Gnome 3, its got some issues…

Ubuntu 11.04 running Gnome3

Since I switched to Gnome3 I’ve been finding some weird inconsistencies. The problem is, I can’t be sure its actually Gnome3 or something else?

My first ignorance is the vertical only workspaces. I’m use to using ctrl+alt+left/right to wizz around the work spaces I have open (usually about 6). Now the left and right does nothing and you can only wizz around the available workspaces by doing ctrl+alt+up/down. From reading the web, it seems the only reason for it is because of the Activities mode.

If they could rearrange that it would work quite well.

Gnome-Do is also a little lost now, because of the total change in Gnome 3 shell. I do still use it over the windows/super key which brings up the menu and other stuff. But had to change the mappings to ctrl+space instead of super+space to avoid conflict with Gnome3. If you do hit the super key and start typing it will find stuff for you but its no where near as clever as Gnome Do. What needs to happen is Gnome do needs to be a plugin for Gnome shell or something. Not heard anything from the author about this yet. The last update was quite some time ago to be fair, so I’m not even sure its still going or not. I also noticed that the dock option seems to have gone from Gnome do, which I wonder is to do with Gnome 3’s Dash or not?

Alt+Shift+Tab no longer seems to go backwards when selecting windows which is a real pain (and yes I do have that set in my keyboard options). What makes things maybe worst is you can’t seem to easily select windows within an application from the Alt+Tab menu. So instead you have to hover over a sub window menu which shows the application windows. This is a real pain when using something like Evolution with lots of sub windows of old and new emails. Even using Dolphin (file manager) with multiple windows is a nightmare.

The Activities menu/Window Picker is a nice style exposure type system but selecting windows is a nightmare because you can’t tab or shift+tab. Instead your forced to use your mouse to select windows and applications. You can type in what your after like Gnome Do but that only selects new applications not applications/windows which are already running. There’s this easily overlooked highlight which shows you whats open already and whats not but its too easily missed.

I’m hearing Gnome 3 is not very good about handling multiple screens and I can believe it if you can’t move left or right. I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I return to work and plug my laptop into a 24″ LCD monitor which sits on my desk.

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I certainly think something is up because I’m not getting the lovely way Gnome 3 should look going by the Gnome 3 Design page.

I do still miss my Compiz 3D rotating cube but if they can get some of these issues solved I’m willing to change and kind of embrace the new style of Gnome 3, specially if they can sort out the horizontal and reversal stuff. I’m very interested in some of the other stuff I’ve seen like Gnome Shell with Zeitgeist (gnome activity journal) replacing part of the shell.

Its also worth pointing out Webupd8 which I thought was a spammer site but actually turns out to be a good site for the latest to do with Gnome Shell and Unity.

From Ubuntu Classic to Gnome 3.0

Ubuntu 11.04 running Gnome3

I recently got fed up of running Ubuntu classic and decided to give Gnome 3.0 a shot.

Unity had already left a nasty taste in my user experience and didn’t really work correctly, so I thought whats have I got to lose by installing Gnome 3.0 on top of Ubuntu 11.04.

Generally the instructions are simply…

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Gnome 3.0 worked great except all the fonts are not right. I’m tempted to reinstall or do something to my preference configs.

Ah but then I solved the problem with the following commands

sudo apt-get remove gnome-accessibility-themes
sudo apt-get install gnome-themes-standard

Generally I am missing Compiz and that rotating cube but I just couldn’t deal with Unity. Actually I quite like Gnome 3’s interface… I also like the way there going with it. This is from the Gnome site.

Distraction-free computing

GNOME 3 is designed to reduce distraction and interruption and to put you in control. Our new notifications system subtly presents messages and will save them until you are ready for them, and the GNOME 3 panel has been styled so that it is part of the background, not the foreground. These changes allow you to focus on your creative tasks.

Exactly what I what I’m after, I always turn on auto hide on all menus because the last thing I want is stuff clouding my viewpoint. I Unity is distracting and requires too much screen space. And to make things worst, it doesn’t seem to scale for multiple monitors like I have at work.

