I've used a lot of linux variants over the years, but I don't really enjoy having to keep figuring out all the obscure ways to get it work right again... over and over.

        • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SunTzuWarmaster ( 930093 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:25PM (#40798141) Homepage


          I was a 4 year user of linux (RedHat, Fedora, Ubuntu, Centos, Mandriva, and Yellow Dog off the top of my head) until Gnome 3 came along. Then the configuration became a chore every time I wanted to use my home computer. Then I switched jobs into a position which forces Win7 use. Then I wanted to play Borderlands with a few friends of mine. Then I was/am writing a dissertation across the library/home/work/school/travel computers and need EndNote and Word to work.

          My computer still dual-boots, but it has been over 9 months since I've booted to Linux.

          I was using Linux when it easy, and wasn't getting in the way. Now I use Windows 7 for the same reason. I will happily switch in the event that things reverse themselves again.

          • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Interesting)

            by hazem ( 472289 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:03PM (#40798735) Journal

            I too am in a world where I there are things I HAVE to do in Windows, but I really prefer working in a Linux environment (especially when I find one I really like).

            I used to dual-boot as well, but after a harddrive crash a couple years ago, I re-evaluated my set up and discovered VirtualBox. Virtualization had come a long way since I had last checked. So now I run strictly in Linux and have VBox virtual computers to run Windows XP and Windows 7 in as needed. I even managed to take an old work laptop and virtualized an image of its harddrive so I no longer have to carry a computer back and forth for work.

            The nice thing with the virtual computing is you can easily back up the whole computer by just copying the virtual hard disk somewhere. You can also set up your windows working environment on another computer by just coping the virtual harddrive file and making a new virtual computer there.

            VirtualBox also has pretty decent integration with the host computer (you can map directories on the host as drives on the guest) so it makes things pretty seamless. It's also the only way I can use my canon scanner, since there are no Linux drivers that work for it... and the same with my old Creative Zen mp3 player and iPod.

            It might be worth looking into when you get a break from your dissertation.

            I'm going back to grad school as well and since I'll be taking transit and biking, I got a netbook for my work at school. I tried Linux Mint on it and it's been a real pleasure to use... very few complaints, and I think those are more of an Acer issue than a Linux one. I don't dual boot on my home computer, but I did set up the netbook to dual boot into Windows 7... in case I really needed a native Windows 7, but I haven't needed it so far.

            I just not as young and carefree as I used to be. Like you, I don't have as much time to trick-out my computer to get it just so... I just want it to work reliably.

        • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Informative)

          by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:43PM (#40798283)

          Here is a hint. It is one of the strengths of Linux from a certain way of looking at it.

          Attaching and detaching a display from a laptop is something no DE is ever going to make 'just work' for everyone. You use case might sometimes be just what the developer was thinking, others you will lose. On the 'other' platforms you just live with it, we have options. On my laptop the F7 key is silkscreened with display/panel in blue, meaning Fn+F7 is the approved way and what would work on the 'other' OS. So to make it easy to remember I bound CTRL-F7 to a script.

          It examines the state of the dock and doesn't try to 'do the right thing' for anyone and everyone, it does exactly what [I] want for either state. With only a little more work (when I get a spare round tuit) I'll extend it to look at the VGA port and deal with the presence of a projector automagically. Yes I means I have to hit a hot key when the automatics do the wrong thing (almost every time) but it means I always get what I want and it beats filing bug reports that get closed WONTFIX when the distro goes out of support and just bitching about it being broken.


          DOCKED=`cat ${BUSDOCK}/docked`

          if [ "$DOCKED" == 1 ] ; then
                  echo "Docked"
                  xrandr --output HDMI2 --auto --mode 1024x768 --rotate normal --pos 0x0 --primary --output VGA1 --off
                  sleep 2
                  xrandr --output HDMI2 --auto --rotate normal --pos 0x0 --primary \
                                    --output LVDS1 --auto --right-of HDMI2 --set "scaling mode" "Full aspect"
          if [ "$DOCKED" == 0 ] ; then
                  echo "Undocked"
                  xrandr --output LVDS1 --auto --mode 1024x768 --set "scaling mode" "Full aspect" \
                                --primary --output HDMI2 --off --output VGA1 --off
                  sleep 2
                  xrandr --output LVDS1 --auto --set "scaling mode" "Full aspect" --primary

          • by hazem ( 472289 )

            Thank you.

