On the other hand, I understand the practical necessity of limiting the number of moving parts in a project. If Gnome thinks developer manpower is better spent in a place outside of the theme framework, then that's just a symptom of not having enough developers. It's the practical reality: some parts of the OS get more love than others.
I also don't get his Launchpad example either. Canonical never built it for anyone but themselves. Why complain that they won't give open it up? They wrote it, they can do what they want with it.
What I think this article is truly complaining about isn't lack of choice or branding, but the core cause of those things: the slow creep of "I know better than you do" design. Personally I blame two actors for this: Steve Jobs and 37 Signals. Steve Jobs made a zillion bucks cramming his design decisions down peoples' throats. 37 Signals was the developer's darling for many years, and were the big early proponents of "opinionated design." Both of these things appeal greatly to a human being's ego:
"Yeah, Steve Jobs is right! I'm such a great designer, so if I want to make a zillion bucks, I must realize that users are idiots and my beautiful product will make them love their lives again, and if they don't like it they, can suck it!"
"Yeah, 37 Signals is right! I'm so smart, I can decide what my users want, and if they don't like my opinion, they can suck it!"
Well, there's no doubt that those models worked for Steve Jobs and 37 Signals. Both are very successful. But when they start preaching that stuff to regular developers who lack the luck and talent to become a multi-million-dollar success, what we get is projects like Gnome 3 and Unity. People acting like design dictators--Steve Jobs--but forgetting that he was a once-in-a-century genius. People acting like their opinions are the best and different ones can suck it--37 Signals--but without the special sauce and determination that made that team successful.
Folks: You are not Steve Jobs and you are not 37 Signals. With few exceptions the cult of design dictatorship is the worst thing to happen to fledgling software projects in the past decade. Good designers (both graphic and architectural) can succeed as dictators, but good designers are few and far between. What the cult really does is give bad designers an excuse to be always right. And when bad designers are always right, bad design becomes par for the course.
It just seem like you're arguing that everyone (except Jobs) should not try to have any control over the project they're working on at all, but just implement whatever any user requests.
However, that is not gonna produce anything useful, nor will it help you when what different users want conflict, and its most definitely not a good way to allocate the sparse resources there is.
Users of Gnome 3 are being very vocal with genuine (and some not-so-genuine) complaints about how the design process is going and what the final product is like. Since the Gnome guys are now in the cult of design dictatorship, they are always right no matter what--even at the expense of their own users--and their users are wrong to complain. The result will be an ultimately failed product. (I would bet money that at some point in the next 2-5 years Ubuntu will fork significant parts, if not the entirety, of Gnome--and when the 500lb gorilla picks up his toys and leaves, the game's over.)
Yes, a product must have some kind of vision, and at the end of the day someone's got to implement it, regardless of their talent. But humble designers recognize complaints and the needs of their users. Design dictators ignore them, because the dictators are by definition always right. That's a bad attitude to have, because most designers aren't perfect--but the human ego loves having control and loves being right. When people are told that success means being opinionated, it's a very easy thing to agree with, because everyone thinks their own opinions are the best.
The replacing of Gnome has already begun. They replaced Gnome Shell with Unity and GDM with LightDM. They're using Qt more often now as well (I believe Ubuntu One is Qt and I know that Unity2D is too), so it seems that perhaps GTK+ will be next.
This is becoming even more true as Steam will probably only support Ubuntu. Games are where the desktop users are. Gnome can spin its wheels and bask in its own self-righteous awesomeness but if the users aren't there, then it's all for nothing.
If they want to offer better binary compatibility between releases... well they can't, because they don't employ those guys.
If they want to support a new OpenGL release... well they can't, they don't employ those guys.
Ubuntu is crazy popular, but people really underestimate the extent to which they are an epiphenomenon.
Has Valve said that they will only be supporting Ubuntu, at the moment they are still in a private beta for the initial port to Linux, and if it goes well I suspect that we will see Valve support steam on non-Ubuntu systems. Even if they do not officially support other systems, I suspect we will see people make on-official ports.
RHEL 7 is based on Fedora 18, and will ship with Gnome 3.6 including the shell as default. It will be interesting to see how many corporate clients start using fallback on their desktop clients... and I saw a note somewhere that XFCE may be made available in the RHEL 7 repositories.
I say this as one currently using Gnome Ubuntu Remix on a couple of machines to see what 3.6 is like - its actually quite nice in my opinion.
The case I have in mind is the lack of an option to leave the screen on even when inactive for a long time, because the developers want to discourage that power usage pattern (https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=647828). Typically users do not need to leave a screen always on, so the default behaviour should not be to leave the screen always on, but if a user needs to leave a screen always on for whatever reason, why should they have to install an extension?
It is the Gnome designers' job to design the system to their taste, but it is not their job to try to influence the users.
What amazes me is with all their infrastructure and libraries was that they never made a word processor from their own framework.
Often the functionality removed was very useful. Want to keep your screen on all the time? Can't - you have only got an hour. Write an extension or patch the program to get around the issue (VLC). Want beautiful screensavers? it was removed, and needs to be reimplemented. What was that about not taking up the time of scarce resources again?
