Gnome, GTK and the rest

Some interesting reading about other distros and Gnome bad decisions.

We will see how it will be in next few years :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I could go on for days on this...

As is always the case with Josh, his analysis is thoughtful and well-reasoned.

Josh is one of the leads on the Solus Project and posts frequently on the Solus OS community forum. I pay careful attention to what he has to say when he posts, and I read his blog.

As some of you may know, Solus OS Budgie is my personal distro. I have used it since 2017 when I pulled the plug on Ubuntu after using it for 11 years. Solus OS is an independent distro (that is, not a derivative of Ubuntu or any other older Linux OS/distros) built from the ground up on top of the Linux kernel. Solus OS's objective is to create a distro laser-focused on the desktop user, and Solus has (and will continue to) develop its own tools and environment.

We were told some months ago that Budgie 11 would almost certainly not be written in GTK4. I'm glad that the Solus Core Team decide to pull the plug on GTK4, and is going to be moving in a direction more in line with the Solus Project's objectives.

I did not know that the Solus OS Gnome edition is going to be demoted as a desktop environment (Solus currently offers Budgie, MATE, Plasma and Gnome) going forward, but I think that is also the right direction for Solus. Gnome is increasingly a problem rather than a solution, and I always thought if odd that Solus would offer Gnome.

Josh posted a link to the article on the Solus community forum earlier today, and if you are interested in reading Solus user reaction, you can read the post and comments to the post on the Solus community forum.

Disclaimer: I am a Solus OS user and financial supporter of the project. I am not otherwise affiliated with the Solus Project.

1 Like

I wonder about this: Gnome is headed in directions that are inconsistent with a desktop/laptop environment, which is exactly the environment Zorin OS serves. Can Zorin OS continue to base Core and Pro on Gnome going forward, and for how long?

ZorinOs KDE edition, but I think ZorinOs Core is going to continue to be Gnome because all the Zorin Team work will just be wasted. I'm actually not a fan of Gnome because of the options it gives you to customize your desktop.

The ZorinGroup is quite capable of adapting to a different Desktop Environment if they need to.
Zorin OS Lite used to be LXDE, not XFCE. They had switched over.

This is exactly how I feel about this.
I also feel that Gnome is not the strongest starting point for users migrating from Windows. On Zorin OS 16, ZorinGroup did an amazing job of adapting the Gnome desktop to be far more usable, configurable and user friendly.

But it also brings some problems such as gnome-software, gnome-extensions and a locked-in gnome-shell.
Migrants from Windows are not accustomed to the configurability of Windows. On Windows it is discouraged even. Not just on home computers, but in the often encountered office place or school or library - Windows is used in places where administrators do not want users having control.
In this regard, Zorin OS being Windows-like has always been a bit of a given.
However, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to think of Zorin OS as a launchpad into Linux, rather than a Windows-Like OS.
Zorin OS may be a training ground, as it has for many of us.

A Linux Desktop Environment will be different from the Windows Desktop Environment. I personally think that avoiding this difference is as much a problem. Many Windows users join this forum with complaints that they are expecting Windows Behavior and Windows Functions - on Linux.
Zorin OS being a guide or gateway into Linux may function more strongly than Zorin OS being an alternative to Windows.

Windows is actually very custizable, you just haven't dig arround the files. You can actually make Windows look like alot of different things. I would argue that Windows have more customization than gnome out of the box.

The problem is not that is hard, the problem is that you can't. Users are more frustrated when they can't do something vs they don't know how to do something.

1 Like

Very Well said.
Yes, I know you are able to customize Windows and I have also said that Windows is more configurable and less controlling than Gnome is. And I mean it.
There is a whole community devoted to it:
https://www.wincustomize.com/

I point out that it is discouraged on Windows, in many settings.

Its really not, Windows just didn't port all the settings from control panel. Windows 11 is gonna fix that.

It isn't discouraged, it's just most users don't bother to change the look of Windows.

Yes, it is.

It is often discouraged in many settings. I know, because that was my Job at one point. To ensure that employees at Sega did not modify or change the computers. It was all on the cloud, so any modified machine simply got Wiped and reloaded.

This is what many people are familiar with and what they are used to - what you see is what you get.
It doesn't mean that Microsoft actively discourages something- but it can be passively discouraged. For example, the command prompt. Windows does not actively discourage its use. But it does discourage its use often, by ensuring the availability of GUI applications to cover as much as possible to prevent User Command Prompt Configuration.

MacOS is proprietary. It and Linux are remarkably similar. Both are Unix-Based Operating systems and many of the terminal commands are the same.
Yet, Mac users very rarely use the terminal, whereas on Linux, where the terminal is encouraged, users open the terminal quite often.
Mac discourages the use of terminal on their proprietary systems, limiting user modification, control and customization, by providing GUI apps with a "what you see is what you get (and you better Like it, too)" interface.

