[ubuntu-studio-devel] The problem with gnome

Erich Eickmeyer erich at ericheickmeyer.com
Fri May 11 17:44:07 UTC 2018

On Friday, May 11, 2018 10:07:20 AM PDT Len Ovens wrote:
> 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
> you".
> 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
> www.ovenwerks.net


This is an amazing and encouraging write-up. Seems to me as though, if not 
making it the default, that this would be the DE we should go with as the 
first additional DE.

If we choose to make it default, I propose we go a similar direction that 
Lubuntu went in for the transition to LXQt by making an "UbuntuStudio-Next" 
for the additional DE.

If not, we could simply make a "ubuntustudio-plasma" and "ubuntustudio-plasma-
settings" package and have it available as one of the install options at 
install time similar to how we do it now with the metapackages. I envision a 
radio button option between Xfce and Plasma.

Truth be told, I'm a little biased here. When I install Studio, I typically 
install the "kde-plasma-desktop" package which pulls-in everything except the 
Kubuntu theming; i.e. a default Plasma desktop similar to what KDE Neon 
provides. Then, I change a few things and it becomes identical to our Xfce 

A lot of people are concerned about the overhead that comes with Plasma (which 
is a myth leftover by Plasma 4 which was quite a resource hog, especially 
initially). People have cited Nepomuk (the indexer, which died with KDE SC 
4.12 iirc) as the biggest resource hog, even today, even though it's no longer 
a thing. The indexer is now Baloo which is much, much lighter on resources.

The other thing that is known for being a resource hog is Akonadi (the PIM 
backend), but it is disabled until you configure it by launching one of the 
KDE PIM apps (KMail, or any of the Kontact suite). Even then, the overhead is 
much lower than it once was.

Then there's the compositing effects which I have found use very little more 
resources than the default compositor in Xfce, if any. Either way, it can be 
disabled by default, or disabled with a simple ctl-alt-F12. 

Besides those items, chances are if you're running Ubuntu Studio, you either 
have a really beefy machine (or an unworldly amount of patience) to work with 
many of the apps we provide by default. The performance with RT prioritization 
at the kernel level, along with our lowlatency kernel, at least in my tests, 
doesn't change with the DE.  At that point, DE is barely even a factor. This 
may have been an issue prior to Kernel 2.6, but I think that method of 
thinking, considering technological advances, is quite outdated.

That said, Plasma 5.12 LTS (the current version) has been getting rave reviews 
from just about everywhere, including from people who swore off of KDE 
entirely only to find their opinion changed.

All in all to say I'd be a huge advocate for this DE, either as default or as 
the first alternate.

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