But I dislike your assertion that it was all OK for Apple and 37 Signals because they're geniuses or otherwise "special" people (I particularly disagree that Jobs was a "once-in-a-century genius"). You are correct that reading the post, there are many things that strike brilliantly of Jobsism: extreme irritation that someone is making the beautiful thing you built for them less beautiful, and that this must be stopped by any means necessary, even if you have to weld the whole thing shut. And this very approach makes both 37 Signals and Apple products undesirable for many.
It is really bad to confuse the issue by telling people "only geniuses dare enter here". That is not the problem. Apple's closed model has come back to bite them time and time again, and Microsoft's marriage to the enterprise has allowed OS X to rise without a serious user-facing competitor on the desktop. Just as happened in the early days of the desktop, Apple's arrogance with iOS is cannibalizing their market share, and Android is emerging as the predominant mobile platform. The closed platform is simply not a real solution, even for the "geniuses" at Apple; they've simply been unchallenged. When an open challenger approaches, Apple's walled garden gets burnt down.
It really comes down to the market you're targeting. OS X and Rails are for casual users, people whose needs are very predictable and who simply need to be able to access the thing they want as quickly as possible. This means limiting options, because the likelihood a user will need that option is minimal and because in almost all cases for this audience, it's just more confusing/useless mumbo jumbo that a user must parse when they're looking for their intended setting. This works OK if you expect to stay confined to a relatively stringent niche or two (even if those niches by far comprise the majority of users), like "people who want to use Facebook" or "people who want to feel self-important while they use Photoshop". It's not really the correct approach to solving the problem, but it works for them and limits their irritation.
People who use Linux, even if they start as newbies, expect power and flexibility; they expect to be able to customize and hack and build and exploit, and share those hacks and builds and exploits with others. This is really the entire spirit behind open-source software in the first place. The prevailing desktop environments, however, are envious of OS X and want their software to see the glory; they want to be cool, they want to be desired, they want the fame. They want it so bad that they're willing to put all that work into it for free. As such, they feel a necessity to actively pursue the niche of casual users at the expense of the hackers who've used their systems for the last 20 years.
The right way to fix this problem, the way that Linux vendors and developers should be focusing on, is NOT to follow the 37 Signals and Apple paradigm of "ideal" usage path protectionism, but to figure out a paradigm that merges both sectors; the hackers and the casuals, linked together in one great whole, allowing full fluidity between both segments.
Hackers could relax and forget all that complex stuff it takes to boot up a custom environment once in a while and be mostly OK with the casual interface, and casual users could scale up and make whatever customizations are necessary, eventually becoming full-fledged hackers. The person who designs a system that allows this will be the true genius, the great unifier of the worlds of user interaction. Linux and its systems would be a very useful base system for this, so it's especially sad to see our major projects insistence on fame and glory override the real issues.
It's really disheartening to see so many people blindly following Jobs et al down the rabbit hole of arrogance so potent it entirely pervades their product instead of working on the true design issue of unifying the user bases, allowing maximum customization without getting in the users' way. gnome-shell and similar projects are great experiments in UX, but they should be built atop platforms that allow all kinds of other great UX experiments, not platforms that closed-mindedly demand compliance with the "One True Way" of user interaction. Let the One True Way emerge organically; if yours is the best, there's nothing to be afraid of, and making your platform the most flexible and open will easily allow you to incorporate any iterations or improvements that may be contributed by others.
I guess, however, the root of the problem is that people refuse to accept any iteration or improvement is possible. They have a fundamental disrespect and arrogance that leaves no room for collaboration. This is the antithesis of open-source software, and perhaps the author is right that Gnome's developers may fit in better at Microsoft.
"It really comes down to the market you're targeting. OS X and Rails are for casual users"
I guess you have to decide if you are a GNOME app, an Ubuntu app, or an XFCE app
for the first time we may have ability to really shape the user experience and form an identity for the GNOME platform
Why would the windows manager be a "brand", rather than the distribution? (Red Hat, Ubuntu).
There is no point (for them) in people "recognising the install" if they don't have easy access to it.
Having wasted enough time configuring appearance, I now would be in one of two scenarios:
1. Install a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Red Hat and then use whatever comes as a default (and avoid fiddling around to save my time for more important things). Won't use Gnome if it is not the default.
2. Install whatever allows me to use the same appearance as in the other machines. SuSE/KDE used to have a "Redmond" theme that looked and behaved like Windows Classic. Do the same in the Windows machines.
GNOME is not a window manager though. The (default) WM in gnome has been sawfish, metacity, and currently mutter. Various components come and go, but the umbrella that is gnome stays, and the brand it has is pretty much the only defining attribute of it.
That's not a Gnome dev that's William Jon McCann, the main Gnome 3 designer. That McCann claims ignorance of XFCE without shame is pretty shocking.
Individual applications may still switch to gtk3, in which case those applications will experience the breakages. But that can't be helped-- it's up to the individual application developer. In the same way, you can fire up a KDE application in Xfce and stumble across various KDE bugs.
