[ubuntu-studio-devel] The problem with gnome

Len Ovens len at ovenwerks.net
Fri May 11 17:07:20 UTC 2018

The problem with gnome and gnome bassed DEs at this time is that some 
gnome developers have decided that the window decoration area was wasted 
space and they should do something with that area. This in itself is not a 
bad idea, however, setting a fixed theme for that area is a bad idea. This 
makes all gnome based DEs look half baked and a mish-mash different themes 
on the same screen. So most gnome based DEs have chosen themes that will 
hopefully blend with these poorly contructed applications. The problem 
being that the gnome theme while fine for browser use or other single one 
app use is fine, it is useless in a working environment. It requires extra 
care from the user and extra mouse clicks and...

This was really brought home to me in my test of Kubuntu. Everything, even 
gnome applications, look like they belong to the OS/desktop, nothing looks 
like it came from somewhere else. Look at Studio 18.04, open a few 
application windows and the theme is the same, now open the Dcoument 
Viewer to look at a pdf... the window looks totally out of place.

A quick history of computing: From the 1970s to the early 2000s computer 
desktops were designed to get work done in an office. They were built for 
ease of use and to keep people from making entry errors. The best example 
of these things is probably win 95/xp or older Motif based workspaces (or 
gnome 2 for that matter). Then the market changed and more computers 
started to be used for entertainment. The computer was entrenched in the 
workspace so the DE designers started designing for the entertainment 
market. We see the results in both the win/mac world and the Linux world. 
The themes have been designed to look nice, to not bring attention to the 
computer over the rest of the furnature in the room, to favour one use at 
a time computing, entertainment. The next move has been "convergence", 
well making the phone look like a desktop wasn't going to fly, so lets 
make the desktop like a phone. This is fine for people using the computer 
for entertainment or consumers. However, it is horrible for production or 
content creation. The new gnome direction is not bad as an over all DE 
setup for consumers, but it seems to stink for getting work done. The 
attitude seems to be away from the user having things the way they like 
and more to the we provide a finished product that "we know is best for 

KDE seems to have gone the other direction always providing both 
possibilities, a workstation or an entertainment box. They go to great 
lengths to make gnome/gtk applications look like they fit in. The setting 
can be overwhelming, but they do try to provide some nice presets. One of 
the tings I have always liked about Linux based systems has been the 
ability to customize... to be right :) Gnome seems to be moving away from 
that. I am seriously considering running KDE on my personal desktop which 
ever direction Studio decides to go. This may mean I am less help with 
desktop like things, but I do want a good usable desktop. It is a relief 
to find one without having to hack things to get it.

That was Len's rant for the day  ;)

Len Ovens

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