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GNOME 3: It’s time to let go of the past

April 17, 2014

No Linux desktop, including Unity, has generated more heated arguments than GNOME 3. Some people love it and some people despise it. Love it or hate it, GNOME 3 is here to stay and I think that’s a good thing. It’s time to let go of the past and enjoy GNOME for what it is, not what some of us would have it be.

Datamation has an article that spells out why the writer switched to GNOME, and I think it’s well worth a read since it embodies the spirit of moving on and also of accepting GNOME as it is without comparing it to other desktop environments.

Letting go of GNOME 2 to accept GNOME 3
I have to confess to you that moving on from the days of GNOME 2 have been very hard for me. I used to be a GNOME junkie, but they lost me with GNOME 3. I tried to like it but could never warm up to it because in the back of my mind I kept thinking about GNOME 2 and how much I missed it. It was a bad way of psyching myself out and not really giving GNOME 3 a chance in its own right.

I think the best thing I did when I decided to make the switch a permanent one, is to stop comparing it to other desktop environments. This allowed me to fully experience the GNOME 3 desktop without comparing it with KDE, XFCE and so on. With this new mindset, I found that the integration and work-flow were actually quite refreshing.

Speaking for myself, I think GNOME 3 is fantastic. Sure, it took some work to get used to a “new” way of doing things, yet at the end of the day I couldn’t be happier with its feature set and performance. In the interest of full disclosure, I do run XFCE on my nephew’s old laptop, since it’s the desktop he’s more satisfied with. But speaking for myself, I think GNOME is going to be my goto desktop environment for the foreseeable future. That is, of course, unless KDE woos me back somehow. And, considering I used to be a KDE user years ago, it could happen.

More at Datamation


It’s time to accept GNOME 3 in its own right, and move on from the past.

Image credit: GNOME.org

A good example of this mindset cropped up in a review of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 that I did for Desktop Linux Reviews a while back. When I wrote that review I was in the “GNOME 3 sucks” mindset, and I was not very fair in my criticisms of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. Well, you can imagine what happened when some devoted GNOME users piled into the comments section of the review.

At first I was annoyed by their criticisms of the review. But then I realized…they were right. I was letting my own personal preferences and GNOME 2 hangups cloud my judgement about Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. So I did something I almost never do, I took another stab at the review and did an edit of it, complete with an apology note for the users of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10.

Here’s the text of my note:

“Note: I’ve done some edits to this review after getting feedback from readers. The initial version was too skewed by my own lack of enthusiasm for GNOME 3. I’ve added some content and bumped up the score to better reflect the overall value of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 rather than my own feelings toward GNOME 3. Thanks to my readers for sharing their thoughts, my apologies for the earlier take on this distro. “

You can read through the comments at the bottom of the review that I linked to above. Suffice to say, I got quite an earful from the GNOME users. In retrospect I’m very glad that they spoke up as it gave me a reality check about my perceptions of GNOME 3, and the Datamation article is another confirmation for me that GNOME 3 – while still not my cup of tea – deserves to be judged independently of other desktop environments.

No single Linux desktop is right for all users
Let’s face it, there really is no single desktop environment in Linux that is going to make everybody happy. So when we talk about them it makes more sense to focus what each of them has to offer that might appeal to a user, rather than engaging in heated comparisons that ultimately miss the point that each of them is different, and none of them is perfect for every user out there.

And this is not a bad thing in any way. One of the best things about desktop Linux is that there are so many different choices, and each user can pick what he or she wants to use. No other computer operating system out there offers as large a range of choices, and this is something that we should celebrate rather than argue about. Who in their right mind would ever want Linux to offer a lesser number of choices? Not me, that’s for sure.

GNOME 3 has its place in the great pantheon of Linux desktops. It may not be right for me or for you, but it sure is right for somebody out there. So more power to them if it’s what they want to use. We should be glad that the GNOME developers have chosen a path that adds another unique choice to what we have for desktop environments.

What’s your take on this? Tell me in the comments below.


