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GNOME 2.16 Released 473 473

Kethinov writes "The GNOME Project has just released version 2.16 of their popular *nix desktop environment. Among many snazzy new features, is lots of new eye candy, including an experimental compositer in Metacity, feature enhancements, usability improvements, and much, much more. Ars Technica has a review."
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GNOME 2.16 Released

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  • candy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:56PM (#16057203)
    Bring on the eye candy! There'll be heaps of complainers who say its unnecessary... but sorry, its necessary to bring linux gradually mainstream.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:01AM (#16057224)
    I know I'm going to get modded Troll for this, but looking over the feature list, it really sounds like it's gained a lot of KDE 3 features. The GNOME webbrowser can now spellcheck. (Big deal, Konqueror has done this for ages.) There's now a method for visually displaying disk use in GNOME. (Again, Konqueror has done this for ages.)

    You can now add items to the programs menu (this is NEW?!), you can now set file permissions on multiple files (again, this is NEW?!). All in all it sounds like stuff that should have been there for ages.

    And, as always, I can't help but wonder what options got removed and now are permentantly set to "sensible defaults" because, as everyone knows, customizability is "confusing". Really an underwhelming release based on the articles. (Yes, I did read them!)
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:15AM (#16057284) Homepage Journal
    I use gnome regularly, but am always momentarily confused by the file-save dialogue no matter how many times I see it. Gnome is very nice in a lot of ways, but I think in terms of decent interface design, it needs a lot of work.
  • by Almahtar (991773) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:47AM (#16057398) Journal
    GREAT! Now The most popular OSS desktop is tying itsself to a Microsoft controlled standard! Sweet! Let's persue that further!

    C++ with use of the STL and a few BOOST libraries is still more powerful than C# (let's see you do inline grammar parsing with C#!) - and it's not under the control of a corporation that's proven it can't be trusted.
  • Re:C# App (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Almahtar (991773) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:50AM (#16057405) Journal
    I don't think it'd be wise to mess with it at all. If there's one thing Microsoft is good at it's treachery, not technology. Rather than attempting to beat them at their own game (treachery), it'd be best to overcome them with merit (technology). In terms of ease-of-use and speed, C++ with STL and BOOSt, Ruby, or Python have C# whipped -- and they're totally free.
  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:51AM (#16057411) Homepage
    What is confusing?

    In its default look it doesn't show where it is going to save the document, but instead only the name of the very last folder (so if you have foo/images/ and bar/images/ you can't tell the difference), I'd call that pretty confusing, a click on "Browse for other folders" of course changes that, but fullpath somewhere visible would be quite usefull. Beside from that however I am very happy with the filedialog, simply, clean and effective.

  • by cloricus (691063) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:58AM (#16057443)
    This was basically taken wholesale from the way macs save files...I hated it to start with though using my mac daily along with gnome I really wouldn't trade it. It's just got this easyness to it that sucks you in and hey...even my mother likes it/can use it.
  • God help Nautilus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by postmortem (906676) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:01AM (#16057446) Journal
    Looks as bad as ever. Is there a single 'power' user that likes Nautilus?

    It is not customizeable -can't change single thing on the toolbar.

    Default view is useful for home directory only.

    Location bar (can be changed) is annoying with buttons instead of link.
  • "Gnome is very nice in a lot of ways, but I think in terms of decent interface design, it needs a lot of work."

    It's a windowing environment whose purpose is to provide a GUI. I don't use Gnome because I want my Graphical User Interface too have a decent interface design. Otherwise, I'm better off with a command line.
  • by ZakuSage (874456) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:17AM (#16057497)
    No, Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" isn't coming out until October. However, right around the time the new GNOME gets released, each Ubuntu's pre-release set gets stable enough to be usable. I think I'll still wait for an RC to be released, but it is just about time to upgrade.
  • by jeswin (981808) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:26AM (#16057531) Homepage
    Not only C#, it could be just about any language which has a .Net compiler. Iron Python 1.0 [codeplex.com] just got released, which works with Mono as well. There are many others too, including Boo, Nemerle, an experimental Ruby.Net. Mono+Gnome might eventually be the reason for mainstream Linux desktop acceptance (with applications being compatible on Windows and Linux), as .Net apps get more popular. In the MS world, the .Net Framework is now the sole platform to build new apps.
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:26AM (#16057532) Homepage Journal

    When I do a save-as in gnome, I get a window that asks for a name and a folder. So far so good. Unfortunately, the "folder" selector is not a filesystem browser, but a list of "shortcuts". These are named after the last part of the path name - unfortunatly, this gives absolutely no insight as to where in the filesystem tree this folder is. They could show the full path name, or have a tooltip pop up if the mouse hovers over, or something. There are also some default shortcuts with ambiguous names: Desktop and Filesystem. The former, I happen to know through corresponds to ~/Desktop (and no, I don't use nautilus*, so it doesn't show up on my actual desktop). The latter is a mystery, but apparently I don't have permission to save there, wherever it is.