            I haven't written a bash script in ages and just with all the things I have going on, I haven't had time to come up with a script like yours. I did a simple one that uses xrandr to force back to a 1920x1080 mode, but I had no idea how to check to see if it's docked (though my laptop isn't docked to a docking station - I just keep the lid closed with a usb keyboard and mouse). I'll give your script a try.

            I agree, the strength of linux is its flexibility -- if you know where to tweak. But sometim

            • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *

              If you aren't using a dock you just need to find something else that does change. For example you might have luck looking in /proc/acpi/button/lid/LID. Failing that just look for the presence of your external keyboard, pointer (lsusb) or display (xrandr). Once you can detect the states you need to react to the rest is pretty easy.

              Notice I have the extra flip to 1024x768 for two seconds, that was trial and error when I found some versions of GNOME had problems in the past resizing from the internal to the

        • Extensions now fix the network/cpu monitor (I really missed if as well), the open new vs. brig old window up, and lots of other things. I think they've fixed the multiple monitor support as well, but I haven't done that for a while. It is kind of sad that all these changes do is bring back things we had with Gnome/Gnome-Do for ages without adding much that is good. I'm still trying to get Evolution or Thunderbird to display *visible* persistent notifications. How could they think that I want to hover my mou

      • Re:Reason? GNOME3 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by macshit ( 157376 ) <.snogglethorpe. .at.> on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:02PM (#40798411) Homepage

        I like the gnome shell (and I was previously a gnome 2 user). It was originally (years ago) very buggy and flaky, but now it works quite well, and is actually very nice ... nicer, I think, than the er, "classic" style panel. It keeps out of my way more, and is easier and quicker to use when I need it.

        People are often quite conservative when it comes to a familiar environment, and will react negatively to any change, and I think regardless of any merits, it was inevitable that there would be a lot of moaning about a change as drastic as you see in gnome 3. On the other hand, it's really quite nice to see somebody actually trying out new ideas instead of just blindly sticking with the same creaky old stuff, which was hardly perfect, even if it had the benefit of familiarity.

      • by Sussurros ( 2457406 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:51PM (#40798673)

        It was Gnome that convinced me to jump over to Linux once I'd decided to abandon Windows completely. I'd looked at OS/X but I couldn't make head nor tail of it, everything was awkward on the Mac. Gnome 2 with all the eye candy working was a thing of beauty and everythiing either just worked or could be got to work with a quick web search - I can't believe I'm writing that about Linux but there it is.

        It was Unity that pushed me away from Ubuntu, and Gnome 3 that pushed me away from Gnome. KDE is not easy and it's not logical but I've come to love it and it has grown up. Yesterday I plugged two monitors of different resolutions into a KDE machine and they just worked with no dead zone and wallpapers all fixed up for the new resolutions. That would not have happened even a year ago.

        I'm installing Linux on a computer for a newbie this weekend and where once I would have put Gnome on it I am now putting Lubuntu onto it instead. If Gnome is staring into the abyss it is because it chose to - a lemming intent on its own demise. Ave atque vale, Gnome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dosius ( 230542 )

      Yeah... MATE is GNOME now, far as I'm concerned.


    • GNOME was a good thing until version 3. It changed everything. The warning signs were there for years before. The attitude of a few dictating what was 'best' for the users, even when the users were screaming NO! NO! NO! started with the GNOME2 rewrite.

      First thing I do when I install a new system is try to get my desktop working like I had it under GNOME-1. (Usually gets harder every time, too.)

      I mostly use the old applications, though I finally abandoned Galeon when Firefox finally got add-ons that let me put the tabs on the side. Still use Sawfish for my WM, too.

      I think the only visible thing I'm using GNOME for these days is the panel.

    • >>>Win 8...everything running maximized even on 27" displays...

      Say what? You can't layer tiny windows overlapping each other??

      I use LXDE (lubuntu). I want a fast responsive desktop and Gnome is not that.

    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      Worst is Firefox and Thunderbird. Why cannot they obey X session? Why cannot they start up in the desktop I would like them to (Ileft them when I restarted).

      WHY CANNOT LINUX DESTOP STARTUP AUTOMATICALLY AS I WANT IT? Why is everything randomly placed? I used quite a lot of time putting certain programs to certain desktops. But no, some asshole thinks s/he "knows better".

