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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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  • Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ksd1337 ( 1029386 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:05PM (#38177986)
    will it offer any benefit over just using GNOME 2?
  • Why o why?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:27PM (#38178112)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:29PM (#38178132)

    Seems to me that a combination of XFCE and KDE cover about 90% of the bases. XFCE if you want lightweight and minimal footprint, KDE if you want the power-user desktop with bells an whistles and customizable to hell and back.

    Why is everyone re-inventing the boat, poorly? There *IS* a loss associated with having too many choices, no matter what some people will tell you. It fragments the market, fragments the resources spent on making each one solid, leads to end user confusion so people go back to the nice simple worlds of OSX or Windows where they don't have to think about such choices.

    It's just a huge drawback and detriment to the Linux community to say, "Hey! You can pick from any one of these 68 different desktop environments - of course, every one of them is halfassed and has a crapton of problems because the community is split into tiny little fragments. But hey, you've got CHOICE! If you don't like one of the buggy 68 ones you picked, just pick another! It's all up to you!"

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:31PM (#38178152)

    Most of us used Gnome 2 because we didn't like KDE or XFCE. Now we don't like Gnome 3 either.

    IMHO KDE is too bloated and clunky and XFCE is too cut down. Gnome 2 used to be just about right in the middle.

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:35PM (#38178190)

    Does anyone know why the default menus are so oddly organized - such as the catch-all "Other" sub-menu being in the middle of the menu, and containing important stuff like the Update Manager and Synaptic Package Manager?

    Is this menu organization something Mint is inheriting from GNOME 3? In Mint 11 the system stuff was in some System menu where you more expect to find it.

    I was expecting the menu to be cleaned up during the Mint 12 beta, but it's still there know in what appears to be the release version.

  • by ksd1337 ( 1029386 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:36PM (#38178202)

    The general public has no clue linux actually exists.

    Whoa, hold on there! I'm sure if they own an Android or webOS device, they'll have heard of Linux at some point, no matter how small the reference may be.

  • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:41PM (#38178242) Homepage

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

    Honestly? The only reason for a "visible" operating system is local storage, mostly of photos, and "edge case" applications that have not yet been implemented as web apps. As for which is best ... Windows can die in a fire, OS X is bouncy happy joyful brain-dead moonbeam cultware, and both Unity and Gnome 3 are headed straight for hell.

    I want operating systems to just leave me alone. Stop annoying me. Stop moving my stuff without my permission. Stop demanding that I upgrade and reboot. Stop messing with the menu that I customized just because some designer says so. Stop breaking things that work, Ubuntu. LEAVE ME ALONE.

    I spend almost all my time in a Web browser -- specifically, Chrome. Pretty much everything I do daily is already better on the Web.

    I should be running ChromeOS. I can't bring myself to switch to a Chromebook, but not for rational reasons. If you believed the arguments people raise against the Chromebook, you'd think we all lived half our lifetimes in airplanes that don't have wi-fi. You know what I do when I get in an airplane? I put in my headphones and close my eyes.

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kevin108 ( 760520 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:45PM (#38178282) Homepage

    Gnome 3 is trying it's best to be a tablet's GUI. The desktop users are being tasked with beta testing that in lieu of maintaining a more traditional and usable interface.

  • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:50PM (#38178316)
    Mint has "fixed" a lot thats broken by design about the new Gnome. But I have a question to direct at the Gnome 3 / Unity developers. Why the sudden corporate-like totalitarian control over the UI? 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?

    I find this another symptom of "Free" software that's open in source becoming more and more closed in run-time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:53PM (#38178336)

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

    I've used all sorts of desktop environments over the years, and GNOME 3 is by far the worst I've ever used. I'm not even joking when I say that CDE from the early 1990s was easier to use, more efficient to use, and provided a much more enjoyable user experience.

    If there are performance improvements in GNOME 3, I sure as fuck didn't experience them. It was noticeably slower on my system than KDE 4 is. It wasn't just one or two apps, either. Everything about GNOME 3 feels so much slower.

    The desktop search is useless, just like it is on Windows and Mac OS X. It's a stupid paradigm. It takes the worst of shell auto-completion, and tries to make it act like a web search engine, with spectacularly shitty results.

    The themes support is a step backward. It has only made it easier for theme designers to use crap like gradients, curved corners and transparency. While these may help make GNOME 3 more hipster-compatible, they do absolutely nothing to make the resulting UI more effective in any way.

    It's also a royal pain in the ass to develop for, although this has always been the case for GNOME. GObject is a pathetic hack. If you want object-oriented C, then just use C++ or Objective-C. But that was apparently too sensible for the GNOME developers.

    XFCE is where it's at. It hits that sweet spot between functionality, simplicity, and excellent performance. GNOME 3, on the other hand, manages to be the worst at everything possible.

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cynyr ( 703126 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:30PM (#38178620)

    Since you seem to like switching distros rather than window managers/desk top environments, try Xubuntu. All the "goodness" of ubuntu, with all the goodness of XFCE (kindda like Gnome2 but not on life support and without all the crap baked in).

