Anyone interested in a "GNOME 2 look and feel" remix?

Tom H tomh0665 at
Tue Oct 29 09:06:42 UTC 2013

On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 4:23 PM, Liam Proven <lproven at> wrote:
> On 28 October 2013 11:39, Tom H <tomh0665 at> wrote:

>> AFAIK, MATE's working on a transition to GTK+ 3 but Liam thisnk that
>> they've given up and you don't think that they're doing it, so we'll
>> see.
>> I tried MATE for the first time about ten days ago and felt that I'd
>> gone back in time to some retro universe. So if MATE disappears
>> because of its reliance on GTK+ 2, I won't be shedding any tears...
>> I'd forgotten that LXDE was merging with Razor and transitioning to QT.
>> There's currently a flame war of sorts on debian-devel about GNOME and
>> systemd and default dekstop and defaulkt init, and one of the
>> anti-XFCE points that's been made is that upstream's not very active.
>> So "slowly" seem accurate; some people might not agree with the
>> "surely."
> If you'll forgive me posting a modified blog post, I've tried to
> address these points here:

No worries.

> I think the more significant long-term question is to ask which of the
> various Gtk2-based desktops are going to successfully transition to
> other toolkits.
> If LXDE is switching to Qt, that leaves the question of how easy it
> would be for Xfce and Maté to move.
> Perberos did talk about a possible move to Gtk3 long ago, but Maté has
> really only gathered momentum since then:
> This is my half-assed effort at translating the Spanish part:
> <<
> Many people ask me: if the goal is to port MATE to Gtk3, then wouldn't
> it be better to just take the GNOME 3 programs and include them, as
> they are already based on GTK3?
> The truth is that many applications have been ported to GNOME3 Gtk3,
> breaking Gtk2 compatibility. Besides that, they have been modified to
> make them easier to use: "easy" and "cleaner" in terms of usability
> means giving them dumber interfaces, which greatly limits intermediate
> and advanced users, as well as those used to the Gtk2 versions.
> Also, if we only use GNOME 3 applications, then this fork of GNOME2
> would be meaningless. But I hope that everyone can choose which
> applications they want to install.
> It's a complicated discussion and does not lead anywhere, so let's avoid it.
> He might change his mind.
> I think he has good points.
> It's quite easy to put both Maté and GNOME 3 on the same install of
> Ubuntu - now Maté has renamed all the packages, there are no clashes
> and they co-exist cleanly.
> His point about dumbed-down apps is a good one. Some GNOME 3 apps look
> near-identical to their GNOME 2 versions, but most have no menu bar
> any more, just a single one-word menu with all the options collated
> onto that. I have mixed feelings about this: yes, it's simpler. As an
> old Acorn RISC OS user, I am perfectly comfortable with apps that have
> a single global menu, just divided into sections - there's less
> hunting around.

Until you posted a link to that blog entry, I thought that one of the
advantages of MATE moving to GTK+ 3 would be not to have to maintain
forks of GNOME 3's apps. It's clearly not the MATE developer's view.

> But GNOME 3 apps still have a menu bar, and that being so, I don't see
> any benefit.

You must mean GNOME 3 apps not using the Unity shell. :)

> Some apps have dropped features. That's a general trend of GNOME
> development and I don't like it. Yes, simplification is good,
> generally, but wholesale feature removal isn't the best way to do it.
> Making a fresh start (a la iOS or Android) is better, I suspect.

GNOME seems to have an obsession with simplification to reduce code
complexity and to make the interface as uncustomizable as possible.
The latter's driven by a strong interest in their "brand" as if GNOME
is a commercial product like Coke or Pepsi. I don't see how giving
users a GUI option to disable bluetooth or accessibiility icons or
move the clock is a big assault on the GNOME brand but they clearly
do. There was a bug filed by a GNOME developer against an app where
the GNOME developer was asking that app developer to disbale some
functionality because it didn't fit in with the GNOME look. I've
forgotten what the actual bug was but I think that had to do with
indicators and the GNOME developer actually said at one point (more or
less) "you have to choose whether you want to be a GNOME app or a
Unity/KDE/... app"!

Another aspect of GNOME behavior that's far more "evil" is their
coding selfishness. Even though selfishness isn't a quality that I
generally associate with OSS, I can understand that it's one way that
GNOME can improve its software and do so with limited resources. It's
the passive-aggressive route of pushing other GTK+-users away by
breaking compatibility with every version that I find ugly. The
different iterations of GTK+ 3.x have broken other shells like
Cinnamon and many themes to the extent that Cinnamon's planning to
move away from GTK+ (by forking it, I think). I'm a fan of clarity and
would prefer to have seen GNOME announce "GTK+ is now meant for the
exclusive use of GNOME, external users should fork GTK+ or move to a
different toolkit." It would've resulted in a many "GNOME sucks"
threads, blogs, and articles but would've been a more honest MO.

GNOME unfortunately seems to have a problem with honesty. There's (yet
another!) systemd thread on debian-devel where a GNOME developer has
posted more than once that GNOME >=3.8 doesn't depend on systemd.
While strictly correct, it's complete nonsense because using GNOME
>=3.8 needs systemd (or more accurately systemd's logind) to for
suspending a box and I don't know any desktop or laptop user who
doesn't use suspend... (FTR, Ubuntu's split logind out of systemd but
it's something that seems to have become very difficult with systemd

> Bottom line:
> I think Gtk2 is dead. I suspect Maté and Maté's developers are both
> too wedded to it and that means a vast project: the whole GNOME 2
> desktop, plus all its applets, plus all of Gtk2. I don't think that
> can be kept going, but a move to Gtk3 would, as he implies, remove
> much of the desktop's reason for existing. So I think Maté will stay
> on Gtk2 and eventually die.

Will he really choose to kill MATE rather than keep on developing it
with GNOME 3 apps? We'll see I guess... Maybe it'll be too much effort
for too little differentiation.

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