    Now, if I haven't configured a shortcut for the folder I want (and this is done manually - for some reason gnome doesn't just remember my most recent folders), I have to click on "browse for other folders". Since this is usually what I want to do anyways, it's a little tedious to have to go looking for it every time. Here it gets downright confusing. On the left is a pane that looks like the contents of a current working directory, but is actually just the same list of shortcuts I had just a moment ago decided I wasn't interested in; double clicking one of these entries does, however, navigate the real filesystem browser to that shortcut. The real list-view filesystem browser is on the right. With this I don't have much complaint, except that there isn't an obvious way to paste a path in from somewhere else.

    The lack of full pathname plagues other parts of gnome as well - consider the "save screenshot" window, invoked with [printscreen]. It remembers where I last saved a screenshot, but where is the full path? I have to select "other" from the dropdown list to find out where it is.

    *An observation: if you disable nautilus, gnome won't set up your wallpaper when you log in. You can still set it *manually* from the preferences/desktop background dialogue, but it will revert to default after login out and back in.

  • by wysiwia (932559) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:56AM (#16057608) Homepage
    Usability improvements on the desktop are nice but when do people realize that usability improvements are desperately needed on the application level and only marginally on the desktop. What does it help if you have a perfect desktop but many of the applications one uses have a rather rubbish usability!

    Usability is always measured in a greater context, a context which goes far beyond the Gnome desktop but spans any desktop used. Just think how an American driver feels when he drives in England or vice versa. You might interrupt that's rather seldom the case but not with computer desktops. Almost each Gnome users uses a KDE application and even 60% use a Windows application (http://www.desktoplinux.com/cgi-bin/survey/survey .cgi?view=archive&id=0821200617613 [desktoplinux.com] at the bottom) and everybody knows the easyness of MacOSX.

    Sure application developers don't want to lose much time with usability they want to concentrate on functionality. So they can't follow multiple separate usability guidelines they simply don't have the time. Yet usability is a very important part in the acceptance of an application. To circumvent this, application developers should follow cross-desktop or cross-platform guidelines (http://wyoguide.sf.net/ [sf.net]).

    Yet Gnome might still follow the MacOSX way sticking to there own perfect way and be happy with a rather insignificant market share. Or they help working on fighting off the first "Top inhibitors of Linux desktop adoption" (http://www.osdl.org/dtl/DTL_Survey_Report_Nov2005 .pdf [osdl.org]).

    O. Wyss
  • by mkro (644055) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:36AM (#16057704)
    As long as we are discussing file requesters... Getting to -- and browsing -- hidden (dot) directories is a nightmare.
    Try this:
    Make a .porn folder in your home directory (Hey, real life scenario). Make a pictures subdir, and inside that a few other dirs (teen, goth, whatever you fancy). Now populate those directories with pictures, then try getting to them with Eye of Gnome. Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking -- with the-oh-so-linux-for-humans "Ctrl-L" key combo you CAN enter the URL of .dirs -- but can you browse them? There will be a strange drop down menu with the different subdirs, but there seems to be no frickin' way to actually browse the file structure in the file requester.

    I wish I knew the Gnome devs' take on this problem, but I can't find the "hiding porn from your mom" section of the HIG.
  • by Carewolf (581105) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:55AM (#16057750) Homepage
    Nautilus is not for Power Users. Not even Konqueror which is designed for Power Users is used by them. Power Users use the text shell.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @03:21AM (#16057807) Homepage
    Tango is not just an icon set, it's (theoretically) a whole set of guidelines for interface design, including icons.

    I wouldn't waste time critiquing an icon set, but if Gnome really is planning on following these guidelines and the Tango crew really intend for them to be comprehensive and used by all the major open source interface developers, it would be a good idea for their flagship example to be as professional as possible. The lousy shadows were literally the first thing I noticed when I opened the page.

    In any case, it's just an icon! It's not even 3D. At 128x128 it's not going to matter that much. I think you're just being pedantic.

    I'm sure the Tango folks will be thrilled to learn you really don't care about any of their work. They built a whole group, an extensive web site and extensive guidelines along with the hundreds of icons in the set, I should think they care about the work they're doing and want it to be more than just "good enough". If they want to produce results that are comparable to professional software, then they have to hold themselves to the same pedantic standard that professionals do. It's like building a house and not having the corners be square -- one of the subtle differences that separates most $100k homes from most $500k homes. The average person doesn't consciously notice all the little fit and finish details as they walk throught the house, but they do recognize that there is a difference in quality.