  • by monkeyhybrid ( 1677192 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:32PM (#38178634)
    I can't comment on Fedora, having not used it seriously for a few years now, but from my own personal experience of using various Linux distros over many years, it beats Windows hands down in terms of stability. But then, that's pretty anecdotal as I'm just going by personal experience. Maybe I've just been very lucky and you've been unlucky?

    As for efficiency, maybe I should have worded that differently as I actually meant in terms of my work flow. This is going to be different for everyone but for what I do on a PC, GNU Linux allows me to get more done in less time. Having said that, on the same hardware (dual boot), general file and network operations amongst other things are definitely quicker than my Windows install.

    I'm really not trying to do a 'my OS is better than your OS' although it probably does come across as that. The point I was originally trying to make is that different people have different requirements and preferences and we choose different tools for the job based on them. I really can't imagine myself being as productive using Windows than I am in Linux but I know many people who would have exactly the opposite experience.

    Choice is good.
  • Re:'FOCUS'?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:49PM (#38178708) Homepage Journal

    So, unless you're willing either to pay me or put out, kindly stop trying to tell me what to do.

    Just fork your own version of GNOME then. Given the number of complainers about the direction GNOME is going, I'm surprised no slashdot stories covering GNOME forks have surfaced.

    Given the time and opportunity, I would. But if GNOME weren't so condescending in their approach, deciding on my behalf what constitutes a proper workflow, I wouldn't have to.

    I do a lot of UI-related work, mostly in web interfaces and business automation. I spend a lot of time creating workspaces that are designed to reflect the needs of the people using them. What I look for in a desktop environment is one that provides me with the flexibility to reformat it to my precise needs for a particular role. GNOME used to be my desktop of choice for exactly this reason.

    I don't particularly object to their desire for simplicity - it's one of the main reasons I've used GNOME since its inception. What I do object to, however, is their holier-than-thou decision not simply to hide some features, but to remove them entirely from the UI. To make matters worse, the folks at Canonical seem to have lost their way as well, creating something that's anathema to me: a unified, one size fits all window manager.

    I do a lot of different things in the course of my work, from coding systems-level software to UI building and testing to report writing to graphics work (and web browsing and reading and email and...). I can only conclude that anyone who thinks they can provide me with a single, inflexible UI that is appropriate for all of these is not only wrong but willfully ignoring the error of their ways.

    I'll be the first to admit that I'm very hard to please when it comes to my working environment. The closest I've ever come to actually liking my desktop UI was on GNOME 2 with Compiz. Now that the GNOME devs have not only turned their backs on what made GNOME good, but actually made it impossible to keep those things, I feel I have the right to bitch a little.

    I'll be evaluating Mint in the weeks to come. If they fare well, I'll recommend we go to them when we move from Ubuntu 10.04.

  • GNOME 3 knows best? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:51PM (#38178716) Homepage

    This link just floored me. []

    "A persistent window list or dock would interfere with this goal, serving as a constant temptation to switch focus."

    Who wrote this? How did this become the official position of GNOME 3 officially?

    On the one hand, I sort of respect that they aren't letting tradition shackle them. They are trying to boldly change things, to make something really new and really better.

    On the other hand, they have changed a bunch of stuff and made it worse!

    They got rid of some stuff that takes up space; and I always use GNOME on a giant desktop display with lots of room to spare. Even my netbook has a 10.1" screen and I don't begrudge a few pixels for a window list.

    They got rid of the window list, it seems, because it is a distraction. But I am used to it being there and I don't notice it when I'm working; whereas with GNOME 3 I have no option but to have a distracting animation of windows flying about and arranging themselves any time I want to change apps. I have to hit the logo key, watch a dazzling display, find the window I want, click on it, and watch it zoom to full size. This is less distracting than clicking on the button for the window I want, and having it instantly be the topmost window? (Answer: no, it's more distracting, not less. At least that's true for me. But GNOME gives no option; this is the new One True Way that we must all use.)

    If the GNOME 3 developers ever build a car, it won't have a steering wheel, a brake pedal, and a gas pedal. They will boldly re-engineer the driving experience. There will probably be a miniature replica of the car mounted on a joystick; you will twist the little car right to turn the real car right. So intuitive! Of course those of us with many years of experience, expert car drivers, will not be able to apply our experience; and if we are recommending a GNOME car to our friends, they will ask us "why is this different from every other car I have ever seen?"

    The really frustrating part is that this is a total replay of what happened with the "object oriented file manager". Originally, the GNOME file manager worked pretty much the way it works now. Then they decided that this is overly complicated for newbies. There should be only one window for any one directory, and that one window should remember where it opened last and open in the same place, to build a sense of persistence and make the file system seem more like a real place. (This is similar to how the original Mac Finder worked, I believe. But the Finder in Mac OS X doesn't work that way anymore, and I believe didn't work that way when the GNOME guys made this decision.)

