How stoked are you about GTK4/Gnome4?

I liked Ubuntu 10.04, back in the day when it used GTK2, and was very nicely stable. But with the advent of GTK3, Gnome 3 was really unstable, and I moved on to greener pastures (namely XFCE). I couldn’t stomach another serious go of Gnome 3 until Pop_Os 19.10 (and, even now, it’s not my daily driver).

In Gnome 3, I use the Gnome extensions called “Dash-to-panel”, and the “Arc” menu, to make the desktop experience quite different (and more Windows-like, for a familiar experience) than the radically-unique Desktop-Tablet-hybrid experience that the Gnome developers worked so hard to dream up and make a reality.

With GTK4 and Gnome 4 upcoming, I can’t help but feel that this pattern will likely repeat (of having to endure a long period of instability, to arrive at a stable desktop-and-app ecosystem again).

It has me asking myself several puzzling and difficult questions (and I truly have no good answers):

  • When will I find myself liking, and using Gnome 4? 2028-ish?

  • Will Desktop (or tablet-based, or phone-based) Linux still have about a 2% market share at that time as well?

  • There are no Gnome 3 tablets to speak of even today. How about 2028? Same thing?

  • Will the inheritors of GTK3 be Elementary’s Pantheon, Linux Mint’s Cinnamon, and XFCE, sort of making them like the new LXDE and MATE (in the sense of just continuing to use a stable, albeit a bit stagnant GTK and “getting off the bandwagon”)?

  • What widget set will the MATE Desktop base itself off of, moving forward? GTK2? Same with the Raspbian Desktop, based on LXDE?

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GNOME 3 has finally gotten to a point where I enjoy using it. I still have way more crashes on it than any other DE (could just be me…I know) but they’ve put together a very pleasing experience. I also use many extensions to put back what they left out but otherwise, it’s been solid recently. And yes, it was a very long road to get to this point.

Incidentally, I was having issues with the most recent install and was going nuts trying to figure out what was going on until I realized it had defaulted to the Wayland session. Back to X and all is well.

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Not really right when GTK4 comes out it will break themes again SO WHY.

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Being heavily invested in KDE, it’s not likely that I will have much interest in new GNOME, but I’ll surely check it to see what it has to offer.

I guess my point of view on this would be if Gnome4/GTK4 gets off the javascript bandwagon so that mutter(?) stops being single-threaded then I can see this being a good thing.

But unless that is going to happen, I don’t see why 4 should exist at this point…

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This might come as a surprise but I like KDE Plasma so I’m not really invested in GNOME 4 or GTK 4. :smiley:

Seriously though, what actually might come as a surprise is that I used to use GNOME 3 for years in the early days. I used it during the very sketchy days off and on and then as well around the 3.8 days up until I switched to Plasma which was around the 3.14 days. Additionally, during my usage of GNOME 3, and a little after I switched, I maintained up to 14 Shell Extensions for GNOME. I became so frustrated with the continued guaranteed breakage on updates that I got sick of maintaining them. I continued to maintain them for a year after switching to Plasma and then I was just too tired of the nonsense. This was the last time a really used GNOME and the last time I maintained extensions for it.

Why I am I saying this? well GNOME announced that GNOME 4 and GTK 4 will be a major breaking update. It’s not in question, they will be breaking compatibility with GTK 3 stuff and whatnot. They say that GTK 3 will not be abandoned like they abandoned GTK2/GNOME2 last time but GTK4/GNOME4 will break a ton of stuff and will not be viable for a while after initial release.

On the bright side, they learned from their huge mistake and wont be repeating the same thing but ultimately the outcome is the same, GNOME4/GTK4 will not be close to usable upon initial release and people will have to migrate support for variety of things so I suspect that even when we do got the 4 series, it will be another year after that at a minimum before it will be in a usable state.


Note: this is not a bashing of GNOME, Plasma did something similar from KDE 3.5 to Plasma 4 so it was just GNOME’s turn to learn the lesson I suppose.


I can answer some of your questions @esbeeb or at least I think I can.

Will Desktop (or tablet-based, or phone-based) Linux still have about a 2% market share at that time as well?

