Why Fedora 18 Will Be The Practical Choice For Vanilla Enthusiasts

fedoraicecream

You’ve come a long way, baby

We all know about the rocky road that Gnome 3 has been travelling on since March of last year.  Not since KDE 4.0 has a desktop environment been met with such community backlash and perceived exodus.  I say “perceived” because that’s what it is.  In the world of Linux, these things are almost impossible to measure and are almost always gauged by media reaction.  These powerful media reactions almost always build the bandwagon that everyone hops onto.

But enough about the beginning of Gnome 3.  What about where it’s going?

AOSP of desktops

In the world of Android, there is the terrible issue of fragmentation.  Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and others consistently create substandard experiences that sit on top of vanilla Android or, AOSP.  Regardless of an inconsistent experience, inferior artwork and unnecessary applications that hog resources and do nothing worthwhile, these manufacturers continue on.  What’s interesting here is that these devices–especially those by Samsung– sell a lot of units.  Official Android devices with more modest hardware — but fast, attractive and sane software — shares a much smaller margin of the Android market.

Linux is very similar, and we are seeing much of the same activity in regards to GTK3 and the Gnome desktop.  Gnome 3 — now approaching version 3.6 — has become a very polished, beautiful and fast environment.  Without the hard work of the Gnome project, there would be nothing to enable the much more widely used Unity, or the poster boy of bygone desktop idioms, Cinnamon.

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Cinnamon in Linux Mint 13

Stock Gnome 3

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Unity in 12.04

Pantheon in Elementary OS

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I am an Ubuntu user and I currently use Unity as my desktop.  Recently I spent some time with Fedora 17 and discovered something very special about it.  I posted these thoughts to Google Plus.

So, I’ve spent the last 2 days using +Fedora Project ‘s #beefymiracle  .  Many of you know it as Fedora 17.

Now I’m not saying that I want to switch distros at this point, and this doesn’t really have much to do with Fedora itself, but Gnome 3.4 in its most stock configuration is one hell of a sedative…

I spent some time forcing myself to get used to having no minimize, and using the multiple desktops the way the Gnome project had intended.

I was able to concentrate.

I am a person who gets sidetracked very easily.  So easily in fact that I surprised myself every time I can complete a 1000 word plus editorial.

Libre Office felt really integrated, as if it were made for Gnome 3…

The muted colors of the folders and windowing elements are pretty much perfect.  It’s not beautiful like Faenza or anything, but that’s not the point.  It works, and I have work to do.

People will always go out of their way to bash things that they don’t understand, and Gnome 3 is no different.  To those who have gone out of their way to avoid it, I would implore you to give it a real shot.  And by real shot, I mean, learn to use it effectively and then compare that with the effectiveness of what you are already using.

I don’t know if this will turn into a full time thing or not, but I might switch too it full time.  Whether that be Fedora, or Ubuntu 12.10 and the supposed Gnome 3 edition, I don’t know.

Fedora is the most widely used Linux distribution that ships with a bone-stock Gnome 3 configuration making it the easiest way to get up and running with a clean, pure Gnome experience.  With all of the recent refinements to the Gnome 3.5 development series, it is easy to see that Gnome 3.6 is going to have an unavoidable essence of maturity.

Ironically biting the hand that feeds you

The most recent wildfire on the Internet regarding Gnome is over Nautilus.

Ubuntu’s Sebastien Bacher said this:

The lesson that we learned this cycle is that GNOME is not planning their work enough in advance or communicating enough for us to keep basing our distribution on the current unstable GNOME versions. If that situation doesn’t change we might well start following GNOME with one cycle delay (i.e building our next version on the current stable rather than following the current unstable), we can’t really build a solid product on shifting code where the direction is not communicated in advance.”

[two_third last=”no”]Following the Gnome project on a one release delay is not entirely different than what we are seeing in the world of Android.  How many Samsung Galaxy S3s do you know of that are running an official version of the latest version of Android, Jellybean?  That’s right, none.

