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Gnome Developers Should Start Listening To Linus Torvalds

When Linus Torvalds sneezes, the Linux world catches the cold. We often find Linus complaining about Gnome, no surprises you will complain about the flaws in the technology you use and not about the one you never touch. But when he says something it carries a lot of weight as he shares his experience as a user and not the father of Linux. His rants are also important as it gives voice to thousands of users who share the same plight but no one listens to their problem. So, what irked Linus this time?

I broke down, and upgraded my old aging Fedora install on my desktop. Simply because my old F14 comes with ancient X versions that don’t contain all the fixes to make intel 3D really work well. And yes, things really do work better on the graphical side.

But with F17 comes gnome3. And I knew I’d have trouble, but also knew that most of the worst crap could be fixed with extensions, and I’d used 3.4 on my laptop enough to know it should be all somewhat usable.

But christ, it’s a “one step forward, one step back” kind of thing. Change the font sizes? No can do – until you install the tweak tool, because the standard  settings panel still doesn’t do something as fundamental as that. Ok, I knew it used to be broken, I knew the work-around, but it’s still broken?

You can read his entire post here.

Users Complain About Flaws In What They Use
It’s no surprise that Linus is a Fedora/openSUSE user. He wanted to upgrade his Fedora machine but he was aware that it will come with Gnome 3.4 which has some rough edges.

Linus in fact points a big problem that I as a Gnome user face. The vanilla Gnome comes with almost no customization. Basic customization such as adjusting fonts and font size is missing and you need to install Gnome Tweak Tool to be able to do so. Some distros like openSUSE come with Advanced Settings pre-installed so the user experience is better when compared with Fedora or any vanilla Gnome install.

I wonder what is keeping the Gnome teams to including the capability of changing fonts, themes and other ‘crucial’ settings such as changing windows buttons in the Gnome Control Center? It creates a very bad experience for a first time Gnome user who will never be able to change fonts or tun on all three buttons unless he/she installs the Gnome Tweak tool.

Lack of native management of extensions is another problem area for Gnome 3 user as you can install extensions *only* through Firefox. There should be a tool integrated with the Gnome Extension Site which enables a user to install, enable/disable and remove extensions without having to open a browser. This tool must be an integral part of the Gnome Control Center.

Gnome Can Learn From KDE
Gnome developers don’t need to look far. KDE, in my opinion, is the most advanced DE and it offers all such ‘customization’ and control right from the ‘Desktop Settings’ option. It also allows you to search, download, install and removed themes etc from the tool.

Considering how important these extensions are for Gnome, its about time Gnome teams focus on integrating extension management within the DE.

Compatibility of Gnome extensions with the current versions of Gnome is also a big ugly area. In most cases you are greeted by grayed out extension as it is ‘not compatible’ with the version of Gnome you are running. Here were are not talking about a Gnome 2 user complaining about extensions. Users of Gnome 3.x face this problem very often.

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I prefer KDE and Gnome 3 Shell, due to its customization over Ubuntu Unity, but Gnome leaves a lot to be desired. Linus’ complains are genuine. It gives voice to thousands of Gnome users who share the same pain.

Slideshow Image:
Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.