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48 Responses to GNOME 3: It’s time to let go of the past

  1. dragonmouth on May 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    There is no “best” or “worst” DE. There is only a desktop that satisfies your needs. Proclaiming loudly that xyz DE “sucks” because it does not do what you need/want is silly. Find a DE that DOES what you want.

    Most of the “it’s better than” or “it’s worse than” comes from comparing what you know and what you are used to with something you don’t know and/or are not used to. When I started distro hopping, the first few distros I played with used KDE 3.x as the DE. When I tried a distro which used Gnome 2 I could not make heads or tails of it. I hated it because it did not do things the “KDE way.” When it came to XFCE, it was even worse. Had I learned Gnome or XFCE first, then KDE would have been incomprehensible to me. When KDE 4.0 came out my reaction was “What a POS!”, “How could they screw it so badly”, “I want my KDE 3.x”, “what were the developers thinking?!”, etc. etc. etc. By now I have learned how to customize KDE 4.x, the developers have released successive, more polished versions, and I have forgotten KDE 3.x and how “bad” KDE 4.0 was.

    I have also tried a distro with Gnome Shell and a distro with Gnome 3. In each case my reaction was “Hey, this has possibilities”, but I was evaluating each desktop on its own merits and not comparing it to Gnome 2. I will continue to use KDE because I don’t want to spend the time to learn a new DE.

  2. cavebear on May 1, 2014 at 7:01 am

    I have been using linux for 12 years now and use ultimate edition. I still can not stand gnome 3 and now use mate. I do not care for the docks and stuff and will not use unity either. I get my work done easily with mate and the gnome 2 look and feel.

  3. Marcus Rhodes on April 22, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    You’re a shill. No one believes any of this. Even in the character-based days, UIs were developed from deep study in what can only be called ergonomics. Now, fashion and marketing have overwhelmed utility. It’s foolish nonsense, and it’s inhibiting productivity. Then we get served a steady stream of evangelists trying to insult our intelligence with pap like this.

  4. Mike Mixer on April 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    What it really comes down to for me is this, the only way I want to access an operating system is the way “I” want to access it. I don’t need some developer, who “knows” what’s best for me, deciding how I’m going to use my computer before I even install an operating system. The reason everybody holds on to the past is because it was working for them and the present feels like a dictation from high above saying “Trust Us, We know what we’re doing”.

  5. Stephen Green on April 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Well you guys weild a lot of power, I use ubuntu’s gmone and I like it and it’s a good one. My last out with a KDE based Linux
    and it was buggy, very buggie..

  6. Eddie G. on April 22, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I happen to love Gnome 3 and use it on both my Fedora and Debian machines. I never did understand this inherent hatred for it…as far as I can see it works, its simple, its uncluttered and clean, and it doesn’t confuse me! LoL! I’m an ex-Windows Admin, and there’s NOTHING I hate more than a cluttered desktop where you literally have to SEARCH for the icon you want to click on, because there’s so much stuff on the desktop! I prefer a sparse almots barren desktop, which allows me to focus on the task at hand without “hunting” for the app or program I need. I hope the Gnome developers never stop working on their “baby” as I would be crushed if it went away! Granted there are times they might add/remove a feature that I happen to like or use, but even if they did I would still use it, Ive just gotten so used to it and can move around in it so well that I don’t see the need to experiment or change up. If they ever went away? I would probably just go to MATE since it’s modeled off of Gnome 2.X…other than that I agree with the author, that a lot of people base their angst and dislike of Gnome from a random or previous, and brief experience with it. Had they given it a bit more time in the spotlight they might have discovered that they like it a lot more than they originally thought. Great article though!!

  7. Onan the Barbarian on April 22, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I suspect that many people have problems adapting to Gnome 3 because they still try to do things “the Gnome 2 way” and don’t realize there are better ways to do the same things.

    For example, lots of people have complained that there’s no minimize button any more. But why do they NEED to minimize windows in the first place? Most likely because they want to get to a window that’s hidden beneath other windows. But the “Gnome 3 way” to do that is through the activities overview: in two mouse clicks you get to any window no matter how many are stacked over it, without minimizing anything.

