So call me old fashioned, but I don’t like the direction being taken by modern “User Experience” design. To me, GNOME Shell provides an experience that I am supposed to love, but it doesn’t empower me to make changes to that experience according to my existing use practices when that given experience inevitably falls short of my own personal preference. Perhaps I’m just “wrong” and I should be doing everything differently, but I suspect like some other users, my reaction to this enforced pattern of use (a trend that has been a long time coming with GNOME) is to be driven away from GNOME as a desktop environment of choice, and toward something else. What “something else” is a very good question.
Unlike with the panel, in GNOME 3, I can no longer choose to have the clock where I want it, remove some of the unnecessary icons, or even add weather applets and information to the screen. At the same time, I am supposed to believe everything is now an “Activity” with a single menu button being used to drive everything I do, rather than various shortcuts and icons around the screen. I can’t even have desktop icons or launch a terminal via the right click menu (which now doesn’t exist in the default setup). I’m also not at all fond of the effects, or the new window manager. In fact, where GNOME 2.x did almost everything I wanted, it seems that GNOME 3 does the opposite. Where it used to be about productivity, it’s now about appearance and effects, at the cost of more experienced users.
So I find myself being a reluctant “convert” to KDE and Xfce in the past few days. I don’t want to switch, but I can’t stick with the new GNOME 3 desktop either. I like a lot of the GNOME applications, I like the libraries, and I plan to continue to use them. But at the same time, KDE and Xfce give me a more familiar look and feel (after a lot of tweaking to be made to look just like the GNOME 2 desktop it replaces). I’m going to give Xfce a go on my rawhide netbook for a while and see if it can be my upgrade path elsewhere, too. If not, I shall try KDE some more, etc. I did try xmonad but I do actually want a “desktop” environment. I just don’t want an environment that seems tailored for netbooks and novices rather than experienced veterans of UNIX and Linux.
Don’t think I’m happy with this, because I’m not. But I have tried the alphas, the betas, the test images, and I have watched things head in a direction I just can’t agree with on a personal use level. It’s a sad day for me because I’ve been using GNOME for a decade. I still have GNOME 2.x installed on many other systems, but it seems that its days are numbered, and it, too, will need to be replaced.