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GNOME: Possible Recovery Strategies

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the get-better-at-telling-people-to-shut-up dept.


An anonymous reader tips an article from Datamation about several suggestions for the GNOME project to answer user complaints and boost developer morale. From the article: "... with very few changes, GNOME 3 could be much more acceptable to most users. A moveable panel, panel applets, desktop launchers, user control of virtual desktops, menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview -- all of these could be added easily as options. Together, they would reduce at least ninety percent of the complaints against GNOME 3. ... If GNOME is having trouble as a desktop environment, one obvious solution is to find new niches. Lopez and Sanchez suggested following KDE's lead and producing a tablet, while Lionel Dricot recently suggested a suite of cloud-based services. ... The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what they want. Instead, the project has preferred to rely on usability theory, treating it as an exact science instead of a collection of competing ideas supported by usually inconclusive studies that could be mustered to support almost any design. In GNOME 3, testing with actual users did not occur until near the end of the development cycle, when the chances of any major changes were remote."

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Staying with gnome2 (4, Interesting)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#41040375)

Because 3 sucks and they don't listen to real users. Theory ain't the same as practice, in practice.

Best strategy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040393)

Make a cute little maskot that looks like one of those lawn gnomes. Maybe it could be a penguin or something. Totally the key to success. User comfort is waaayyy overated.

Re:Best strategy (1)

Meshach (578918) | about 2 years ago | (#41040461)

Make a cute little maskot that looks like one of those lawn gnomes. Maybe it could be a penguin or something. Totally the key to success. User comfort is waaayyy overated.

Is worked for linus [] .

Re:Best strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040517)

Or a giant, hairy, ugly gnu...oh wait...

Re:Best strategy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040643)

Do you know why there's peopel starving in Africa?

Because the fatass Americans ate up all the food.

Re:Best strategy (5, Funny)

darkfeline (1890882) | about 2 years ago | (#41040533)

Alternative: make a cute anime girl mascot.

Re:Staying with gnome2 (1)

micheas (231635) | about 2 years ago | (#41040459)

But in theory they are the same :)

Re:Staying with gnome2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040615)

Ain't no grave can't hold me down, ain't it?

Re:Staying with gnome2 (1)

Ruie (30480) | about 2 years ago | (#41040635)

A moveable panel, panel applets, desktop launchers, user control of virtual desktops, menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview -- all of these could be added easily as options.

Options ?? You mean one cannot move the panel right now ? What were they thinking ?

Re:Staying with gnome2 (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 2 years ago | (#41041031)

in theory it is

Re:Staying with gnome2 (4, Insightful)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41041119)

OpenSource economics are different from commercial ones. The end goal is offering something unique that will appeal to a set of users. The fact that you can install a DE from many providers means people who prefer traditional desktops can turn to LXDE/XFCE, if you want eye-candy and "paradigm" buzzwords, you can use KDE/GNOME, you prefer a tiling desktop, install AwesomeWM, etc...

My point is, the end goal is to fill the niche, GNOME3 try to fill them all and failed to find it's sweet spot...

Not just Gnome (5, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | about 2 years ago | (#41040405)

The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what

Almost all software has that problem.

Re:Not just Gnome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040701)

"If I had asked what the customer wanted, they would have said a faster horse."

Re:Not just Gnome (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040737)

In that analogy, trying to put a tablet UI on a PC desktop environment would be like trying to put a steering wheel on a horse.

Re:Not just Gnome (5, Interesting)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 2 years ago | (#41040723)

> Almost all software has that problem.

This. Especially among open source projects. I deeply appreciate their efforts, but when you go into their forums with a suggestion, or to ask why they are doing something a certain way (or more often nowadays, why they stopped doing something that everyone liked), you get scolded. Or talked down to. "Trust us, little man, we're the experts and we know what we're doing."

This article is about Gnome, but I'm still sore from the way the KDE developers handled their transition to version 4. Even the politest request was greeted with outright hostility. Gnome is by no means the only offender, nor is the offense limited to desktop environments. But it's a real problem.

I much prefer open source to proprietary software, but there's a price for the "free" stuff. I guess this is just part of it. A commercial software product that treated its "customers" the way that some FOSS projects do would be out of business in a matter of weeks.

Just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it. :)

Re:Not just Gnome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040753)

Yeah, Apple and Microsoft have never pissed of thousands of users by redesigning GUIs and ignoring complaints.

Re:Not just Gnome (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040873)

Microsoft's done it precisely twice. Ribbon, Metro. No, Bob doesn't count. Nor do the incremental changes that were made appropriately with each successive version of Windows - I'm sorry the lot of you were too butthurt and too stupid to figure out how to switch to classic themes or, heaven forfend, customize newer Windows themes.

Apple? Aside from a brief stint in the elementary school computer labs when I was a kid, I haven't been using Apple's software long enough to make a judgement call. I'm sure it's relatively similar.

Meanwhile, open source?

The fuck is wrong with you people? Completely massive changes and rewrites every goddamned major version. No, I'm sorry - Microsoft, at least, has got nothing on the deranged non-designers of open source.

Re:Not just Gnome (2, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 2 years ago | (#41040931)

Writing software is not "art". It's not there to be appealing. Writing software is about building tools, and when you're dealing with tools, the "right way" exists.

I've written a ton of commercial software, and if you're going to do it right, the first step is convincing the customer that they don't know what they need, and that your very first task will be interviewing them so you can give them a document that tells them what they need.

If you can't convince the customer of this truth, you're usually better off firing the customer. Not only do they usually take more time to deal with than the money justifies, but they actually train you to become shortsighted and less effective and leave you slightly crippled moving forward.

