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Gnome 2.14 Review 208

An anonymous user writes " (a Slashdot sister site) has up a review of Gnome 2.14. The piece touches on usability improvements, as well as the new administration and configuration tools included with this release." From the article: "GNOME 2.14 continues the steady improvement visible in the last few releases. It is an incremental upgrade, consisting largely of tweaks and the filling in of gaps in functionality. If few of these changes are major by themselves, the overall result is welcome. Perhaps the best way of looking at the release is not as an end in itself, but as a milestone on the road to desktop usability in free operation systems. From this perspective, GNOME 2.14 is a sign that much of the journey is already over -- and that the remaining distance is less than many observers think."
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Gnome 2.14 Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#14942181)
    The accusations of copying need to stop. First of all, all GUIs are based on a large set of fundamental principles. A lot of stuff is just going to look the same, period. Secondly, there are a lot of innovative and non-MS/OS X features in KDE and GNOME. In KDE alone just compare window management, theme management, IO-slaves, customizability of the kicker, etc. to Windows. It's written using a cross-platform GUI toolkit so programs will be able to be easily ported across OSes. That's very important and that's lacking in OS X and Windows (.NET sort of counts, but with all the Windows-only crap that's getting thrown in, portability will likely be low).
  • by albalbo ( 33890 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#14942186) Homepage
    I think that's partly true, but I think the free software desktop evolves faster. If you think about how much was new in WinXP, it wasn't much, and that was out in 2001/2002(?). So, the current W32 desktop is pretty old in computer terms. If you think how far GNOME has come in that time, it's a huge leap.

    If they maintain the current pace, sure Vista might be superficially nicer when it comes out. In a couple of releases or so GNOME will have caught up in the areas Vista is ahead, but there won't be a new W32 UI to catch up where GNOME is ahead.

    I think the current GNOME pace is about right. There aren't huge advances each release, but each release does bring stuff worth having.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:20PM (#14942197)
    I already know 2.14 removes almost all the options available in the GNOME version of XScreensaver, and it apparently removes many of the options that used to be available from the Sound preference dialog. So what else has GNOME removed with this next release, because allowing users to have choice is "too complicated"?

    Unfortunately for GNOME, they can't remove all choice; I can still choose to use KDE, because KDE chooses to let me customize it any way I want instead of being forced into the defaults GNOME wants. And, please, don't point out GConf, unless you can point to a list of what every single key (at least for a given application) in GConf does.

    I swear, every release of GNOME adds to the eye candy, and removes from the usability. And to think I once advocated GNOME over KDE.
  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:23PM (#14942223) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed this trend.

    Within my local LUG over the last year or two opinions on GNOME vs KDE have become increasingly polarised. Personally I love GNOME and I think it's getting better every release. I have nothing bad to say about KDE but it just doesn't interest me.

    Some of the KDE fans among us though seem to be starting to dislike GNOME more and more.

    I don't know what it is but perhaps it's a good thing? A few years back it was my perception that both desktops were aiming for the same thing. Now though I think there is a clear and emerging idealogical difference between the two. While seen as bad by some (the desktops should be converging!), it at least presents more of a choice.

    Anyone else noticed this or am I just going (even more) mad?
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:32PM (#14942297)
    First of all, you assume that Vista will be the pinnicle of desktop features. As if OS X isn't already implementing most of the new features that Vista touts. And even still, you assume that all those new features are what users want or need. The (my) problem with Windows has always been that it tries to do everything for everyone. Mac OS has always been good about keeping feature creep down and just doing the core things very well. What is nice about a Linux desktop is choice. Believe it or not, many people choose fewer bells and whistles. I hope the GNOME developers can stay focused on doing the most important things very well rather than going off an trying to copy every feature that the "big guys" decide is important.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:38PM (#14942348)
    Some of the KDE fans among us though seem to be starting to dislike GNOME more and more.

    I'm probably talking out my ass, but I think what you're seeing is former GNOME fans who got completely fed up with the direction GNOME is taking (less choice, more "user-friendly defaults") and switched to KDE. These fans used to be GNOME advocates, but grew to hate it based on the way it's been developed, and became vocal KDE adovcates in an attempt to get their concerns with GNOME heard.

