My take on gnome shell

Sorry to say this, but i think the GNOME Shell (short: GS) looks totally senseless to me. There is not much you can do with it, it reminds me a bit on a mix of the Windows Start button and the Exposé from Macos X. Or add Novells “great” idea of a new Windows XP like menu.

It make me a bit angry to see intelligent people put together so much crap – overloaded menus, lists of applications or lists of recent documents. And then add to all this some animated smooth switching, which eats up some working time.

I am not at all impressed of GS. The opposit. i dnt get the point where it helps me. Similar thought as with GNOME DO. I always used Alt+F2 if I wanted to quick start an application without the terminal. I am not against making that kond of starter better – or if you add that somehow also in the panel. But the gnome shell adds a lot of things to the screen which I never used.

Has starting an application ever been a problem to one of you? Or opening a file? Or moving windows between workspaces?

Maybe I am noit the typical user, but when it comes to what I do often I could not comprehend this to one document or one application. I will try to compile what is important from my viewpoint:

  1. Integration of applications. So like lets assume GNOME is a desktop – I dont want to waste my time knowing about applications. I expect the desktop to know which applications to know for what I plan to do. This is also true for actions like attaching files to mails or saving attachments  (which is a real pain)
  2. I do get messages. And I like the desktop to save and sort them from me and allow me to manage them, copy them, add notes to them, move them from one application to the other (add a link from jabber to my bookmarks or to a mail) Messages for me are
    • Emails, Jabber-Messages, forum posts, RSS Feeds
    • System Messages, Application Messages
    • System protocols,…
  3. What is a task? This is like visitting a website or checking my mail, or sending a mail – or working on some documents. There are documents that I do read often and some I only write once – and others I need ot send often. There is no such thing as “Recent Documentes”. What is this? Recently read, recently written or recently sent? Like you have a protocol that you want to send to a bunch of people.
  4. Another problem is finding documents. This is a problem of the place or also the keyword. It would be necessary to be able to tag documents or even categorize them –  making the location secondary. Do I need to know where a document is saved? No – I can leave it to the system where a document resided. What I need is to find it, when I need it. Beagle a s a desktop search also needs some functionality – but sure its as well important to find bookmarks and contents of web pages. Sometimes I need to find a web page where I have read some stuff. Integrating a web based search might help – but my desktop needs to save some search results as I dont want to use Google or Yahoo more than needed.
  5. Essentially there is Reading, Writing/Editing , Receiving, Sending of documents and messages. My take on this is, that with the classical object oriented model put into place into a desktop this would be a great thing. If you ask me why I would not have that much of an idea – I really think we do not start with a new GUI. What we would want is a combined effort to redefine the underlying structure and to work out new models of interaction between applications. And we would also need some serious applications which allow navigation into their functions from outside. I mean it must be possible to start an office application with the exact task that I am planing to do. It cant be the way that you start an appication and then need to find out yourself. The desktop should provide an interface to do what you want – and the applications should be the working horses. Right now applications like Firefox or are dominating everything and you need to do everything inside of them.

I dont think we will see such things from classical desktops. The GNOME shell is nothing new – its because people still think in the same categories. If GS is what GNOME 3.0 (Topaz) will be I sure will leave GNOME behind.

I have see that Windows XP now sells a tabbed interface as their own invention. Bravo GNOME – leave it to Microsoft to integrate that. I am sure now GNOME will try to copy – because before nobody at GNOME really cared to make applications ready for tabbed interfaces. I have used some tabbed window managers in the past and found the whole idea great – just that I dod not want to switch to tabbed only – and did not want to configure those managers by hand. Regards to Microsoft who just did, what GNOME thought was too innovative for their users. When MS does it, or Apple GNOME follows, but never leads the way. Just my impression. I still love my current interface because it remindes me still (but less and less) of my old Mac OS 7.x interface. I hat that they removed the application switcher applet at the default place on the right side of the panel (just where it was in the Mac Finder). Now what is dominant is that I need to shut down the computer, switch users or change my status. I really do all those things not more than 1-2 times a day – so I have removed Ubuntus “great” FUSA (fast user switch applet). And I constantly ask myself why all the things I need are removed while at the same time more and ore crap is added.

Sorry for not sounding nice. You see I have not written a lot of stuff in this blog for a while. I have watched things develop and have written more  in german in other blogs about other stuff.

I am in the mood to switch to a distribution with  a clean layout – that does not do experiments (hey, where did they dump the whole default desktop search thing?) other than Ubuntu. I need a work environment right now. Fedora is trying to be innovative too – there is currently no distributions which tries to bring you the best of open source on a stable basis. Maybe there is some Ubuntu clone I havent tried yet? I am ok if a distribution adds some innovative new desktop as an option and allows me to test it. But what I hate is when GNOME and Ubuntu make experiments and use us users as a testbed.

And I would love to have a defauilt mail program based on GNOME which does not such. Currently Evolutions sucks big time. Its absolutely unusable – I am currently using Thunderbird 3 beta4 and its really, really nice. Why does Ubuntu continue to suggest Evolution as the default option? At the same time I currently do not use Epiphany instead of Firefox because I always had some stability issues in the Ubuntu packages – and I was waiting for Epiphany-Webkit becoming ready. Currently that did not work out for me and I also found out that Firefox was not a second slower than Epiphany.

I still think Epi is the cooles browser, but it lacks integration and support from GNOME, same is still true for Gnumeric and Abiword. Some days ago I witnessed how Gnumeric taking just a few seconds opening a 1.5 MB Excel file, while OO.orgs calc took 4 minutes.

There is so much good in GNOME, but thinks do not work out well. Other applications do get more money and attention and now get more ahead of GNOMEs applications. There comes the day where OO.orgs Calc will open that file faster than Gnumeric. And then having GNOME not supporting Gnumeric because of it lacks behind will become the self fulfilling prophecy.

What I would like to see is a new GNOME initiative outside the old GNOME community but which like to bring money and attention back to all the good GNOME stuff – and not running after some mobile devices and the newest hype.






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Filed under Free Software, GNOME, Linux, Technology

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