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GNOME GUI Upgrades Linux

Linux Mint 12 Released Today 396

An anonymous reader writes "Linux Mint 12 was released today. It includes the new 'MGSE' (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions), a desktop layer on top of Gnome 3 that makes it possible for you to use Gnome 3 in a traditional way. MGSE's Gnome-2-Like experience includes features such as the bottom panel, the application menu, the window list, a task-centric desktop and visible system tray icons. MGSE is a 180-degree turn from the desktop experience the Gnome Team is developing with Gnome-Shell. At the heart of the Gnome-Shell is a feature called 'the Overview': 'The Shell is designed in order to minimize distraction and interruption and to enable users to focus on the task at hand. A persistent window list or dock would interfere with this goal, serving as a constant temptation to switch focus. The separation of window switching functionality into the overview means that an effective solution to switching is provided when it is desired by the user, but that it is hidden from view when it is not necessary.' The popularity of Mint 12 with MGSE may be an excellent barometer as to whether users prefer a task-centric or application-centric desktop."
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Linux Mint 12 Released Today

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  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:13PM (#38178036)

    I am wondering whether desktop Linux matters in these times. For some it does I am sure, as evidenced on distrowatch [distrowatch.com]. It is the most popular distro now, after pushing Ubuntu to second place.

    In my little world though, Linux is inconsequential. I just do not care that much any more.

    I [still] employ Windows XP at work, and use Windows 7 in addition to an Asus Eee Pad transformer at home, where I spend most of my time on the net.

    I still have to ask the general public whether, desktop Linux still matters. Does it?

  • by Tr3vin ( 1220548 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:16PM (#38178062)
    Security updates and support. I'm not the biggest fan of GNOME 3 or Unity but what Mint is doing isn't bad. Ubuntu had driven me away to OpenSUSE powered by KDE, but I found that I didn't like a lot of the KDE apps. Mint has made GNOME 3 more usable for me, and has really simplified some of the configuration and setup that was a pain in OpenSUSE. I run it on a MacBook Pro for compiling / cross-compiling programs and unlike OpenSUSE, everything just worked right out of the box. So far I am very pleased with it.
  • by godrik ( 1287354 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:28PM (#38178118)

    "I still have to ask the general public whether, desktop Linux still matters. Does it?"

    The general public has no clue linux actually exists. But there remain a part of the population (0.1%) that never use anything else than linux. I do not recall when was the last time I used a windows machine for more than an hour. I think it was somewhere in 2006.

    Most likely that part of the population read slashdot :)

  • Re:Why o why?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:29PM (#38178126)

    Why do people make a big deal about a distro's default desktop? You can install whatever you want.

    Yeah, I could just 'apt-get install gnome-2' on the latest Ubuntu.

    Oh, no. I can't, can I?

    Most people just want a distro that doesn't suck out of the box.

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:30PM (#38178134)

    Well, the desktop in general, Windows included, is rapidly becoming inconsequential other than for business use. The non-business computer market is rapidly moving to smartphones, tablets and laptops - all smaller screen devices where a traditional screen-real-estate-hungry user interface isn't the best option. This is the market that Ubuntu is obviously targeting with Unity, and Android and Windows also appear to be moving in the same direction - Windows 8 and Ice Cream Sandwich UIs both are geared towards small-screen appliance-type use.

    But, that said, there's always going to be a demand for a more traditional general purpose compute devices, for development work if nothing else, and for that use Linux always has been a great option, and only getting better with age, even if the path it's taking is a little uncertain. RIP Ubuntu. Long live Linux Mint!

  • by monkeyhybrid ( 1677192 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:30PM (#38178138)
    To the general public? No, I doubt desktop Linux matters much at all. For those of us that prefer to use a free, open, secure, stable and efficient OS though, it matters quite a bit.
  • 'FOCUS'?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:30PM (#38178140) Homepage Journal

    'The Shell is designed in order to minimize distraction and interruption and to enable users to focus on the task at hand. A persistent window list or dock would interfere with this goal, serving as a constant temptation to switch focus.'

    Jesus Christ, GNOME! You're not my boss and you're definitely not my wife. So, unless you're willing either to pay me or put out, kindly stop trying to tell me what to do.

  • by jirka ( 1164 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:31PM (#38178144) Homepage

    Well, there's probably more people using Linux on the desktop now than there were people using computers 20 years ago. 1-2 percent is a LOT of people (millions). If I publish a piece of software and millions of people use it, I'd say it is successful. Who cares about what percentage of the entire market it is. In absolute terms, there is an assload of desktop users.

  • Re:Why o why?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ksd1337 ( 1029386 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:33PM (#38178170)
    Depends on the target audience. If your goal as a distro admin is to gain more users, then you want to think about what people see when they use your product. Look at what Ubuntu did with Unity; that's about all the proof needed. Sure, an end user can remove Unity and install GNOME 2 or XFCE or whatever, but the point is that a distro is simply a set of choices that some admin has made. They have to be good choices if the distro wants to survive.
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:37PM (#38178210) Homepage Journal

    Why is everyone re-inventing the boat, poorly?