    • by Nethead ( 1563 )

      I know that I "unfriended" you a while ago but I have to say that I would give this rant +5000 insightful. Maybe I need to get off your lawn.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by danbuter ( 2019760 )
      Gnome 2 was a great DE. Unfortunately, whoever made the user interface for Gnome 3 made an epic fail. It's just not usable, to me. It changes a lot of stuff in an effort to be innovative, but some of the changes just make the system harder to use. I highly recommend people switch to MATE (a fork of Gnome2) or try out XFCE. Either one is better than Gnome 3.
    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      But KDE 4.0 was crap, too. And with 4.2 they got it usable, with 4.4 or something like this it was better than 3.x. Why aren't the gnome guys achieving the same? Nothing against a clean restart, but then they need to recover from the total loss of features.

  • I'll say it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 00Monkey ( 264977 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:58PM (#40797497) Homepage

    "Nobody can say if GNOME 3 is better or worse than GNOME 2."

    GNOME 3 is *worse* than GNOME 2. By far. Plus more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      By far. Plus more.

      Double plus ungood even.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      That right there is the problem ... EVERYBODY says Gnome 3 is worse, and quite loudly too, but what do we get direct from a GTK developers mouth?

      no shit its circling the drain, they make a product people dont want!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:02PM (#40797525)

    The big issue with many modern desktops including Gnome and Win8 is they are hell bent on chasing the "dumb it down! dumb it all down! moaarrr dumber!!" crowd. Ripping out power user functionality, removing configurability, and generally making it about as annoying to use for proficient users as possible.

    There aren't many "real" desktops left. KDE is left. Some like it, some don't, but at least it hasn't dumbed itself down to placate the LCD who think computers shouldn't be any more complex than operating a toaster. Win7 is alright. Most of the others have gone off the deep end in their quest to satisfy people who need the most simplistic interface possible at the expense of power features and customization.

    • by Shikaku ( 1129753 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:11PM (#40797593)

      XFCE is still around and became my desktop after Gnome2 support was dropped on Arch Linux.

      Linux Mint also has Cinnamon.

    • by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:26PM (#40798153)

      The big issue with many modern desktops including Gnome and Win8 is they are hell bent on chasing the "dumb it down! dumb it all down! moaarrr dumber!!" crowd. Ripping out power user functionality, removing configurability, and generally making it about as annoying to use for proficient users as possible.

      For some reason stagnation is expected in computing, even when this is rare elsewhere. I call them "permanant noobs".

      When you got your first bicycle and used it with training wheels, no one expected that you would still use those training wheels years later. When you got your learner's permit, it was expected that this was a stepping stone you would use to ultimatley gain enough skill to get your own proper driver's license. No one actually expected that these early learning stages would or should be permanent.

      The "dumb it down" mentality with computing is the assumption that the early learning stages should be sanctified and made permanent, that they are some kind of perfect ideal, that it's not reasonable to ever expect a user's skill to grow with time. Sure, some users have more aptitude than others, some learn faster than others, but the "dumb it down" idea throws all of that out and assumes no one should ever learn anything.

      It's like anything else. It grows if you feed it. It shrinks if you starve it. The constant feeding of it in mainstream thought has led to users who can operate a computer for 5+ years and still know nothing more about it than when they started. They get frustrated at the same problems that frustrated them five years ago because they have not learned anything. They demand overly-simplified interfaces and balk at the slightest investment of learning (and even then, nothing major, just paying attention and picking up facts here and there with experience would make a big difference).

      It's standard penny-wise, dollar-stupid thinking. It's saving a slight effort in the short term in order to screw oneself in the long term. An intermediate user with an interface that presents the available options in an intelligent way has a much better experience than any user with an interface built on the assumption that you're an idiot. But the concept of making an investment is alien to this mentality. It's by no means limited to computing. You see it in corporations all the time, where everything is all about this quarter's earnings even when this leads to long-term sustainability problems.

      • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @02:34AM (#40799497)

        Well put.

        I have a theory for this based on my observations of older computer users, especially those that started in the DOS era.

        Back in those days, two things were significantly different to now:

        1) Software came with printed manuals written in a "tutorial" style. These days, most software comes with electronic help files at best, usually written in a "reference" style with no theory or explanations.
        2) A few very popular products at the time like Norton Disk Doctor had a radically different UI style that actually explained things, and this helped people learn as they went.

