Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Gnome-Shell a great starting point

Hi all,
        Recently I've been playing with Gnome-Shell on an Ubuntu-minimal installation. I decided to get a new hard drive and use my laptop as I normally would on a day-to-day basis to see how it stacks up against Unity.

The installation was simple enough. Although it didn't benefit from the slickness of Ubuntu's standard setup, this isn't really for the feint of heart. Once up and running I was greeted with a pleasant enough default look. As the Gnome team are looking to release a GnomeOS in the not too distant future, it seems right that the visuals hit the mark. In comparison to Gnome 2, they do. Compared with anything else out there, they still have a way to go. OTB, there is only a way to change the wallpaper. Given that there aren't many themes for GTK3 yet, I can almost excuse it. I would have expected at least a basic application to change the default theme.

It takes a while to get used to the new desktop paradigm, which in truth isn't all *that* different, there's just less scope for flexible usage; i.e. I can't really do things my way. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a newbie, but I'm not, and neither are the millions of other Linux users.

Being a developer, I decided to look at the javascript and .css files that control the interface. This was a brave and yet genius move by the Gnome team. As I said before there are less options for the basic user but if you really want to get your hands dirty, you can, and quickly. The structure of the interface allows absolute control over what happens without having to download source and spend many wasted hours compiling it only to find that you were out by one. While the fallback isn't perfect, it is useful and it largely works. I only had to resort to removing files via the virtual terminal once or twice. Having the interface controlled in this way will surely pay off in the future. It will allow people to roll out different user environments quickly and effectively and will bring a breath of fresh air to the Linux customisation world.

At the moment I think Unity benefits from the maturity of GTK2. Because of this, it is currently the better option. It will be a fairer comparison when 11.10 comes to the party and displays all it has to offer with the implementation of GTK3. However, unless Canonical can produce the same sort of customisation options as Gnome-shell has, Gnome will win this battle. We have a few months yet to see what Canonical will give us come October and my mouth is watering at the prospect.



Post a Comment