"I have seen the future, and it is GNOME 3"


Recommended Posts

Syanide
Today, I finally managed to get GNOME Shell installed so I could get a preview of what is to come on the Linux desktop (at least through the eyes of GNOME). This new GNOME will arrive sometime this year (2010) and will, I promise you, change the way you use your desktop. Finally someone has looked at the current desktop metaphor and said, ?It?s over!? Think about it, the current paradigm has been in play since, when, Windows 95? Earlier you say? CDE? Let?s stick with Windows 95, because that really solidified the whole ?taskbar, start button, icons, notification try? metaphor in the eyes of the public.

Well, public, that is about to change - drastically.

GNOME 3 is different. Very different. Gone is the start button, to be replaced by the Activities button. No more are you fumbling around in menus to find what you need. What you will have is a very streamlined, sleek, and sexy desktop that is sure to make your computing life easier. Oh of course there will be those that say, ?If it isn?t broke?? Well, I am one of those who will first claim that it is, in fact, ?broke.?

The current desktop that most everyone uses is klunky, kludgy, and ugly. It?s a task bar, and menus, and icons, and blah blah blah?there?s no ?Apple factor.? What do I mean by ?Apple factor?? Simple - there is very little energy given to aesthetics. And believe me, in the current incarnation of the modern, capitalist society - it is all about form over function. You have to look good before you can be good.

It?s crazy I know?but it?s truth.

And you know what? Soon the Linux desktop will take that current formula

form/function

and totally rewrite it into a new equation similar to

form = function.

How do I know this? I have peeked into the future of the computer desktop and that future is GNOME 3. It wasn?t an easy peek, believe me. I had to jump through a few hoops (mostly because of an update to the gnome-shell package that required a dependency that couldn?t be met). But once I managed to get it up and running, the thought of going back to the old GNOME just didn?t settle well with me.

gnomeshell.png

Figure A

I realize I?m being a bit circuitous at the moment?build up is really hard without a soundtrack behind you. So I guess I?ll just pull the big reveal now. Figure A shows the GNOME Shell in action. I will tell you up front that all special effects (Compiz) are turned off. So all effects are inherent in the new shell. That is really an impressive feat when you see this in action (the picture really can?t do it justice).

The gist of the desktop is you have Activities. Activities are what you do. Be it browsing, email, documents, multimedia?and these show up in the Activity ?list? as either Applications, Places & Devices, or Recent Items. When you click on the Activities button all windows ?thumbnail? (aka Compiz Scale) to make room for the listing and without having to minimize your windows.

You can also create new desktops. In fact a new record for desktops was set thanks to GNOME Shell. 1681 desktops were able to be created and opened with this new version. That?s impressive. Of course if anyone has a need for that many desktops, they are in serious need of an intervention.

Bold predictions

I am going to make a fairly bold prediction here (would you expect anything less?). You will find (at least) aspects of this desktop working their way into both Windows and OS X in the future. That is how good GNOME 3 is going to be. If you don?t believe me, try it yourself. On an Ubuntu machine, add the following to your /etc/apt/sources.list file:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ricotz/testing/ubuntu UBUNTU_RELEASE main

deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/ricotz/testing/ubuntu UBUNTU_RELEASE main

Where UBUNTU_RELEASE is the version you use (lucid, karmic, etc). Now issue the command apt-get install gnome-shell and HOPE it installs without a hitch. If it does, issue the command gnome-shell ?replace & and be prepared to pick your socks off the floor, as they will be knocked off.

Final thoughts

I?m serious?this is the future of the desktop. There is no way around it. The GNOME team have absolutely nailed it. Somehow they managed to borrow Dr. Walter Bishop and steal a superior desktop from an alternate universe, reverse engineer it, and make it happen in our world. Who knows, it might be dangerous. Or, it might just be the future of the desktop.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/opensource/?p=1405&tag=leftCol;post-1405

Your thoughts (those of you who've tried it)? I had a bit of a discussion in the desktop thread a month back, and while I don't share the (slightly exaggerated?) optimism of the writer of the article, I must admit it's almost the same as how I felt when I was using it: like I just installed a desktop from the future.

Not saying it's a good thing per se, because people are used to 'standard' UI and it will definitely take getting used to some folks (not to mention there's still really, and I mean reaaaaally a lot left to be done), but in my case, it's like they've read my mind and combined all the things I currently use in Gnome+Compiz with a few other apps, and made it fit better together.

Anyway, one of the things I do like about it, whether it proves to be a success or not, is that it definitely stands out, not only when it comes to *nix DE's, but for once, generally. Especially with things like Zeitgeist and Activity Journal, I really think this has a chance of kicking some major butt.

Link to post
Share on other sites
etempest

I think one of the barriers to Linux adoption on the desktop suffer's from too many choices.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
protocol7

The future looks kinda iPhoney to me. I'll stick to the here and now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Syanide

I think one of the barriers to Linux adoption on the desktop suffer's from too many choices.

I couldn't disagree more.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Rob2687

That big reveal screenshot isn't so much of a big reveal since people have been testing Gnome Shell for quite a while now. I think it sill needs a lot of work.

Link to post
Share on other sites
PL_

Doesn't look that revolutionary.

Link to post
Share on other sites
08993

Windows (Vista | Seven) start menu on the left and Compiz Expo on the right, yup that's revolutionary! I love the way GNOME have dropped Compiz like a bad smell for 3.0, not before ripping off all of it's best features though, well, not that you can rip off open source but you get the idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites
wellofsouls

so the Activities menu shows some (4) favorite apps, and throws all the other apps into a second-tier panel... and then shows some favorite places and recently used items...