    Again, I may be completely wrong, but that's the way it feels to me. The strongest hatreds can be spawned from a love spurned, or something like that.
  • My take on this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wild_pointer ( 263802 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:51PM (#14942507)
    I've been using Ubuntu Dapper devel so I've been using the development versions of Gnome 2.14 for some time.
    The biggest change for me is probably how much better Epiphany is getting. I was getting tired of Firefox freezing for few seconds every now and then so I switched and love it! There are few issues with it but overall, very nice!
    There is an overview of Epiphany here: should-try-epiphany-as-your-default-browser-with-g nome-214 []
    and here: y-is-hype-get-over-it []

    I also love Deskbar integrated with Beagle! I've just stopped hunting down directories. I search for folders, documents, tomboy notes, web history, bookmarks, applications etc. with Deskbar.

    This plus Xgl and all the Mono stuff is making my desktop really good :)
    Windows Vista has a really good competitor when it comes out.
  • by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:52PM (#14942513) Homepage Journal

    Usability. Clearly it means something different to you than it does to me. Usable software is not software that requires drilling through hundreds of contradictory, confused or utterly irrelevant options before one can get anything done.

    And note, here, I'm not pointing an accusing finger at KDE here; the problems with KControl are well known and have been dealt with.

    The point I'm trying to make is that we here utter so much gibberish about usability because we're not users, we're computer experts. We're used to thinking like computers.

    You don't really appreciate what usability really is until you observe somebody who isn't a propellerhead, struggling over your code, confused and baffled by your lovingly hand-crafted user interface, in all its customizable glory.

    Usability isn't about too many or two few options, it's about several things.

    1) Do What I mean, having sure I have the capability to express what I mean.

    2) Know your target audience. No software can be all things to all people, and it is foolish to try. Pick sensible defaults for your target audience. Provide user interfaces to allow that audience to configure that which they might reasonably be expected to need to change.

    3) Don't add complexity for the sake of Geek Machismo.

    4) Don't remove useful functionality for the sake of keeping it simple. As simple as possible and no simpler

    5) Have a consistent set of guidelines for your user interface, in pursuance of the needs of your target audience.

    6) Challenge your assumptions; WATCH THEM. See what your target audience doesn't understand that you thought was obvious. Fix it.

    7) Don't sneer at KDE or GNOME or Ion because they have different target audiences, different philosophies. Praise them when they are consistent with their goals, guidelines and audience, politely suggest improvements or proffer patches where they fall short.

    Have KDE got it entirely right? No, but they're getting there.

    Have GNOME got it entirely right? No, but they're getting there.

    I guess what I'm saying is, usability doesn't mean what you think it does. Not all software is targetted at geeks, not all people think like geeks.

    And frankly, we should thank the Lord Xenu that this is the case.
  • by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:25PM (#14942861) Journal
    Icons no longer display useful information, like file type or network protocol in mounted shares.

    God, that was stupid. Please change it back!
  • by crivens ( 112213 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:32PM (#14942927)
    "Enhanced performance" yet "programs don't open any faster"? That doesn't sound like enhanced performance to me! I thought increased performance was one of the big things being touted for 2.14?
  • by lordofthemoose ( 716655 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:33PM (#14942933)

    I definitely agree with you on the fact that they now aim at completely different things.
    I have been using KDE since KDE 3.0 (before that it was windowmaker), and love it. I especially like the fact that I can customize it to my exact (RSI-suffering) needs, and the absurdly powerful tools it ships with (Konsole, Konqueror). However, I do not dislike GNOME at all, quite the opposite.

    The story of my "conversion" is simple : I was looking for a linux distribution for my computer-illiterate mother, and ended up installing Ubuntu , which ships with GNOME . While initially dismissing GNOME as "You can't do anything productive with it", I came to understand that from a usability point of view it was far better than KDE : while having no previous experience with it (apart from a quick go at 1.4 and 2.4), by just clicking where it seemed logical, I got what I wanted. The UI never got in my way, and it felt... strangely perfect. This has never happened with KDE. The GNOME UI is very simple, there are very few options - which suits my mother perfectly, she even told me she found it very easy -, and the menus and toolbars are not cluttered with lots of scary options. On the contrary, KDE is filled to the brim with options - which is what I need, but which my mother doesn't - which can be pretty confusing for a first time user.

    The bottom line for me is that both are excellent products, they just don't seem share the same goal. I'm happy with KDE (and need the configurability , my mother is happy with GNOME and is a linux convert (she now advocates it to most of her friends).

