One Week With GNOME 3 Classic: Day Five (Oblivion)

So, I have good news about Day Five. I have nothing negative to report whatsoever. I’m over the hurdles of the adjustment period and I find myself able to operate very well in GNOME Classic. I certainly feel that there are three changes that absolutely need to be incorporated upstream into GNOME Classic so that others can benefit from my experience here:

  1. The “topicons” extension should be added to the collection of extensions installed by default with GNOME Classic
  2. The default behavior should be set to have workspaces on all monitors, not just the primary monitor.
  3. The default behavior of alt-tab in GNOME Classic should be bound to the current workspace.

I’d also like to spend a little time today talking about some things I really like about GNOME Classic. I realize that my blog posts on this topic have been somewhat focused on GNOME Classic’s shortcomings, and I don’t think that’s really fair. There are a number of things I find myself really enjoying when working with GNOME Classic (some of which I’m sure are also present in GNOME 3 as well).

First of all, I appreciate the simple and powerful NetworkManger-GNOME interface. I like that it offers me access to a lot of advanced functionality such as adapter bonding without having to wrap my head around the complex nmcli invocations. I wish it was able to support bonding my wireless adapter with my wired adapter, but I recognize that this is a very difficult problem with a lot of edge-cases to resolve, so I’m really not docking any points for that.

Secondly, I find the interface to be very clean and unobtrusive. While I enjoy KDE’s interface a great deal, it occurred to me yesterday that this was a conscious thought. With GNOME Classic, except when I engage the overlay, I don’t find myself thinking about the interface at all. It’s just there, stays mostly out of my way and lets me get my job done. This hit me with a revelation: I like GNOME Classic because I don’t really have to remember that it’s there.

The more I use GNOME Classic, the more I appreciate the notification mechanism as well I like that I get a bubble of notification and that I also have easy access to a panel icon telling me how many notifications I haven’t addressed yet. I did just discover one little glitch during the writing of this post that I will be filing a bug on, but I don’t have the spare time at this very moment. When a notification is retrieved that’s marked as “urgent”, striking the space bar will immediately take you to that application. This happened to me mid-sentence while writing this post and pulled me bodily out of my editor. I think they need to sense ongoing keyboard activity and disable that space bar jump if so. I’ll file the bug later today and update this post. Bug filed.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll (hopefully) see you tomorrow for Day Six.

NOTES

  1. https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=701216Classic: [RFE] Do not hide classic systray icons in the message-tray
  2. https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=701217Classic: [RFE] Classic mode should have “Workspaces only on primary monitor” set to False by default
  3. https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=701214Classic: alt-tab should not switch workspaces
  4. https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=701738 Classic: “Urgent” notifications can steal focus when typing
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6 thoughts on “One Week With GNOME 3 Classic: Day Five (Oblivion)

  1. > With GNOME Classic, except when I engage the overlay, I don’t find myself thinking about the interface at all. It’s just there, stays mostly out of my way and lets me get my job done. This hit me with a revelation: I like GNOME Classic because I don’t really have to remember that it’s there.

    This is in fact even truer with the “normal” GNOME.

    It really stays out of your way as much as possible, but because of its paradigm shift, that’s something that grows on you, you really come to appreciate it as you use it, just like what happened for you with GNOME Classic.

    For example, many people complain that they don’t have instance visibility on their unread notifications. But that’s actually part of “being out of your way and letting you get your job done”. Instead of constantly having those blinking lights calling your attention, you can relax, focus on the task at hand, and go read those messages when you’re actually ready for the interruption.

    Perhaps GNOME Classic is (as I think you mentioned in another article of this series) a good intermediate step between traditional desktop environments and the new GNOME, preparing people for the paradigm shift? (although many people didn’t need that intermediate step and were happy to dive into GNOME 3.0)

    In any case, thank you for your series of article. As a GNOME 3 early adopters, I found them enlightening on some of the difficulties people can have with GNOME, and always constructive. (i.e you reported bugs, tried to suggest solutions and improvements,…)

    1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to read these posts. They have been fun to write.

      >For example, many people complain that they don’t have instance visibility on their unread notifications. But that’s actually part of “being out of your way and letting you get your job done”. Instead of constantly having those blinking lights calling your attention, you can relax, focus on the task at hand, and go read those messages when you’re actually ready for the interruption.

      This is one piece that I need to address, I think. I understand the GNOME perspective on this somewhat, but I think it misses the point of notifications. I wouldn’t turn a notification on unless I expected to need to know that information in a timely manner. I.e. for email, I may just opt to only go and check unread messages once an hour or something. However, the “let’s hide notifications unless you look for them” approach misses one key piece of the puzzle: some of us have jobs that require us to be interruptible on certain events.
      In my day-job, there are many situations where I am expect to drop everything if someone “pings” me on IRC. When I first tried GNOME 3.0 through 3.6, this inability to see that I missed a notification (if I wasn’t looking at the screen or was looking at my large, non-primary monitor at the time it came in) caused me significant problems and a severe drop in productivity until I ultimately worked around the problem by sticking my IRC application on the secondary, static monitor and sacrificing the use of that space for other work.
      I think the GNOME team needs to recognize that notifications have a real purpose and that some people rely on them to take timely actions. This is one reason why I think that GNOME Classic is necessary. Since it has added back that missing notification light, it becomes possible for me to resume being responsive again.
      This reply has gotten long enough now that I think I will probably include it when I write Day Six today.

  2. I’ve slowly (begrudgingly) been adapting to the ongoing changes in linux gui desktop environments over the past couple of years or so. I appreciate you taking the time to document and share your thoughts and experiences regarding desktop environments.

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