I have no idea what will happen in the long term with regard to Xfce and gtk. Last I checked, there were no developers working on any version of gtk full-time anywhere. So maybe it would be practical for Xfce to fork gtk 2.x. Or maybe gtk 3 will settle down and they'll switch. We'll see.
P.S. I use Xfce myself. I think it's the best desktop out there today for Linux.
That's it. Gnome has peaked.
No point supporting people who are unable to grasp the idea that they work in a software-community and that pieces, even ones they don't use or make, will need to fit together.
Consistency is nice, but I'll take good inconsistent software over mediocre consistent applications. Only a couple of key apps, like file managers, really seem worth linking with the desktop.
This is true for any OS (with the possible exception of OSX, which I don't use, so I'm not going to make a blanket-statement about that). Use Windows and consider how consistent apps look there. Hint: They don't.
Look at Android and see how consistent things are there. Again: They aren't. Same with iOS.
No widely developed-for OS on the planet has a 100% consistency rates with conformance to HIGs (nor near 100% for that matter).
Why on earth do Linux DE-developers, the most fragmented of them all, on the most fragmented of all platforms, think they have a realistic chance of getting consistency nailed?
Why are they wasting time, theirs and other's, on this widely unrealistic and meaningless goal? Theirs, I could be willing to accept. Other's shows a lack of respect and understanding.
And what fuels this lack of respect? The importance of "the brand". To be honest, every time I read "brand" elevated to something ulterior in that article it made me cringe. Has marketing departments taken over FOSS? Doesn't the developers see the destructive force they are unleashing on the community?
Seeing all this wasted effort, bridges getting burnt, etc. It's just such a shame.
Indicators (which are menus created though a DBus interface) simply have no place in the gnome-shell, so the library was not merged into Gtk3 (the reasoning was that only things common to all consumers belong there). Transmission uses indicators when available but falls back to using status icons when not available. This makes it a second-class citizen in gnome-shell, even though it works.
I think the issue was actually making transmission behave better under GNOME. The discussion in the bug report even provides a patch that doesn't alter the behavior of Transmission when running under other platforms.
And it's happening to users, who are being told their concerns about GNOME3 are irrelevant, and also to developers, who are being told that "you have to decide if you are a GNOME app, an Ubuntu app, or an XFCE app." (direct quote, btw.)
Then I see something like this and I wonder if in a way that wasn't a strength.
I mean "brand coherence"? I can't imagine what that has to do with Linux. Everything has always been so configurable, that in a way a lot of aesthetic decisions were left to the user and the app developer. People used Gnome 2, and other desktop environments to design their own desktop.
I used Gnome 3 for a few months last year when I was making my swing back to using Linux full time with Fedora. I found it usable enough, but it's lack of configuration options became frustrating because it didn't allow me to fine tune my GUI workflow, it also handled multiple monitors terribly and being unconfigurable didn't allow me to adjust that.
I was initially excited about Gnome 3 but it was pretty shallow. KDE 4 is an amazing desktop environment, with lots of configurability and in keeping with letting the user design their own experience. I made a good long stop there, for about a year, optimized my windowing workflow (one size simply does not fit all) then ended using xmonad but running some KDE apps..
It looks like GNOME and Unity are turning against the traditional spirit of the Linux community. I don't think that's for the better. The answer now to the question "I don't like it." for these Desktop Environments is "If you don't like it, tough." where as before it was "If you don't like it, change it."
I don't think Linux devs should ape Apple, Google, or Microsoft. Linux can be, and is, for everyone.. but it's especially for hackers and for people who like to tweak their experience. A project like a DE is huge and by turning away from hackers they're going to limit their ability to pick up new devs and devs are going to turn away from the GTK.
For some people Ubuntu IS Linux, Gnome IS Linux.. but for others not so much.
I don't develop desktop applications currently but I would like to. I don't see myself wanting to start a new project or get intimately involved with one that is dependent on the GTK at this point though.
Also, rather humorously, the 'preferred applications' part is hidden behind System Settings > System Details > Default Applications. News to the Gnome folks: user app preferences are "Personal" not "System" (using their own terminology). Unless, of course, my selection here changes all users' settings... which would be equally insane.
GNOME killed the Linux desktop on the day it was started.
KDE was a real start to a Linux desktop that could have been competitive with Mac OS and Windows. Red Hat didn't like the license, and ever since, Linux has had a plurality of broken desktops and none that work.
The oddest thing is that the developers just haven't realized how bad their products are, or that the Linux desktop experience has been consistently getting worse over time.
Look at Unity in Ubuntu. All the most basic things, like cut and paste, scrollbars, and window resizing are FUBAR. Rather than recognizing the world-class nature of the shell environment and providing a better -term application, we just get bloated terminals for which cut-and-paste almost works.
(I'll admit the system monitor app that comes with Ubuntu is pretty, but I wonder how it makes the CPU go to 25% on a machine that's capable of high-end gaming)
This year I learned how to make a "Linux desktop" that's better than all of them. I run Windows 7 or 8, then I install Ubuntu inside of VirtualBox. Most of the time I ssh into it with a putty terminal, which is much better than any -term in Linux? (Why? Why can't Linux make a *-term that's better, or at least not worse, than xterm was in 1993?) Most X Windows apps work great with the cygwin X server, getting managed by Microsoft Windows.
