Gnome3 - the Antithesis of Productivity
As a Gnome user, I've been reading about the Gnome3/Gnome Shell release and decided to see for myself. I downloaded the Fedora 15 Alpha release with Gnome 2.91.6 and after a bit, i came to this conclusion:
Gnome3 is the antithesis of productivity.
My main issue with Gnome3 comes from the Gnome Wiki page GNOME Shell Design FAQ
The Shell is designed in order to minimise distraction and interuption and to enable users to focus on the task at hand. A persistent window list or dock would interfere with this goal, serving as a constant temptation to switch focus. The separation of window switching functionality into the overview means that an effective solution to switching is provided when it is desired by the user, but that it is hidden from view when it is not necessary.
The omission of a window list or dock also reduces the amount of screen space occupied by the Shell, and therefore makes it better suited to devices with smaller screens.
There are three major issue I have with this.
1) Gnome developers know how I should use my computer better than I do.
2) They don't seem to understand that most desktop computer users use their computers as desktop computers and not as phones or tablets.
3) Their definition of 'productivity' and namely 'task at hand' doesn't reflect real-world usage.
According to the Gnome3 Philosophy, my current task is writing this post. This, therefore, is my primary focus. I also have my email application open. (I know it's open, because I have Docky on the bottom of my screen and can see the dots under the Thunderbird icon.) Thunderbird, therefore, is a distraction. Of course, I haven't clicked on my email since I started this, by being able to see it's on, is it really a distraction?
If Thunderbird's pop-up notification activates and tells me I got a new email from, say, Newegg.com, I have the choice to either read it right away, or ignore it. I decide if I want to lose my focus on this post, or continue with it. I decide.
What the Gnome3 Anti-Productivity Philosophy doesn't take into account is there are different levels of tasks. Writing this post is pretty low-level. Sneaking away to look at my tweets isn't going to hurt me much. In fact, since I started writing this, I've been more distracted by my kittens. (Is there a Gnome app for making them take a nap?) If I'm balancing my checkbook, I'll have one program open for it, plus I might need a browser to download the statements I need to complete the task. But really, a distraction isn't going to interfere too much with this process.
Now I want to take a look at a real-world process and how the Gnome3 Philosophy doesn't quite work.
Task at hand: Website Redesign
Let's say my task (or rather, project) is to redesign this website. During the process, I can have any of the following programs open:
- My text editor
- My web browser
- Another web browsers
- My image program (say, GIMP)
- My file manager (say, Nautilus)
- An FTP program
- And a music player to listen to tunes as I work
According to the Gnome3 Philosophy, I can only use one program at a time, and that's true. But the measure for productivity isn't in how well the Desktop Environment can hide everything else, the true measure of productivity is in how I, the user, can get to the programs I need as effectively as possible.
On Gnome2, I have Docky set up, so if I need to switch programs, I can simply click on its icon. If I had a taskbar, I could simply click on the task. If part of a window is showing behind the primary window, I can click on it.
In Gnome3, If the program is exposed behind the primary window, I can click on it to bring it forward. If not, I can hover over the top left corner to expose the Application screen, and click on the app. (And rinse and repeat as needed.) Or I can use keyboard commands. Or possibly, mouse gestures. Right now, what I can't do is add a Dock or taskbar to easily access my programs.
If a person was creating a presentation for work, they might have their Presentation program, a spreadsheet, some documents, email, contacts, web browser, and file manager open. Does Gnome3 allow the user easy access to what they need when they need it? Or how they want to get it.
What's a task?
What don't the Gnome3 developers understand? A task isn't one thing. It's a series of elements that work together to complete the goal at hand.
And I believe that the Gnome developers are going down the wrong road with Gnome3. What I like about Linux is choice. Gnome, however, doesn't seem to want to give that to me. And I'm sure people will make fixes for it, what they won't be able to fix is the developers belief that they know better than you or I do.
1. Yes, I'm basing this on Alpha software. But Gnome3 is going to be released in a month, and that's not enough time to fix the main problems, notably Gnome3.
2. If you want screenshots, do a Google Image search for Gnome3. I'm sure there are thousands of them, and they all look alike.