Is the GNOME way the only way? | DLN Xtend 73

On this episode of DLN Xtend, we discuss whether or not the Gnome way is the best way.

Welcome to episode 73 of DLN Xtend. DLN Xtend is a community powered podcast. We take conversations from the DLN Community from places like the DLN Discourse Forums, Telegram group, Discord server and more. We also take topics from other shows around the network to give our takes.

00:00 Introductions
12:22 Topic- The GNOME Way
43:01 Host Related Interest
52:05 Wrap Up
53:00 Extras

Main Topic Links

Matt

Wendy

Nate

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Matt (Twitter @MattDLN)
Wendy (Mastodon @WendyDLN@mastodon.online)
Nate (cubiclenate.com)

3 Likes

OK I have to confess I felt this episode was more a bash against Gnome because of some developer blog and less about actually the merits of Gnome itself.

Let me give some background. I have been using Linux since CDE was a thing, and so have seen the birth and evolution of both Gnome and KDE over the years. The GTK / QT rivalry has been around since handheld palm computers and PDAs were a thing. With Opie & QT

sc_Wed_Apr_16_21_57_39_2008

and Angstorm & GPE

GPE_2.7

QT was always a colourful toolkit and very much Windows like whereas the GTK stuff was much more refined, cleaner and simpler.

So when the desktops started to appear based on both, it was natural KDE would look more colourful and Gnome would look cleaner and simpler. To be honest, that has not changed in all these years. That is still how the 2 desktops seem to me.

Now don’t get me wrong when Gnome went from 2 to 3 I absolutely HATED it. It was just so different and so broken that I just had to switch to something else and settled on Cinnamon for a while. But slowly Gnome got better, slicker and actually erased some of my pain points that made me loathe it in the beginning.

These days it is just a desktop that gets out of my way and lets me do my work without having to tweak keyboard shortcuts or theming every time I install an application. Yes I do use a fair few extensions and actually the fact that they have broken out extensions into its own management application should tell you they are not going away any time soon.

As you can see I don’t have too many extensions for my needs and in fact these are pretty much all the ones I have ever used and vary only by machine to machine depending on physical keyboard lights etc.

The two things that I absolutely must have, are not even extensions. They are dynamic workspaces because being able to open an application and just fling it to a new space is so required for my work. But the other thing is the overview, which is both intuitive and useful. I can easily drag applications from one workspace to another or tile them side by side.

I can’t say I am too thrilled about the move to horizontal desktops, but it appears that might be optional and so won’t break my workflow.

KDE/Plasma is just too fiddly for me to get it to where I can just do stuff. I did spend time in it while I was using the Pinebook Pro because that was the default for Manjaro and it was ok after about a week of futzing. Keybindings/shotcuts are always a pain for me. They are scattered among 3 different configuration panels for global and workspace and application, it is just frustrating for me. The Alt-F2 launcher was clunky and I couldn’t just up arrow and scroll the history of previous things I have launched, which was irritating. Yes there was a drop-down list, but you had to start typing first to see any options. I have got better things to do with my life than fight against poor choices for defaults, like manually having to choose workspace layouts and stuff.

Understand, it is not I cannot do this stuff, it is just I did not live through the pain of the last 20 years of terrible desktop experiences to still be fiddling with my desktop window borders now.

Now if you talk about remote desktops that is a whole other thing. MATE is my preferred remote desktop closely followed by lxqt or lxde depending on the resources of the device. For that Gnome would be a terrible choice, but that is for a specific purpose not for general purpose.

Well you wanted to hear from a Gnome users. Now you have.

4 Likes

Thank you so much for your insight! I love the fact that workflows can be so different in Linux. That is why I had issues with the blog post from this developer (status icons need to die). I’m open with the fact that I don’t like the Gnome workflow for my personal use, but hold no judgment against people who do. However, I was confused when the developer called the shell extensions niche, like almost nobody in the Gnome community, uses them.

1 Like

@TheWendyPower big thank you for taking the Pinephone challenge. Just caught up with episodes. You pronounced my name Wolfnic which I thought was cool because ulf is old Scandenavian/German for wolf.

The experience of getting ready for the challenge is as important as the challenge itself in terms of what it has to say. As for my experience, I didn’t want to color yours so please consider it ambiguous although i’ll share it on the other side. :slight_smile:

I can only speak for me, I will let Wendy and Nate speak for themselves. Apparently, we did a poor job in emphasizing what we took issue with. I want to specifically say that what I took issue with mostly from the blog was 2 fold. The contradictory nature off it. IE we want to solve the core problem, which should mean simplification of code. Yet it requires a half dozen different apis to change an logo image. That is not solving a problem that to any sane person would be viewed as complicating it.

The second issue I take with with the blog is just the general attitude the author with viewing their opinion as fact aka traditional desktop is dead etc. Just going to say if that’s the case then why do so many distros ship with extensions that put back in classic functionality? The fact that this on a blog on gnome.org makes it seem like an arrogance and disregard of their user feedback from the project itself even if it is only one sole developer saying this. Again official website make it look like the official opinion of the entire project. I love hearing about people finding different projects useful to them.

Again it’s the arrogance and the contradictory nature I personally took issue with. Gnome as a project do what you do, and Gnome users you folks rock just as much as any other DE or WM Linux user.