The biggest problem is that the people developing this garbage don't have any idea of how bad it is. Mac OS and Windows have been getting better over the last ten years, but Linux enthusiasts won't admit that Linux has been getting worse.
If you want fancy tiled terminals there is also terminator or tmux.
This is way nicer than powershell which seems to take an age to load and won't let me resize it properly.
Not sure how the window resizing is FUBAR, but I also hate the default scrollbar in unity (unless I am running on a netbook).
At some point with 2.x, GTK stopped being GIMP's toolkit and became part of GNOME. Fortunately it remained more or less self-contained, but it's no longer the case with GTK3.
As an user, I cringe about the usability and responsiveness of GTK3 applications. I really dislike how the built-in dialogs have become. I don't like how some widgets now work. No (easy) theming (as a reversed color theme user) is also a major letdown.
I always considered GTK a nice toolkit from the user's perspective, and up to GTK 1.x it was also considerably faster than QT. GTK2 killed that, and at the same time removed any support for exotic OSes. I had 1-line patches refused under pretty much the same reasons you read in the article.
But as an user I still preferred GTK because of some nice unix-centric features (tear-off menus -- that disappeared at some point, column-based file browsers -- again killed later, user-customizable key bindings on any application -- can you still do that? I don't even care anymore, low memory, fast engines, etc).
But now QT is just superior in any front. QT has native support for OO and nice, consistent, multi-platform API, whereas GTK3 still depends of the shitty glib stack that pretends to be an OO framework (and doing a poor job at it). Ever got random glib warnings by GTK applications on the console? My xsession-errors is full of them. As a developer I just cringe at GTK. It was always bad from day 1, but now it doesn't really make any more sense. Whenever I need to consider a toolkit for a C-only based program (where QT or FLTK is not an option), I usually go for UIP. It's a shame that the looks of these toolkits do not integrate in the rest of the UI.
Right now I actively remove any GTK3 application. Whenever an application gets rebuilt I switch to a QT counterpart, which is usually more responsive and more stable over time. GTK didn't deserve this.
The Qt stack does not have support for mimetype handling for files (e.g. I want to open any text/html file). You need KDE for that.
Qt/KDE requires you to generate moc files (preprocessing the C++ code) which can make it harder to maintain if not using CMake or the Qt project format.
Qt broke the behaviour of QAudioDeviceInfo by moving it to a different package (QtMultimedia vs QtMultimediaKit). There have been times where Qt has not shipped a pc package (esp. in the package QAudioDevice moved to) which makes it difficult to add that package on build systems other than the Qt build system.
Qt does not support using gettext for translation.
Qt is in a transition from QtWidgets to QtQuick which (like Gtk3 themes) is currently a moving target.
You can see how customisable keys could confuse a normal user if they did it by accident though.
At least improvements are happening to gtk (if slowly for lack of manpower) .. for instance gtk3 makes drawing a lot simpler (a lot more based around cairo) - changes like this are important as it should be quicker to make apps.
Toolkits etc do need to refreshed from time to time or they become unmanageable, 10 years or so was pretty good for gtk2, gtk3 is only just getting started.
1. Gnome is at 3.6 they have many things that are changing rapidly. I don't expect them to limit the things they can do to make the DE _better_ just so that they have a stable API for themes.
2. I actually find myself liking gnome3 and gnome shell better then Xfce ( my fallback for the early days of gnome3 ).
The workflow they introduced hurt at first because it was different and scary, but its so natural now I find myself missing it when I work in Xfce or KDE. I know there are some developers who value above all else the freedom and ideals espoused by the FOSS movement and want a system stack that is true to those principles above all others. I am actually enjoying a well _designed_ and coherent desktop experience. Also I have the source code if something really is bothering me I can change it, but I am finding after 15+ years of tweaking config files to get everything to work the way I wanted it to I am now content to just have something that works out of the box even if I have to acclimate myself to some of its nuances. It turns out most of the time what I thought was a problem actually works better for me once I get used to it.
It's pretty easy to replace Nautilus with Nemo though (the Cinnamon fork version that emulates the old Nautilus).
The Gnome team would be wise to listen in on the feedback from the community. If they want a community that is. They seem to think that this "Gnome brand", "Gnome identity" and "Gnome platform" is the most important thing they need to concern themselves with these days.
Not being able to drop a shell script into some place to make GUI file management easier is a regression. (I say "some place" because when I was using this feature, it took forever to find the right place as it changed between released/distributions and I had to experiment to find the right set of env vars that are set, because docs were lacking).
Why don't I get to decide this for myself?
I've been using gnome 3.6 for the past month. I've been using Linux as my primary desktop for 18 years. I live in emacs. (unix cred established?) gnome 3.6 may not be perfect, but it works well. It's actually remarkable simple. I may go back to using awesomewm + gnome fallback, but gnome 3 is a solid desktop.
Guess what, not a good recipe for love of community.
There's a lot more uphill to go; it is actually quite nice to use as a day to day frontend already though.
