2 min read

Gnome 3: Slacker's View

I really like the Slackware Linux distribution; I like that it gives powers users a lot of freedom, and delivers simplicity, clean builds, and solid stability. I would consider myself something of a power user of desktops, meaning that I want to leverage my desktop to work efficiently doing real work that requires efficient workstation performance. More on that later.

With all of the haters hating on Gnome 3, especially a lot of power users, I just had to give Gnome 3 a try for myself, to see if it was a case of the new being stupid, or a case of the new being too new for the old fogies. I've decided to live in the Gnome 3 world for a while, and I've even selected a text editor that is designed for a workflow similar to Gnome's. To do this, I am using the rolling release of OpenSUSE to live at the fore of stable software. In this series, I intend to document some of my thoughs about the Gnome 3 experience and how I have found working in it.

I've come to really like Gnome 3, and moreover, I've come to like it only as a power user. I am not a social networking Web 2.0 junkie, and I don't fit the profile of what most people think of as the Gnome 3 user. I also do not own a tablet, and I am working on this with my laptop and a large desktop monitor with an external keyboard and mouse. I've decided to point out the things that I really like about Gnome and why I think it is good.

As a little starter, I'll take the first thing that made me want to look at things. The famous Linus post about Gnome 3 got me thinking about Gnome 3 and shortly thereafter I had to try it for myself. Linus' specifically complained about not being able to create a new terminal easily. The idea was that clicking on the Terminal icon in the Activities window meant switching to an active Gnome terminal, not creating a new one. Supposedly, Gnome 3 didn't let you spawn new application windows easily! Well, that would indeed be a killer for any power user, and especially one like me who likes to spawn plenty of terminal windows on demand for small things and to do so without tabs (I really do not like tabs).

Well, that first challenge is what I had to play with first, and I was very pleased with the result. In Gnome 3, unlike what I remember of Mac OS X or Windows, I could easily create new instances of things by dragging the icon onto a workspace or into the middle space of the Activities view that shows all of the open windows in the current workspace. I find this so much nicer than keyboard shortcuts (which I do not remember well for this sort of thing), or wasting screen real estate with an explicit icon bar (which I never really used), or right-clicking to create a new window, as you have to do in Windows and Mac (IIRC). In short, this is exactly the way that I would have wanted to do this task, and I was really happy to see that a desktop environment actually provides this. An added bonus was that middle clicking made it even easier to spawn whole applications that I normally might want to use fullscreen into their own workspace.

Basically, I think Gnome 3 got this right, and I think this is a much better way of managing new window instances than what I have been forced to use in the past, and it is a feature that I use quite regularly.