        I remember my father reading through the Corel Draw manual end-to-end, and he ended up learning how to use it completely. He's not a graphic artist by any means, but I've seen him develop fantastically complex multi-layer vector art for use in embedding in documents back when DOS 6 was new. These days, I'm shocked when I see vector art in a Word document. It just doesn't happen because it's "too complex" for most users, even though vector drawing programs have gotten better and easier to use!

        It's the second one that I'd like to see make a come-back the most. Norton at the time was a fanstastic product, because its author realized that everyone else was doing UI design wrong. Nobody has picked up on his insight, and everybody still does it wrong.

        Ask yourself this: How many times have you seen a dialox box pop up on the screen demanding an immediate response to a scary question with no explanation? Things like:

        This could damage your system! Are you sure? Yes or No?

        Think about it for a second. How is the poor user expected to respond to this? What the fuck is "this"? What kind of "damage"? Should he press "yes"? Or "no"? Why? Why not? On what basis should he decide?

        Practically all software is like this. Operating systems like Windows literally barrage users with prompts that are exactly like that, dozens of times a day. The prompts never give any useful information, even for Administrators, let alone a non-technical user. Users learn only to click "OK" to everything and pray. No understanding is gained.

        For comparison, Norton Disk Doctor had full screen dialog boxes with paragraphs of text explaining things like:
        - What triggered this message
        - A detailed explanation of what the question means
        - What will happen if you press 'yes'
        - What will happen if you press 'no'
        - The risk to your data for both cases

        I saw users who were still at the stage where they could only type with one finger confidently making complex technical decisions because they were informed. The explanations thought them something, and they learned, and got better at using computers.

        I haven't seen a product like that since, by any vendor. Coupled with the combination of manuals becoming a rarity, it's no surprise that users aren't learning anything.

  • ...until Netcraft confirms it.

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:09PM (#40797581) Homepage

    ...and I like it.

    TFA seems to be describing a mature software project that has entered maintenance mode. Why would this be a bad thing?

    TFA says, "Distros are dropping GNOME for other environments instead of working with GNOME," with "other" and "environments" hyperlinked to Unity and Cinnamon. Actually, aren't these projects that share a ton of code with GNOME? So what's the problem? Users have a bunch of different choices. The developers offering these choices are sharing code. Users who prefer something outside this family of choices, such as KDE or Fluxbox or XFCE, can also do their own thing. This is also good. All the same apps run just fine in all these different environments. This is also good.

    TFA says, "The claimed target users for GNOME are leaving desktop computers behind for types of devices GNOME doesn't work on," with hyperlinks referring to smartphones and tablet computers. Again, I don't see the problem. Users have other choices besides keyboard-and-mouse computers. I kind of doubt that anyone is choosing to use a smartphone to write their novel, so maybe users are actually using the correct tool for the correct job: desktops for the jobs that desktops are good for, smartphones for the jobs that smartphones are good for. Once again, what's the problem?

    • Because when it comes to open source software, when it stops becoming interesting and fun the projects stop being really maintained and start developing bugs with new hardware, security flaws that are unpatched, etc.
  • MATE (Score:5, Informative)

    by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:09PM (#40797587)
    I recently deployed a Debian Testing system and I didn't like GNOME 3. (it reminded me of KDE 4.0's initial release several years ago when everything was glitchy and barely functional) GNOME3 might eventually develop into something usable like KDE 4 did, but it just needs more time and a lot more polish.

    If you want to keep using GNOME2, I suggest using MATE []. It's basically a renamed GNOME2 fork.
    • Re:MATE (Score:4, Interesting)

      by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:31PM (#40797761) Homepage Journal

      Hopefully those developers leaving GNOME are heading over to work on MATE. Hopefully.

      I'd love to use MATE, but I don't want to get invested when it's still essentially someone's personal project.

      KDE4 or XFCE for me, meanwhile. I keep flirting with fluxbox too, but I miss some of the more integrated aspects of a full DM like KDE.

    • Don't forget Cinnamon - a replacement for the Gnome3 shell that looks and works, for the most part, like Gnome2 and any other sane DE did.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:11PM (#40797597)
    GNOME 3 missed the point of being a desktop environment which is to act like its supposed to and not get in the way of the user. The users of GNOME don't like GNOME 3, but the developers think that they somehow know better than the users of their product, naturally this lead to many users abandoning GNOME and forking it in projects like MATE.