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Arrogance feels like the right word to describe the blog post. “This is the reality, this is what we’re doing, shut up and color” feels like the tone. I’m surprised this hasn’t come back to bite them before, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see distros start shipping different DEs as the “default” with the distro. That might be an extreme measure, but if Gnome is telling them that using extentions isn’t “the right way”, that may eventually outweigh the hassle of changing tooling.

All that being said, while Gnome doesn’t work for me, when I setup a web browsing laptop, I ended up using PopOS, which obviously ships with Gnome. It’s good looking, and seems to be pretty solid, but it’s lacking some of the things I like to setup. I could learn to live with it, but thankfully there’s KDE, so I don’t have to. For the use case I needed, it’s great though. It’s simple, and I don’t think the family will have any trouble using it for the basic functions they need. I honestly think it would work for my wife for everything she’d need to do.

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image

It’s hard to find people willing to be honest and whether or not XTend is correct, opportunities to hear that kind of open honesty are fleeting at the best of times.

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Not sure why people are making such a big fuss of it. It is one developer, not policy. For sure, I have been around the kernel mailing list for long enough to see many dissenting opinions about where certain features should go from prominent devs, but I don’t see people imploding over those disagreements or suggestions.

Do I agree with what this particular dev is saying? Not really, but am I now quaking in my boots at where Gnome is going? No, I am not. Saner heads will prevail, and it is not going to be the ‘end of customisation’ for Gnome.

What I can see with the development of the Gnome App portal and the system apps they have been making, like the extension app I have shown, is that they are moving away from having absolutely everything and the kitchen sink as being part of system settings. Plasma may like that, but honestly it is confusing and cluttered and really distracting most of the time.

This could be for a multitude of reasons but I suspect it is an attempt to make Gnome more flexible and modular and be able to swap out apps for different use cases. Extensions are not going to go away any time I am sure of it. But on a mobile device do they have the same importance? I don’t have extensions on my phone, I have widgets that float on the home screen and do pretty much what the extensions do on my desktop. So a World Clock, Weather, Notification Calendar etc etc. So if I have a Gnome Phone OS why would I need a settings panel that had extensions in it. Better to have a separate app for the platforms that need it.

Same with things like touch gestures. Multimonitor touch screen setups are probably rarer than hen’s teeth but should that be a setting or a separate app?

Sure you can be upset by this devs post, but personally I am more ambivalent about it and would rather follow changelogs than blog posts.

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@Ulfnic I got your name wrong, yet right at the same time!

Things got busy, so I had to put it on the back burner. Next week should be slowed down, so I can get back on getting my SIM to work.

@veritanuda there were some of the kernel discussions that did blow up and make new, but thankfully that hasn’t happened for a long time. And you really answered one of the questions I had, is Gnome users frustrated with stuff that has/is disappearing and with where the project is going. I hope that the App portal can fill that gap for most Gnome users. It was jarring for me to have to find a new Disto home when Korora went away. I would guess that there would be far more upheaval to have to find a new DE because the one you are using no longer meets your needs. Gald you don’t feel like you are in that position or will be in that position.

This is where I find Linux and the different DEs to be the BEST! You find all the settings cluttered and distracting, while I find it to be indispensable. I’m biased and I have admitted to my bias on more than one occasion. This is where turning it over to the people who use Gnome and asking if they are seeing the same things that I/we are is so valuable.

To be honest I was very surprised you were ready that quickly, it took me a lot of time.

It is taking me a long time to be ready. Though there was another update to the stable beta for Manjaro Plasma for the PinePhone. Maybe it taking me a bit to get the SIM sorted out isn’t a horrible thing. :wink:

I don’t like Gnome 40. I use it occasionally in a Fedora 34 VM. Fortunately the Ubuntu 21.10 VM shows me, that with a small change it can fit my use case perfectly. Always I want to be able to start my favorite Apps with one click of the mouse.

Without Ubuntu’s own version of Gnome 40, I would probably move to xfce; mate or budgie :slight_smile:

1 Like

Weird tone throughout the article discussed in this episode. Funny enough, the more features that GNOME removes, the less niche extensions become.

Perhaps GNOME is going for the unix philosophy. Do one thing and do it well. Then pipe things together to create more complicated programs. In this case though, extensions shouldn’t be treated like a niche thing.

Weird stuff.

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I don’t use Gnome because I actually prefer the traditional desktop metaphor, which is why I use Xfce instead.

As an Xfce user I have spent a lot of on their forums and have witnessed that the devs get a ton of grief any time that they make changes that even remotely moves towards being more Gnome like. The devs don’t want to be more Gnome like, but in order to transition to the next version of GTK, they have to pick some bad options out of a group of all bad options.

Now it looks the Budgie project has had enough as well:

Building an Alternative Ecosystem

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I saw something about this earlier today.

What are some of the things the community has said heck no to in recent conversations for XFCE?

I have heard xfce people complain about the port to gtk3 and how much extra memory it uses.

By far the biggest one was the switch to using client side decorations (CSD).

Here is a link that describes the options that they had to choose from and some screen shots of before and after:

https://wiki.xfce.org/releng/4.16/roadmap/general_ui/csd