None of which means I like Gnome 3... but this stupid desire to abandon the WIMP metaphor and transform the powerful tools we know and love into crippled and useless entertainment devices seems to be industry wide, and neither a Gnome specific problem nor an open source problem.

The screwball thing about it all is, Windows 8 is coming down the pipe, it looks to be just as fucked up as Gnome 3 is... and the open source community no longer has a decent and well supported WIMP desktop available to capitalize on the opportunity.

Re:Not just Gnome (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041077)

Sure it does. KDE (which is really quite good). Cinnamon (a fork of Gnome 3), Mate (Gnome 2) and possibly XFCE or LXDE.

Re:Not just Gnome (3, Interesting)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41041153)

Try XFCE4... you will be surprised.

Re:Not just Gnome (4, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 years ago | (#41041203)

> Writing software is not "art".
Sorry, you're wrong. Yes, there is a lot of science in Computer Science, but since this topic is about UI -- as soon as you start interacting with users, there are times when it is OK to break the UI rules. The *hard* part is knowing when to be consistent, and when not to. People, nor how they interact with computers does NOT always fit in a nice little black-n-white box that naive programmers love to think.

And just to be pedantic, here is real-world example: (Since /. is a POS for code formatting, replace the _ with spaces...)

The most important thing for writing code is: proper variable names, whitespace to align common idioms

function SwapInt32( x )
        var n _= (x >> 24) & _____ 0xFF;
            n |= (x >>_ 8) & ___ 0xFF00;
            n |= (x <<_ 8) & __0xFF0000;
            n |= (x << 24) & 0xFF000000;
        return n;

Proper alignment makes it easier to read code. There are no hard and fast rules for whitespace.

> It's not there to be appealing.
a) you missed the joy of optimizing code and coming up with a smaller and faster algorithm, nor
b) even grok the purpose of whitespace in the first place. Hint: Whitespace is NOT for the compiler's / interpreter's benefit but _humans_.

> the first step is convincing the customer that they don't know what they need,
Yes we understand your point that "No, the customer is not always right".

But riiiiight, like the customer is always some clueless schmoe. News flash, sometimes, they have been using software *longer* then your little code monkey shop has been in business for. While they may not know exactly what they want, it pays attention to try to understand their perspective and what are they *really* getting at. One of the best ways to learn how bad your UI is, is to give it to someone who does not have the same preconceived ideas that you automatically *assume* all your clients and other programmers have.

In the *real* world, *sometimes* client ARE knowledgable -- AND sometimes they are completely clueless. Your job as a programmer is to bridge that gap, and learn to get at what they are *really* wanting.

If you think programming is black-n-white you obviously haven't been doing it very long, or you suck at it.

Re:Not just Gnome (5, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 2 years ago | (#41041337)

No offense, but I hope I never have to use your software.

User interfaces are all about art. A right way doesn't necessarily exist. Is right clicking better than a button? Are four buttons too many, or is seven? How many view types should be on one screen?

These vary from system to system, function to function, and a piece of software may work perfectly but suck because the user can't use it efficiently or simply hates using the software.

Lots of picky examples exist from the mundane like when I mouse over the chat window in Facebook, I expect the chat window to scroll, not the main window, when I roll the mouse wheel -- to the customer I have who want Enter to go to the next field in a form not tab because that's how it would work on a spreadsheet or a calculator.

Form shouldn't override function -- but form is very important, and almost entirely art.

It only takes one word to refute you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040957)

It only takes one word to refute your argument about proprietary software companies doing a better job of listening to their users:


Actually, I can think of a few others, too.

Let's try, "Metro."

Re:Not just Gnome (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41040969)

Because the KDE 4.0 transition was marked as "FOR DEVELOPERS ONLY". It was clearly marked as not for normal/daily use. They had to have a 4.0 framework in place so that new development can be targeted against it.

So why wouldn't they be snarky at someone who cannot read?

Re:Not just Gnome (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041095)

They don't get to decide what .0 means. The terms for that 4RC1. Besides when distributions started to go with it, they should have stepped up to discourage it.

Even KDE people admit they handled that terribly. Huge mistake, but water under the bridge.

Re:Not just Gnome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041011)

I second this. Hell, I've tried to help develop on many projects and only recently have I noticed that they will turn on their own if you don't get with the program.

And heaven forbid that you tell one of the little monsters that their documentation is inadequate after they've scolded you suggesting(falsely) that you haven't read it. (that's right "Marty" of mod_security...I'm talking about your lame ass).

I get it, it's free and you're more than likely doing all the work for free, but if you don't like it, Do. Something. Else. or stop offering to "help" because that's the last thing you're doing when you go on your little tirades. Start your own list just for developers who agree 100% with everything you have to say..I'm sure it'll be full of people who support your every thought. Otherwise, deal with the fact that people may have legitimate complaints about your software or documentation, and then, since you'll have a better attitude, they may actually be willing to help if you ask.

What Gnome 3 Needs (5, Interesting)

rcjhawk (713563) | about 2 years ago | (#41040463)

Is a big button on the panel that says "Make it Work Like Gnome 2" Or FVWM, I'm not picky.

Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (2)

2.7182 (819680) | about 2 years ago | (#41040549)

Dead on. FVWM especially. I regret the day I left FVWM, thinking there was something better out there...

Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#41040821)

I love FVWM but it is really an interpreter which can be used to create a pretty good desktop environment. I still run it on a workstation which I keep around for doing network administration. My main desktop currently is unity. I think it does a pretty good job of keeping things simple.

Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (2)

Ruie (30480) | about 2 years ago | (#41040655)

Is a big button on the panel that says "DO NOT PANIC" and makes it work like Gnome 2.


Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040729)

Is to stop modeling Gnome 3 in the image of OSX. I hate how OSX only gives you maybe Two options, default or recommended.

Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#41040911)

It also gives you "defaults write" -- there's often lots you can do under the hood.

Then again, Gnome 3 gives you a lot of that too. The problem is that the customization (in both cases) often takes more work than it's worth, and there's a limited amount of expertise that knows how to do it in the first place.

Re:What Gnome 3 Needs (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041115)

And Apple heavily documents their customizations. Gnome doesn't.

Extensions (2, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | about 2 years ago | (#41040475)

The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

Re:Extensions (5, Funny)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 2 years ago | (#41040483)

Great point. Everyone prefers a piece of shit out of box that you have to shine and polish to make look nice.

Re:Extensions (2, Interesting)

sqldr (838964) | about 2 years ago | (#41040869)

I'm one of those rare people who stuck with that piece of shit and actually got the hang of using it efficiently. None of the suggested windows-95 throwbacks in the article are things I WANT back. I install about 5 extensions out of the box, and the only "tweak" I use is turning on focus-follows-mouse and making better keyboard shortcuts for desktop switching. The auto desktop management thing is a really efficient way of working once you get used to it, rather than assigning 4 desktops to different activities, then after an hour of use realising you've been putting the wrong windows on the wrong desktops and that you've got shit everywhere. It makes you think where you put your windows.

Re:Extensions (5, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 2 years ago | (#41041369)

I don't want to think where I put my windows. I know my personal browser sessions are on 3, along with any game I might be playing, my E-mail and other contact managers are on 1, and my database interface and Eclipse are running on 2.

When I want to save a window for later, I toss it over to 4.

I shouldn't have to think about it. That's how proper organization works.

Imagine for a moment if your clothing drawers automatically created and deleted drawers so you had to figure out where you'd put something, and if you took the last sock out of the sock drawer, the shirt drawer wouldn't be where you expected it. We use metaphors on desktops to help users organize their data, including the folder system. Making those metaphors less realistic kills their ability to use them for organization.

Re:Extensions (1)

Meshach (578918) | about 2 years ago | (#41040499)

The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn. It it is not enabled by default most installations will never see it.

Re:Extensions (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040539)

The functionality is available as Linux comes with a C/C++ compiler.

Re:Extensions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040573)

Can extensions fix the insanity they're doing to nautilus? No? Didn't think so...

Re:Extensions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041165)

Can extensions fix the insanity they're doing to nautilus? No? Didn't think so...

The only way to fix nautilus is to ditch the gnome-tards. And replace them with people that know what they're doing.
And for god's sake don't let "artists", "designers" have any kind of input in the development process. The gui will be ugly ? Ok, at least it will be usable. And with developers at the helm you know that "configurability" will be there.

Re:Extensions (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41040627)

That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn.

We're talking about desktop Linux here - "regular users" aren't really a concern.

Re:Extensions (1)

Meshach (578918) | about 2 years ago | (#41040667)

That could work for most /. users but most regular users neither know how to enable extensions or care enough to learn.

We're talking about desktop Linux here - "regular users" aren't really a concern.

This exactly why the perennial "Year of Linux on the Desktop" prediction is never realized.

Re:Extensions (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041129)

Given that Linux now controls over 50% of the smart phone market, I'd say it is realized.

Re:Extensions (1)

armanox (826486) | about 2 years ago | (#41040501)

Far from it. Can I move the panel? Remove it? Have a system tray in it?

Re:Extensions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040523)


Re:Extensions (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#41040609)

And that will work fine, right up until some dev changes something and breaks the extensions. And when the users complain, the devs will say, "We don't care. We warned you that we weren't going to make any effort not to break extensions, and we meant it."

Re:Extensions (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040803)

The requested functions are already mostly available via gnome shell extensions, allowing users to customize gnome to their preference.

And this is where they fail. No one wants to program a fucking extension for every little bit of "useful" feature that should be there right out of the box so to speak. And that by virtue of being an extension could go away anytime. It's the same disease that affects the Firefox developers. Until this simple concept is hammered inside the gnome-tards thick skulls the project will remain a big fail.

Re:Extensions (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#41040967)

But the gnome team said at the start that support for extentions would be removed.

morororororooorrrrrrrororr (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#41040489)

GNoooeoeoeoeeemeeeee!!! I am calllllllllintg youuuuuuuueueuuuuuuuu! Death! Quinishes are delishises! Death!!!! DeeeeeeaaaaaaaaathhhhhHH! wubbawubbawubba! GNORRRRRRM!!!!! the! fooooooororororoororroorrrrooooooobobobooo! it! Death! pizzar!

They won't listen anyway (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040507)

GNOME devs are not going to aknowledge their mistake. No, for them, it's everyone else who are mistaked about the way they should handle their work. And, of course, it's GNOME devs who know it best. Their design is marvelous, all that is left is for user to bend himself to it.

That's why GNOME 3 is stripped of so much functionality, deemed "unneeded" by devs on the basis of them not needing it. And they continue upon this path:

KDE has it, too, but to a lesser degree and most of the time they let user configure his environment.

Revert back to what worked (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040519)

GNOME 2 wasn't broken when ivory tower developers decided to fix it.

Why not spend development resources optimizing accelerated graphics performance and squashing bugs?

Don't screw up the perfectly fine UI because you have nothing else to do. (GNOME 3)

Don't bloat the whole DE beyond belief and require users run multiple heavy daemons with a questionable approach to privacy. (KDE)

Don't be an incomplete and lacking project borne of frustration with other ones. (Xfce)

Re:Revert back to what worked (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#41040671)

"Don't screw up the perfectly fine UI because you have nothing else to do. (GNOME 3)"

Al UI should constantly change because change is progress.