    I agree that it was a bad mistake by the Gnome developers not to provide a “classic mode” that worked right from the beginning, for people who were happy with Gnome 2 and didn’t want to change. But the solution is NOT to cripple the new interface to work like the old one. The new interface is designed for a new workflow. If you don’t want to change your workflow you shouldn’t be using it.

    • salparadise on April 23, 2014 at 4:46 am

      many people have problems adapting to Gnome 3 because they still try to do things “the Gnome 2 way”

      The “Gnome 2 way” was based on globally accepted design standards. It followed ideas that meant that you could sit down in front of any OS with a GUI, on any computer and get stuff done relatively easily because menus and buttons and certain functions tended to be in the same place in all OS’s.
      So, if I have to stop and find out completely new ways of doing things, ways that are not intuitive or obvious, ways that go against 12 years of computer use, where the majority of skills are transferable between OSX, Windows and Linux and those ways no longer work on one UI, then that UI is broken. So, Gnome3 is broken. It has been broken by stupid, arrogant children, who thought they knew better than everyone else (they didn’t) and have ruined what was an awesome project and have turned it into the sort of useless garbage Microsoft periodically come out with. And if you needed proof of that – here we are – some years after they first brought out Gnome 3 and people are still having to write pathetic articles trying to convince their readers that “it really is quite good”. If it’s not obvious by now, it never will be. The praise that is heaped upon Pantheon (elementaryOS’s UI), Mate and others (all UI’s that stick to the standards that were arrived at by people far superior to the Gnome Devs) should tell you all you need to know about Gnome 3.
      It is unintuitive nonsense. The only reason they got away with as much as they did was because they used the name of Gnome. Had Gnome3 been a startup idea it would have been torn to shreds by the whole community and rejected outright.

      • Onan the Barbarian on April 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

        Do you own a cellphone or a tablet? You must also consider those broken because they don’t follow the 40-years-old menu standard. Guess what, those are so “unintuitive” that small children learn how to use them in minutes.

        Gnome 3 does have its share of happy users, clearly it isn’t broken for them.

        Things are in the same place in all OS’s? Windows has the start button and taskbar at the bottom. OS X has the menu bar at the top. Gnome 2 had TWO bars, one at the top and one at the bottom, with things arbitrarily split between them. You call THAT consistent?

        • salparadise on April 23, 2014 at 11:51 am

          Yes, I do. It’s consistent within a known framework. Gnome3/Unity stepped outside that framework. For example – a process which used to take two clicks now takes keyboard strokes and a click? And this is supposed to be an improvement?
          It just doesn’t wash.

  8. Wogster on April 22, 2014 at 1:56 am

    All of the desktops started off with the same idea, to allow someone used to Windows, to adopt a new system, with little change. I remember the early days of Gnome and KDE, then how Ubuntu decided to go a completely different direction with Unity. If you want to see something interesting, compare Unity and Windows8, you would have thought that someone at Microsoft thought that look was positive, because Windows8 looks a lot like Unity.

    I’ve been into this stuff for 35 years, and I actually like Gnome 3, the desktop looks nice and clean, you press activities, then pick your app. Put the apps you use the most on the favourites bar. Only change I would like, is if you could right-click on an icon in the apps list, and delete the link. There is stuff on the list, that got deleted years ago, that didn’t properly clean up after itself.

    • dragonmouth on May 1, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Canonical has been trying for years to become the Microsoft of the Linux Universe. As time has passed since the founding of Canonical, there has been a convergence in philosophy and goals between them and Microsoft which could explain why Win 8 and Unity are so similar.

  9. John Morris on April 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    The nub of the hate for Gnome3 is so simple that apparently nobody wants to face it.

    Gnome 3 may or may not be a good desktop, everybody has an opinion on that which is fine. What caused the hate was the name and the implications of it. About as many people don’t like Unity but it wasn’t seen as a direct threat because you didn’t have to use it, it was not even really a fork.

