GNOME 3 Almost Ready, or is It

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 23, 2011

GNOME 3 Shell is nearing its projected released date and development snapshots have been coming from openSUSE and Fedora. GNOME Beta 1 (2.91.90) was released today with lots of listed improvements. But not everyone is thrilled.

Tarballs are available for building and at Live CDs and packages will be coming from some distributions as well. But some folks aren't all that anxious to switch to GNOME 3.

Blogger PV said of the last developmental release that "I still have high hopes for this new major release, and I think many people will start using it, but frankly, I don't think I'll be one of them." He wasn't impressed by Mutter and felt that it was a step back due to its lack of effects and incompatibility with Compiz. He also said since the focus seems to be on the immediate task at hand, it takes more clicks to do things like "switch windows, switch desktops, bring up an application category, et cetera." He does say, "Aesthetically, GNOME 3 looks quite nice" though.

However, former Mandriva contributor Frederik Himpe is less giving. He has very specific issues with GNOME 3. A controversy concerning the handling of laptop suspension arose recently.  In GNOME 3 the  default will be to suspend on lid closing, and developers have not provided a way to change that setting. Himpe finds this as problematic as the developers' lack of concern over the consequences. Another issue that seems justifiably troubling is "the minimize and maximize window decoration buttons are now removed. It is estimated that these buttons are not useful actually, and users should be using Alt-Tab, the dock or different workspaces to switch between different applications, and maximize windows by double clicking on the title bar. As this will also make the desktop more difficult to access, I guess this also means that there are no plans to re-implement desktop icons." Himpe also said earlier, "I have the feeling that a lot of space is wasted in the top bar" and that there is no way to show the date or add custom applets and application launchers in panel. He concludes that he'll "skip GNOME 3.0 and hope that GNOME 3.2 will be better, once developers have taken into account users reactions? Or shall I finally switch to KDE?"

QT developer Robin Burchell gives a detailed laundry list of pros and many more cons as well.

Comments over the extended development period have often said that GNOME 3's fate will be very similar to that of KDE 4's. KDE 4 landed with a thud, but eventually became usable. Hopefully GNOME 3 will become usuable for most people after a few updates as well, but will probably have to weather through a lot of bad press and angry comments at first. It won't be that long either as Fedora 15 will be shipping with GNOME 3 this May.

GNOME 3 is scheduled for release in March.