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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 25 Mar 2011

I’m not jumping on Firefox 4 or GNOME 3 just yet

Even though I wrote about where and how to get Firefox/Iceweasel 4 for Debian, I’m sticking with 3.5.6 for now.

I won’t rule out a move to 3.6.x, but I’m going to wait until FF 4 is out in the wild long enough to get a few major bug-fix and security updates.

I’ve been using Chromium more and more, but I still spend a lot of time in Iceweasel/Firefox, and I continue to see a lot of value in a conservative approach to updating software.

The same goes for GNOME 3. It’s going to be in Fedora 16 and Ubuntu 11.04. But from everything I’ve seen/heard, GNOME 3 and GNOME Shell is far from stable, not entirely functional and just … too new for what I consider “production.”

I returned to GNOME with Debian Squeeze after extended use of Xfce in Fedora 13, Xubuntu 8.04 and before that OpenBSD 4.4. I’m a big fan of Xfce, and it’s my “stopgap” desktop environment if things with GNOME 3 don’t work out (and I’m very happy that there have been so many improvements in Xfce 4.8, especially with networked protocols such as FTP/SFTP in the file manager).

But especially under Debian, GNOME 2.x is so quick and useful, I’m reluctant to give it up for the shiny — at least until that shiny has gotten some considerable polish.

Comments from the FlatPress version of this post

Mike Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 00:33:42

I guess I am on the other side, I am running the Fedora 15 Alpha with gnome 3 and Firefox 4. You would be correct that there is quite a bit in features that are missing from gnome 3 but I am enjoying it none the less and find it far more stable than KDE 4.0 was upon it’s release. My wife who uses OS X has actually been using my laptop more and more lately and seems to enjoy gnome 3 quite a bit, more than any of her previous interactions with my linux desktops. I am optimistic that gnome 3 will become as feature complete as gnome 2.32 is in a couple years and over the next couple releases bring back some configurability not present in gnome 3. As for Firefox 4 it is nice to be able to come back to it after using Chrome or Opera over the past year due to shear speed differences. That being said this feels like a release that puts Firefox on the same playing field but doesn’t vault it past the competition. I have hopes though as Firefox is the browser I want to succeed and use more than I currently do.

Emery Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 16:26:59

I’m more inclined to try the new version of anything, provided I can keep the old version running somewhere as a refuge just in case. I admit that all I’ve seen leaves me distinctly unimpressed with what some call the Fisher-Price desktop of Gnome 3, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

As to Firefox 4, I’ve been using it since the first beta (there were 12 of them!) and that sort of eased me into the final one without culture shock.

In general, I have to say that a futuristic field like computers has an awful lot of people who complain loudly any time there is a change in the works!

Kevin Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 16:36:34

I am using FF4 on Debian 6 and so far have no issues. Flash won’t play full screen on either of my laptops but I would not with 3.5 (iceweasel) either.

I tend to use as stable a base system as I reasonably can (based on my limited skills, mostly) but I really want as current a browser as possible and I am willing to give up a little stability in that area to do so.

As for Gnome, I dearly love it (although I have no problem with KDE) but I do not use desktop effects nor do I plan to. The continued focus on visual appeal is ok with me so long as I can turn it all off and have a simple, functional user experience.

Robert Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 20:28:19

Mr Rosenberg,

I imagine you are in the same boat with numerous Gnome and Unity folks. If you want new and pretty Unity and Gnome will be lots of fun; from what I have seen and read; getting real work done is not a highlight of either desktop; I agree with your thoughts on major version upgrade bugs and glitches.

Btw - Google Chrome has become my work horse for browsing needs.

I have been looking for a desktop to try should Gnome and/or Unity fail my needs; from what I read Xfce may be just the ticket. Thank you for the additional encouragement to go ahead and install / try Xbuntu. Xfce may fit into Kevin’s simple, functional. get it done approach as well.

Thank you for the article - good stuff!

kenneth.h Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 22:19:04

Steve, you are absolutely correct in not wanting to just dive-in. It’s to the point where changes are just being pushed on the user versus what the user base wants and it’s not just occurring in the gnu/foss world. I’d used xfce back in the day but at the time jwm/pcmanfm worked well for me, it still does but the usefulness of gnome is pretty cool so I’ve been using gnome for a little over a year. And I’ve not used firefox since version 2 although I’ve used gnuzilla and have it installed but only for certain websites which is rare. I still have and use opera-ppc (again rarely) I’ve pretty much made the switch to Midori.

Hopefully others do not feel alienated that are used to gnome and nothing else — especially newbies..

steven Monday, March 28, 2011 - 19:05:49

GNOME is appreciably fast and very functional. That’s why I use it so much. I like Xfce, Fluxbox, Fvwm2, and JWM with Rox-filer. I even like LXDE and Enlightement.

But GNOME seems to do just about everything I need it to do, and being the default in Debian and Ubuntu it tends to work really well in those particular distributions - and without a lot of configuration attention from me.

steven Friday, April 29, 2011 - 23:47:23

I finally added Iceweasel/Firefox 4.0 and Icedove/Thunderbird 3.1.