I was also very surprised to see how decent the UI looks even under GTK+ 3. I was afraid they would get sucked into the horrible catastrophe that has befallen Gnome with things like client-side decorations.
Gedit, for instance, went from this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Gedit226... ... to this: http://cdn.xfce.org/about/tour/4.12/xfwm4-csd.png ... the horror.
Has anyone given this a try yet? I would like to know if the common dialogs (eg file open, file save) use proper window decorations, or if they too now look like the Gnome 3 CSD garbage.
Also, it's still possible to use Clearlooks-Phenix, right? They're just saying they discontinued the Xfce-* themes, right? Adwaita is such a dull theme.
Personally I love the minimal and uncluttered look. I don't need big buttons for copy and paste, and even on a 30" monitor I appreciate the extra space it allows for actual content.
Uncluttered, unintuitive, unhelpful - just like a vi buffer in input mode.
Unintuitive for whom? It abandons the traditional structure, which some people are accustomed to, but I suspect that it would be measurably more effective for people who haven't developed patterns of familiarity with the traditional workflow.
> just like a vi buffer in input mode
I think the key difference is discoverability. In gedit I can immediately see how do 6 common actions, and that there's another layer of less common actions in the hamburger menu. I never had to google "how to exit gedit" for example.
2. Motivations are (to my understanding) to save vertical space, reduce window clutter, and put common actions at the forefront. Matthias Clasen talks about it in great detail at   .
Agreed on that point. The Office team made a wonderful job at this, by also putting actions in the title bar (e.g. by default: save, undo, redo), but making it configurable. However, MS has orders of magnitude more dollars to develop/support/bugfix the added complexity, and given the hate of GNOME committers regarding anything configurable, I doubt that will ever happen in GNOME.
I'm not bothered by it because, like others here, I use keyboard shortcuts for 99% of my actions and never need to reach for buttons or the sandwich menu, but I understand why I'd be bothered too if it wasn't the case.
Second; I like having a choice in how my window decorations work. I can run Clearlooks-Phenix, or Aguelemon, or Be, or Crux, or whatever else I like. Some of the themes have window borders on the sides (which I like), some don't. With CSD, my only option is a poor OS X imitation theme. No edges to the sides of windows (awful ... I can spare 4px so that my window doesn't blend into my desktop, and so I can grip for window resizes easier, thanks), no control over titlebar text placement (I don't want to scan to the middle of the title bar to read the title. The left is a consistent location.)
Some of these WMs have special features like middle-click the maximize button to maximize it horizontally, nicer snap-to-window and snap-to-edge functionality, etc.
Third; I want my title bars free of clutter. The title bar is for the title of the window, and for moving it, and at most you'd have the minimize/maximize/close buttons on a corner. I've been using windows the same way since Windows 3.1; so about 23 years now. You may scream Luddite, but I say that if it's not broken, don't fix it. With CSDs, now I have to dodge all of these ridiculous controls like "Open", "New Tab", "Save" and "Hamburger" when I want to move a window. And all of those further reduce the available space for a title. So I guess I can forget about showing the full filepath for my files open in gedit.
Fourth; and this is a big one; consistency (eg discoverability.) All of my Xfce windows look the same, act the same, work the same. I have a title bar, a menu with all of my features, and usually an optional toolbar with all of the major features. Now with these CSDs, every single window looks entirely different. To get to menu commands, I have the added step of clicking on the hamburger first, which has a miniscule hit window. And that's assuming everyone designing these awful CSDs uses the same hamburger icon and placement. Again, we go from something we've been using for 23 years to "the trend of the week design." Because newer must mean better, right?
CSDs are basically what you get on Windows with every OS driver installation GUI. I do not want that for my desktop at all.
There's a reason this has all mostly stayed consistent since GUIs became a thing. It's not because people were lazy, unimaginative, not aware of design guidelines, or anything like that: it's because it works. And it works really, really well. A lot of us are simply tired of relearning how to use our computers every time a "modern" designer gets a hair up his ass and decides that we need to radically change all the things! The ribbons, the Metros, the CSDs, etc. So in four years, while I stick with my tried and true approach, Gnome 4 will have undoubtedly moved on to an even newer idea for how to design windows, and you'll be explaining to others why Gnome 3's CSD approach was flawed compared to $newTrendyDesign. And while you're learning to get used to where all of your operations have moved to, I'll be over here getting work done instead.
> Motivations are (to my understanding) to save vertical space
Even when I was stuck on 1024x768 CRTs back in the '90s, I can't say I've ever thought to myself, "if only I had an extra 10px of vertical screen space, my user experience would be vastly improved." The idea of crushing everything into this hot mess to save the same on my 2560x1600 panel (let alone 4K/8K panels) is just asinine.
