Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What happened to the Gnome desktop?

G'day to ya! Hope the New Year has brought good things to you and yours.

The Gnome software project has brought dramatic change to the Gnome 3 desktop over previous versions. The layout and feel are more akin to mobile devices than the older desktops. For someone like me the upgrade was almost painful enough to make me give Gnome up altogether. I briefly considered KDE since there is a new version available. The new look has however grown on me.

The first thing I hated was the desktop switcher was just gone. Wrong. It's as simple as CTRL-ALT and the up/down arrow or just clicking on "Activities" in the top left corner and making a selection. In the end I find this an improvement.

 Click on "Activities" or hit the "Windows" key and you select "Applications" you see a screen similar to that above. The search box in the top right hand corner allows searching by name. As you enter a text string the icons change, narrowing against probable(random?) matches. YMMV

Default key bindings have been fine for me once I learned them. The "Windows" key gives the same action as clicking on "Activities"  My hands don't have to leave the keyboard to grab the mouse. Very useful when you want to switch between windows or applications in full screen.

A post on RedHat's forum (comment #3) had the following instructions in it in reference to changing the key bindings.

"Open System Settings.
Click Keyboard and navigate to the 'Shortcuts' tab.
Choose 'System' on the left column, and you can change the 'Show the activities overview' shortcut by highlighting it and pressing Backspace."

Also found this nice You Tube video showing how to customize the login, background and other settings.
There is also a newly forked desktop environment meant to give a traditional  (Gnome 2ish) feel called Cinnamon now at version 1.1.3 It seems to be available and hosted by Linux Mint. An ebuild is available in Gentoo. After all choices are a good thing.