The real meat of this scenario is the irony of Ubuntu switching to another file manager all together, which has been presented as a possibility.   Mentions have been made of Ubuntu making the move to a fork of Nautilus, such as Elementary’s Marlin.  The community makes so many threats to jump ship from official Gnome packages to forks that are based entirely on GTK3.  The only thing more bizarre about that prospect is the idea that Ubuntu would take upstream code from a file manager forked by a derivative of Ubuntu itself.[/two_third]

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The only thing more bizarre about that prospect is the idea that Ubuntu would take upstream code from a file manager forked by a derivative of Ubuntu itself.

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Imagine the irony of a world where every piece of Gnome is forked and the Gnome project doesn’t care to continued due to lack of interest.  I know that will never happen, at least not if Red Hat has anything to say about it, but it certainly seems like it is the ironic future that we are headed toward.

Conclusion

Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) and future releases — along with RHEL 7 and future CentOS releases — will be the best way to enjoy a vanilla Gnome 3 experience.

While I’m hopeful that the mythical Gnome only Quantal Quentzal will rear its head in October, I don’t have much confidence in it.  I think that the packagers of that distribution will be at constant odds with Ubuntu itself, creatively renaming packages so that it doesn’t break Unity.

 


Dean Howell

Dean Howell has over a decade of experience with Linux and nearly 2 decades of experience with computers in general. Currently, Dean is Editor-in-chief of The Powerbase and also works for one of the world's largest providers of Linux-based NVRs.

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  • ldrn

    There sure are a lot of these merely perceived changes going on. Between a perceived change from Gnome-shell to Unity, to a perceived change from Unity to XFCE, to a perceived change from Gnome to Cinnamon… with all this perception, I wonder how anything gets done.

    Personally, I perceived myself giving Gnome 3 a try again recently. I’m actually quite fond of how they treat focus stealing, still dislike their default theme, and can’t stand the way they use workspaces, but the gnome extensions help with that a ton.

    The whole storm around Nautilus really isn’t a tempest in a teapot, though. The beauty of open source is you can change things when they break or don’t work right, and what Gnome wants to limit their stock file manager to in my mind makes it unsuitable to the task. Android is a fairly good comparison — AOSP android has no file manager, and AOSP gnome is moving in the same direction. ;)

  • Vagelis Giannadakis

    I don’t understand why it is the users that have to adapt to Gnome Shell and not the other way round! Even if it is perfect, this attitude alone can drive many people away. Certainly has driven me away!

    There’s also this “it’s given to you for free, accept it!” mentality, but it is really plain wrong. Because this is a two-way deal: yes, users use Gnome for free; but the acceptance of Gnome by users makes the project AND its contributors IMPORTANT! So, there are some lucky people (some head Gnome devs?) that actually get paid to do their hobby AND enjoy (deserved I guess) respect from the user community. Respect that gets transformed to jobs, salaries, speeches around the world, etc.

    Of course, for the rest of developers that contribute to Gnome: life’s a b*tch!

    Gnome Shell is like being all-thumbs. Extensions may help, but are messy and break often. Gnome developers are always eager to remove “complexity” but not so to add “distracting” functionality. These don’t exactly constitute a desirable experience for productive users…

    You know what? Maybe the Gnome project has seen the future and are building the DE for it. Or perhaps, some well-respected head Gnome devs are too egocentric to accept something different from their vision of the ideal DE.

    • http://profiles.google.com/tshimulu Luya Tshimbalanga

      “I don’t understand why it is the users that have to adapt to Gnome Shell
      and not the other way round! Even if it is perfect, this attitude alone
      can drive many people away. ”

      Let me ask other way around: how did you feel when you used a desktop environment for the first time ever? I recently help a friend switching from Microsoft Window 7to a Linux distribution with Gnome Shell. Guess what? After a quick tutorial, she is able to function without problem and thought the desktop environment is like Apple OSX.

      I think the real problem are some users themselves who are stuck on their own comfort zone. Ordinary people don’t care as long they have their favourite applications available like a browser and an office suite.

