04 March, 2011

criticism towards GNOME Shell

Reading all the controversy around the decision by the GNOME Shell designers to remove the minimize and maximize buttons from GNOME shell reminds me quite a bit of the discussions around Plasma. Especially for stuff like the brilliant yet controversial Folderview widget.


It also makes me wonder if those complaining have ever tried GNOME Shell... As is adequately explained in this rationale, minimizing simply has no place in the concepts behind GNOME Shell. Period. And if you've tried GNOME Shell you would realize that.
GNOME Shell in openSUSE 11.4
Yes, Shell takes getting used to, it does enforce certain habits. If you want to customize your environment for maximum 'getting-work-done' then maybe GNOME Shell is (currently) not for you. But that's the crowd KDE has always appeased to anyway. There is after all a trade-off between efficiency and ease of use (or rather, discoverability) - it is why most seasoned sysadmins use a command line.


But the power of GNOME Shell lies somewhere else. Put a newbie in front of it. Observe - in 5 minutes they've figured out how to use it, really. It is very simple and intuitive. I find that very impressive. Especially on a touch screen, it all makes a lot of sense. And it also works on very small screens. And yes, you'll see, the minimize button DOES NOT make sense in GNOME Shell. Really.

If you want to criticize GNOME Shell, talk about technology. I would've advocated to not build a new tech platform but build Shell on something like Plasma which is designed to make interfaces like GNOME Shell, or do like Ubuntu did with Unity 2D). But I kind'a get why they didn't, it's software 'from the other camp'. A more harmful thing is that they didn't get involved with the fd.o systray/notification rework done by KDE and Ubuntu, I see it as a big miss for GNOME Shell, and I'll consider it narrow-minded until I see or hear a good rationale somewhere ;-)

Plasma 4.6 and KDE Apps in openSUSE 11.4
But don't balk at the design until you've tried it with your grandmother... And in the end, Shell is innovative and new and will need maturing. I always have a soft spot for innovative and new things, it's why I like Plasma despite the issues it still has. So I do look forward to the final release of GNOME 3 and I'm happy that we (openSUSE/Novell) decided to press GNOME 3/Shell LiveDVDs as soon as the release of GNOME 3 is out. Yes, we'll also make KDE ones, 4.6 on openSUSE 11.4 really rocks and deserves it ;-)