    If you liked Gnome 2 on the other hand you were being told several things at once. The big takeaway was that Gnome 2 was abandoned. Even worse Gnome 3 was going to intentionally play games with library naming to foreclose the option of keeping both versions running, even for a transition period, thus the release of Gnome 3 on a distro was a flag day event to be dreaded. In other words the Gnomes realized the one DE they would never be able to compete with was their own past work, thus they had to attack it. Finally, other than the name, Gnome 3 bore almost zero family resemblance to the previous version so the overlap of people who liked GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 was going to be low, probably at least as low as KDE users, OS X users or Windows users. So those few in the overlap group would be happy while the majority very alienated and feeling abandoned would focus their ire on this new ‘interloper from the tablet world.’

    Total failure to foresee this reaction by the GNOMEs, their hurt feelings when it happened just confirmed the dissidents opinion that the GNOMEs were totally out of touch with their userss and frankly didn’t really care about the current users in their quixotic quest to gain a mythical new tablet userbase on hardware that still doesn’t exist.

    Turns out it had defenders. Enough that it even managed to fork.

  10. Jim Lynch on April 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    For those who are interested, my review of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is up on Desktop Linux Reviews:


  11. Tom on April 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I’m a stubborn man. I don’t believe in following any crowd blindly. If I think they’re going the right direction, I’ll *consider* following. I was originally a dedicated user of Gnome 2, but switched to KDE once Gnome 3 came out. I’m running a deskeop with a 27-inch non-touch monitor, not a phone nor a tablet nor a laptop. Touch makes no sense at all with my setup, so I refuse to change the way I work just to satify the Gnome leadership who believes they know better than someone who’s been computing (and programming) for over 30 years. Ah, no! I will change when I think it’s beneficial for me, and not before. Oh, and that switch to KDE? I spent half a day reconfiguring it to work the way I’m used to with Gnome 2, instead of using it as its creators intended.

    Gnome 3 is a fine operating system, but like I said, I’m not on a tablet. I don’t full-screen any application (I usually have four open at a time on my nice big monitor). I want my operating system to adapt to me, not vice versa. I am not a Lemming.

    • Finalzone on April 21, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      I use a 27-inch non-touch monitor as well and am more productive mainly using keyboard shorcut and mouse for precise editing in a graphics application. Gnome Shell lacks optimization for touch device although fairly functional with stylus.
      Nothing to do with Gnome leadership, your own habit and view were deceived by Gnome Shell its different appearance.

      “Gnome 3 is a fine operating system, but like I said, I’m not on a tablet. I don’t full-screen any application (I usually have four open at a time on my nice big monitor). I want my operating system to adapt to me, not vice versa. I am not a Lemming.”
      Gnome Shell does these tasks for with extensions called shellshape: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/294/shellshape/ or gTile: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/28/gtile/

  12. Aldii on April 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

    A while ago, I switched to Gnome Shell 3.8 (recent version that time) and I enjoy some things much more than in other desktop environments:
    * Gnome Shell is absolutely distraction-free. There is no task bar visible and no application icons. You have lots of screen estate and can work without distration.
    * The expose-style (Activities) view is a better way to locate open windows.
    * The tight integration of virtual desktops is superbe. I often use them for (1) Internet and communication, (2) text production and (3) graphics editing. This is smoother integrated than anywhere else.
    * The extension system of Gnome Shell solves the last problems. I enjoy the gTile tiling manager, the monitor status indicator, the places status indicator, a Pomodoro system and a weather indicator.

    Altogether make Gnome Shell 3 the best desktop for me.

  13. ACiDC0re on April 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I love Gnome 3 (.10). And with its extensions it makes it even better :)

    But I miss the transperancy option in Gnome-Terminal :/

    • Janogo on April 20, 2014 at 1:03 am

      Fortunately it is easily remedied. I just installed Ubuntu Gnome 14.04. You get transparency as an extension. Then it is controlled by both the extension and within the terminal… Edit > Profile Preferences > Background. Works beautifully. The only thing I miss is dual panes in Nautilus. I install Nemo to get it back but I’d rather it be included. Nevertheless Gnome 3 is quicker to tweak than the alternatives, and is a so much more productive DE.

  14. syncdram on April 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Sorry fokes, I’m the younger generation you speak of and have to honest here, Gnome 3 sucks! Cant handle the truth? let me say it again Gnome 3 SUCKS! Yea i was enticed as a windows user to listen to your sell on linux, not making this mastake again and i will make sure my windows friends don’t.