That's why the letters of the alphabet are revised every few years.

Re:Revert back to what worked (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | about 2 years ago | (#41040997)

> Don't be an incomplete and lacking project borne of frustration with other ones. (Xfce)

Ok AC, switched to Xubuntu 12.04 this month (from the great Ubuntu 10.04), and you're right, there are several instances for improvement.

But all in all I'm doing my work and the GUI is not interferring me (as happened when tested Unity and Gnome 3.) With more time I could try those "Gnome shell extensions thing" (whatever it is), but I'm too lazy (or busy?) and Xfce is just fine for me.

I think Gnome 3 is lightyears ahead of Gnome 2. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040529)

Granted, the cube was better than the current desktop switching mechanism, but Gnome 2 is so dated it made Windows 7 look innovative. I think Gnome 3 expanded the usability gap between Gnome and Windows, (i.e. Gnome is winning handily) and completely left OSX behind, whereas Gnome 2 was merely an competant alternative.

(Yes, I know that OSX has hotspots and works similarly to Gnome 3. But Gnome 3 is better, if only because it lacks Apple's old usability mistakes, and is the perfect layout for laptop, tablet or phone. (Not that I ever expect to see a Gnome 3 phone).

Re:I think Gnome 3 is lightyears ahead of Gnome 2. (4, Interesting)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#41040591)

I won't even argue that. But I have around 20 desktops, and zero tablets or phones. Gnone3 utterly sucks, adds nothing new, but takes away features I liked in gnome 2.

I don't need great big things wasting pixels I paid for. I don't have the first touch screen in my home. Hard to see how I could even reach most of the usual 4 23" monitor setups if they WERE touchscreens. I don't need to explore my computer on every boot - I know what's on there because I put it there.

I create things, not consume them. Why should I have to put up with a screen manage for consume-only types that really does not fit my needs and which wastes my time by removing the few features I actually do use all the time. I don't give a shit about someone saying G2 looks antiquated, because I almost never even see anything of it - I use the pixels I paid for for my apps - many of which I wrote, not to just screw around in the opsys, but you know, actually USE the damn computer to do something useful.

Re:I think Gnome 3 is lightyears ahead of Gnome 2. (2)

sqldr (838964) | about 2 years ago | (#41040845)

I don't need great big things wasting pixels I paid for

The top bar is about 16 pixels high, and with the overview replacing the windows-95-esque taskbar, I've gained about 48 rows from the bottom of the screen. I've got more screen space than ever. I run it on 2 1080p monitors and I'm not aware of anything using the space. Besides, it would need serious work to be a tablet interface. You can move windows round and resize them, while there's no clicky thing to switch desktops. that's either keyboard shortcuts or the top corner. If you want tablet, try metro.

Hubris (1, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41040535)

The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what they want. Instead, the project has preferred to rely on usability theory, treating it as an exact science instead of a collection of competing^W contradictory (fixed) ideas supported by usually inconclusive studies that could be mustered to support almost any design.

And thus we are also stuck with Metro^W "The Interface That Dare Not Speak Its Name."

Gnome's insistence on "the one true way" sound so much like the justifying of putting a touch interface on a desktop operating system I've been hearing for months. "LOOK AT THE HEAT MAP!!!#$!@#$ONE!"

Fuck heat maps. Ask the users what they want. The only reason why Jobs got away with what he got away with at Apple and being the sole final arbiter of what what went into an Apple device was that he actually understood what people wanted. That's a rare talent that people think they have but don't. The rest of us have to ask.


Re:Hubris (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041143)

Metro makes sense financially. If it works it buys Microsoft a generation of desktop domination. If it fails, then most likely Microsoft couldn't have done anything to save consumer, falls back and spends the 2020s defending enterprise.

Gnome is in a different position.

gnome-backgrounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040543)

All they need is to have a default background as a semi-naked Adriana Lima photo, then all the user complaints will go away in no time.

More is not better (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 2 years ago | (#41040565)

The best thing the Gnome project could do is start cutting features. Get rid of the bloat. Cut out of the complexity. Drop most of the "features" and come back when they have a simple, well designed, reliable and FAST desktop environment. After that, purge the people who got the project into the state it's in now.

The problem with freeware is that people will only volunteer to contribute stuff they're interested in. That normally means stuff the developer thinks is cool, or that they think is clever (more to do with personal vanity and bragging rights than any consideration for the end user). As it turns out, most users don't want that garbage - they just want something that does the basics, does it well and doesn't mean they need a multi-cored processor just to provide enough cycles to run the UI.

Re:More is not better (1)

Windowser (191974) | about 2 years ago | (#41041041)

Get rid of the bloat. Cut out of the complexity. Drop most of the "features" and come back when they have a simple, well designed, reliable and FAST desktop environment.

Congratulation on your perfect description of LXDE !

"Find new niches" (4, Interesting)

mattsday (909414) | about 2 years ago | (#41040619)

Why does GNOME have to find new niches? It's the de-facto desktop installation for an awful lot of distributions and has been the primary choice for an awful lot of people for the past 10+ years.

It seems to me that they already had a huge user base and many more coming on-board through the likes of Fedora, Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They had a good thing going with a consistent toolkit (GTK+2), LGPL and some really nice software. From my humble perspective, this is a great starting point.

Instead they released GNOME 3. I have no idea who it's for? I remember GNOME 1.x and the thousands of configuration options - it was definitely overkill for a standard desktop environment. I think GNOME 3 is bad for exactly the opposite reasons - completely no customisation. I have no idea why they can't get this right and understand their target audience.

