GNOME 3 May not Be Designed for You.

Pre-Script: I initially wrote this as an email to some friends, who almost certainly know less about Linux than everybody else who will read this.

Since Fedora released GNOME 3, there has been lots of bickering, like when everybody released KDE 4. (Ubuntu gave up on GNOME and went for “Unity,” which is, in short, built on GNOME 3 but with a different user interface).

This has to be one of my favourites, though:

And from that page, my favourite link is the one from “(We are not designing a desktop for people … ) who want to shutdown their computers from within a GNOME session.”

Yes, seriously. At first, I thought it was a bug, or a one-off thing because I was running Fedora 15 in VirtualBox. But no–you actually can’t power down your computer while you’re logged in.

The best/worst part, or at least the one that worries me the most, is that GNOME and Fedora are intimately linked. Most of the programmers in the Fedora Desktop group are also programmers for GNOME. So like somebody responded on that blog post, if GNOME is going down, Fedora will have a hard time trying to abandon ship.

As for me personally, it doesn’t really matter. Since I started using Linux in 2002, I haven’t used any version of GNOME for longer than a week–it’s always been KDE for me, even through the admittedly tough times of versions 4.0 to 4.2. I don’t think KDE is perfect, but it’s perfect *for me*, and that’s what matters most. To be honest, the fact that it sometimes breaks is something that I need out of my computer, to keep me from something truly stupid, like trying to graft SELinux onto Ubuntu, or boot Fedora 14 from an LVM2 boot partition using GRUB2. Note that my “day job” is “graduate student of music theory,” so SELinux anywhere, as much as I like it, is pretty mysterious. I did succeed with GRUB2, but that’s another story.

But I’m not honestly too worried that GNOME 3 is the beginning of the end. Everybody says stupid things sometimes, including Firefox developers, one of whom recently claimed the Firefox isn’t designed for enterprise deployment (read: “use by corporations”). Besides, saying stupid things, doing stupid things, and getting stupid results are all different aspects of stupidity.

What I’m saying is that I have this sense that everything is going to be a-okay. Why? Look at the most popular operating systems today–and I don’t mean popular by number of users, but popular by “prestige” or “cool factor.” You have Mac OS X, iOS (for iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices), Android (for cell phones), and… yep, that’s about it. Windows is not, and will never be cool, but Apple products are, and it’s because they’re permanently set to “flashy” mode. You can’t customize it unless you really know what you’re doing, so you can’t break it (and make it look silly). You’re permanently stuck with a relatively attractive, but unintrusive, user interface with large icons. Hmm… sounds like GNOME 3.