I do find Gnome 3 application menu a little odd and more like an answer to Unity but its a lot more logical. The only thing which did my head in was the tie to the Super key (Windows key) because I tend to use that key for Gnome-Do. Which makes me wonder where Gnome-Do fits in Gnome 3?

Will I be installing Gnome 3.0 on my work machine? Well maybe… We shall see. I do miss Compiz but seeing how Gnome 3 doesn’t support Compiz and Compiz is now tied to Unity, I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place. I was looking forward to installing some of the experimental plugins including the screensaver.

Now all we need is a new distro which is built on Ubuntu but runs Gnome 3.

Ubuntu is broken

It hurts me to say it but Ubuntu is broken for me.

I upgraded 2 machines to Ubuntu 11.04 on Saturday night and left them downloading/upgrading over night. One of the machines, my Pentium 4 desktop machine. Upgraded and after a reboot looks and feels pretty much the same as it did before hand. There was a message to say it wasn’t able to run Unity because the graphics card was too low spec and after a click ok, its pretty much the same as it was before, nothing really changed. All seems good.

However my laptop (Dell M1210 XPS) also got upgraded after the pop up came up. After a reboot, I logged into Ubuntu which I assumed had unity installed and I’m left with my usual desktop picture some icons but no menus at all. What makes things worst is the location where I assume there should have been a menu is now black. So down the left hand side is black and along the top is black. Nothing… I would show a screen shot but as I discovered my keyboard mappings have also been lost in the upgrade. Yes even Fn+Print Scrn no longer works. Luckily Gnome-Do still kind of works, so I’m able to open applications, including screenshots with some hassle.

Ubuntu 11.04 Fail (no menus)

I finally logged out and tried running Ubuntu in classic mode (I assume using Gnome instead of Unity). Things are better but still not correct. My keyboard shorts are still somewhat broken and its a nightmare not having Compiz cube switching which I didn’t know I was so use to now. After a little googling I got cube switching back but only using a keyboard short cut. It seems the automatic switching when the mouse touches the side of the screen is no longer available?

Right now I seem to have three choices…

  1. Live without Compiz and run Ubuntu totally plain
  2. Run Ubuntu with Compiz using classic mode and work on the annoying things like (you may have noticed) no chrome/window boarders. (at one point I had no menus! Try saving something with no save menu…) Compiz seems to accept some changes but do random things to some of my settings. Like currently I can’t move windows or even change there sizes.
  3. Reinstall the whole thing from fresh and attempt to get Unity working

Ubuntu 11.04 Fail (lack of chrome)

Its frustrating and I don’t really know what happened but for me right now Ubuntu 11.04 is simply broken… Expect screenshots as when I can consistently take them and upload them.

Ubuntu 11.04 in classic mode

Gnome Launchy

Pidgin in Gnome Do

So I've wanted something like quicksilver for a while and I found launchy when I was on Windows but I couldn't find anything for gnu/linux. Till today when I found a few. Gnome-Do, Gnome launch box and Katapult.

I stuck with Gnome-Do because its smooth, the plugin support is pretty good and I love the blog of the developer (see quote later). I do kind of wish for the smaller box style of Launchy instead of the boxes of quicksilver but you can't have it all. Oh it would also be great if the background dimmed a little. You know add a little compiz-fusion power to the whole thing.

On a personal note, I have used Mac OS X, FreeBSD, and Linux exclusively for the last seven years. I don’t use Windows because it lowers my quality of life. I haven’t tried Vista. I recently made the switch from OS X to Ubuntu after realizing that all Steve Jobs wants is for you to shut up and buy a new iPod; don’t you dare criticize his taste or the way he treats third-party developers like dirt. Also, I’m fairly confident that propriety software has no future. Yes, I am aware that proprietary software has a multi-trillion dollar past and present, but this implies nothing about the future.


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