      • tracyanne

        Quote::I think the real problem are some users themselves who are stuck on
        their own comfort zone. Ordinary people don’t care as long they have
        their favourite applications available like a browser and an office
        suite.

        So your are telling me that If one is used to easily doing all sorts of things on a DE, that on GNOME 3 Shell requires remedial action, such installing lots of add ons, to get that functionality back, is stuck in a their own comfort zone. Incredible.

        You should try telling that to Linus Torvolds.

        • http://profiles.google.com/tshimulu Luya Tshimbalanga

          Are you telling a kid that uses Gnome 3, KDE, OSX and Windows system just to access favorite applications is better than the so-called power users stuck on their comfort zone and complaining about functionality? I guess the notion of adaptation is lost in todays world.

  • tracyanne

    Dean, after reading this piece, I have to seriously wonder if you have taken leave of your senses.

    GNOME 3 doesn’t get better over time, it gets functionality removed over time, making it less and less usable. The latest stupefying effort is to remove the dual panel mode from Nautilus (one of the reasons why Nautilus has been forked, and why Canonical are looking at using that same fork in preference to Nautilus).

    They removed dual panel, rather than fixing the actual issue, because us mere mortal get confused, apparently, due to the fact that the “Copy To” and “Move To” right mouse click context menu options are displayed, albeit faded out and unusable, when Nautilus is operating in single panel mode.

    Rather than investigate how this functionality can be improved, and made (sic) Less Confusing, they ripped out a perfectly functional and very useful piece of functionality.

    You ask us to give GNOME yet another chance, how many chances to they need. GNOME 3 deserves to die, and Red Hat deserves no respect for supporting this idiotic project.

    • http://profiles.google.com/deanhowell2 Dean Howell

      The point of the article is not whether or not Nautilus fits your needs. It aims to point out that Fedora might be the best distribution for running stock Gnome moving forward.

      If it doesn’t fit your needs, that is perfectly reasonable to me.

      • tracyanne

        You missed the whole point of the post you replied to. How can someone as intelligent as you fail to comprehend that the reference to GNOME devs latest brain dead action (the removal of a very useful piece of functionality) was an example of the type of idiocy that seems to pervade the GNOME project

  • http://profiles.google.com/wolftune Aaron Wolf

    People need to remember, vanilla is not plain. Vanilla is not an automatic ingredient in ice cream, it’s an added flavor, just like other flavors!

  • Nical

    I don’t really get the rant about gnome forcing you to adapt to it. I do adapt gnome 3 to my needs. I love gnome 3 and the default experience is my favourite default experience so far, yet some things annoy me and I change them. Is it that default gnome 2 was so bad that it was completely natural to tweak it? If Nautilus does not suit one’s needs, just pick whatever alternative or fork, there are many of them. If haters spent as much energy learning how to change gnome 3 as they spend complaining on the internet, they would barely have anything to complain about.

    • tracyanne

      The point is I shouldn’t have to invest that time making GNOME fit my needs. It’s the fact that I do have to spend that time trying to over ride the mind numbing stupid decisions the GNOME developers have made (because according to them adding useful functionality, or improving existing useful functionality, or leaving useful functionality alone makes the system too confusing for users).

      Nautilus USED to suit my needs, NOW it does not; why? because of an asinine decision to remove something so universally useful as Dual panels.

      AND why did they remove this very useful piece of functionality? Because an easily correctable bug or oversight in how items are displayed in a context menu.

      They removed Dual Panel mode because there was a reference to dual panel mode in the right mouse click context men…. The “Copy To” and “Move To” menu items were displayed (albeit faded out and unusable) when one is operating in Single Panel mode. Oh, and apparently selecting Dual panel mode wasn’t all that obvious.

      Rather than make Dual Panel mode selection more obvious, and remove the Copy To” and “Move To”options from the right mouse click context menu, when operating in Single Panel mode, and reinstate them when operating in Dual Panel Mode, the geniuses who run the GNOME project decide the best solution was to remove the functionality altogether.

      This sort of idiocy is what drives the gnome project, rather than make something that is or might be useful, but is potentially confusing, rather than fix it, they remove it, making GNOME less useful over time.

      But it is pretty, it looks great.

      Sure there are now lots of addons that attempt to make GNOME 3 work properly, or allow one to make it work somewhat like one would have it work, so as to compliment ones work flow patterns. But that requires extra work…. and vigilance, as the addons don’t always compliment each other, and can cause breakages.

      Personally I don’t want to spend that time, you might, and power to you. There are other desktops around that don’t require that sort of remedial intervention… even Windows Vista is a step up from GNOME 3.

      • http://profiles.google.com/deanhowell2 Dean Howell

        Windows Vista is irrelevant to this conversation. Windows Vista has a panel with menus and a task manager built into it. It also has a full-featured file-browser. Gnome 2.x has a task manager built into a panel, something that has been borrowed directly from Windows 95.

        For sake of argument, there would be no Gnome 1.x, 2.x or KDE if it weren’t for innovation from Microsoft in Windows 95.

        While Windows may suck, it is perfectly useable when it is working. If it is behind sufficient protection from outside threats, it works without complaint.

        • tracyanne

          Huh? Interesting Tangent.

      • Nical

        wow this is a lot of anger. Maybe you should use one of the many other desktops available. I don’t feel the same way at all, to the contrary I am happy with most of the new features in gnome (agreed, I do feel sad about dual panels though, but it is one thing and there are many areas of improvement). I think your arguments are very personal. I also think some people do like the direction gnome is taking. The ones who don’t should just pick whatever desktop suits their taste, no need for angers, no need for insults. We are seeing interesting evolutions in most major desktop environments, these years, including windows and mac. By interesting I don’t mean that I agree with all the changes, but change is happening. Maybe a more interesting debate would be about the need/fear of change. Maybe a new environment that disturbs one’s habits is doomed to be perceived as bad by some people. Anyway I don’t think gnome deserves to die, and when I don’t like some people’s work, I do refrain from insulting them especially when they don’t owe me anything.

        • tracyanne

          No not anger, and I no longer use GNOME anything. I’ve moved to KDE4.

          I think you will find my arguments are anything but personal, I read similar complaints about GNOME 3 all over the net.

          It is precisely because of those complaints that Clement LeFabre of Linux Mint Forked GNOME 3 Shell to create Cinnamon. It is precisely because of the bone headed removal of a very useful functionality that Nautilus has been forked, and why Canonical are looking at using that fork in Ubuntu, rather than use the neutered Nautilus.

          It is precisely because of the issues I pointed out that Linus Torvolds wrote a far more derogatory and inflammatory blog that contained lots of words that might make your ears bleed some of them actually containing only four letters. No my rant was quite mild, I didn’t swear once.

          What in the world are you talking about fear of change… change is good (I’ve changed my Desktop environment multiple times, I even use multiple desktop Environments right now), if it improves the product, but the changes to GNOME don’t improve the product, they reduce it’s usability, while the changes to KDE4 have improved the product, it has become much more usable and useful over time.. That is the difference.

          Cinnamon is far more usable, Xfce is more usable, Unity is way more usable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621022391 Michael Kruger

            It took years, but over the last decade, the Unix world finally dropped CDE in exchange for something better (Gnome). Now it’s time for the Linux world to drop Gnome 3 for something better (KDE 4, Cinnamon, etc.). Trouble is things move really, really slow in the Unics world, but eventually, Redhat and Ubuntu will come to their senses and abandon the tablet paradigm.

  • Bob

    Gnome 3 is not fast – it is slower than Unity and KDE and it certainly is not beautiful as well as being not functional. The thing with what you call “bygone desktop idioms” is that they work and they are here to stay after the tablet UI fad is over.

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  • http://twitter.com/NomadeWolf A B

    i gave a REAL shot at Gnome 3.
    When it came out i installed as main and only os and USED it for a month.
    My frustration only kept increasing.
    I can’t do anything with that desktop.
    With Cinnamon i almost don’t need to think. It just works FAST.

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