Henri Aunin

Using GNOME for a Month

At the start of the year, I bought myself a refurbished ThinkPad X250 for around 160 euros. Windows 10 ran fine, although a bit clunky, I decided soon enough to install Arch Linux on it, until recently Fedora 36.  I’ll have another article about that laptop soon coming. However, in this post, I’d like to discuss my recent interest in the GNOME project. 

Before using GNOME full-time, I had mixed feelings about it. The main criticism, a lot of reviews had, was it’s completely redesigned layout, being too restrictive and taking a completely new approach. That was the criticisms I heard about it when trying out Linux for the first time.

That’s what made me install Manjaro KDE first on a random machine I had and start to experiment with it and tweak it. And after I got bored with that, I decided to try out GNOME. I felt it was much polished comparing to something like KDE. And I’m a Windows user from the beginning of using technology, I’ve never touched macOS in my life.

Fast-forward to today, I ditched Arch and the paleo tiling WM lifestyle for Fedora’s stock GNOME (with some extensions). And the experience has been quite a breath of fresh air.

GNOME 42 (4x) #

Since GNOME 3, GNOME has had a very opinionated workflow. It takes a new and abstract approach to the desktop metaphor idea. This has resulted in a very radical yet controversial product.

I personally feel that too, as it’s a completely different idea to something like Windows. But that’s also its main selling point. It isn’t trying to mimic any other desktop environment. It’s minimal, yet effective. Less clutter for you to be more productive.

That might be bad news for those looking to invite more people from the Windows land. Yet, the Linux DE world already features a lot of desktop environments similar to the traditional Windows style. As Windows and macOS already exists, there has to be a viable third option as well.

Workspaces #

Windows also has support for workspaces (or whatever they’re called), yet I’ve never used it, and I’ve never seen anyone utilize it. While GNOME makes you utilize the workspace functionality. It ultimately forces you to be less cluttered and more productive on the task. I’ve never seen the point of these workspaces until using GNOME. In a lot of other desktop environments, this functionality seems like it’s hidden or unnecessary.

For instance, I could have my web browser utilizing a workspace, my text editor or IDE on another, maybe some other useless application on another workspace. It eventually comes naturally, like tiling WM. And using the touchpad makes the experience even better, even on a small ThinkPad touchpad.  

Dock #

GNOME handles its app management in an Apple-esque mission control way. It’s actually quite intuitive, even more on a laptop. As a result, I use my dock rarely. I’ve tried all the fancy dock extensions, yet I still rarely use it. Maybe it’s better if it’s hidden, who knows?

Problems #

Unfortunately, there still are problems with the stock options. Almost all problems can be fixed with extensions, yet is it really necessary to do so? I believe there should be more settings visible to the user, as GNOME tweaks should not be the solution to enabling maximize and minimize buttons.  Maybe GNOME is taking a step too far with their stock options. Some user choice is still necessary and doesn’t have to be hidden. It’s still the main criticism I see with GNOME.

Conclusion #

I’ve used Windows all my life, only recently deciding to try out Linux full-time. GNOME 42 has been a fun ride. It takes getting used to, but using it has been quite effective for me so far. And I’ll probably continue using it for the foreseeable future.