  15. littlenoodles on April 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    GNOME 3: It’s time to let go of the past. Hmmmm. Sounds exactly like the case for Windows 8 and Metro. But the problem with Metro is that it’s not a single DE. At least Linux apps can all run on top of whatever DE you choose instead of requiring you to switch back and forth between two DE’s depending on what app you’re using.

    But seriously, if the ‘future’ is worse than the past, ‘let go of the past’ is a lousy reason to embrace it. That said, I’m not even saying Gnome 3 is bad. As for the complaint about missing desktop gadgets, personally, I think desktop gadgets are silly. There’s little point in having things on your desktop that are always covered by other things. The desktop was once a useful – if overly literal – way to ease users into computing. But to the extent that it’s still prevalent on MacOS and its copycats, it’s become an albatross. I use KDE, and have a few gadgets docked to my taskbar where they’re always visible and accessible.

  16. wallyfurthermore on April 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    A lot of the Linux community is not so young anymore and like any other aging group they tend to turn in to old fogeys. They are comfortable anchored in the 90′s and 00′s. That’s fine for them but they are not the future, In fact, they impede progress.
    When Unity came out I was skeptical, but now I wouldn’t go back to a more Windows-style desktop… and I try them all from time to time. Those XF/LX style desktops are simply less efficient and more cumbersome. They’ll die out eventually. Unfortunately not soon enough.

    • Janogo on April 20, 2014 at 12:13 am

      Unfair stereotyping. I am 64, been computing for 33 years. I could be classed as an old fogey. I find Gnome 3 to be the perfect DE for myself and others in my family (most slightly younger) who saw my installation and asked me to install it on their Xfce installation which I had naively tweaked to resemble Win-7, thinking they would prefer that. Seeing me effortlessly move between open and minimised windows was all it took. I only had to show them once how to nudge the hotspot to tile all active windows in overview. They loved it. I now make Gnome 3 the first interface I introduce to new (old fogey) Linux users. I think it is the young fogeys that are unable to adapt to change. Oops that’s stereotyping.

      • wallyfurthermore on April 21, 2014 at 12:18 am

        Unfair stereotype? OK – agreed. They’re just “fogeys”.
        BTW, I’m older than you are.

  17. Jason on April 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    For me the overwhelming thing about Gnome 3 was that it was introduced even though it was clearly not what the majority of users wanted.

    That mindset, which the developers are entitled to have if they wish, means to me that they won’t care about my preferences-and so I’ll go with something that will be more likely to meet them. Being a fan of Gnome 2, it perhaps isn’t surprising that I like each of XFCE, Mate and LXDE.

    • Finalzone on April 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Which majority of users? Those using Gnome Shell are likely quietly like it. Only those making noise pretend to be a majority. The mindset is for those specific users trying to extrapolate their own preference as a majority.

      MATE, XFCE and LXDE are legacy. The former is aiming to use GTK3 which is a equivalent of Gnome Classic Session. Ironically, it will be an admittance of burden from maintaining the old GTK2.

      • Mike Mixer on April 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm

        Utter hogwash and nausea inducing shillery

  18. Jordan Lyman on April 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    OK. You enjoy this crap; I’ll get work done with some desktop that empowers me to, not with one that throws obstacles my way all the time.

  19. jymm on April 19, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I moved on from Gnome 2. I now use Mate.

    • Sean Parsons on April 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      While Mate seems like a nice DE, I don’t think it counts moving on. It is GNOME 2 continued for all those that really liked it.

  20. Janogo on April 19, 2014 at 8:44 am

    After a stint on Xfce (which I like a lot) I tried Gnome 3 again. Now I use it because it is such a productive environment. It has a nice laid back feel which makes it a very comfortable environment to work in (important for productivity). Switching between open apps is an easy fluid action, requiring less fine motor control and much less concentration.

  21. Meh on April 19, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Meh, I switched from GNOME to OSX and after doing so I realized that GNOME 3 was just a shitty rip-off of OSX created by less talented “developers”.

    • rieddu on April 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      I’m not so sure – I consider myself a better developer than the OS X crew. Anyone can be – just install Linux.