How is it "drastically" different from the Start menu in Windows? :shifty:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Inklin

It's about time Gnome got an overhaul IMO, I find it a little bit tacky the way it is at the moment, what is in that screen shot looks a whole lot cleaner.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Rob2687

Guys keep in mind that is not the final product. There is still a lot of people cooking their noodles over it. Especially the Applications menu.

I don't think Compiz was ever part of Gnome. It just happened to be the first compositor that worked well enough on Linux and distros started using it instead of Metacity.

Link to post
Share on other sites
+jamesyfx

GNOME is an ugly looking interface, so it could do with a cosmetic upgrade.

But it still has those huge-looking fonts. I mean the size is ridiculous in that screen shot thing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Growled

I haven't tried it but it looks awesome. It certainly is something different and I'm glad to see someone try something new. We've had the same old for so long we've become accustom to it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Shadrack

so the Activities menu shows some (4) favorite apps, and throws all the other apps into a second-tier panel... and then shows some favorite places and recently used items...

How is it "drastically" different from the Start menu in Windows? :shifty:

It isn't called the Start button, so of course it is a whole paradigm shift... I'm as much enchanted by the change as you are.

I'm looking forward to playing with it...but nothing seems truly "revolutionary" these days.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Simon

Just looks kinda disorganized to me. The lines that separate are there, but they aren't clear enough. It's tough to look at. That being said, I haven't looked at much of Gnome 3, and it's entirely possible I just don't like this theme.

Link to post
Share on other sites
darkz

i didn't try it, but the screenshot makes me glad i switched back to win long time ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites
backdrifter

It seems like the "desktop metaphor" is here to stay unlike what the over excited author believes in. It actually doesn't look bad, but I think they should focus more on multi-tasking and window management instead of a new "launch menu".

Link to post
Share on other sites
User6060

linux gnome has always looked like a bad windows blinds theme running on top of win98. this is just a banaid over that concept

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
08993

Guys keep in mind that is not the final product. There is still a lot of people cooking their noodles over it. Especially the Applications menu.

I don't think Compiz was ever part of Gnome. It just happened to be the first compositor that worked well enough on Linux and distros started using it instead of Metacity.

Yeah I guess, one good thing to come from it is that Compiz is getting a complete rewrite and can maybe now branch off to become it's own standalone WM without any constraint. Last I heard there was still only one dev tho :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Syanide

Some videos:

Gnome Shell

Nautilus file browser with Zeitgeist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7-T37sJZAc

Zeitgeist tags in Gnome Shell:

Activity Journal

Demonstration of contacts and documents integrated and properly recognized via Zeitgeist as related and displayed in Activity Journal:

<-- new feature, this owns.

Some pictures:

Dash, new semantic file browser

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_1QSDkzYY2vc/S7nO7TVju5I/AAAAAAAAAw4/4pdiXbFk75k/Dash_Context_Pane_Concept_by_DanRabbit.png

Make sure to check out the videos to get a better grasp at what exactly this is (actually, what it aims for), and how it basically changes the way you interact with the computer. I'm quite stoked with the new contacts feature, I can see this really working great in offices, companies etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites
HawkMan

Honestly, their activities button only seems to be what the windows start menu was with Vista, and partly with XP.

so... welcome after...

all he seems fascinated with is awesome new graphical effects. which again are useless. they may be pretty, but in the end after a few uses, they're just annoying and take time away from other things.

Also what's the deal with being over hyped about multiple desktops. the need to use multiple desktops shows a clear fault in the usability design of the task manager so you need to divide it to manage your tasks. Personally, I'd rather have mIRC with proper MDI windows than have a separate desktop I have to switch to outside of the regular task manager switching in order to have multiple irc windows visible, and be able to easily make them all visible(on top) at once.

Link to post
Share on other sites
shockz

Where's the eye candy? No great transparency, ugly dark color, kinda sucks imo.

Link to post
Share on other sites
snap55

Its not really a DE I'd use, tried it a few weeks ago on Arch it was ok, should be good when its finished.

Plenty of comments though from people who haven't even tried it and just looked at a screenshot.

Link to post
Share on other sites
StudioFortress

I don't see any feature on this which is not present on the current Windows 7 start menu. Except that it takes up more room, it's less intuitive and dedicates over half of the space to 'recent items' which I personally turn off. I also think the recent apps should at least list 10 like on Windows. Only listing four makes that feature almost unusable.

Resizing all of the windows when opening the taskbar might be a good idea for power users, but for the mainstream it'll look scary because opening your 'activities' looks like it is altering your applications. I know it's only temporarily scaling the desktop, but the activities button should not alter the look of my windows. I also don't get why it does this. If I click on the activities button then my attention has moved from my desktop to the menu, so why do I still need all my windows to be scaled so they are on screen? They are not what I am focusing on.

I think this is one of the big issues holding Linux back; it's apps are made for Linux users (typically very technically minded people) rather then everyday users.

The one thing I do really like is how for listing apps it's using quick launch instead of the usual big menu list. But one big issue with quick launch is that you learn the patterns of the icons and where they are in relation to each other. If you install an app which begins with the letter 'a' it'll throw you, because all your apps are now in different places. A simple catergorization system would solve this and I'd love to see it in Windows.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Andre S.

It has to look good and work great by default, out of the box. I don't want to fiddle with themes and extensions, I don't want to create my own desktop experience. When I install someone else's OS I'm expecting that work to be done for me. I don't want choice, I want a great user experience. Maybe I'll change the wallpaper and move some icons around, but otherwise the OS should work for me, not make me work for it. The whole do-it-yourself attitude of Linux remains IMO its biggest flaw. Here's hoping that GNOME 3 changes some of that; judging from those screenshots, it needs a lot of polish before release.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.