Fortunately, there are solid alternatives. However, I find it a great shame that GNOME seems to be determined to lose its userbase to meet some CS/HCI textbook ideal.

Re:"Find new niches" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040907)

"However, I find it a great shame that GNOME seems to be determined to lose its userbase to meet some CS/HCI textbook ideal." What I find worse is that it certainly doesn't match the text books I had. It is however fairly close to the (old) Apple guidelines... which I think assumed a 13 inch screen (don't remember it all that well, only used it as reference material for historical purposes - once).

Re:"Find new niches" (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41040935)

I have no idea who it's for?

I think a response to losing some key mobile and tablet groups in particular Nextel to KDE. Nextel had some genuine serious complaints with GTK2 / Gnome 2 that caused them to buy QT and bring out MeeGo's Swipe (which is a brilliant UI for a phone, especially for multitasking BTW).

And also Gnome 3 while having some very rough edges, is also in some ways brilliant. I agree with the assessment that the Canonical / Gnome divorce was one of those messy divorces. Canonical could have tamed some of Gnome's absolutist impulses and Gnome could have given Canonical an actually integrated system.

Re:"Find new niches" (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | about 2 years ago | (#41041205)

I have no idea why they can't [...] understand their target audience.

Because starting with Gnome3, they decided their target audience is tablet/touchscreen users. There has not been, nor is there ever likely to be, hardware installed with Linux+Gnome3 out of the box. They decided to cater to an audience that does not exist.

Gnome3, Unity, and the UI-formerly-known-as-Metro all suck donkey balls, assuming you don't believe the few users who have completely adapted their usage patterns and workflows, after much effort, for minimal gains. Any perceived simplicity is actually just more complexity hidden beneath the surface.

And this is all beside the fact that touch UIs are innately less capable than the traditional keyboard+pointer paradigm.

The autist never admits he is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040657)

Frankly I'm surprised something like this didn't happen long ago, considering the higher-than average occurrence of aspergers among computer folks.

Even if they fix Gnome the Linux Desktop is a fail (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040661)

From wikimedia stats we see that Linux users on the desktop aren’t growing. Only Android on tablets and smartphones is doing good. Linux is stagnating at 2%the only change is about users that switch to anoter distro.
Is it important that Linux isn’t growing on the desktop?
I think it is and we can’t just say: “oh I’m fine with my OS. Who cares about the rest of the world?”. The reason is that while on the servers you can choose to use whatever software you want. For example you want to use mysql, apache, python etcfor your website? It’s fine! Do you want to deliver videos in ogg/theora format? Yes you can. Who can stop you? That is because on the server you’re the king and the users must take what you give. It’s one of the reasons why Linux had not problem to grow in popularity on the server side.
But on the desktop you (as user) don’t decide everything, because in many cases you’re just a passive actor. The Linux market share is only 2%? Well the consequences are that Adobe stops delivering the Flash Player (while before was delivering a flash player that was crap). Netflix doesn’t ship his client for Linux. Games are not made for Linux (yes I heard about Steam but we’ll see how it goes). Maybe the Olympics in your nation will be streamed using a DRM that is not available for Linux . And most important: many professional programs will never land on Linux. So not only Linux won’t attract any new users, but also this will have the consequence to cut you out from many different things that will make Linux an inferior OS choice for the Desktop.
Then some Stallman’s fan could jump out and say: but I don’t want those things! I want to stay pure and do what Stallman says: use only software that respects my freedom. Yes suretoo bad that I don’t see a lot of the Linux people using gNewSense, having no proprietary drivers installed, no proprietary codecs and watching youtube videos without using the Adobe’s flash player (probably there are better examples) . I believe that most of the Linux users are not so strict to desire a 100% open source software on their machines. They love open source, but they also don’t want to be marginalized and they care about being able to use their computer to satisfy their needs
So I said all this to explain that:
a) The small market share has side effects on users on the Desktop and so is very bad that doesn’t increase
b) Most of the people want to use Linux not because they’re crazy about Free Software, but because they want an alternative between Microsoft and Apple
c) You can’t increase the market share if you have less to offer in respect of the other operating systems

So how do you increase the market share? In my opinion: You need to make great software that is not available for Windows and OSX.
Is it possible to do that with open source software? I’ve no idea. Probably not. Also I’m sure many open source developers don’t even like it.
I think most of the Gnome developers just don’t care if Linux is at 2% of if there are some annoyances, especially because I believe most of them don’t use Linux as their primary OS. They just love working together on Gnome, but they don’t have the pressure to reach real pragmatic goals. Because that would require some compromises.
So the only way to create an alternative to Microsoft and Apple (that is what I care most) will be to hope that one day some big company creates a new brand and ships computers with Linux and at the same time makes available some of the coolest proprietary programs you’ve ever seen. That someone could only be Google. Not like Dell and HP that keeps selling hardware with Linux as a third class choice, with no marketing and no ideas behind.

Re:Even if they fix Gnome the Linux Desktop is a f (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041183)

In all fairness the reason behind Gnome 3 was a push towards growing beyond 2% (and I don't even think its 2%). They did care, and they did try. And Metro might create an opening on the low end for Linux.

Don't worry Gnome users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040679)

Once Redhat has sufficiently fucked up Gnome enough to kill off any distros based on Gnome, both free and commercially oriented (we're coming for ya, Canonical!), then RH will start listening to users and give us back our precious panels.

Bingo (2)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 2 years ago | (#41040691)

> find new niches. ... tablet,
> ... cloud-based services.

If only someone had said "social media" also, we'd have had the whole set.

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040693)

What people tend to forget about GNOME is that a large chunk of the developers are employed by Red Hat. GNOME isn't worried about losing users because regular users aren't supplying their pay cheques, Red Hat is and that's why they get to call the shots and you don't.

