Sam Varghese Rants On GNOME; So Do I

Change for the sake of change has fired up Sam again…“The GNOME project is almost 17 years old. When will we see some signs of maturity, some signs of stability? It shows that the people at GNOME just want change. Like the good folks at Microsoft who want to change, change, change, until the software becomes utterly unusable, the GNOME developers want to keep changing things too.” I disagree with Sam as often as I agree. He must be close to right most of the time… This time, he is right. When an application is good enough to collect a solid following, why jerk users around with random changes of user-interface?

Further, I think that if an organization wants to deviate radically from the user-interface that folks love, they should fork the project. Whatsit 1.2.3 is a different application than Whatsit 2.0.0 if a user needs to learn some new tricks just to use it. It was years ago I gave up on Kate and Gedit. They were good enough for many purposes. Now I use Vim, Lyx, LibreOffice and Gnumeric. While Sam wanted a simpler application with a kinder face, I wanted powerful apps that worked for me on a desktop that retained a simple/familiar desktop analogy, XFCE4. These can do just about anything I need done and the user-interface has scarcely changed since Day One except to make what works a little better from time to time. If I want to use a different application, a developer should not hold me to follow his random path and he should not expect/demand that.

There are things that need to be changed about applications: performance, reliability, and security are valuable to users. Needing to change how we do things is not. Stand up for users’ right to be left alone by developers. This is akin to why I left the Wintel treadmill years ago. Then, we were constantly changing things so M$ and Intel could rake in big bucks for next to no effort. Is there really any difference being slaves to developers of FLOSS who see themselves as the source of the one true application? Is there really any difference between an application that does something when you click on an icon and an application that does something when you click on a different icon in a different place? Come on, developers, grow up! 1000 monkeys could tweak applications to design random icons in random places but they don’t presume to know more than the users.

See Sam fume at gEdit shows that GNOME wants to drive users away.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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6 Responses to Sam Varghese Rants On GNOME; So Do I

  1. ram says:

    I fully agree with “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Many cluster operators used Gnome2, it has major advantages on large machines. If they wanted to explore other avenues for the desktop then they should have done that other another name as another project.

  2. Mats Hagglund says:

    That’s the reason why i still prefer MATE as a default desktop for Linux Mint, not even Cinnamon. And surely not GNOME3 and not especially Unity. Change just for the idea of change really sucks!

  3. oiaohm says:

    I have been a kde user for a long time. Biggest issues with KDE have been developers and marketers not being on same page. GUI changing for GUI changing sake does not happen in a lot of QT base applications.

  4. ssorbom says:

    “I think GNOME would have been better off creating an entirely new desktop-concept and letting it compete in the desktop-space rather than breaking their product. ”

    Good point.
    Personally I agree, but I think this has been brought up before and the GNOME developers always say their rescources are too limited to properly maintain both paradigms. I just don’t think it is a good strategy to complain about work thats done on a volunteer basis, it turns devs off at best and makes them quit at worst. If you want to see positive change, why not go to GNOME mailing lists and defend the old way with concrete usage examples? Who knows, you might get heard.

    I haven’t used GNOME since 2.3, What did the old GNOME offer that the new one doesn’t? I noticed that GNOME’s guis got less powerful after a certain point, but that was long before 3, back in the 2.3 days. I felt that 2.24 would have been good if they had just fixed the bugs. Option-wise, 2.24 was my favorite version.

  5. ssorbom wrote, ” nobody will ever be able to say for sure whether a change is good or bad until it is tried.”

    I am an old man. I’ve been there and done a lot of stuff, good and bad. I think it’s Natural Law that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” applies to IT. The odds are major changes will bring problems so don’t make those changes unless there are compelling reasons. Another way to look at it is as as “software-lifecycle”. Stuff is born for good or ill, fixed/maintained, and eventually will die. Once it’s fixed, you’d better have a damned good reason to break it. I think GNOME would have been better off creating an entirely new desktop-concept and letting it compete in the desktop-space rather than breaking their product. One can renovate one’s house but you need another place to live if the renovation is general. There was no pressing need to “modernize” either KDE or GNOME. They both worked well in the earlier embodiment. The vast majority of users of both were happy. Why make them unhappy? What’s the benefit of that? IMHO, if you have a mess of satisfied users, keep giving them what they want. That does not prevent you from working on something new but developers have no right to force users to go their way.

    The way I work, I like to search for data but I like to know exactly where my apps are. That’s the way I keep my physical desktop. That’s the way I keep my workshop and my yard. Why does GNOME think I should change my existence to go their way? Thank Goodness for XFCE4, the “good enough” desktop. “Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.” What’s wrong with that?

    I start apps and let them run for weeks. I don’t need to start them in radically new ways. I work with tons of data collected over a decade. Of course, I can’t iconify all of it. Search makes sense for my data.

  6. ssorbom says:

    I used to think this way too. But even though I don’t like the direction they are going, I think the GNOME Foundation is within their rights to change their project in any way they see fit. In FLOSS, anyone can fork, so it’s not like we are losing anything if the GNOME folks take things in a new direction. Not all change will be good, no matter what project you use. But nobody will ever be able to say for sure whether a change is good or bad until it is tried. Don’t like GNOME? Fine, that’s why MATE exists. 🙂

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