    Because its easy work and gives people lots of opportunities to argue about inconsequential stuff.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:38PM (#38178216)

    And the 'performance' of having to move the mouse all over the screen, switch to a different overlay display, move the mouse all over the screen to click on an icon or take your hand off the mouse to type in the name of the application you start is not an improvement over Gnome 2.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:47PM (#38178294)

    This is quite an interesting phenomenon to me. It seems like with the whole "cloud" business, we're going back to a client-server computing approach; the servers and clients are just a shit-ton more powerful than anything 20-30 years ago.

    Don't worry, ten years from now everyone will remember that the thin-client model sucks and we'll be back to building powerful local systems again.

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:01PM (#38178378)

    web 2.0 can suck it until these snake oil 'cloud' asps and coders can ensure access and legal protections for users that prevent abuse. computers are great because they're empowering, but if the new model is to make me dependent on a hierarchy of trolls guarding various bridges, I'll abandon it as quickly as I took to it. if i'm to depend on a tool for livelihood, then I want it stored and executed locally.

  • by mattcsn ( 1592281 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:05PM (#38178420)

    A Fedora final release is a RHEL public beta, no more, and no less.

  • Re:Why o why?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattcsn ( 1592281 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:06PM (#38178434)

    Compiling a full Gnome 2 desktop from source is an exercise in masochism.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:14PM (#38178494)

    it's hard to see what would make people want to go back to clunky difficult to maintain desk-bound computers.

    That's what they said about X terminals.

    Sure, if all you do is look at web pages then a desktop is overkill. But as soon as you want to write a resume, you're fscked if all you have is a phone or a tablet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:20PM (#38178556)


    Untrue. Most people know better. Try GNOME 3 on a netbook (for example) after using GNOME 2.

    I'm not insinuating that the performance is unusable. But to say it performs faster is just sheer misinformation or inexperience. It's noticeably slower and clunky. You'd expect it to be though, because it's doing sophisticated animations, etc. If your video drivers aren't up to the task (which is probably likely, given the fragile state of Linux graphics), you're going to feel it.

    The more important issue right now is that it's fairly unstable and buggy. Maybe the GNOME software itself is the cause, or maybe it's the video drivers. I can't really go 10 minutes without minor (yet persistent) rendering issues, and can't go an hour without the shell completely freezing and requiring a restart. (Get used to hitting Alt+F2, typing "r", and hitting Enter.) I'm using GNOME 3.2 by the way.

    There's no real benefit to using GNOME 3 yet. The new paradigm they're going for isn't as bad as people say it is, but it isn't a clear-cut improvement over the ways of old either. Some things are better, some are worse. Combine that with the fairly disrespectful way that GNOME 3 was rolled out, and it isn't hard to see where all the disdain comes from. Linux Mint is the only distro I see respecting its users, particularly by creating a path for transitioning via extensions and offering MATE.

    GNOME will be in a better position a year from now, I imagine. GNOME 3 will mature, they'll get to implement more of their ideas, and there will surely be a ton of extensions and themes. (This all assumes that video drivers will improve too. If they don't, GNOME 3 will simply never be pleasant to use.)

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <`gro.uaeb' `ta' `sirromj'> on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:25PM (#38178590)

    > There *IS* a loss associated with having too many choices, no matter what some people will tell you.

    There is, balanced by benefits that outweigh the costs IMHO. Having multiple desktops and distributions means we can survive one going mad. Compare and contrast what is happening with GNOME3 and Unity with what is going on in the Windows and Mac worlds. When Win8 ships, those people have no choice, they get a tablet interface and it matters not if they like it or not. Eventually the Mac peeps know they get iOS and there ain't nothing they can do. On the other hand we told Fedora and Ubuntu to FOAD and picked something else. Most fedora users seem to be going with XFCE, Ubuntu users appear to be migrating in mass to Mint. Because we had a choice.

    Imagine instead developers had listened to the siren song some people have been singing for a decade now, that GNOME and KDE had long since merged into one 'perfect' desktop, the small fry had folded up shop and got on board the One True Desktop. Then that One True Desktop caught tablet fever. Our options? All bad.

    Right now we have multiple options in every major category of Free Software. Linus goes mad we adopt one of the BSD kernels. We have multiple web browsers, email clients, desktop environments, plumbing layers. About the only part that isn't redundant is X, no real options for that currently, but Wayland is under development.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:57PM (#38178764)

    Nothing, except that the amount of energy and brainpower that is wasted on each of these hundreds of different desktops keeps the Linux community from producing a single, coherent solution that the wider world would find useful. Instead it is 100 smart guys wasting their lives in a mental circle jerk, accomplishing nothing that changes, or is even useful to, the wider world. Go Linux!

  • by sarhjinian ( 94086 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @11:23PM (#38178900)

    In all honesty, have you actually tried to use GNOME 3?

    All the time.