Another "GNOME 3 is bad" article, ohhh boy (0, Troll)

Pecisk (688001) | about 2 years ago | (#41040707)

Ok, let's keep this clear - it's just free software, boys. There are multiple ways to branch it and make it work your way, release it and name it "True GNOME" or whatever. No, GNOME developers have never been fan of "LEGO constuctor" type of desktop enviroment. They have been improving their software and technologies steadily, within their means and in ways they deem reasonable.

Don't like their vision? There is so much to choose from - starting from using old GNOME 2 stack (without support from outside, of course), use many of "alternative remixes", use distribution with bunch of enabled extentions, etc. - you name it.

From my expierence, is there any worth of complains, GNOME developers will get it. But they will see this as whole different vision than you. Accept that and move along.

Re:Another "GNOME 3 is bad" article, ohhh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041067)

Accept that and move along.


It hurts us to see wasted effort, when all that was ever needed was maintenance of an acceptable piece of software.

We'll keep trying until we find the an argument that permeates them and causes their perception to expand to cover what we consider to be the very real reality they appear to be ignoring.

Re:Another "GNOME 3 is bad" article, ohhh boy (1)

RanCossack (1138431) | about 2 years ago | (#41041091)

Accept that and move along.


Hmm, but what to? XFCE, Unity, KDE, Cinnamon... well, there are a lot of choices, at least. :) Bye, gnome.

Re:Another "GNOME 3 is bad" article, ohhh boy (2)

Sussurros (2457406) | about 2 years ago | (#41041099)

Actually Gnome 3 isn't bad, Gnome 3 is a pig and now they're talking about putting a bit of lipstick on it. Gnome 2 / Mate is still around so let the Gnome devlopers kiss the Gnome 3 pig that they clearly want to so much, it doesn't mean anyone else has to.

Re:Another "GNOME 3 is bad" article, ohhh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041277)

Why do waste your time helping RedHat kill off the distro model of the Linux desktop market?

Oh really? (2, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41040719)

You mean by fixing the standard issue list of complaints and noticing that linux nerds are NOT using their computers like large cellphones, would reduce almost 90% of complaints?

What took you so fucking long Sherlock?

Will I return to gnome even if they do what they say? I dunno ... On one hand I do like spiffy new UI's, on the other hand I dont like wasting CPU and GPU power on dumb shit like windows and special effects I never pay attention to.

Gnome doesn't need more crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040727)

Work on gnome 2, make it faster. It's just a desktop anyways.
I don't want to hear any of this cloud crap either...... bunch of fairy princesses.

Best recovery strategy: (1)

MetricT (128876) | about 2 years ago | (#41040733)

Actually listen to your users and do what they say. It's so radical it just might work.

Its simple (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#41040751)

Just stop telling people how to work and think.

Oh lord don't ask the users ... PLEASE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040797)

Users have no idea what they want. Nothing good was ever built by committee.

try downloading some extensions... (4, Interesting)

sqldr (838964) | about 2 years ago | (#41040807)

A moveable panel

There's an extension for that..

panel applets

Many extensions do that.. it goes against what gnome say, but they work. I've got my unread mail count in my panel..

desktop launchers

Urgh.. I'm sure someone could write one. I always turn off "file manager on desktop" because having to move a window out of the way to start something is a waste of time. I normally use my desktop space with, er, windows... you can already put files on the desktop. You can turn it on with the tweak tool. KDE got it right by adding a desktop widget, so it didn't take over the entire desktop. If I want to start an app, I go "t..e..r.." ooh, a terminal in 5 key presses!

user control of virtual desktops

There's an extension for that, although once you get used to it, the "new desktop every time you use the last" option is something I really don't want to go back from. It's really efficient once you've mapped better keys to desktop switching. Especially once you have 2 monitors and you CAN'T switch desktops on the other one. It acts like a sort of main work screen while all the web/email crap is the stuff you switch. Of course, there's an app to enable switching on the other screen.

menu alternatives that would remove the need for the overview

there's an extension for that. Although i'm not sure of the "remove the need". I prefer the overview - you don't have to use the mouse in it.

all of these could be added easily as options.

They ARE options. Try [] There's even a single click on/off button for each extension to turn them on and off.

Honestly, people use it for 5 minutes and suddenly think they're an expert on desktop design by saying "lets make it like gnome 2!"

Car analogy (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#41040871)

So out of the box every control is a switch under the instrument panel but you can install your own extensions with steering wheels, pedals, etc if you want.

Re:Car analogy (1)

sqldr (838964) | about 2 years ago | (#41041075)

out of the box, it could just come with a "gnome 2/windows 95 extension pack" if people really want a taskbar and icons all over the desktop (which you can't see because there's windows in the way)

Re:Car analogy (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#41041435)

icons all over the desktop (which you can't see because there's windows in the way)

Why the hate? Why this insistence on telling people how to work?

Any recovery strategy starts with "We're sorry." (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41040891)

The first thing that would get everyone's attention is an apology and/or acknowledgement that they did it wrong.

There was nothing wrong with wanting to create a tablet friendly UI... nothing at all. What was wrong was trying to foist it onto desktop users. Wanna make a tablet UI? Great! Do that in ADDITION to what you already had *AND* make them compatible with each other so that a user or a program can work easily in either.

The desktop isn't going away any time soon. The very notion that people are ready to move on into the tablet hype world is ridiculous.

It's understandable that no one would want to be left behind or to have a fear that you might be considered late to the party or irrelevant if you don't have one ready when the market wants it, but to push it onto the market before it wants it? What were they thinking?