    Your professional help would be greatly appreciated if you feel inclined.

    These comments are my professional help, I charge for this stuff in real life. Shadows have shapes that relate to the shape of the object. A sphere, a file folder, and a box don't all produce the same shadow shape when illuminated. Shadows are darker at the center and where they meet the object, and then lose density and definition as they reach the outside edges. You can make a pretty good flat shadow by just shading two sides of an icon, but if you want to do a projected floor shadow then you have to represent the silhouette of the object as transformed through space.

    Doing a bad floor shadow is more work for worse results than doing a flat shadow. So my professional advice would be that if they are low on time, they should just do flat shadows, but if they want to spend the time, they should think more about how to achieve good projected shadows.
  • Re:candy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TractorBarry (788340) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @04:05AM (#16057897) Homepage
    The big trouble with focusing on eye candy is that GNOME has still got so much to do in terms of usability.

    For instance the support for consistent cut & paste, consistent support for keyboard shortcuts and a focus on providing functionality akin to the spirit of *NIXs "everything is a file" metaphor.

    For instance "all text should be accessible". In other words whereever I can see some text in GNOME I should be able to copy & paste that text (using the standard selection methods and Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-Ins, Shift-Ins, menu items etc. etc.) This functionality should be available no matter whether the text is being displayed using a widget such as a list, button, status bar or text area etc. etc. Any application that displays a list should also allow me to save that list as a plain text file seperated by something like commas (anyone for CSV ?)

    And this functionality should be provided in the widget set itself so that simply by adding a widget to a GNOME application the features get built in without the developer having to realise why they're required or, if they've got any sense, eventually getting round to adding them after complaints from irate users.

    Any application that displays a list of files should allow me to double click on a file (or press "carriage return" or enter) and launch the default application associated with that file. Any application whatsoever. If I can't do this why is it showing me the file list anyway ? In exactly rhe same way I should always be able to select file(s) from that list and use copy & paste etc. Going back to my previous point I shuld also be able to save that file list in CSV format.

    Wherever there's a right mouse button menu this should also be available by pressing the right mouse button on the keyboard. Maybe a MAC keyboard doesn't have a "right mouse button" (don't kno never used n one ;) ? So what. They miss out, the rest of the world that does have one (i.e. the vast majority of us) gets to use it in the manner it was designed.

    On another note then for gods sake stop messing around with the right click menus. Using Nautilus you can select "paste" from the "edit" menu. But you can't right click in the file area and select "edit" > "paste" as doing so selects the nearest file to the cursor and removes ("greys out") the paste option.

    Personalised, "intelligent" menus are simply crap. Look at Microsoft Office or XP hiding things away etc. If there's data on the clipboard that can be processed by the application then paste should be available. Hiding the option is simply dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

    Personally I use GNOME because I use Ubuntu but I find it so bloody hard to do anything productive due to it missing so many simple, easy to implement, features that it usually send me swearing back to Windows to get things done. I'm so fed up with Nautilus that I now share my home folder on the network and do all my file management from Windows Explorer.

    So enough with the eye candy already. Get the cake properly baked before you start adding fancy icing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 07, 2006 @05:36AM (#16058075)
    You're missing the boat on what a standard means...

    It does not mean that it's free. Linux, for example, does not strictly adhere to the POSIX standard because that costs money. Vendors can submit their work to me ratified as a standard at any time. Then others can (usually) pay money to claim that they adhere to that standard. But standards can still, and mostly are, corporately controlled as the original post mentioned.

    Standards, so many to choose from.
  • Re:candy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by killjoe (766577) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @05:46AM (#16058102)
    "For instance "all text should be accessible""

    Yes. I wish windows had this too. Nobody has it now though. It would be great if Gnome was the first windowing framework in the world to give us this.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @07:31AM (#16058314) Journal
    C++ with use of the STL and a few BOOST libraries is still more powerful than C# (let's see you do inline grammar parsing with C#!)
    Let's see you do a remote method invocation on any object of a non-specialized template class (which is what most of STL and Boost are) in C++. Or even simply dynamically load a template class from a shared library (you know, plugins and all). Heck, if you promise to not cheat, and not rely on everyone using a single C++ implementation (read: GCC), let's see how you're going to dynamically load even non-template classes portably...
  • Re:candy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The_Noid (28819) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @08:05AM (#16058416) Journal
    all text should be accessible

    That would be nice, but unfortunately, there is no desktop environment that does this, so it's not a specific Gnome problem.