    GNOME was badly managed for years, but it was tolerable until GNOME 3.
    • by kiore ( 734594 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:29PM (#40797741) Homepage Journal
      I'm a KDE user so don't directly experience this, but I went through similar pain with KDE 4. I hated it when it came out, and I still don't like it as much as I liked the earlier less ambitious versions, but I did eventually get used to most of it, especially once I found out how to replace its menu system with the classic view.

      It beats me why developers of alternate desktops feel the need to repeat the worst mistakes of the market leaders.

  • Well I use something calle Unity, not this "GNOME" of which you speak. Desktops have always been on shifting sands, but I'm pretty sure we're not about to plunge back into Winidows 3.x.
  • "Back then, the GNOME project had essentially achieved what it set out to do: a working Free desktop environment. Since then, nobody has managed to set new goals for the project"

    What's wrong with the old goals? as in "Make a working Free desktop environment work better and better".

    Nobody questions what the goals of GCC project are: make better compilers which work better with new hardware. It's at least 20 years old.

    My opinion unburdened with empirical fact: The new GNOME developers were young and they r

  • by Technomancer ( 51963 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:36PM (#40797795)

    I never quite understood the attraction. What exactly is this whole GNOME or KDE package for? Granted, there are some decent programs that came with them, but do they really require all the extra baggage of 10 layers of crappy libraries with fancy names? Both KDE and GNOME are just pointless empire building exercises by bunch of people who want to force their way of computer interaction on everyone else.

    The OS should do one thing, provide services to programs. On UI level that includes managing windows and provide some way of task switching. Widget library is nice too since it saves some time for programmers, but it doesn't really have to be part of OS. On Windows this functionality is pretty much built in to the point of being (almost) non replaceable. Thankfully on Unix one has a choice of window manager, task switchers/panels, widget libraries etc. The users should be able to mix and match them to fulfill their needs. Some distros like Ubuntu may make these choices for the users that do not care much what they use. Where do mega projects "we gonna takeover your computer and make you do things our way" like GNOME and KDE fit? Nowhere, and finally people realize that.

    The only thing that can be done with these projects is to salvage any good apps they have created and make them into independent projects. There is less and less to salvage though because GNOME managed to create dumber and dumber versions of the same things (like image viewers or browsers or file managers etc).

    For instance, why would anyone ever use web browsers that GNOME has created (is the latest one Epiphany or something?) when there is Firefox, Chrome or Seamonkey made by people who know what they are doing?

    There are some nice projects like LXDE, and to lesser degree XFCE which are actually helpful, they put together bunch of tools, most of them optional, and give you quite a lot of choice. Although XFCE is getting fatter and fatter.

    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      The OS should do one thing, provide services to programs.

      An opinion you will only encounter on /. and Linux sites.

      A UI is a type of interface, which is a "contract" for consistent interaction. What you are saying is that consistency should only be a goal when coding for other programmers (users don't need or deserve it). There is no contract between the programmer and users. The problem is, you can't even give an inconsistent product away for free -- people won't take it, and in threads like this one I find that knowledge to be extremely gratifying.

      • You are right: "A UI is a type of interface, which is a "contract" for consistent interaction"
        The problem is that GNOME3 broke that contract more than any other UI until then, and in ways that made it harder and harder for professional Linux users to get their work done. GNOME 3 broke the contract of being useful for being cool or for being like some "UI designer" though everyone has to interact now.
        I hope they just send the whole failed effort to /dev/null and start over.

    • What exactly is this whole GNOME or KDE package for?

      Providing a whole slew of handy things that a program can reuse for its own ends. For instance, KDE provides "KIO slaves" so that apps loading and saving files through a KDE backend can read/write with any filesystem that KDE supports. If you install the SFTP KIO slave, every KDE app gains the ability to save files to an SFTP server instead of having to implement that functionality themselves. That's what GNOME and KDE are for.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:40PM (#40798883)

      "LXDE, and to lesser degree XFCE"

      really? LXDE cant even set a clock without going into regular expressions, or put a trash can on your desktop without editing text files, XFCE is the non broken version of LXDE from a users perspective

  • Unity wins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by InlawBiker ( 1124825 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:37PM (#40797797)

    Everybody was all up in arms with Ubuntu went with Unity. It was a head scratcher for a lot of folks unless you think about it from their point of view. The desktop is arguably the most important part - if users don't like it, that's it baby game over. Now imagine putting your whole product's future in the hands of Gnome or KDE. Those teams are like herds of ADHD children running amok with knives. KDE and Gnome had a decade to get their act together, they missed the boat on a Windows CE epic scale.