And I'm sorry developers might have low morale, but that bad smell they've been wondering about isn't coming from the breath of the users complaining, it's because they had their heads up their asses... which might explain why they couldn't hear the users...

"Developer morale" should be fine since they... (3, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#41040917)

...are doing what they choose.

Developers don't need users so they don't need to give a fuck about what users want.

Be careful what you wish for (1)

ALeader71 (687693) | about 2 years ago | (#41040923)

Let me share my experience with "listening to the customer" from a different perspective. In the 90s I was in the Air Force. I joined after the Tailhook scandal but it's impact left a mark on service culture. No one wanted to hang out after work lest their behavior be deemed offensive in any way, no matter how remote. Before this, most young and single personnel would party in the dorms (barracks) or at the base NCO club. Back in the 80s they even had Airmen's Clubs. The more senior people could provide rides home and deal with potential scuffles internally. Was it perfect? No. But it didn't involve permanent legal actions and it didn't have to negatively impact anyone's careers. If you lived on base (dorms) hit the base club and got drunk so what? You walked home. In some ways the old military base culture was like my college experience. I never drove to drink because everything was close.

As the service culture changed, more people went off post to party and base clubs started closing. So to counter this, base leadership created councils to "give the people what they wanted." What they got was a wish list that didn't translate into an increase in business. Those who choose to participate didn't understand customers or how to run a Club so things got worse instead of better.

Then we had a new Club manager. A civilian who didn't care what these "councils" said. He knew how to run a Club and that's what he did. He reached out to Wing leadership and obtained the flexibility to change the clubs, then he showed up at the clubs on Friday nights and built support with his customers. Suddenly families were going to the NCO club (all ranks in the restaurant) for Friday dinner. The enlisted-only bar side had a brisk Friday business and a decent turnout on Sundays for football. Delivery and take out service was started and it proved successful, especially when we burned the midnight oil. No need to meet the pizza guy at the gate. The Pizza guy was on base.

My point? The problems with Gnome 3 aren't about customer feedback. Customer feedback can kill. This boils down to guidance and how change is implemented. Gnome 3 was a bigger departure than DOS to Windows or OS 9 to OS X. A completely different interface. No cues or guides to direct new users. Just a blank slate. Windows 8's opening screen is similarly flawed. Apple may be slowly merging OS X and iOS, but over a period of years, not in one release. Apple, out of all OS vendors, has managed to replace core components of its OS and change its user interface without large scale demolition. Gnome's governing council could learn a lot from Apple's example. It's too late for Gnome 3 to go back. Now it's time to heal the wounds with the user base. Time to show them they can do better. Gnome is in a "Vista" state. They need to implement a "Windows 7" initiative.

Recovery Step Number One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040937)

Get rid of the people who put GNOME in this condition.

ego boost and resume padding (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#41040941)

I get the feeling that Gnome and KDE, and Unity, are designed in their garage by a bunch of nerds hankering after peer approval, bragging rights, and coolness. Almost all serious linuxers I know have switched to lxde or xfce in desperation at the bloat and bugs; and newbies just need something windows-like.

I've given up on desktop linux. The best that can be hoped for is that Android will tack on a nice-enough desktop "personality", with competent mouse, multitasking and keyboard shortcuts, in time.

Stop hiding stuff (2)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about 2 years ago | (#41041015)

I personally left Ubuntu for the Mac with the whole Unity debacle. For me Unity was a step backward for several reasons:

I hated having to search for applications before being able to use them. Being able to search is fine, but I found the menu structure (eg. administrator tools vs applications) in earlier Gnome was actually better at helping me find what I want than an ab initio search (which assumes I know and remember all the often-bizarre names of all the programs now on my system).

I also hated how the control panel was dumbed down to the point of being unusable. A lot of configurability that was present in Gnome 2 was removed. So when I went to change a setting I couldn't. Einstein said "As simple as possible, but no simpler". Notice how there are two parts to that sentence. The Gnome 3 crew designed by the first part of it only.

I'm a Mac user these days and I *loath* the single menu. Gnome 3 is cursed with this also. One of the things I missed when going from Gnome to Mac is that each application window could have its own menu. When you are doing stuff on two or more screens then moving back to the main screen to access the menu is a PITA. And no, I use so many programs for different purposes it is impossible to memorize all the menu commands for each application - so menu use is essential.

Reliability matters more than anything just about else. Unfortunately with Gnome 3 being new it hadn't got to a mature point where stuff works flawlessly and reliably. It's nice if the backend is "teh new shiney" and will support stuff in the future, but if you are continually reinventing the core all the time then the system never gets to be stable (plus, it takes time for applications to be built on new core tech, so every time you change the core you lose applications - and it is the applications that end users actually care about).

Just because you want to work on tablets don't forget your existing userbase. Making a better tablet workflow at the expense of smoothly working (fewer clicks) with mouse, keyboard and multi-screen is of no use to me. Hence, bye bye Gnome ol' pal.

The war with Canonical (5, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41041043)

I think one of the things that often gets forgotten was that Gnome 3 ended up in a war with Canonical in March 2011. Canonical represented somewhere between 50-80% of the user base. Once Canonical came to believe that the Gnome foundation simply would not listen to their point of view and their only alternative was to fork things went downhill badly. I think its time for Gnome to admit they lost this war.

Canonical instead of pushing the advantages of Gnome 3 focused heavily on the minus. Instead of easing their customer base into Gnome 3 they moved them away from it towards their Unity / Wayland vision. Canonical could have helped to soften some of the rough edges and at the same time Gnome thought deeply about consistency and functionality issues which have haunted Canonical.