Gnome is much the same way. They do not actively do so or outwardly do so as that would be way too obvious. They just limit you. Hide some settings.
Look at Adwaita as a Prime Shiny Example of this.
The M.O. is Brand Image. If a user modifies their system, another outside user may not recognize that Gnome Is Being Used. Gnome doesn't want that.
You see Adwaita and you see Gnome.
By locking it in and then passively ensuring that most users just get complacent, they maintain control.

MacOS is build for the average user, yes it is much like GNU/LINUX because it's based on Unix. MacOS is made for money, Apple clearly want every Mac to be almost the same to keep it iconic. Apple wants people to think it's a premium brand, so people will buy their computers even the prices are unreasonable, it is just capitalist marketing.

They lock the settings, but you can edit it. MacOS is even more locked than Gnome, at least in Gnome I can edit the configuration files.

Even though there isn't any GUI, it is actually very easy to customize. Maybe in the past it was hard, but I tried it isn't that hard on Windows 10.

Windows is design for everyone, that is why there is a Command Line Interface and also a Graphical User Interface.

Kedrik. Chill.

No one said it is impossible on Windows. No one said that Windows gives a Notice to users to not modify. No one said that it is exceptionally difficult. I even pointed to Wincustomize, which centers around it customizing Windows easily (If you pay money).

I said it is discouraged and pointed out examples of this, along with the reasons why.

It may not be hard to do- for someone curious and willing to explore. And some do. But most do not know and do not try. There is conditioning, even if it is passive.

My point is that Windows is designed for everyone, so there are both interfaces.

It is not the problem, you still have the choice to do it. Windows allows you to thinker around with the shell files etc. It is all about the users skill, most users just don't touch them. Windows is just as customizable as Linux. Many files you can touch to change something. Changing things like Icons, Theme is going to be a bit harder, but it's almost like Linux.

I read the exchanges between @Kedric and @Aravisian this morning.

You are ships passing in the night.

The thrust of Kedric's comments are that Windows, in current Win10/Win11 iterations, can be customized at just about every level. The thrust of Aravisian's comments are that (a) businesses, libraries, schools and other organizations discourage user-customization, (b) few Windows users customize Windows beyond changing backgrounds, working through the settings menus, and adding/removing applications, and (c) Windows contains sufficient GUI applications to allow significant customization without resorting to CLI.

Both are correct. The problem is that you are talking about very different issues as if the issues were closely connected and/or common.

Kedric's observation that Win10/Win11 can be customized at just about every level is correct. Every knowledgable person who is familiar with Win10/Win11 knows that to be a fact. Aravisian, reading between the lines, acknowledges and agrees, so there is no point in my commenting on that issue.

Moving on, then, to the issues raised by Aravisian:

(1) Businesses, libraries, schools and other organizations discourage user-customization.

Business organizations discourage (and often ban) user customization, but do so for a reason.

Businesses discourage user customization because the purpose of the computing environment in a business is to facilitate business work process, often in a complex, interdependent computing environment that ties servers, desktops and other devices together, often across multiple locations, into a seamless whole. In organizations, Windows is set up (settings, standard applications, standard templates, standard ways of working within the computing environment) to facilitate that goal. User customization, as often as not, breaks that seamless whole, increases IT support costs, and reduces productivity.

Other organizations (libraries, schools and my beloved railroad museum, for example) standardize Windows 10/11 setup and discourage customization because each computer is used by multiple users, and many users use more than one computer in normal course. Standardization is a necessary precondition to meeting the needs of users in that computing environment. Consider the problems that would arise for the next user, for example, if a user of a library computer could customize Windows 10/11 to meet personal preferences.

Businesses, libraries, schools and other organizations discourage user-customization, but that doesn't affect the level of customization that is possible in Windows. The two issues should not be confused.

(2) Few Windows users customize Windows beyond changing backgrounds, working through the settings menus, and adding/removing applications.

Windows is well-designed for the consumer market, and Windows out-of-the-box meets the needs of almost all consumers using the product. Why would a consumer want to customize/change what already works?

I think that this is hard for the Linux enthusiasts (and Windows enthusiasts, for that matter) to understand/embrace, but (a) most consumers want a computing environment that "just works" out-of-the-box and have no interest whatsoever in changing the environment if it works "good enough", (b) most consumers think that spending hours tweaking to make a "good enough" computing environment "just right" is a waste of time, and (c) few Windows users have, or want, the level of knowledge needed to go beyond changing backgrounds, working through the settings menus, and adding/removing applications.

That attitude is something of an anathema to Linux enthusiasts, who regularly distro-hop, spend hours customizing, and seem to be in an endless search for a combination that is "just right". That's the Linux culture, but it isn't the culture of most computer users.

(3) Windows contains sufficient GUI applications to allow significant customization without resorting to CLI.