    Any application that displays a list of files should allow me to double click on a file (or press "carriage return" or enter) and launch the default application associated with that file.

    Work on a file, want export it to another format... file dialog pops up, select the filename that you previously used for export and hit enter... I would expect my new version of the file I'm working on to overwrite the old existing file, not for the system to open the old file. Enter should allways be "Do whatever this dialog is meant for, with the selected file". If the dialog is for selecting a file for saving, enter should use the selected file for saving. Your suggestion would be highly unintuitive. Adding "open" to the right-click menu would be fine though.

    Wherever there's a right mouse button menu this should also be available by pressing the right mouse button on the keyboard.
    KEYboad... MOUSE button? My keyboards don't have mousebuttons... If yours does, and it doesn't work, it's probably because you never told X that that strange button on your keyboard is a mousebutton? Did you select the right keyboard in Preferences->Keyboard?

    Personalised, "intelligent" menus are simply crap.
    Gnome doesn't have intelligent menus. The "paste" option when you right-click on a file is not there, because it doesn't make sense to paste files on a file... The past option is there when you right-click on a directory!

    If you don't like spatial mode nautilus, turn off spatial mode, or use something else, like mc in a terminal. Personally, it took me some time to get used to spatial mode, but I really like it now. In spatial mode each location has it's own window, only one window, and always the same window. In spatial mode you don't "browse to a directory in a file manager", no you "open the directory" and it opens in "it's window" in the same place on your monitor you left it last time. If you need a location often, you make a bookmark to it. You can't open a location twice, because that would just clutter the desktop. Instead it shows you the allready opened window.
    And thanks to GnomeVFS, a location doesn't need to be a directory on your computer, it could be anything.

  • Re:C# App (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hast (24833) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @08:44AM (#16058478)
    I used to think so too. Then I started looking at some C# projects for Mono. It's really a nice language and you get in CLR support for Boo (small scripting language) and Python, not sure about Ruby (yet).

    Seriously, there is no point in using C++ for UI driven programs anymore. If you really need to have minimal CPU and memory requirements then sure, but otherwise you're just making things hard for yourself.

    Possibly the most important thing about moving to C# is that the level of entry is a lot lower than for C++. OOTB you have a functional language with a bunch of libraries. GNOME is also moving towards being really i18n compatible. Unicode support is NOT FUN in most languages. You really need to have it built in from the start (like with C#/Mono).

    Personally I think most people that go on and on about how you need C++ for UI programs are either too comfy to learn a new (possibly better) language. Or they just repeat what other people say.

    For the record I think C++ is a kludgy language. But it has it's uses.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @08:46AM (#16058486) Homepage
    Tomboy, Notes application
    Alacarte, Menu Editor
    Baobab, Disk usage analyzer
    Totem, Video player

    WTF???

    Why not call the Notes application "Gnome Notes", the menu editor "Gnome Menu Editor", the Disk usage analyzer "Gnome Disk Usage Analyzer" and the video player, you've guessed it, "Gnome Video Player".
    I know developers like to give their applications noteworthy and unique names, but to a user this is only confusing and unnecessary. Especially considering all these are part of Gnome and will most likely not be used outside the Gnome environment.
  • Re:candy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @08:51AM (#16058503)
    The big trouble with focusing on eye candy is that GNOME has still got so much to do in terms of usability. [...] Personally I use GNOME because I use Ubuntu but I find it so bloody hard to do anything productive due to it missing so many simple, easy to implement, features that it usually send me swearing back to Windows to get things done. I'm so fed up with Nautilus that I now share my home folder on the network and do all my file management from Windows Explorer.

    Well, all you have given us is a rant and pointed out some potential areas for improvement (some of which I don't even agree with). Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that Gnome has more usability problems than Windows? Do you have any evidence that to support your assertion that Gnome is less consistent than Windows? Note that examples don't count as evidence for your assertions since there are plenty examples of badly designed Windows features as well. Evidence would be actual user testing or some other unbiased evaluation.

    In any case, if there are specific features that you think are missing, then submit bug reports. The Gnome developers will evaluate your bug reports and prioritize them. However, if you're just going to submit a rant like the one you posted here, I can guarantee you that they won't do anything, because basically all you have said is "it doesn't work the way I am used to, so go change it". That's not an argument for getting a feature adopted.

    So enough with the eye candy already. Get the cake properly baked before you start adding fancy icing.

    That's a strategy that nobody in industry is following. Products must look good even if they aren't perfect in other ways. In fact, products must look especially good if they are less than perfect in other ways.

