Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Impression On Gnome 3 (Or Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover)

In the past few weeks since Gnome 3 came out, I've been reading a lot about what people think of it. My initial impression was it might be something like the Unity interface which I first used when I installed ubuntu-netbook 10.06 on my mom's netbook. I absolutely hated that. Almost made me redo the installation with a normal desktop ubuntu then. But I got to thinking, 'heh... my mom is the one who's going to use it, so maybe she might get used to it, as long as I've set up the side bar with all the software she usually use it should be fine'. And I guess I was right. Until once in a while my mom asks me to do something on it and I feel like redoing the installation again... >.<

But finally I took the plunge and enabled the testing repo on my desktop, 'pacman -Syu' instantly installed all the latest package and boom, I'm running Gnome 3 baby... :D

What do I think of it? I kinda like it. It's very clean. I mean, very very clean. I'm kinda a lazy so before this I even had icons littered on the top panel. Now I don't even the option to litter the top panel anymore. It's basically fixed like that. And I think for someone like me who likes it to be clean but can't be bothered cleaning up, that's good... :)

I read reviews about how now it takes two clicks to switch to other windows which are open because there is no more bottom panel which can have a list of open windows. But luckily I find that it's not really that hard at all, just shove your mouse over to the top left and all your windows will show up 'expose' style. Very nice touch. So now you get to see even more context of the windows you want to choose. There was even some people saying alt-tab would not work. I guess they were really using pre-release versions because it works just fine for me. In fact, it's better than fine, alt-~ (the key on top of the tab key) will actually switch between windows of the same app. So you can have many writer windows open and need to switch between just them? No problem. Just alt-~.

Another thing which got me concerned was no systray. How are you supposed to click on the pidgin icon to bring up your buddy list, or the dropbox icon to bring up your dropbox folder? Well, it's there. Just hidden from view. Shove your mouse to the bottom right and it pops out. I like that it stays out of the way and available only once you want it.

For those who are used to using gnome-do and would rather type out the app to run, just hit the super button and type away. It does take 2 clicks to get to the 'main menu' though (if you're used to using menu's to start your apps). You have to click on 'Activities' (or actually just shove the mouse to the top left) and then the applications button. Then it will list down all of your applications. The buttons for the applications are huge and really makes me feel like this would be something I might like to use on a tablet or something. But it doesn't bother me much because whichever apps I use I've mapped them to keyboard shortcuts and also the side bar. So I don't usually have to view all the apps.

I think having to press the alt key to get the 'Power Off' menu item at the Status menu is kinda neat because I rarely switch off my desktop anyway, and coming back from 'Suspend' (which is the default menu item) is a whole lot faster.

For more tips and tricks on using the spanking new gnome-shell make sure you check out https://live.gnome.org/GnomeShell/CheatSheet.

To wrap it up, so far I like it. It feels minimalistic but at the same time very pretty. I'm very happy with it. Good job Gnome team.

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