  22. nomad68 on April 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Gnome3 and Unity: change for the sake of change from myopic developers who think that desktops are reason we buy computers.

    Bottom line is computing is about apps. Desktops are just ways to launch them. Some paradigms “just work” and don’t need a tech refresh, like the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals in a car. Don’t know about you, but I’m happy with them the way they work now for as stodgy and “in the past” as that may seem. Same for the simple,lightweight desktops like XFCE, XPDE, IceWM and others that let me launch my apps, tell me what time it is and stay out of my way.

    If Gnome3, Unity and their variations made me genuinely more productive, there’d be something to discuss. The only good thing I can say about Gnome3 is it forced me to switch to XFCE4 that ended up being the best desktop I’ve ever had.

    • fusionx86 on April 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Just because something works is no reason to stop innovating. Where would we be with automobiles(or anything else) today if we took that approach? Personally, I use and really enjoy cinnamon which is a Gnome2 style DE, but I can definitely appreciate what Gnome3 is trying to accomplish. I’ve been playing with Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 the last couple of days and I have to admit that there are things I really like about it. Like many others have already said my it’s growing on me! There are things that G3 has that I want in other DEs which might lead to my conversion some time soon. Be open minded…

    • Sean Parsons on April 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      GNOME 3, which is not my cup of tea, was intended as an innovative new paradigm. It just wasn’t the paradigm I was looking for. Unity was initially developed for smaller screens (i.e., netbooks) and when Canonical didn’t care for the paradigm shift of GNOME 3 they started working harder on Unity and it has become their future as they try to create an integrated interface across multiple platforms. On a desktop I (personally) like Unity and it is ok if others don’t. The interface provides a sufficient number of visual cues while it mostly stays out of my way. I have learned to really like the HUD as opposed to a traditional menu and I am looking forward to trying it out on other platforms as it matures.

      The nice thing about the various NIXes is that you have choice. You can switch DEs/WMs like the author without overwriting all your data. At various times my favorite DE/WM has been KDE 1.x, 2.x, 3.x, EvilWM, OpenBox, GNOME 2.x, Xfce 3.x, 4.x, and currently it is Unity.

  23. Paul on April 18, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I like Gnome3 but it took me 3 tries before I accepted it. It is different and people new to Gnome wonder why the heck is there no taskbar and other things. Now I can say I work very fast with Gnome and I do almost everything with the keyboard. I also enjoy its clean look and the fact that the DE is not cluttered with gadgets you usually find on other DEs. In the beginning I thought I also need those back (the gadgets) but I found that I really don’t need them and I only grew accustomed to them and they really didn’t serve a purpose other than being eye candy.

    I don’t think Gnome is perfect. It still has some work to do but I understand the direction now and it’s good to have a DE which does not follow the treaded WinXP path. Keep up the good work Gnome3 team!

  24. Charles on April 18, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I used to love gnome2 now i’m using Xfce and it’s even better too bad Gnome 3 follow the unity with all the useless eyecandy

    • Paul on April 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Well the thing is there is no eyecandy in gnome3 world anymore — wonder why you haven’t noticed that.

    • Janogo on April 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Eye candy on Gnome 3 ???. I think you’re thinking of KDE.

  25. archdist on April 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I am using Linux for the past 10yrs and was never satisfied with gnome2/kde,i always felt they were ugly /MS Windows like,Gnome 3 felt like a new approach and i instantly liked it, when i first used gnome 3 shell. I was a distro and DE hopper before , but now i feel their is not need to do that as i found my favorite distro(arch Linux) and my favorite DE(gnome 3) i have used all versions of gnome 3 and feel it is getting better and better gnome 3.12 is my favorite so far.

  26. Anja on April 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    It doesn’t suck! But then I never really liked Gnome 2 to begin with. I’m using Gnome-Shell right now — albeit with custom themes, at least a dozen extensions, mostly “other” applications, and some puzzlement as to why the tweak tool (or something like it) can’t be part of the main gnome-control-panel.