  • Re:candy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lahvak (69490) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#16058546) Homepage Journal
    For instance "all text should be accessible". In other words whereever I can see some text in GNOME I should be able to copy & paste that text (using the standard selection methods and Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-Ins, Shift-Ins, menu items etc. etc.)

    Yes, I agree, I struggle with this all the time - on Windows XP

    Any application that displays a list should also allow me to save that list as a plain text file seperated by something like commas (anyone for CSV ?)

    How would you trigger it? A shortcut? An item in the right click menu? IMHO this sort of stuff would soon clutter the menus to the point where they would become useless. Most users would probably be confused by a menu item offering them to save a list to a file. I think the idea is good, but it should be combined with the cut and paste operation. Selecting the list, or some items of the list, and cutting it should place the comma separated list in the clipboard. No need to open a "save file" dialog. If you happen to need the data in a separate file, just paste them in an editor window.

    Any application that displays a list of files should allow me to double click on a file (or press "carriage return" or enter) and launch the default application associated with that file. Any application whatsoever.

    Funny, that's not how it works on Windows, and probably for a good reason, too. If I am trying to for example open a file in Galeon, I get a list of files. If I double click one of them or select one of them and press enter, I expect it to open in Galeon, not in the default application for that file. What windows does, and IMHO it should be added to Gnome too, is to offer you an option to open the file from the right click menu. I would like to see that.

    In exactly rhe same way I should always be able to select file(s) from that list and use copy & paste etc.

    Interesting. I just tried that on Windows. I opend the "Open File" dialog in excel, selected a file, right clicked, selected "copy". It seemed to work. Then I tried to paste the file in an explorer window. Guess what, the "paste" option was grayed out!

    Going back to my previous point I shuld also be able to save that file list in CSV format.

    See my comment above. Besides, there are so many faster and easier ways of getting a CSV list of files.

    Wherever there's a right mouse button menu this should also be available by pressing the right mouse button on the keyboard. Maybe a MAC keyboard doesn't have a "right mouse button" (don't kno never used n one ;) ? So what. They miss out, the rest of the world that does have one (i.e. the vast majority of us) gets to use it in the manner it was designed.

    I don't have a Mac, but I really don't understand what you mean by "right mouse button on the keyboard". And what about the middle button?

    On another note then for gods sake stop messing around with the right click menus. Using Nautilus you can select "paste" from the "edit" menu. But you can't right click in the file area and select "edit" > "paste" as doing so selects the nearest file to the cursor and removes ("greys out") the paste option.

    I don't use Nautilus much, I cannot comment on this. What I would like to see would be an ability to paste arbitrary data into a directory window in a file manager, and have a new file containing that data created. Kind of like when you redirect stdout to a file.

    Personalised, "intelligent" menus are simply crap. Look at Microsoft Office or XP hiding things away etc. If there's data on the clipboard that can be processed by the application then paste should be available. Hiding the option is simply dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

    True. See above my experience with Windows.

    Personally I use GNOME because I use Ubuntu but I find it so bloody hard to do anything productive due to it missing so many simple, easy to implement, features that it usually send me swearing back to Windows to get
  • by g2devi (898503) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#16058838)
    It's absolutely necessary.

    Think about it. If you run GNOME on a distro that uses the default GNOME applications, you'll see this on your menu item:

    Epiphany Web Browser

    but if you run Ubuntu, you'll see:

    Firefox Web Browser

    These are *different* apps with different features and limitations so they should not be given the same name (i.e. GNOME Web Browser) even if the naming convention is consistent within a distribution. By force-fitting the branding, you're eliminating the possibility that GNOME can change its mind about web browsers and you're making it difficult to support GNOME. And it confuses novices who buy "GNOME for dummies" books and expect one thing to work and has a different result because they're getting another app.

    Let's extend this a bit further. Suppose I want to run Firefox, Epiphany, Opera, and Konqueror. My menu would look like:

    Epiphany Web Browser
    Firefox Web Browser
    Opera Web Browser
    Konqueror Web Browser

    All these options are available and even a new user on my machine that only knew one of these browsers would see that they are all web browsers.

    What's wrong with unique names anyway? Is Excel any more descriptive than iLife or OpenOffice? None make sense, but all are well known. People like unique names since they're easy to remember. And for people who don't know what these apps mean, the old "OpenOffice Word Processor"/"OpenOffice Spreadsheet"/... menu items should give them all the information they need to know.

  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:12AM (#16058991)
    Perhapse you didn't rtfa and see the pretty screenshots.

    You must be an experienced /.'er - carry on.

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