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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sat, 28 Jul 2012

Read 'An opinion on the future of GNOME' at Fewt.com, including the comments

It's no secret that full reimagining of desktop environments in Linux/Unix can make people unhappy. It happened with KDE 4, and it's happening with GNOME 3, too. I wasn't around, but I've been told that the transition from GNOME 1 to 2 wasn't without its bumps and lumps.

Read 'An opinion on the future of GNOME' at Fewt.com, and don't skip the comments. It'll give you a bit of an idea about what users think.

As for what I'm doing about GNOME 3, I'm still in the evaluating it, not committed yet stage. I recently upgrade my Debian Squeeze laptop (with GNOME 2.3x as the only desktop environment) to Wheezy, the current (yet frozen) Testing branch. It upgraded to GNOME 3.4.x, and I added Xfce 4.8.

I'm switching between the two environments -- GNOME and Xfce -- and I haven't decided to stick with one or the other. I've run both for years on various systems, and it's been nice to seen the improvements in Xfce over that time.

In my view there's a lot to like about GNOME 3, but the whole GNOME Shell Extensions ecosystem is a bit of a mess -- I don't know what's good, what works with my version of GNOME 3, what's crap, etc. That said, I'm using the gnome-shell-extensions package from Debian with either one or two Extensions downloaded from the GNOME site.

If past performance is any indication, the whole GNOME 3 uproar will settle down as the software matures -- just like with KDE 4.

I still like Xfce and might very well continue using it. I'm OK with the Thunar (I thought I would use Nautilus, even in Xfce, but I don't really have to), and I finally broke down and added Gigolo because Thunar can't save a bookmark to an FTP site. I still use Gedit for most editing tasks, Mousepad being a little too spartan, and I won't be giving up Totem (though I am using VLC more and more) or Rhythmbox (ditto with the Decibel Audio Player) or gThumb (though I'm using the GIMP more than I ever did).

As I've written in the past, GNOME 3's 3D effects do take a toll in terms of CPU load, but GNOME doesn't "hold on" to those cycles. I get a spike when I do something on the desktop, but once the operation is done, GNOME gives that CPU back for the rest of my computing tasks.

It's still an open question in my mind whether or not the GNOME Shell way of working makes me more productive than the more traditional paradigm of GNOME 2 and Xfce. If the answer is yes, that's the way I'll go.