    I do think Gnome-Shell needs to interoperate better with applications outside its own ecosystem. Accepting “legacy” tray icons into the top bar by default would be a start; preferably so that they respond to the mouse wheel (tried various ALSA mixers/volume knobs, unsuccessfully… not everyone’s soundcard is fully functional when managed by PulseAudio).

    Not relying on Evolution for the clock calender would be nice as well.

    And that “Dash to Dock” extension? I’d already have lost my nerves without it. Especially on my netbook… the full overview is very slow to appear, as is the “Application Menu” extension. (Somehow KDE’s eyecandy carries no such speed penalty.)

    Finally, with an application menu, the default .menu file gives you Sundry, Other, Accessories *and* Utilities, which is basically “small application hide-and-seek”… wouldn’t *one* “Assorted Small Stuff” category have sufficed? It’s not like the categories system wasn’t inconsistent enough already…

    So, it’s not a DE I’d recommend to newbies, but I’m fine using it after the usual customization efforts.

  27. Cornel Panceac on April 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    my take on this is this: i was enthusyastic about gnome 3 since it landed in fedora 15 rawhide. the problem with it is that it is plagued by various bugs which from time to time makes my old computers crash in one way or another. this is the reason my two main dektops are using MATE instead. Still, i’m writing this on my x200 thinkpad’s gnome 3.12 shell, running fairly updated rawhide :) on this particular machine, gnome3 was more stable, so i can stay on it. another thing is that on gnome3 the performance of graphical drivers is not that good. looking at a clip in full screen flash player just doesn’t feel smooth. also, tere are other ways in which various components do not work right (lates example is gdm, where the user list is not always displayed, at least in 3.10 or 3.12). so, in my opinion, this is the main reason gnome 3 can not still compete as a production environment on most cases.

  28. Hunkah on April 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Every time someone does a write up of how they like or hate Gnome 3, the comments always say how KDE is better or Mate is better, but never is anything said about Cinnamon. I seriously feel that Cinnamon is everything that Gnome 3 was supposed to be… (For those that were expecting Gnome 3 to feel like Gnome 2 but better).

    I was going to say something sarcastic about “It’s time to let go of the past” and say something like “Gnome 3 was so yesterday” I’ve let go. But it is difficult to make funny as intended. So instead, I would suggest everyone at least try Cinnamon.

    I was a solid believe in Mate and felt that it was going to sooth all my Gnome 3 woes, but then I tried Cinnamon and almost immediately felt like I found my new desktop. I am happy. I’ve let go of Mate, Gnome 3… never used KDE because I always felt it looked clunky and ugly. The rest I’ve tried, but aren’t for me.

  29. Gary Newell on April 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    It is easy to get stuck in a mindset. I always used to find KDE cumbersome and unnecessary but I really enjoy using it now.

    I think all the desktop environments have their merits.

    Unity is brilliant for getting where you want to go quickly, Gnome is similar. Cinnamon is a glossy more traditional desktop. MATE is quick and nimble. XFCE is highly customisable. LXDE is light and quick.

    They all have good features and all of them have little quirks here and there.

  30. Skywalker on April 18, 2014 at 11:51 am

    “Who in their right mind would ever want Linux to offer a lesser number of choices? Not me, that’s for sure.”

    As far as I know, that was always the key point for most of the opponents. Unity and Gnome 3 arrive, sure they do add 2 choices to the panel of existing environments. But doing so, they also killed Gnome 2, which was one of the most popular desktops back then. Lightweight if you knew how to do it, feature-rich, etc.

    At the time I was using a gnome 2 distribution, and they tried to maintain gnome 2 as long as possible (about 1 year iirc). But eventually, one by one, major applications moved to gtk3. Documentation for setting up up-to-date software with that gnome 2 distro became harder and harder to find. And the distro had to give up.

    There have been attempts at mimicking gnome 2′s behavior with gtk3, but as far as I know they’ve never been conclusive.

    I have tried to switch to gnome 3 and unity at that time, of course. But it was the time when developers started to consider that everybody had decent 3d acceleration in their computers, and I was one of the unfortunate owners of an atom with very poor graphic capabilities, and well… that was an unpleasant experience. The fallback mode did exist, but in my memory it was a tradeoff of features versus performance. “Upgrading” from gnome 2 to gnome 3 fallback meant losing features (can’t remember which, sorry, but enough to get me off searching for new things).