The most popular Gnome desktop is now Cinnamon which is a fork. The second most popular is Mate which is a rejection of Gnome 3 entirely. KDE developers consider Gnome to have bullied and lied to them about cooperation so Gnome is likely to see less cooperation.

There are some brilliant aspects of Gnome 3. And I could see it evolving into truly the best desktop OS around. But it won't have the time or support to do that, in the current state of alienation. They have minor technical problems but large political problems. It is time to address the politics and compromise a bit to get back to a situation where they aren't decaying rapidly.

just go back to a Gnome 2 like shell (2)

kenorland (2691677) | about 2 years ago | (#41041217)

I'm sure lots of good things have happened under the covers in Gnome and the libraries etc are likely fine. The objections in Gnome 3 are mainly to the rather radical and unnecessary changes to the UI. But reverting that to something that resembles a UI people are used to shouldn't be so hard: just change the top-level graphical shell to use panels, menus, and window management in the traditional way.

1 to the head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041279)

Anything else would just prolong th agony.
These developers have vital ios apps they could be writing instead.

Want my support? One simple change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41041303)

Want my support? Simple - remove all traces of tracking my online presence. I don't want the OS to know my "Status". I don't want to tell Google, Facebook, Twitter anything if I am online or not. It is offensive to ask, a user should be protected from 3d party sites by default. I am willing to deal with all kinds of stupid desktop widgets as long as I can trust the OS. Gnome 3 crossed a line.

Vision (1)

Bozovision (107228) | about 2 years ago | (#41041375)

A while ago I was going to post the ideas that follow in the comments of one of the Gnome developers, but I decided it was a bit impertinent, but here is less so.

As a Gnome user, it seems to me that Gnome lacks vision.

So, here's what I want: I want an environment that travels with me. I want it to work nicely on my desktop computer, my laptop, my large screens, my tablets, and any other devices I use, in public and private. I want a consistent interface - it doesn't have to be the same on all these devices, just consistent. I want my environment tailored to the device it's on at the moment whilst remaining familiar. I want my workspace to be available across all my devices - my gnomespace.

I want it to know about work and about play, and to be context sensitive.

When I'm using my work PC it should know that my entertainment folder is not something that needs to be available in an instant. If I'm sitting on the sofa at 7pm, interacting with my gnomespace using my tablet, then work is not important, but entertainment is. So, I want my devices to understand that there are levels of appropriateness according to the device, the location, who is around, and the screen. It should know that my screensaver with a family portrait is not appropriate during a business meeting, and definitely not when I am making a presentation.

We are going to live in a future where screens are plentiful - rather like pens and pencils now - they used to be expensive, now if you mistakenly walk away with a pen, it's no biggie. Screens will be everywhere - the interior walls of your house will be screens. So my devices need to know that they may be sharing the screens with other devices. Again - the context.

So, I want my gnomespace to have context awareness of the screens it is using... When I have my notebook to work with my gnomespace near a large screen in a public place, then the sensitive work documents that shouldn't be displayed on the public screen without checking. But I don't want to spend a lot of time dealing with this - the system should be able to figure it out.

I'm not an island and neither is my gnomespace. I should be able to share parts of my gnomespace. My gnomespace should also understand various relationships - for instance, if I work for a company then part of the gnomespace should belong to my company too, meaning that they should be able to access that part. And if I work for two companies then neither should be able to access the work of the other: gnomespace needs to be smart about relationships.

Gnomespace also needs to understand that people make mistakes: if I put the wrong thing in the wrong place then it should not be instantly visible to my company unless I permit it - maybe the lag should be 5 minutes. Similarly, permanent deletion, and other irreversible acts.

I own more than one device, that they should all work together as one, should be context aware, should understand my people and places, and it should be tolerant of my mistakes.

That's a vision of what will move the idea of the desktop forward, making it more useful, and it's this sort of vision that I think that Gnome needs.

What theory is it? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#41041377)

The one strategy that GNOME has never tried is asking users what they want. Instead, the project has preferred to rely on usability theory

What is the theory they are using? Are there document about it? Perhaps their UI will make more sense if we are explained the rationale behind it.

The Baby Market (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41041413)

Let's admit it; computerized devices are no longer an adult-dominated user-arena. They are used by everyone from seniors to children. Digital curriculum is likely to become only more and more popular, especially for children. At this rate, it won't be long before some sort of digital interface enters the baby market on a wide scale. This is truly where I think GNOME[3] should focus all their efforts. After exhibiting such puerile aptitude and genuine passion for infantine interfaces, I really think they should go with their bliss and corner the baby market. They shouldn't have to deal with any feedback, babies can't run away effectively, nor do they have any expectations beyond the very basic -- just pure love and acceptance, and just what GNOME[3] needs. I also think GNOME[3] and Unity would have a great a chance in the seniors market, but it would take a little more work and a few less bubbles.

You have to admit, it would be pretty cool to honestly say "My baby uses Linux!" - that is, if "Linux" is the right word.

for languages require IME (5, Interesting)

causeless (2702887) | about 2 years ago | (#41041417)

in Japan, to launch Gnome shell,

1. click "Dash" or hit Windows-key.
2. check IME is disabled.
3. Alt+Space to disable IME.
4. wait a moment.
5. double-check IME is disabled now.
6. type "Tanmatu" and hit Space.
7. check IME suggests "" ("terminal", in Japanese) properly.
8. hit Enter twice.
9. Alt-Space to disable IME.

What's a great userbility!!

There are no shortcut like Windows, type "term", Enter.
and additionaly, Japanese users must guess which translated words associated to what one want to get.
Terminal, shell, command-prompt and many other words may be translated to "". Accept both English and Japanese in launcher does not help us.

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