Some of the things the api changes that have caused pain now will actually make things better over the longer term; take theming - it's all moving towards a CSS driven style.
I had wanted to check out Gnome 3, actually, just out of curiosity, but being one of these people who actually like to select their terminal emulator, I realized I'm not part of the target demographic.
And for the rest, I spend most of my time either in my browser or the terminal, so there's not really much I expect from a desktop environment than being fast and stable. I don't really care anymore.
This is a really important point.
The average computer user doesn't do a great deal outside their web browser these days. All they really need a desktop environment to do is point them to the web browser then get out of their way.
Instead of treating both screens as an extended single desktop, each screen is on it's own desktop. This allows me to mix and match desktops at will (most common with documentation), or I love swapping the two screens with each other with this line in my xmonad.hs (https://gist.github.com/2657206):
The default behavior when using a dual screen setup is each screen having some of the workspaces.
You could have gone to straight Debian (assuming you were on Ubuntu). Systemd is not the default, but it works very well as sysvinit replacement.
- William McCann: http://www.linkedin.com/in/williamjonmccann
- Allan Day: https://live.gnome.org/AllanDay
In doing so, it seems the devs have adopted the Apple approach; dictatorial design. In many respects this is a good thing. It gives them the good sense to say "no" to certain proposals; I'm sure there are active GNOME contributors who would prefer Nautilus to have five customizable toolbars, and the system menubar to have a mind-boggling array of system stats. No.
Obviously, haters gonna hate. People who get a kick out of relentlessly customizing their desktop environment will no longer feel welcome. GNOME sold out, it went mainstream, whatever. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
This is a victory for ordinary users. This is giving the developers focus. A lot of user suggestions are just pointless distractions from the core goal, which is apparently to imitate OS X as much as possible without being called on it.
But if you take this path, you better ensure that your UX is rock-solid and will satisfy the majority of your users (what Apple does).
I believe that the Gnome User Experience (interaction and visual) is poorly made (I have the feeling that most of the decisions here have not been made by UX people, and have not been seriously backed by user studies - but I'd be glad to be proved otherwise).
I also believe that Gnome is targeting an audience they don't have, leaving their current (potential) audience frustrated.
If Gnome doesn't have the resources to do proper UX design, the answer is NOT to force incomplete/broken UX on users. It's to leave options open for others to fix the UX as needed.
Design is about making choices, but if you don't have the resources to find/make the best choice at least allow the end user to make the choice they prefer instead.
What I find amusing though, is that even OSX allows more customization than Unity/Gnome. In OSX I can turn off backlight dimming on battery, I can move the dock to different sides of the screen (essential for multi-monitor setups), and I can also tweak other things via plists. There is also more than one screensaver.
Your goal should never be to innovate, it should be to improve. Yes, you improve by innovating but you should remember the goal is to improve, not make something new for new's sake.
Also it is no wonder they are understaffed, they are alienating their user base which is from where they get their developers...
Me, I like system notification areas that apps other than two or three 'official' gnome apps can use. I like to put my toolbars and menus in the place I want to have them. I don't know why you would consider this 'relentless customisation'.
Gnome hasn't sold out or gone mainstream, quite the opposite - they are losing people in droves, chasing some dream of going mainstream but actually slowly sinking into obscurity.
Perhaps you don't realize the amount of work it represents to build a consistent and solid user experience while officially supporting letting the user choose where to place its notifications, toolbars, etc, and never break this customizability afterwards.
I know, I know, I'm somehow objectively wrong for wanting this, which is fine if that's what you want to think. Like many others I left for XFCE a long time ago.
--edit-- fixed typo
The bad thing about it is the attitude, that users are being told they're wrong (constantly) and that the comparatively well-loved GNOME 2 was effectively declared dead and deprecated from day 1, instead of being respectfully handed off to the community or a maintenance team. Hell, G3 almost ought to have been called something else, and run separately. It's not the same thing.
You should always provide a great default solution and let the user customize it if he wants to. Once there is ANY user customization, the entire user experience changes. If you want the UX to be ALWAYS the same, you can't let people change stuff.
The problem is, this is contrary to everything done before. I for instance, use Growl on OSX and customized it to my needs. The UX is the best one for me! It's not because Growl devs predicted that. They just let me CHOOSE after providing a great UX already by default.
OS X is a pretty good example of how an operating system can be simple enough for regular users to use but still have advanced options that power users and technical users require. I understand why they're attempting to copy it, but I don't think they're going about it in the right way.
I'm fairly technical and I'm not leaving Gnome. There was a time I spent hours downloading themes, sometimes building my own from them, so that I'd have the "perfect" desktop, but not anymore. The most time I lost in the last 6 months was tweaking my init.el file so my Emacs would start with everything I need to work comfortably. I also built a console font so my terminals and text editors would mitigate my 3278 nostalgia (https://github.com/rbanffy/3270font).
A theme is just a theme. We don't have to fight much over it.