Not if I have anything to say about it. :smiley: DLN DOMINATION IS IMMINENT! :smiley:

They don’t claim to be for Tablets so its not a focus of theirs at all.

I think Mint might transition to Qt or rework it on their own because to become multi-threaded they need to do that anyway. I expect Pantheon will follow suit with GTK4. Xfce is likely to stick with GTK3 for a while which is fine since they arent going to abandon GTK 3 like with GTK 2 but Xfce will be the last to update.

MATE is already on GTK 3 and has been for a very long time, multiple years at this point. I suspect they will stick with GTK 3 for a while and then eventually transition to GTK 4. I expect them to wait until after the nightmare days of the compatibility breakage era of GTK 4.

LXDE is essentially a dead project (in maintenance mode) as it is so it will just stay on GTK 2. This is actually totally fine because almost all of the LXDE devs moved to LXQt and work on that which means they dont have to worry about the GTK 4 era.

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Best thing that I see in gnome is that it will push wayland further faster, and wayland, in my opinion, is the future.

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I do not care anymore. Because I lost interest in the Gnome desktop long ago. Yes, I used it, even for months sometimes, and I tried it multiple times on various distros. Just nope.
I like some of the concepts but the whole thing is just not working for me in the real world.

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I honestly don’t see the point in using a DE where it’s essentially unusable without at least a dozen plugins/extensions installed.

At that point you’re not using the DE, you’re using the extensions so to speak.

I’m a Plasma/XFCE user, and don’t see that changing any time soon tbh.

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I admire your determination. :slight_smile:

Word. :slight_smile: That’s traditionally a very “un-Linuxy” thing to do, IMHO; namely to cement javascript code into any performance-intensive lower-level library that a whole bunch of other apps will live and die by, at runtime.

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I had no idea that GTK 4 / Gnome 4 was already around until I saw this post and had a look at some videos.

I use Gnome 3 as my daily driver under Debian 10 Stable with Wayland. Been doing so for months. No problems to report at all.

I love the simplicity of Gnome 3 and have found its bundled apps “just work”. I’ve not had to modify it much with the tweaks tool. I guess I only adopted it when Debian Stable released it with Wayland as standard, so I’ve not been through the offputting broken stage that other users have. For the same reason I am in no rush to upgrade to Gnome 4. When the Debian team consider it stable enough to distribute for production systems, I will use it then, not before.

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I know it’s all very current to trash talk GNOME. I am sat in front of my PC for far too many hours in the day. I used KDE plasma (via Neon) and now GNOME shell (via Ubuntu 19.10 then Ubuntu 20.04) and I can count the crashes of the desktop on one hand.

Sure there are other issues with GNOME, but I’ve not seen the stability problems people complain about for a long time on Ubuntu. I honestly can’t recall the last time the desktop crashed. This is on my Intel based ThinkPad (of course!) T450. YMMV HTH HAND

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I have no intention of trash-talking any distro, or desktop, however, I feel it’s a relevant thing to take a minute and point out “hey guys, you realize that those huge, low-level architectural changes are really labour-intensive (as the changes must ripple through many places), and take a long, long time to adjust to (potentially alienating many users, and maybe even developers in the process), right?”

I feel that users need to speak up for their own interests as well, and hopefully they do it using skillful speech, which isn’t too confrontational or annoying.

@popey, if I’ve offended you somehow, then I apologize.

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I’m not offended, sorry if it looked like I was. Also sorry if it looks like I was poking directly at you. It was more of a general comment. :slight_smile:

I am the person who uses GNOME daily with 1 extension (Dash to Dock) and 1 tweak (minimize + maximize buttons). Ubuntu, Arch, Debian - all the same.
I am not a programmer nor do I try to be super productive with everything mapped to hotkeys.
So, to each their own, I guess. I believe many people are happy with Ubuntu’s Gnome and don’t even know about these DE discussions other people regularly have on forums :slightly_smiling_face:

I lost touch with GNOME around the time the Unity split happened, and it wasn’t until the last year that I got back into it, due to Fedora 31’s defaults. I still feel like the workflow is odd, but I must admit I do like the overall…spartan look to it. I’m interested to see what design decisions are made in GNOME 4. Worst case scenario they go a different way than I’d like and I pull in Plasma again.