    Isn't Free Software all about choice? I'm glad we have both GNOME and KDE.
  • by gregorlowski ( 884938 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:10PM (#14943285)
    I actually used to have a more polarised view. Before QT was fully gpl'ed, I didn't want to go anywhere near it and was 100% pro-gnome. Now I still like gtk and use gnome sometimes (I actually use wmii and do most of my work in aterms with an extra workspace for firefox), but since qt/kde has become more free then I've come to appreciate it too. About once or twice a year I try out kde for a few days on my debian systems. Last year I quickly got frustrated (I think konqueror is sort-of ugly as a file manager, and I like gnome's 2-panel approach rather than emulating the single MS "start-button" approach panel).

    However, when I tried QT in debian unstable about a month ago, I thought the newer themes looked better, and qt apps were generally more usable. I'm glad to see them making progress. I used it for a few days, but ultimately switched back to gnome because I still prefer gtk apps (gaim, occasional gimp, evince, and I used to use gnumeric sometimes but now since 002.0 I use oocalc just because (since 2.0) overall OO is more robust than gnome-office or koffice)

    Has qt been fully gpl'ed on win32 yet? This is something that I'm not clear on. I heard that it was (or is it just the new upcoming qt version that will be?) but I haven't seen any major qt apps ported to win32 yet.

    I am forced to use win32 at work, and I like to have gaim available. It's just nice to be able to use the same apps (firefox, etc) on any platform. It makes it easier to get up to speed and be productive when you have to use a different platform for some reason. It's so nice to be able to use bash+cygwin, gnu make, gcc, and specialized tools like gnumeric's ssconvert on win32. So for me it's a big deal that gtk is available everywhere and qt is still *nix specific. That's probably the main reason that I stick to gtk.

    I also wrote a pygtk app at my old job (small company) that many people at the office use. It worked on the couple dual-boot ubuntu boxes that I set up, and it works ok on winxp. At that time I don't think I could get FOSS pyqt on win32 (could be wrong, but I don't think so).

    Having said all that, I love to see both kde/qt and gnome/gtk making progress.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:11PM (#14943291)
    There's a difference between being "A-preferenced" and "pouring vitriol on not-A".
  • by Wdomburg ( 141264 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:14PM (#14943318)
    Someone did. The fork [] has been abandoned already.
  • by jsoderba ( 105512 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:29PM (#14943486)
    Not on the Internet, there isn't.
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:51PM (#14945548)
    - showing performance where it doesn't matter. If apps start faster, it doesn't mean they run faster. They were just preloaded and as such they consumed RAM which could be used much better

    No kidding. What's more annoying that logging into XP and finding that you have to wait 30 seconds before the HD settles down enough to get any real work done. Great, they shaved some time off the bootup just to add it after login. Brilliant.

    10. calendar, photo app? yeah, now name one system that didn't include those for a few years now. Will I be able to publish my calendar to my apache based CalDAV server? Or flikr?

    No kidding. What is it about the software that MS includes with the OS? Why is it always so... useless (with the exeption of IE)? What amateur wrote hyper-terminal? Did they spend more than 5 minutes coding the telnet app? Why can't I change the width of the command window or easily copy text with the mouse? Then there's MS Paint... isn't that the exact same program they had in Windows 3.0? Did they even modify the code? And CD burning... where the hell was that? Did I took this for granted on OS X and Linux.

    It is amazing how useful OS X is out of the box compared to Windows. But maybe this is what makes Windows so successful. They provide just enough functionality to make it look complete, but ultimately users are compelled to become developers just to have decent basic utilities! So we end up with a million applications that all do the same thing.

  • by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:59AM (#14946790) Homepage
    I have been running beta versions of 2.14 as part of Fedora FC5 test3 for a while, and I'm very impressed by its speed, and increased pollish compared to previous Gnome versions.

    However, there are still a lot of things missing before it is ready for the Enterprise desktop.

    For one thing, usermanagement seam to be for local users only. There is no way to manage users over LDAP. The same thing is true for sabayonne.

    Another problem is the tools in the System->Administration menu. They all requires you to enter a root password to be used. This makes it impossible to have many people perform limited adminstrative functions. They should really use sudo for this. (I think Ubuntu allready do that).

    Yet another thing I would have like to see, is hiding of files like /etc, /proc, /dev, /usr, /lib, /boot, /sbin, /selinux,... by default for ordinary users. These folders are mainly of interest for system administrators and developers, but this group most certainly know how to show hidden files. By hiding these directories folders containing business oriented stuff becomes easier to find.

    You can test this for yourself by createing a .hidden file in your / directory containing the names of the directories you want to hide. Unfortunately .hidden only works in the Nautilus windows and not in filedialogs, where the disadvantage of having too many choises are a much bigger problem.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein