Home > Fedora, GNOME, KDE > It’s not about you

It’s not about you

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too.

As many of you know, I am in the throes of using Fedora 15 Alpha on a desktop box running the GNOME 3 — also innocuously known in Fedora circles as “desktop” — as well as using F15 Alpha KDE on the road warrior laptop, the long-in-the-tooth ThinkPad T30 which, while completely faithful and trusty, is often Exhibit A in the “gee, I wish I had newer hardware” diatribes I often utter.

The F15 Alpha experience so far has been great — the T30 just hums along with KDE 4.6.1 in a way that’s incredibly eerie. Alphas aren’t supposed to run this error-free, I say, knocking hard on wood. The desktop box with “desktop” also hums along as well, error-free like the laptop, but there’s something I can’t put my finger on regarding the GNOME 3 experience so far that is . . . .

Offputting. Well, that’s not exactly the word I’m looking for, but it’s as close as I can come.

I can’t explain it any better than that. There’s something that wants me to keep GNOME 3 at arm’s length, and while I’ll keep “desktop” on the desktop box once F15 is released — for obvious reasons involving the need to keep up with GNOME for — I am not sure it will be my primary desktop environment going forward.

To be honest, I’m a huge GNOME fan and I felt guilty about feeling this way until I read this blog item by Swapnil Bhartiya entitled “My Wife Loves GNOME 3.” The blog item is worth a read — and go ahead, I’ll wait — but to summarize, Swapnil installed F15 Alpha on a machine to review, and his “non-techie” (Swapnil’s words) wife instead took GNOME 3 for a test drive and loved it.

And then it hit me, hopefully without leaving a mark: It’s not about me, or you for that matter.

The “it,” of course, is developments like GNOME 3 and, to a degree, the Unity desktop. The “me” and “you” that make up the “us” in this equation are the experienced user who others come to for advice and answers when it comes to Linux and FOSS.

It’s not about us. It’s about getting the newer users comfortable with Linux/FOSS.

You and I can tweak our desktop environments — heck, our systems, for that matter — to be whatever they want. Those who are new to Linux don’t have that knowledge, let alone the capability.

Add to the mix that netbooks and other mobile devices are eclipsing desktops and laptops — a fact that I find hard to bear, but can’t argue against — and you have a formula that spells the future of desktop environments that puts ease of use and like-minded usability between mobile and laptop/desktop computers in the forefront.

So I don’t feel so bad about getting used to GNOME 3 now, and I get why it’s the way it is. And all those bad things I said about Unity . . . OK, well let’s not get carried away here.

Fedora 15 Alpha is out there. Get it here.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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  1. Colonel Panik
    March 17, 2011 at 11:20 am | #1

    You, me and us? Sounds like a community thing.

    So we will get several install choices:
    Talks to jercos
    Uber Pro
    Done a couple of installs
    What’s this eunuch stuff?
    Ken Starks taught me everything.

    Maybe the big danger is LtFSG and the Colonel becoming
    old curmudgeons? Hope not.

    Embrace the change

    • March 17, 2011 at 11:55 am | #2

      Remind me to tell you the story about teaching kids Unix at my daughter’s school, and a teacher saying, “You can’t teach these kids about eunuchs! They’re not old enough.” Hilarity ensued. But as far as change goes, LtFSG thinks desktop/laptop computers should have their own desktop environments, netbooks their own, and mobile devices their own as well. While we’re heading into a one-size-fits-all era, it doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it.

  2. Colonel Panik
    March 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm | #3

    I did get the “eunuch” line from you! I use it often.

    I bet you love those hats with the little adjustable strap on
    the back?

    The computer world, software mostly, is going in strange
    directions. But with the corporation/government infringement
    turning our computer experience into something much like the
    TV we are not losing much. So we can sit back and dream of the old days? Hell no!

    Just remember, one thought fits all. Larry, please do not
    march backwards into the future.

  1. March 19, 2011 at 11:20 am | #1

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