I knew I was going to hate GNOME 3 even before trying, but Zeeshan insisted that my opinion wasn’t worth much without giving GNOME 3 a fair chance. So we made a deal, I would use GNOME 3 for a couple of weeks, and then I could say GNOME 3 sucks, at least with measure of validity.
So, after two weeks, I still hate it. But why?
Alt-tab is broken
The behavior of alt-tab is consistent among all OS’es and DE’s; you cycle through the visible windows (at least by default). GNOME developers decided to change that behavior completely, and now alt-tab cycles through all the windows in all the work-spaces. I am a heavy user of alt-tab, so just this issue makes GNOME 3 unusable for me.
No wonder there are tons of bugs reported for this.
The second issue is that applications are grouped together, so you can’t use alt-tab to cycle through say, all gvim windows, you have to use alt-` for that (GNOME 3 invention I guess). Fortunately, there’s an extension for that.
Font settings are brain-dead
Or more specifically, there are none. So say, the DPI is usually wrong, which makes all the fonts look so tiny they are unreadable. Not only are those settings not there any more, but being ignored from the fontconfig settings; I manually set the DPI on (~/.fonts.conf). Even tk works better in this sense.
This can be solved by manually changing all the font configurations (and using gnome-tweaks), but everything gets broken again when switching to another DE (like Xfce). So much for following freedesktop.org.
A lot more issues
Plus there are many other details, like the fact that there’s no minimize button (you need gnome-tweaks), the fact that minimized windows don’t go to the bottom of the stack for alt-tab, that alt-right-click still doesn’t resize, that clicking on an already open app doesn’t actually launch the app (or new window/tab), that default applications (like browser) are ignored, that it’s not possible to shutdown/restart without loging out first, nor is it possible to specify what to do when the laptop lid is closed.
Sure, some of these can be tackled with gnome-tweak, or by installing the right extension (if it doesn’t conflict with another extension), but this whole mess is ridiculous. The “extensions” are more like copy-pasted code plus hacks, there’s not really an API to “extend”. Instead, all the “extension” code should be in GNOME, and configurable trough some “Advanced Configuration” tag, or something.
I am not the only one who has issues with GNOME 3:
- A shiny new ornament for your Linux lawn: Ars reviews GNOME 3.0
- The Grumpy Editor’s GNOME 3 experience
- GNOME Shell, extensions, and control
- Gnome Shell by Alex Deucher
- Four tweaks to bring back missing functionality in GNOME 3.0
- I hate Unity. I hate GNOME. I hate Windows 8. The ultimate desktop search continues.
- Why GNOME refugees love Xfce
- Yes, Gnome 3 Sucks
- Why Gnome 3′s Fallback mode sucks
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
- Ubuntu has jumped the shark and may soon be bitten by it
- Has Gnome 3 decided that people shouldn’t want screen savers?
- GNOME developer quote of the day
- GNOME 3 – Built for people who would never use Linux in the first place
- Five Linux Desktops That Aren’t Unity or GNOME 3
- Something Gnome3 and Unity could Stand to Learn from Windows 8
- Debian Beckons Ubuntu Refugees to Come Home
- Staring into the abyss
But that’s OK, because we users are stupid, GNOME developers know better.
To show exactly how annoying it’s GNOME 3’s window management I did a simple test:
- Create, move and resize windows
- Move window to a different workspace
- alt-tab to go to the next window in the workspace
- Switch between workspaces
It’s very annoying and counter-intuitive with GNOME 3, even after a lot of tweaks and extensions. Xfce on contrast works perfectly without any change.
I really tried to make GNOME 3 usable, but it’s just not. I am so relieved now that I’m back to Xfce, and the DE is now on the background so I don’t really notice it; it just works (without tweaking, or extensions, just the defaults).
So here’s my prediction, one year from now it would be clear that gnome-shell is not going to fly (or is it already failing?). GNOME developers would have to admit that they were wrong in their “radical innovation”, but by that time, they would have probably lost a big chunk of their user-base. Xfce OTOH would get a nice influx of users 🙂