The only time I've ever had issues with the titlebar taking up space was during the 640x480 fallback VGA modes when installing my video card drivers.
Besides, isn't the trend lately (even in Gnome) to add ridiculous amounts of excessive padding to everything, for the sake of all twelve touch screen desktop users?
> reduce window clutter
That window looks a lot more cluttered to me. I do turn off the toolbar (and status bar for that matter) on gedit 2, and I can turn off the menu (with an addon), and use keyboard shortcuts for my actions. I have no control over this CSD, whose height is twice that of a plain titlebar anyway (to accommodate button heights.)
> and put common actions at the forefront
The toolbar does the same thing, and common actions goes from 3 to 13 common actions in this case (with room to spare on the latter.) Even better, the toolbar is completely optional.
For all but the three common actions, it is now harder to do things with the new gedit. And terrifyingly, one of those now-harder actions is "move the window."
Well, I guess that just means hail to choice in the Linux world; you're happy with a traditional/conservative xfce and I'm happy with a more minimalist/moving GNOME. Cheers.
Everybody else has decided that everything must change drastically, and even worse ... said change is completely different everywhere. The days of installing the OSS packages (Firefox, Pidgin, Transmission, mplayer, etc) and using Windows, OS X or Linux almost the same are over. Native-looking cross-platform applications become more impossible with each passing day. The ones that remain do so by using the old paradigm anyway (Pidgin, Transmission, old Firefox, etc) or simply doing their own CSD rendering entirely (Chrome, Chromrefox, etc)
Even for those who like the changes to their specific environment, I'd caution you ... if they so freely changed things with no choice before, nothing is stopping them from doing it again in the near future. You should never be too supportive of radical, forced change; for one day it might not be the change you wanted.
Funnily enough, there are only two things I need from the traditional paradigm: Window buttons in the panel (so I can hide windows by clicking their buttons in the panel), and panels than can be set to be vertical. Everything else that is new in Gnome 3 I pretty much like, but these two things I cannot get in Gnome 3.
So I run the Xfce desktop, but with all Gnome 3 apps, like gnome terminal, gnome file browser, etc. The Xfce alternatives I have uninstalled.
How anyone could consider the first screenshot of gedit prettier than the second is beyond me, but that is probably why I'm on OSX and not XFCE.
The human perceptual system does not change much from millennium to millennium and that our understanding of how that system works becomes richer over decades.
Can you explain how one set of afordances can be considered more modern than another?
I'm not being snarky, I'd really like to understand your idea of modern/old in this context.
EDIT: And by old, he probably means "old-style".
The modern design trend is minimal widgets and minimal chrome, where as older design trend are heavier on buttons and chrome.
But I'm sure you know that trendiness is cyclical. I just want off the treadmill.
Think of it like learning Dvorak. Sure, in theory, by some arbitrary histrionics, these new UIs are 3% more "effective". There's no real objective proof of it, but people just feel like it is. And hell, maybe it really is! So to gain that 3% advantage, they want you to throw out 20 years of muscle memory and familiarity. They want you to throw away all that you're used to and retrain yourself again and again. And sure, maybe after enough time, you might actually like it a little bit more. But all of the time you've wasted relearning everything will never make up for the tiny, marginal increase in efficiency you gained. Nor for all you had to give up to get there.
But this attitude of eternal improvement never ends. You jump on Dvorak because it's such an improvement, and you spend months, maybe years, getting up to your native speed again ... and along comes Colemak, but now it has competition with Workman. Which do you choose? Colemak or Workman? Gnome 3 or Unity? Gotta throw away that Qwerty and Dvorak mechanical keyboard; gotta throw away all those old GTK2 UIs; and start over.
The infinitesimal, unscientific usability enhancements are so subjective as to be irrelevant. Change certainly favors the young, and is hardest on the older generations; but true positive change has historically been accomplished incrementally through evolution (Windows 3.1 - XP, parts of 7). Yet nowadays, it's trying for revolution. Choice is no longer en vogue. And this attitude is ... pervasive. And that is absolutely terrifying.
And I feel exactly the same in reverse. And it's perfectly okay that we are polar opposites, so long as we each continue to have access to our choices. Gnome has thrown us under the bus entirely lately. Thankfully mousepad is a good replacement for gedit 2.x now. I just hope the Gnome devs don't force GTK+ 3 library users into their UI guidelines (like the aforementioned common dialog question.) So far, the Xfce 4.12 screenshots are a lot more promising than I had expected.
