Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce GNOME 3: what's all the fuss about?

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The latest incarnation of the GNOME desktop, version 3. has been out for a while. I'm one of those who is late to the party, one at which there have been very few compliments and loads and loads of complaints. At times, when you get something free, you tend not to value it.


After having finally taken a look at it yesterday - I looked at the Fedora and openSUSE live CDs - I'm beginning to wonder whether there is something seriously wrong with the FOSS community. Many people within the community appear unable to accept the fact that change is continuous and that, at times, they are simply not going to like it. That doesn't make it bad.

GNOME 3 is radically different from its predecessor. The interface, called the shell, has a link to something called activities at the left-hand-top corner. Clicking on this gives one two options - Windows and Applications. There are a few links down the left-hand side to some applications; more can be added, depending on the user's wishes.

Windows shows the applications which are open; Applications shows one all the programs available for use. The two live CDs I looked at, Fedora and SUSE, have a differing range of apps, but that's due to the distributions and has nothing to do with GNOME.

There has been a lot of noise about the disappearance of the minimise and maximise buttons on windows, but one can easily perform these functions. It takes a little experimentation to find out but you don't need to do anything outlandish - double-clicking on the top bar of the app maximises it and when one right-clicks on the same bar, one can minimise the app. Neither of these actions is anything new - both have been there in other operating systems for donkey's years.

GNOME 3 looks something like Unity, the new interface developed and used by Ubuntu - something like a mobile phone interface with a minimalist approach and lots of coloured buttons. In order to stay lean, the GNOME developers appear to have opted not to retain a lot of the older attributes. Once again, people may disagree with this approach but at a certain stage, one has to move on. For a crowd that claims to live on the cutting edge, FOSS people appear to be remarkably hidebound; making these changes doesn't mean that GNOME has got it wrong.

Maybe a little less of pretending to be an intellectual would sit better with some of the more voluble souls who are partisan to the core and claim to be journalists when they are nothing but groupies, pushing this barrow or that.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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