API breakage, OTOH, is a problem. Anyone who develops for Gnome should have a continuous testing install somewhere running tests against the latest master branch to prevent nasty surprises down the road. Also, people who develop apps and feel Gnome is going in the wrong direction should get involved in Gnome development. App (and theme) developers are the users of Gnome's APIs much like I am a Firefox user. If it "feels wrong", I'll get in touch with the developers and try to help fixing it. Ranting is not going to help.
I've also spoken to a few of the developers of the core Gnome applications and morale, from what I've seen, seems to be pretty low with some groups of developers simply refusing to implement changes planned by the design team. I'm very concerned about the project - I think the new vision will lose them both users and developers, at a time when they need them more than ever.
This design-development schism seems bad indeed. Maybe Gnome lacks a decent leadership, one that lets it be Gnone rather than Windows (Mono, seriously?) or OSX. But then we'd have to know what it is to be Gnome. I kind of like Gnome Shell and Unity and lack of themes means I spend less time customizing my machine and more time working, but I'm not a typical Linux user anyway. What worries me the most is not product quality, but all this toxicity floating around.
Funny, because I see OS X as an example of how an OS can become simpler by removing the advanced options that power users and technical users require.
But by "options" I mean more than just config options. It includes features as well..
What kind of advanced options is OS X lacking?
- General lack of configureability. I'm used to things like fluxbox and kde where "everything" can be configured. (Don't knock it til you try it ;) Especially keyboard shortcuts for launching stuff, expanding windows, minimizing windows etc..
- The window handling is terrible. Really, it is.. Can't maximize? Can't easily switch between two firefox windows? I used to think it was because I didn't know how to do it, so I asked and watched a few OSX users. But they just move windows around. I'm not going to handle 15 windows like that. Even if osx finally got virtual desktops (?).
- Better terminal (both the gnome one and the kde one are so far ahead, at least at first look)
- Unix/linux CLI programs that I've gotten used to being there by default. Also, I'm sure there are programs I use that simply doesn't run on OSX (not really experinced it, but it seems likely ;)
Also, the broader issue of customizability. Apple does a lot of things "right", but not everything. And while the "walled garden" do bring some advantages, its restrictiveness is a real pain when you're used to choose. It's impossible to do one size fits all in computing, you end up with something compromised, more tailored towards computer users quite different than myself.
Removing customization options and features that are not seen to be necessary is an inevitable part of the transition to this philosophy.
GNOME is positioning itself as a more simple, user-friendly desktop environment. Quite frankly, if total customization is your thing, there are plenty of other options available to you.
Apple could imitate a fair bit too. For instance, I'd like the OS X 10.6 Finder to be as useable as the Nautilus file manager that shipped with Ubuntu's Gnome 2 in 2010.
The version of Nautilus shipping with GNOME 3 is obviously very heavily inspired by this version of Finder.
The only thing I find myself missing is a way to move up the file-structure without having to switch to the list-view when you've opened a folder without actually navigating your way to it through Finder. Essentially, the "Back"-arrow would take you to the parent folder even if you didn't navigate from it.
Isn't that just Cmd+Up?
Oh the glorious day when I found out about this..
So great, you say, not being self-centric but user-centric. That works if you are employed to create a product, but how well will it work for open source. How will they ever gain developers?
Gnome3 has it's problems, however I as a user much prefer having one pretty theme and a changing API instead of a stable API and a forest of ugly themes.
Despite all the ranting and foaming of mouth, Gnome3.6 still is the best DE out there in my opinion.
Saying "ranting and foaming of mouth" kills the conversation and I believe is one of Gnome problems for some time now (_aka_ If you're not with us, you're a hater).
Conversation is part of the open source community.
That said I still use Gnome3, and I donate to theme developers who make themes that make the desktop more usable to me.
There seem to be plenty of links to discussions in the bug tracker to support this article.
E.g., the attitude of the dev in response to reasonable argument from his users in https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=485846 is pretty much "I'm not changing it, just because". That would make me rant and foam at the mouth because a reasoned approach patently failed in this case.
That "X always implies Y and I don't care if your use-case disagrees" attitude is poisonous and a project that doesn't consider it so is a train wreck waiting to happen.
The developers never promised to provide a stable theme API, even selecting themes as a user is basically only possible via "gnome-tweak-tool", so this had "alpha code" written all over it from the beginning.
E.g., the attitude of the dev in response to reasonable argument from his users in https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=485846 is pretty much "I'm not changing it, just because". That would make me rant and foam at the mouth because a reasoned approach patently failed in this case.
Even this case isn't as clear-cut as you make it out to be, especially if you look at comment #14.
I'm not being sarcastic either. It just is more difficult to support many different themes than just one.
I also don't understand this "brandmaking" by alienating as much people as possible. Depressive read.
I use Gnome 3.4, though. Did the Gnome developers remove this shortcut from 3.6?
As in the "Open File" or "Save File" widgets in GTK3 (at least I assume it's GTK3 and not GNOME3).
The thing is, Gnome is focused on an idea of "user experience." What's implicit in this pursuit is their mental model of the user. Who is Gnome for? Well, if you're reading HN, it's probably not for you. They're making it pretty clear that if you're an old school linux person, if you like customization ability, if you like options, then you're not the user they have in mind. For those of us who are not "the users they're looking for," we have to be ok with that, accept that's what they want to do, and make our choice accordingly: we can suck it up and use it anyway, we can use something else, or we can fork Gnome.
At the same time, I suspect that they don't really know what they're doing, and the "user" in their "user experience" is largely illusory; the product of the imagination of a few Gnome designers. They seem prepared to double down on this concept though - I think this is the only explanation possible of their arrogance in the face of widespread denunciation from almost every corner of the traditional linux community, including typically scathing flames from Linus. The Gnome people seem to feed on this negativity, like it's validation of their plans. "It is not for you, it is for 'them'" - whoever "they" are.
I wonder if their concept of who they're targeting as users couldn't be boiled down to a fairly basic distinction: traditional linux stuff is for people who enjoy using computers, and Gnome is designed for people who don't. Or put another way: people who use computers, versus people used by computers - the latter group belonging to a sort of corporate mindset.
Regardless, this mindset is being taken to far in its application to GTK, which for a large number of reasons should not be taken as simply another part of Gnome. It leads to almost a Kubuki Theater situation in which Gnome devs try to push around apps like transmission, which merely uses GTK, to fit into their Gnome user paradigm, while pretending nothing else exists. "I have never heard of XFCE" - come on.
Perhaps it is the 'old school Linux' people who provide much of the voluntary input to open source projects. Perhaps the younger ones who like shiny shiny just buy Apple and set up a terminal to their Linode. Perhaps not good for long term health of the project?
This is now possible in KDE and has been since at least 4.3 (over 3 years ago).
I have been a KDE4 user for a few years now, and I didn't even know this was possible. Clearly, the mentioned functionality is there, but does not get in your way (as in, you do not accidentally end up with your widgets all in crooked positions). What is wrong with that?
Sanction is a great word - it's an antonym of itself!
Having said all of that, let's take a gander to kde 4 and gnome 3. Can you really see that kind of difference and coolness? I, for one, can't see it. What I see is desktop interfaces which tries to macify themselves, which is sad.
Regarding the differences between Gnome 3 and KDE 4: I haven't tried Gnome 3, but from I've read (including TFA), they go out of their way to make the desktop not configurable. Before switching to awesome and then Xmonad, I was a heavy user of KDE 4, and it is extremely customizable. It also had some novel ideas about grouping widgets/applications depending on the current activity of the user, which is probably implemented by now, and which I don't think is present in GNOME 3.
I can't really wish this guy anything other than good luck and good bye.
IMO easier to be honest about it (no focus).
For someone running Ubuntu 12.10 with "basic" desktop needs, can anyone come up with some recommendations for a more open, forthcoming distro and DE? Someone to reward for their efforts?
It seems like using and supporting Ubuntu, Gnome etc at this point would be sending out the wrong signals.
Even though some simple things are still hard to do (you still need to go through few hoops to get a custom application launcher added to taskbar), I haven't yet found something which can't be managed with either straightforward GUI configuration or with scripts. Things I like:
1. I have a sane & traditional icons+multiple taskbar+desktop setup
2. I get to choose how many windows I can see at a given time and what size they are (KDE also remembers the size)
3. Dolphin retains Split/compact/tree view and infact does it with all the customizations I could ask for based on what I need regularly.
4. Dual displays took exactly 2 minutes to setup - all driven by GUI. It even has the audacity to offer me separate wallpapers for each display without actually going through any kludges. Depending on which desktop I right-click and choose "Desktop settings", it allows me to set background etc. for that display.
5. I can choose the sort order and grouping of the applications on the taskbar - I like them unsorted (i.e. the order in which they were launched) and ungrouped (until there are too many and need to be grouped) - all this was configurable in "Task Manager settings".
6. I get to choose my own Terminal Emulator and I'm absolutely happy with Konsole because it even lets me customize the shortcut keys to manage tabs.
I could go on (and I never thought I would about KDE; I've always considered the simplicity of Gnome 2 superior to KDE) but KDE 4.8 is a fantastic experience for a Linux power user.
Started using it and I can't stop using it now. Pure and simple efficiency.
Instead, it is a valued KDE-community-developed browser available from our "Extragear" repository.
However I will say that even we at KDE are not opposed to configurability in general (especially to the extent listed for GNOME 3 and Unity... as far as I know we don't have a stick up our collective asses regarding the "brand experience").
But we have to maintain patches we accept (e.g. in the case of the task manager). LUCKILY we are quite happy to have even our core components ripped and replaced by something better. E.g. there is Craig Drummond's "Icon Tasks" taskbar available for Plasma (which I use).
As far as SVG themes, that was a 10 steps forward, 1 step back kind of thing... overall the desktop is much improved by having those as an option, even if it makes it more difficult to implement color toning. But if someone were to submit a patch implementing "themed color variations" (so that you as a user could choose the "light" color, "dark" color, etc. and the rest of the theme remains unchanged) then I would be very surprised if that were to be rejected outright.
> Same. The design of Notify-OSD is specifically not clickable, and we
> would NOT accept patches to change that.
Excuse me, Mr. Shuttleworth, but have you tried using blueman? When you get a pairing request blueman expects you to click "accept" in a notification...
Notify-OSD has a specific philosophie behind it. Which is the same excuse the people quoted in this article use, but well. Notify-OSD tries to show these notifications and make them ignorable.
Software like pidgin show a constant stream of background-noise. If every notification has the affordance to get clicked, or closed, this gets annoying very fast. By making them not clickable (and probably by that black design), they become easily ignorable if one is focused one specific task, but they remain to deliver some awareness what is going on. See https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotifyOSD#Rationale
Thing is, that works. I can't tolerate moving pieces on my desktop and I always got highly annoyed by the notification-bubbles from before notify-osd or when the daemon fails to start or from Windows. But the black unintrusive notify-osd-notfications i can stand. So for this example, not following that users' wish follows not only their design, but also the wish of users like me.
To save people some searching, here's the antinews file for 24.1: http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/emacs/Ant...
"...as I read some of the GNOME developer comments below, I was given to believe that this breakage stems from a Microsoft-like climate of preventing users from customizing their systems..."
Ubuntu Developer's are also thinking of switching from developmental build to stable build for Ubuntu. Nautilus has been put on hold. I will not be surprised that Ubuntu will fork Gnome and develop its own variant.
Transmission developer sums it up.
Delusional is the only way to describe this statement. It almost resembles the garbage Fox News has been giving for reasons why Romney lost the election. First of all, developers in a "corporate" (I emphasize "corporate" because this has nothing to do with windows development) environment generally aren't the ones with the "kill off the competition/brand" mentality. This mentality lives higher up in the corporate chain where business decisions are made. Developers themselves don't make these choices, they simply execute them because that's what the business has decided needs to be done. If the claim was instead that CEOs, VPs, etc, are switching to Linux and getting involved in the management of Gnome, the claim would still be wrong, but at least it could have made some sense.
If 12.10 was the LTS I would probably have looked at switching distros.
Not challenging, just interested. Both have fallback, both allow the installation of XFCE4 desktop, both have the Lubuntu-desktop packages?
I don't use my Linux boxes as a desktop most of the time otherwise I would be giving XFCE a proper try. In fact the main desktop use is child use so I don't want to change it too much.
Regarding the Amazon search stuff in 12.10, there is a kill switch in system settings, it was added in an update after all the hooha.
however, from what i read, i agree with the developers. they want a certain thing, so they are making it. they don't want people changing their ui/ux. if you don't like that, don't use it. use something else. or, fork it. make it what you want it to be
The GNOME devs quoted in TFA seem to labour under the misapprehension that GNOME is not part of a wider ecosystem, but that GNOME is the ecosystem instead.
which leads to this quote: "I guess you have to decide if you are a GNOME app, an Ubuntu app, or an XFCE app"
Don't forget either that Gnome 3 isn't meant to be 'software just for the devs', it's meant to be a popular, heavyweight desktop that's attractive to a lot of users - so much so that it's meant to be [one of] the "default" linux desktops. Articles like this just show the train crash that is the development process in pursuit of those goals.
The developers of gnome also have the keys to the gtk project.
One approach for the Gnome and GTK devs would be to consider Gnome as one (albeit very important, but just one) client of GTK among all the other big users of GTK. Instead, they are changing GTK with complete disregard to anything that is not the Gnome.
What's an apt metaphor...
Imagine if the private companies that owned the infrastructure of the internet wanted to charge consumers differentially based on how they used the wire. Now, as owners of the infrastructure, you might say that's totally within their power.
OR you might say, the service that is transmitted by the wire is greater than just the infrastructure underneath it, and you, private company, are under an obligation to provide fair access to all it's uses.
Was that helpful? Probably not - metaphors are lies anyway.
So let's try to explain the emotion part. Gnome devs are saying, "Look we don't know or care about the millions of hours you've put in your software because it's not Gnome."
So,emotions? Yes! This is peoples life work, and projects they have helped make successful are turning their backs on them and apparently completely ignorant of their own audacity. "I don't know what XFCE is." - wtf
I think it's upsetting particularly because it seems like there could be a much more amicable way forward if gnome would consider itself as it is, just one (very important) of the many clients of GTK.
With great power comes great... aww fuck it I use xmonad anyway.
Actually it's worse than one of the two because QT has been so tightly coupled for so long (and I seem to recall some licensing stuff earlier on) GTK is really closer to the primary toolkit for non desktop specific apps.
In the least, it leads to extremely inefficient resource usage as you have to constantly rewrite everything, or just abandon your app.
So, if we go back in history, what could developers do when choosing their libraries? They would need some kind of assurance that it's not going to change a lot. Perhaps a foundation with rules that require voting and a large majority to change guiding principles and rules.
We need predictability in software development, like we do need in other industries and avenues of life. It is very very valuable in real tangible terms.
If they develop an OPEN library that's meant to be used on more than one environment, by making the library closed to GNOME, you're betraying everyone that chose the library because of it's openness.
It's basically a shot in the foot since the DE itself is useless without apps that work on it. If devs (which is not even improbable) start leaving GTK they will feel the pain even more.