One Week With GNOME Classic: Day Four (Settling In)

Today’s update is going to be fairly brief.  GNOME and I have come to an accord and now we’re mostly getting out of each other’s way. After my initial impressions, I adapted the way that I do a few things and I’ve come to appreciate certain aspects of the system.

I have kind of a love/indifferent relationship with the GNOME overlay. I find myself happier with its capabilities now that they are not the *only* way to interact with the desktop. Since I have access to most of the important UI elements without the overlay in GNOME Classic, I don’t have to suffer through the annoying context shift of pulling up the overlay unless I specifically want to use one of its advanced features (such as smart-search or viewing all of my windows to choose one). My experience with the basic GNOME Shell was that it forced me to always pull my attention fully away from what I was working on in order to spot queued notifications or open an additional window. With GNOME Classic, the Shell overlay feels like useful add-on functionality, rather than an enforced mode of operation. I can use the overlay features when they’re helpful and can ignore it otherwise.

Additionally, based on the recommendation of a commenter on one of the bugs I opened on Day One, I installed and tried out the “topicons” extension for GNOME Shell. I was pleased to discover that this accomplished exactly what I wanted from this ticket, and I’ve proposed that this extension should be incorporated as part of the formal GNOME Classic collection. We will see if this is accepted. For reference, the net result of this extension is to take all systray icons out of the message tray and instead position them across the top menu. This also has the effect of resolving another bug I filed on Day One; it removes the icon from the message tray and notification counter.

All in all, today’s experience was largely painless. After installing the “topicons” extension, I briefly switched back to Pidgin as my messenger and IRC client, but decided that I was actually happier running Empathy for messaging and XChat-GNOME for IRC. While the experience took me a little while to get used to, I think I’m going to be happier with this arrangement (or possibly switching to classic XChat instead and taking the time to tweak all of its knobs to my satisfaction).

In short, it’s taken me only about four days, but I’m comfortable (even happy!) with using GNOME Classic as a primary desktop environment. I’m sure that some part of this is due to existing familiarity with the standard GNOME 3 experience, but I cannot say anything but that this is far more pleasant to work with than the vanilla setup. I think if the assorted bugs I’ve filed over the last few days are resolved (to my satisfaction, naturally), I think we can genuinely make a case for GNOME Classic being the true upgrade from GNOME 2 that people have been waiting for. Maybe some of those people will take the plunge even further and dive into the full GNOME 3 environment, but GNOME Classic certainly feels like a necessary intermediate step that has been missing for the first three GNOME 3 releases.

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5 thoughts on “One Week With GNOME Classic: Day Four (Settling In)

  1. I’ve never tried GNOME classic, but it’s great that the option is there for those that aren’t keen on gnome-shell and the change in work-flow that comes with it. I must say that GNOME 3.8 is a pretty great release all-round, and there’s not all that much for me to gripe about with gnome-shell. Empathy has evolved very nicely over the last couple years too, as well as several other GNOME applications.

  2. The main intend of the classic session is still to ‘port’ users over to the ‘real’ shell.

  3. Unlike Emacs, GNOME Classic is, hopefully, still a desktop environment rather than an operating system as you called it though I have suspected imminent GNOME 3 inclusion into systemd since last year.

    1. Oops, yeah that was a typo. (Although strictly speaking, it *is* an environment within which I am operating, so the language is correct while the implication is not. I’ve edited it now to be more clear.

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