    So much so that I find myself tapping the Windows key in every other OS and wishing it would show me all open windows. Whoever thought that one out is brilliant: hit the key, boom, there's everything you're running, hit it again, boom, back to the original window, if you don't select one of the others. Hit it, boom, all windows again, pick one, boom, it's there. Hit it again, close a few, hit it, boom, back where we were.

    Brilliant. Beats the snot out of alt-tabbing and the myriad of Expose ripoffs.

    GNOME3 has some significant rough edges (some config options aren't exposed, the font size choices in the list of apps is troublesome, NetworkManager is messed up and notification is whack, hard dependencies on Evolution in Fedora bug the hell out of me) but there's some really, really good ideas there.

    What I've found is that, well, people don't like change. I admit it made me uncomfortable, but I also found I didn't get fed up fighting little idiosyncracies like I do with KDE, or the sense that it's really, really under-developed (Unity). It was a few days of "huh" and then it worked.

  • by downhole ( 831621 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @11:31PM (#38178942) Homepage Journal

    I've been running Ubuntu for a while and am starting to get tired of it, so I will express my opinion here in a rant that doesn't have much to do with the original post, except to exploit it for humor.

    Free as in beer: True, but not much of a point if you have a job that pays at least minimum wage. I think I'd rather install Windows and have it work than try to figure out which of hundreds of distros and versions to use and getting one of them to actually work right on my system.

    As in speech: Don't care. I'm a software engineer and I have better things to do when I get home than set up build environments and compile my major apps and OS components, much less actually try to understand the code and make changes to it.

    Open: Also don't care, same reason.

    Secure: Eh, not so much. Windows seems to be perfectly secure if you don't do stupid stuff like use IE (especially IE6), download every toolbar, screensaver, and smiley set known to man, and run attachments from random emails. And if you're doing that, you'll find some way to get your Linux install hacked too.

    Stable and efficient: I'll believe that when somebody tells me why no kernel later than -33 will boot my system, file transfers mysteriously slow down to painful speeds, getting graphics to work right is pretty much a shot in the dark, getting multiple hard drives to work right is a ridiculous pain in the ass, audio mysteriously stutters at random, etc. Compared to all this, my Windows computers are easy.

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @12:02AM (#38179086)

    Is this a misguided attempt to emulate the meteoric success of iOS and Android by just copying the Apple/Google/Microsoft corporate control over how users use the desktop?

    Let me put it this way: when the Gnome team introduced marketing videos for the new Unity interface, the speakers wore black sweaters and talked with their hands while standing in front of stark white backgrounds. I am not making this up. They really and genuinely are trying to do everything like Apple.

    Of course, I remember when early distros of Red Hat were pixel-for-pixel copies of the Win95 interface.

    It's a damn shame. The "Blue Ocean Strategy" and the "Next Big Thing (Just Like Everyone Else)" has always been the staple of the tech industry. In manufacturing, you need to make your product stand out. With software, your product is just like familiar Windows/OSX... but better.

    I'm not a hardcore geek, but I am a power user, and I can honestly say that Linux has been the biggest disappointment I've ever seen in the computer industry. Coming from an ex-Amiga user, that should mean a lot. It's either dumbed down or hardcore, with little in between. I try to like it and use it, but I just can't. Every distro I've tried over the last 10 years has let me down. The community just can't get its stuff together and venture into that large grey area.

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @12:09AM (#38179122)

    Also from that link:

    The omission of a window list or dock also reduces the amount of screen space occupied by the Shell, and therefore makes it better suited to devices with smaller screens.

    This ranks right up there with, "We need to remove scroll bars!" and "Maximize must go, just because!" Yeah, I don't suppose they've ever heard of hidden panels, hotkeys, or just giving people an option to put it back.

    Really. Of all the communities to buy into the idea of removing things for our own good, it just has to be the open source community?

    The world really has gone mad.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @01:49AM (#38179820) Journal

    I just don't get why they don't pick something like Enlightenment where they could have some actual say in the direction of the FDE and make a clean break. Its pretty clear that the GNOME guys are in a serious "itch scratching" mode and really don't give a crap what the people actually using the software think, so why not simply make a clean break and be "their own man" so to speak?

    I know they are working on switching to Debian so they aren't tied to whatever crazy idea Canonical comes up with this week, so trying to hack GNOME to be what they want it to be when the developers are going in a different direction seems kinda nutty to me. If they are gonna do that why not just support the GNOME 2 fork guys, again where they can have some say?

  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:21AM (#38180494)

    Agreed, I tried to use the keyboard in Unity and was totally appalled. It is a total brain drain to use the mouse for everything. Hell, in Windows 7 I can burn through tasks with the keyboard--actually have to since everything is absolutely buried in the GUI anymore. We'll see how bad that is screed up with 8 though.

    We'll see, but it's hard to imagine Microsoft letting their UI degenerate to Gnome-like levels of difficulty for general use. They have a huge business client base, and people still need to get work done, and they learned with the XP-Vista transition that if they don't do it right, people just happily chug along under the older version for years without upgrading, and no matter how much they threaten to not do so, they're forced to drag out supporting an ancient version until they finally introduce one people will upgrade to.

Neutrinos have bad breadth.