    • Re:Unity wins (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:35PM (#40798577)

      Except that Unity is absolutely the worst kind of horror: unrepentant horror. They refuse to acknowledge that they've done wrong. I work in a company with a strong Linux element, and while ubuntu is the preferred distro, nobody runs unity. Describing KDE or Gnome as having run amok is somewhat unfair, the desktop in Linux has improved significantly over the past decade. I doubt they achieved all their goals, but they have achieved something significantly positive.

      • by nhaines ( 622289 )

        Except that Unity is absolutely the worst kind of horror: unrepentant horror. They refuse to acknowledge that they've done wrong.

        They haven't. The Unity desktop manager works just as it is designed to do, with a simple elegance that maxmizes screen space for your applications and a very useful Alt-` and Alt-Tab switcher. In addition, new users understand and can use the system quickly. When giving presentations to college students and other non-Linux users, the reaction has been "Oh wow, that looks great" every single time. Even my dad said "wow, they've really been polishing Ubuntu, haven't they?" the first time he saw Unity.

        I work in a company with a strong Linux element, and while ubuntu is the preferred distro, nobody runs unity.


  • by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:43PM (#40797845) Journal
    I am quite liking Mate and can say it's a helluva lot better than Gnome3; it's basically Gnome2, which is why I'm using it. Maybe the Gnome3 crowd would have been more successful in North Korea, or some Japanese underground fetish club, with Unity wiggling about on stage. If Gnome3 had a voice, it would sound like an angry high-pitched Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyway, suicide is almost always depressing to witness, but in this case, I wish them expedience and success.
  • It wasn't GNOME 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ronmon ( 95471 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:45PM (#40797863)

    The day that Miguel abandoned it and handed the reins to Havoc was the day the music died. That was the start of a downward spiral that never ended. What was the users' DE became Czar Havoc's DE. Shortly thereafter I switched to XFCE and never looked back.

  • Gnome is one of those things where everybody can clearly point at the exact moment it became a fucking mess.

    Gnome 3 turned me into a KDE user. KDE has it's own problems, but not like Gnome.

  • The end users can say if gnome3 is better or worse than gnome2 (and have!). I'm using xfce until gnome and kde get their acts together (if ever).
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:49PM (#40797889) Homepage

    GNOME 3 represents the kind of "I'm not going to listen to the users" once displayed by XFree86. But there are other problems as well. Recently I have come to realize that there is a problem that few have noticed.

    Imagine an application and an OS sharing the same libraries... not unusual in some instances, but I have come to realize that I can't run GiMP 2.8.0 on CentOS 6.x because the GTK and related libraries and dependencies are so connected with GNOME that all of GNOME needs to be upgraded in order to be able to run the application! While that's not 100% true in that I was able to compile all the needed libraries in /opt/gnome-2.8, the resulting compiled code doesn't integrate well with my existing GNOME 2.x desktop. It's frustrating and annoying. The operating environment shouldn't be such that it conflicts with applications. Someone wasn't paying attention to certain unexpected consequences. So here I sit with Windows having better support for GiMP than a current Linux distribution. Sad and pathetic.

    GNOME is breaking my heart with all of this. I was quite loyal to its use but damn... GNOME3, then Unity? People have made it clear they don't want this. They keep going as if by forcing it down our thoats, we will learn to accept it. The missing ingredient here is CRITICAL MASS. Critical mass is the main ingredient in Microsoft's disgusting recipe. We all hate it but we eat it because there's nothing else. GNOME doesn't have that ingredient. Whatever they are trying to do isn't going to work and will result in their becoming another failed project... another lesson learned in failed Linux projects.