    So I moved on, eventually ended up reconsidering my view about KDE and using KDE plasma on my small but faithful netbook.

    Maybe it is time to see how that desktop has matured? If KDE, the “bloated and slow and heavy” KDE, could surprise me in its modern version, maybe gnome shell can as well…
    But my point is: while gnome 3 in 2014 might we worth a try, and might even be a very good DE for what I know, it doesn’t mean all opinions back in 2012 were prejudicated and subjective and unfair. If for some user, upgrading the desktop feels like a regression, in features or in performance, then you can’t blame the user for leaving. :p

  31. Brian Masinick on April 17, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Yeah, I read Matt Hartley’s comments that he published back on April 14 in Datamation. Like another Datamation author, Bruce Byfield, whose reviews of desktop environments and office suites I enjoy and respect very much, Matt is also pretty open minded.

    As for me and my take, yes, your original work was biased. I thought you wrote it to get a rise out of people and some activity, at first, to be honest with you, and I thought to myself, “Yeah, Jim is REALLY going to get some action here”! … and you did, but some of the people were so hostile in their comments that they reminded me of the KKK groups and other “racial supremacy” type groups. Some of those guys seemed angry enough to put a burning stake in your lawn, (and tie you to it, if they could find you)… well, maybe not quite, but they were pretty upset.

    I’d don’t try to get people wound up; I state my opinion and always leave others a right to theirs. I do feel, for a project that is so much based on principles of “Open Source”, community, freedom, and things like that, I was a bit surprised when GNOME 3 came out the way that it did, having the benefits of history, seeing how Xfce and KDE did when they changed their technologies. Actually, of the three of them, Xfce had the least amount of difficulty, but they weren’t changing nearly as much. They went from using XForms – that’s where the XF in XFCE came from, and they went to Gtk 2+, which GNOME also uses as its toolkit.

    I remember a few things being a bit weird at first, but the changes were not too painful. KDE was rough; when it first started, the first .0 major release of Version 4.0 was really only a development snapshot, to allow developers to test. Anyone who used it in a distribution initially as their feature desktop was greatly disappointed. I used KDE, but sparingly, in those days, and I recall that KDE 4.2.4 was the first build that really satisfied my basic needs, but by then, I’d been using other things long enough that other than a few good KDE tools, such as k3b, the media burner, Kopete, the instant messaging mega client, Kaffeine, a pretty good media player, though there were other good tools, such as Konsole, Konqueror (and newer tools in the ecosystem these days, such as Okular (for accessing various text media types, such as PDF and Postscript, very handy).

    KDE eventually learned their lesson and improved before GNOME 3 got off the ground. You’d think they’d learned a lot; at first, it seemed like they did, but when the first actual GNOME 3 builds became available, it was so new and different that only a few really enjoyed it.

    What seems to make sense, as far as I am concerned, is to either offer a compatibility mode with old releases or allow forks, rebuilds, something that keeps old followers content, or they will look elsewhere. We see it with XP converts; if they can’t use what they are used to and have to change anyway, that’s when they are most likely to look at – and for – something else.

    All that said, GNOME 3 wasn’t a disaster. I tried it near the beginning; it worked, I just never personally cared for it, so I’ve used other things. I will say that the Linux Mint 16 MATE user interface, which really leverages GNOME 2 usability, is one of the nicest desktop environments around today, even though I am not a MATE fan either. Cinnamon, also started in the Mint trenches to make GNOME 3 a bit more palatable, is also decent; had GNOME 3 offered one of these two themselves, things might be different today and you’d have THREE true GNOME alternatives; we do, but they’re not authored, maintained, and controlled in the GNOME project any longer. At least we have those choices, so all of that is very good!

  32. Justin on April 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I think that gnome 3 is maturing nicely as is unity. With each release and new version they both keep getting better. I think the most important thing is making sure that they don’t use up too many resources.

    Having a lightweight desktop environment as well as one that is full featured, is an important thing to consider as well.

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