    In true GNOME style, they didn't provide a convenient option to turn this off; why would you want to turn it off? It's better. And that is why I, and so many other people, first learned how to use gconftool, to find that option and turn it off.

    The very next release of GNOME they changed the default back to the original behavior, and never changed it again. But for GNOME 3, they are sticking to their guns.

    In some ways GNOME 3 is nice, but I bitterly resent the amount of control the GNOME guys are trying to assert over how I use my computer. I'm going to try Linux Mint 12 on a spare computer and see how I like it. From what I have seen, MGSE is a giant step up over either of Unity or GNOME 3 Shell.

    One of the core goals of GNOME Shell is to provide the GNOME desktop with a consistent and identifiable visual identity.

    Why isn't the core goal "make the user be happy and productive"? How does this "visual identity" thing help me? Why should I cooperate with this?

    P.S. GNOME 2.x is my favorite desktop environment ever. The GNOME guys have really squandered all the good will I used to have toward them.


  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:56PM (#38178758)
    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.
  • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @11:26PM (#38178914)

    Actually, it isn't. The only time I've ever seen tablets in the wild (very rare) have always been stand-alone. The most often case for people using their devices (at least in public) have been:

    1. Laptop toting coffee shop junkies, almost 99% laptop based, and 50-60% lean back in posture (AKA, not real work)
      ( Once ever have I seen a tablet at a coffee shop, and it was a guy flashing up some pictures for sales/marketing it seemed. )
    2. Cell Phones (all), for the ones that have user interfaces, I've recently seen a large number of people texting one another (IMHO not likely business), ~10% playing games?, and maybe 10% surfing for pages in some degree
    3. E-paper devices - 99.999999% lean back

    Of all examples cited, most people doing any sort of real work were the laptop toting junkies. Unless we move very far into the utopia of nobody needing to do real work, your argument seems flawed. The fact is that REAL work cannot and frankly is not done on the go.

    Laptop rant: Our office has a policy of using laptops instead of desktops (who knows why?) and probably 20% of the coworkers that have and use laptops tote the beast between work and home (the rest don't even bother taking them home) and even then, the benefit of having a device on the go becomes pretty much irrelevant since its only used in fixed locations that could've been using cheaper equipment to begin with. Outside of the rugged road warriors who'll always be working from planes, trains, and automobiles, who needs portables (for work)?

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Saturday November 26, 2011 @11:46PM (#38179008) Homepage

    0. Why make everything in lists?

    To keep track of in how many ways someone is wrong.

    1. Then why does MATE look like shit compared to Gnome?

    Either, you are blind, or you are noticing difference in composite window manager effects, and attribute them to fonts. Compositing works just fine under everything now, just not everyone enables it by default.

    2. Yes, but you know what I mean.

    Unless you mean "I have no idea what a UI toolkit is", I do not.

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KugelKurt ( 908765 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @12:05AM (#38179104)


    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.

    As you indicated yourself, GPU drivers are a major factor.
    GNOME Shell relies on Mutter as WM which is composite-only. Composite OpenGL WMs (Mutter but also Compiz or KWin) can perform dramatically better than traditional WMs if the drivers are up to the task (and if the GPU was made in the last 5 or so years). So your quoted statement above is actually misinformation or inexperience.
    Broken drivers are not the fault of the WM or its authors.
    My main setup is KDE Plasma Desktop / KWin on a low-end laptop with NVidia 9200M GPU (proprietary drivers) and I swear that regarding pure rendering speed of windows composite KWin beats friggin' IceWM on my system!

    So the actually informed statement about performance is "It depends."

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Sunday November 27, 2011 @01:32AM (#38179712) Homepage

    You are still fundamentally wrong -- the look of fonts, or anything at all, is not any worse in GNOME 2 / GTK+ 2 compared to GNOME 3 / GTK+ 3. Composite window manager works just fine, however GNOME 2 did not make it mandatory out of the blue or made its core functionality dependent on it like GNOME 3 and Unity did.

    Overall functionality of GNOME 2, especially considering the availability of applets and working window manager options, is far superior.

  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:38AM (#38180570)
    GNOME 3 has extensions. The whole point of it is that if you need something the base UI does not supply that someone can come along and write an extension for it. Mint is just demonstrating that.
  • Re:Interesting, but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fa2k ( 881632 ) <pmbjornstad@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:46AM (#38181476)

    Have you tried windows 8 yet? It's shocking bad,

    Windows and Ubuntu seem to have gotten the idea that it's best to "give up", that users don't want a desktop environment, just a fancy app switcher. It's true in some cases, like with document editing, but it baffles me that the *software developers* designing Gnome somehow got the idea that one (full screen) window is all you need for a given task. It may be good for writers and people who just write e-mails (though even these people may need to have something elese open, like reference material). I'm afraid they just saw that it worked on a tablet, and thought "that's a good idea"

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?