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Re: debian mate

Hm, sorry for the lengthy mail.

TL;DR: GNOME Classic is just as featureful and usable as GNOME Shell,
which makes it very suitable for a default desktop on non-3D machines.

Le mercredi 21 novembre 2012 à 15:21 +0100, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz a
écrit : 
> Well, I can confirm Michael's observations. We're running Debian
> Squeeze at a physics department of a large German university.
> Most users are using GNOME2. We have upgraded some of the machines to
> Wheezy already to be able to test Wheezy before deployment. And many
> users were actually confused after being confronted with GNOME3. Their
> biggest disturbances were the missing desktop icons and the missing
> GNOME menu. It's not something one should underestimate, the average
> joe user is rather unflexible and lazy (and maybe stupid). But it's
> not their fault, they just want to get their work done and not mess
> around with the user interface.

I can relate since I have the same kind of users.
You can add back desktop icons with a GSettings default (and you can do
that in a package with dh_installgsettings).
As for the menu, there’s an extension to add back the menu in
gnome-shell-extensions. The default list of extensions too can be
overriden with GSettings.

> Some people want their panel at the bottom, some want it on the sides,
> some want it on the top. Please do never tell people how to customize
> their desktop because it is something absolutely subjective and
> personal. That's why customization exists in the first place.

I disagree with the need for customization.
However this is irrelevant anyway, since you can still customize the
panel in GNOME 3. 

> > > not all applets ported; 
> > 
> > Port them. I’ve done it for a pair of them, it is really simple.
> Why reinvent the wheel when we have everything perfectly there? It's
> not that we gain something by porting everything to GNOME3 when stuff
> is working in GNOME2/MATE.

Are you kidding me? The Bonobo interface in gnome-panel 2.x is a
horrible PITA. And this is not about reinventing the wheel, it’s basic
porting work that anyone with basic C and autotools knowledge can do.

> Also, the whole extension zoo in GNOME3 is not really an alternative
> because the extensions aren't even compatible between different GNOME3
> minor versions which is a HUGE disadvantage.

Yes but just like panel applets, we need a few well-supported extensions
that bring useful features, not a gazillion of broken ones that revamp

> I think the new GNOME Control Center is actually horrible. It was much
> more logical with GNOME2. It's not a good design when I have to search
> where an option is hidden.

I agree some of the options are not intuitively placed - or I should
say, not placed like they used to at all, e.g. keymap in region
settings. But it still does the job, and you don’t need the control
center more than a few times a year so I don’t see this as a very
important matter.

> Again, this is something highly subjective and most users actually
> prefer having *more* customizability, not less. Whenever you say
> "Users don't need it", you actually mean "I don't need it".

No, I mean *most* users don’t need it. Even worse, users will often
prefer customizability while they don’t need it. It hinders
productivity, and it complicates maintenance and application
development. This is related, in the professional work, to the belief
that software should adapt to a company’s usage, while you will save
millions by adapting your company to off-the-shelf software, and keeping
custom software only to what is very specific to your activity.

Ask yourself: which of your needs in a desktop computer are different
from the vast majority of people? What do you use that other people

> > Yeeehaw, just “ask the web”. What could go wrong with that? Haven’t you
> > noticed how asking the web will always lead to the same answer: any
> > change will be deemed absolutely horrible and destructive.
> No, that's not true. But developers *should* listen to the people who
> are actually using the software. Changes are ok, but not if these
> changes mean taking features away or making software more
> uncomfortable to use.

I have not seen the web full of blog entries from users saying that
GNOME 3 is awesome and they were accustomed to it in a matter of
minutes. Yet when I ask around, this is the answer I get most of the

The very same holds for Unity: mailing lists and forums full of people
crying that the desktop is ugly and unusable, yet millions of people
keep on using Ubuntu and like it. Do you know why? Because they don’t
care at all. Most users care about applications, not the way their menus
are handled. At work, we migrated hundreds of users from KDE to GNOME by
default, while leaving them with choice; only an extreme minority took
care to configure their desktop – and KDE is really light-years away
compared to your nit-pickings on GNOME variants. Users just do not give
a fuck.

Don’t get me wrong: a better desktop is more attractive to users and,
just as important, makes them more productive. But it is not the primary
reason people choose their OS.

> Could you elaborate on this, please? Because I do not think at all
> that GNOME fallback is a viable alternative to GNOME2/MATE and it was
> never intended to. There is a reason why it is called "fallback mode"
> and not just GNOME3 2D. The fallback mode was always just a temporary
> solution until software rendering was ready and that's the reason why
> it is now being dropped by upstream for the next release.

There is a reason why we renamed it to “GNOME classic” in Debian: no
major features have been removed since GNOME 2.

> Most Debian users haven't gone through the pain of change yet, they're
> still running GNOME2 with Squeeze. 

According to popcon, a rough third of GNOME users are running
And anyway, MATE targets jessie, not wheezy.

> And please, don't call it "GNOME3
> classic", there is no such thing. It's a fallback mode, an ugly one.

It’s the same desktop with the same features, and differs from plain
GNOME by a handful of modules. Apart from metacity and gnome-panel, they
are the exact same modules you could be using in MATE or Xfce: NM,
PolicyKit, gnome-keyring… The “fallback” term comes from upstream, who
decided to hide it in an obscure part of the control center. We diverge
and make it appear in the login manager.

I’ve been using GNOME classic on several machines where 3D is a problem;
I never had the feeling that the interface is second grade.

 .''`.      Josselin Mouette
: :' :
`. `'

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