> but that is probably why I'm on OSX and not XFCE.
And I really hope you'll stay away from the Xfce dev team in that case :D
The whole Gnome/systemd/fedora sphere seems to have a severe case of OSX envy.
So its not fair to judge it this way. Try to open some Xfce apps in GNOME and it will look like horror too (compared to gnome ones) :)
I would like to apologetically take blame for designing and implementing the old dialog 6+ years ago, and thank the team for finally replacing it with something that looks actually usable.
Congrats on 4.12! Hopefully it'll be in Debian jessie soon...
Isn't it too late to be included in Jessie? As an XFCE + i3 user anxiously awaiting Jessie in stable, I'd be very happy to hear that it'll be included, but I thought all major packages had been frozen already.
The most annoying times of the year are when Debian is in a freeze preparing for release. I can't get the latest version of everything and I am just so lazy I can't be bothered to build an upstream package from scratch.
And while I don't find much use for Debian releases myself I know they are useful and important to others.
On my laptop I use Xubuntu (Xfce desktop), and I also must say that modern Xfce is better at the Gnome 2 thing, than Gnome 2.
Anyway, I think Xfce is better.
Gnome 2 is wonderful when configured, but yes, some interactions (like moving toolbar elements around) are pretty awkward by 2015 standards.
That being said, RHEL 6 with Gnome 2 is a great choice for older, less performant systems that you configure once and don't touch frequently. Or for replacing XP on Grandpa's old ThinkPad...
Xfce was the option I was so happy to have. It used to be a no frills, minimalistic (but not conceptually minimalistic) interface that simply did the job. Now the interface is getting more complicated and innovative. More complicated designs requires better designers, and they don't seem to be around except for in the Elementary OS community.
I haven't looked into MATE yet, perhaps I'll do that.
Other than that your theme looks good. Please share details.
It was just a fast test of Ubuntu MATE in a VM.
"All but one of those screenshots were taken on machines running OpenBSD -current, a good proof that Xfce is still portable and friendly to all Unix systems."
I've always been a fan of XFCE -- it's lightweight, but not so lightweight that you have to make a ton of sacrifices. Plus, XFWM is the only window manager I know of that supports compositing, but doesn't have any animations or other fancy effects (on slower computers, this can be surprisingly beneficial).
My one gripe with i3WM, an otherwise excellent tiling window manager, is the lack of compositing support (well, it works, kind of, but falls apart when, for example stacking terminal windows with transparency enabled, argghhh).
Can anyone speak to if the new release has slimmed things down or is it still, at least to my reading, becoming bulkier still?
And after WindowMaker, xfce remains my preferred full-desktop environment. I like that it's avoided the feature-bloat and power-user hostility of GNOME and KDE.
If Xfce ever needs an advertising slogan ...
I've been running Crouton (XFCE/Xubuntu) on my Samsung Chromebook 13" for about a year now. XFCE is a godsend for Chromebooks... instantly transformed from a light browsing laptop into a serious work machine.
1. Install the environment(s) you want to try.
2. Log out of your present desktop session and select the new alternative at your display manager (log-in) prompt.
Or, if you don't want to log out entirely, create a new test account, and use that (with a new session -- yes, you _can_ run multiple desktop sessions at a time) and try out different desktop environments / window managers.
Or, use Xephyr, a nesting X server, to run X within your present X session.
Or, use a virtual machine to test a different OS entirely (heavier weight than other options).
Lots of alternatives.
I interact with any of them so infrequently that it's really not a concern.
Can't wait for the power manager fix for systemd
What is the hot new Linux distro on the block? Elementary OS? Tails? Steam OS?
I used to be a distro geek, test all kinds of various ones, various window manager, twiddle driver settings and all.
Now just use Ubuntu for the last 7 years and like it. It just lets me get the work done.
In the early days (Slackware 2.0 onwards) I used to test every distro and windows manager, eventually I got tired of it.
Nowadays I tend to use Windows on my main laptop and Ubuntu does everything I need on VMs and my travel laptop, without spending time messing with configurations.
DE-wise, KDE's Plasma5 and LXQt both look pretty cool, though not many distros have them yet.
You might want to use Kubuntu if you're a KDE fan.
I'd recommend Mint, they use Cinnamon as their Windows Manager and it's pretty cool.
Mint is good. Cinnamon is pretty, but occasionally has problems that I don't see since I swapped to XFCE (it randomly started hogging the CPU, I never worked out why).
Manjaro needed a few more tweaks to get things working at first, but I have had less problems afterwards.
Definitely. Love it.