  • by grege1 ( 1065244 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:54PM (#40797911)
    I use Gnome 3.4 every day and would never go back to the old ways. Extension are a terrific idea and there is plenty of development in that area. The future of the desktop is as a seamless connection to the Internet, so that local apps and online apps are both available as if they are all installed locally. Queue the naysayers who will go on about what happens when you do not have a connection. That is why Gnome can be a mixture of local and remote. You can stay stuck in the past with Mate, or move into the future. It does not bother me if you stay stuck in the past, but I look forward to the next generation of Gnome, and the one after that. Lastly, there would not be a Unity or a Cinnamon without Gnome. Both are merely alternate shells to Gnome 3.x. But that is the strength of the new Gnome, you can make alternate shells.
  • The issue isn't Gnome 3 vs. Gnome 2 at all. The issue is DE's are boring. Remember when Compiz was first being developed? There were crazy plugins to make the windows dissolve into flames and wobble and all that. Gimmicks. Fun for a second but they're gimmicks. What ended up happening was DE's merging the compositing effects into the DE and sticking to keeping out of the way of the user. BOOORRING. All the DE needs to do is provide a way to launch apps and manage settings and that's not fun to work on if th

  • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:05PM (#40797991)

    Gnome 3.0 had me trying out various tiling window managers to get rid of the horrible Shell.

    Gnome 3.2 came out and I went back to the Shell. I needed a ton of extensions to get a usable desktop.

    Now, with 3.4, all I need to add is a direct shortcut to each desktop. Alas, the GUI offers me shortcuts only for the first four desktops, but at least it is possible to set shortcuts for all of them on the command line. I no longer have any extensions installed. Super + typing part of the application name is wonderful.

    All in all, 3.4 is IMHO nicer than Gnome 2. The road to get there has been horrendous and it may have cost too many users and developers for Gnome to be viable in the future. I hope Gnome will survive, because it is the best desktop I have tried so far.

  • by efalk ( 935211 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:12PM (#40798035)

    I wrote a couple of major apps under Gnome/Gtk 1 and put them up on Sourceforge. I packaged them for RH7 and Ubuntu 6.

    Gnome 2 came out, breaking both binary AND source compatibility. The new interfaces were baroque and I just didn't have the time to learn them.

    Ubuntu 8 renamed a key package and now my Ubuntu 6 .deb files no longer installed.

    Ubuntu 9 dropped support for Gnome/Gtk 1 completely.

    The only question that remains now is: port to QT or go the whole nine yards and port the app to Java/Swing?

  • by echusarcana ( 832151 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @09:25PM (#40798143)
    When I lose features I use, it makes me mad. Gnome 3 has this problem. It is hard to customize my colors the way I like. My computer temperature no longer sits there on my title bar. My CPU monitor is no longer there on my title bar. Gnome keeps popping up title bars over my movie playing.

    Sadly, Unity is even more frustrating and XFCE is still very rudimentary.


  • by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:58AM (#40799169)

    Nobody can say if GNOME 3 is better or worse than GNOME 2. There is no recognized metric anywhere

    False. GNOME 2 was most certainly better than GNOME 3, and the metric used to measure quality is number of "what the fuck"s, "how the fuck"s, and "why the fuck"s per hour (lower is better).

  • by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @02:23AM (#40799451)

    Nobody can say if GNOME 3 is better or worse than GNOME 2.

    That's not true, and I'll prove it: GNOME 2 worked and was okay, and GNOME 3 is a huge pile of stinky crap. Gnome 3 is worse than GNOME 2. I feel I am qualified to answer this because I try every new DE I can find time for and put them through their paces on multiple hardware setups. GNOME 2 was tops on my list because I liked that it worked reliably and predictably and mae sense in how it operates. KDE still looks nicer but is a pain to use, for me, though it is mostly okay. XFCE, Enlightenment, and LXDE have all had decent versions as well. It pains me to say it, but GNOME 3 is not just a big change, but is very, very bad as well.

    Between GNOME 3 being a stinker and the GNOME Project struggling for direction, I don't know which is the cause and which is the effect, but the two facts seem to be tightly linked.

    • I can't believe they didn't stop and have a meeting when they were flooded with negative feedback. And when it didn't stop after the first revisions, why not then?

      Are they working on a thing for public use or are they just masturbating and spraying stuff all over us?

  • Dear remaining GNOME devs,

    You guys said “If you don’t like GNOME 3, don’t use it.”

    So we took you at your word.

    The CADT [] development model remains predominant in GNOME: throwing everything away and writing something new is always much more fun (and better for the resume) than just fixing the remaining bugs in something that basically works.

    I'm a Unix sysadmin for a living. I just reinstalled my work box with Xubuntu 12.04. It's amazingly responsive and the interface doesn't make me want to set it on fucking fire. I can GET SHIT DONE AT WORK.

    I didn’t leave GNOME, it left me.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's