I have a love/hate relationship with Gnome, one of the window managers for Linux.
On the one hand, it’s one of the most beautifully functional interfaces around, combining elegant minimalism with great usability. There’s no surprise that Ubuntu selected it as their desktop of choice for their user-friendly Linux distro.
On the other hand, it’s one of the most frustrating, annoying, irritating pieces of sh*t if it something goes wrong.
I’ve recently moved over from using KDE to Gnome for a little long-term test. Going from KDE’s do everything, be everything, approach to Gnome’s svelte elegance is quite a jump, but an enjoyable one. It took a while for Gnome to accept that I did want a UK keyboard layout, thank you, and after that we agreed to be friends.
That was until I upgraded a few things on the computer, and Gnome sat in a corner and sulked. It didn’t log any errors. It didn’t tell me anything useful, it just stopped dead in it’s tracks with a blank panel at the top of the screen, and nothing else. Oops.
So, I downgraded stuff. I re-installed stuff. I deleted config files. Nothing changed anything at all. I killed Gnome processes, and killed them again just to be sure. Still nothing.
Then, finally, I realized that a rogue copy of nautilus, the Gnome file manager, was running in the background exactly when it shouldn’t be. One quick killall nautilus and after 2 hours of futile fiddling, all was well again.
Gnome developers: please in the name of all that’s holy, if something goes wrong, log it! It really, really makes life easier…….
Of course, this being Linux I made all the changes, switched software around, killed processes and dismantled most of X-windows without a single reboot. Not once did the computer go down, so files kept being served, the connection stayed up and I could keep right on working between fiddles. Even when things go wrong, I love Linux.
So, I’m back in Gnome. Yes, there are better looking interfaces (Enlightenment), there are more functional (KDE), and there are more memory efficient (Fluxbox), but Gnome combines the best of all worlds. Beautifully.