Windows 10/11 (both Home and Pro) are highly configurable at the user level through user-available GUI settings. Windows 10/11 Pro are highly configurable at the IT level using Group Policies. Windows Enterprise is even more so, allowing business/organization IT managers to effectively lock down user customization. Windows 10/11's GUI customization tools are good enough that few users need to use CLI, period. In fact, Windows 10/11's GUI customization tools are good enough that few IT administrators need to use CLI in the normal course.

About this, Aravisian commented: "It doesn't mean that Microsoft actively discourages something -- but it can be passively discouraged. For example, the command prompt. Windows does not actively discourage its use. But it does discourage its use often, by ensuring the availability of GUI applications to cover as much as possible to prevent User Command Prompt Configuration."

The fact that Windows has developed powerful GUI tools for customization is a strength, not a weakness. CLI is a tool, and in the right circumstances, is remarkably powerful and efficient. But CLI is just a tool. It is not an end in and of itself. CLI does not, in and of itself, increase a CLI user's knowledge or understanding about a particular computing environment. In fact, far too often, CLI is nothing more for many Linux users than a collection of commands that can be used to do this or that, actually impeding understanding of the computing environment.

I don't think that using a computer should require knowledge of CLI to make changes. Few consumers have a CLI background, don't want to go through the learning curve, and shouldn't have to just to use a computer. I wish Linux was as attentive to consumers in this respect as Windows.

(4) Bottom Line: Linux Enthusiasts and Windows Consumers

With those observations, let me get to the bottom line.

The Linux user base and the Windows user base are very different at the consumer/desktop level. Linux desktop users tend to be enthusiasts. Windows desktop users tend to be consumers. Linux users tend to love tinkering to move "good enough" in the direction of "just right". Windows users tend to be satisfied with "just works" and "good enough". Linux desktop users tend to think of CLI as a virtue and disparage GUI customization tools. Windows users tend to prefer GUI customization tools over CLI, if even aware of Windows' powerful CLI tools.

The problem is that the differences in user base, and the differences in approach, create an obstacle for Linux desktop adoption by Windows users. Adoption requires a learning curve, often a steep learning curve.

And that, in my opinion, presents a problem for the future of Linux on the desktop.

We can expect to see an increasing number of users considering migration from Windows to Linux, mostly in dribs and drabs over the next few years, but possibly in relatively high numbers. How many of them are going to bounce into the Linux culture -- change the DE, change the file manager, change this and change that -- and say "Not for me. I just want something I can use."

It seems to me that we should be working to accommodate that migration. Instead of encouraging new adopters to use CLI, for example, it seems to me that we should be working to develop more and better GUI tools for customization so that consumers can use Linux, like consumers can use Windows, without resorting to CLI.

3 Likes

Dude, that is LONG. @tomscharbach nice job summarizing the discussion. Well, it's still long, but you really got the perspectives just right.

Analogy: Private car.
Some people just want a car to drive to/from work and leisure trips comfortably and without incident. The car is standard manufacturers spec and is serviced when specified.
The car simply provides a means of moving people and goods. Nothing more is expected of it.

Other people want to customise, tune their car, go to auto events to show it off and meet others with the same interest.
The car may have non-OEM parts, paint finish and sound system. It is not serviced annually but constantly tinkered with daily.
That car is not just a means of moving people and stuff, its much more.

Some work to drive, others drive to work - well I guess you may understand what I meanfrom the above. Same is true for computers. You try customising a work laptop when Corporate IT doesnt give you admin rights.
Whats more, if your work laptop dies, IT give you a replacement with same software pre-loaded and you are back working again.

2 Likes

The question is whether the Linux community can attract Windows consumer-users, and wants to provide what Windows consumer-users want for a computing environment -- easy to use, everything works, plug and play, and so on.

If we want those users, then it is time to improve Linux so that consumer-users can use it without having to customize extensively or learn CLI. If we don't want those users, then we are doing fine as we are, attracting computer enthusiasts, looking down our long noses are users who aren't.

1 Like

In my opinion, attracting users won't get Linux anywhere. The key goal in getting your operating system to be more used is to be the default option. We need more computers that come with Linux for average people, not just the enthusiast that search for the specific brand.

In Windows, CLI is still very useful if you want to do a very repetitive task or just want to do it faster. I would actually say that Linux is already pretty friendly (depend on what distro you choose). I think you can use Linux without touching the terminal if you don't have to do heavy superuser stuff. I still strongly think that every Linux user should know how to use it, tho.

No bias in this statement, right?

How to address the notion... that if we expect people to not be lazy and to be willing to learn, willing to put forth Minimal Understanding of a machine they rely on is not "Looking down your long nose at them."
This statement is very similar to claiming all scientists are Arrogant Know-it-alls for expecting people to Know Some MATH.

No one is entitled to ignorance.

That interesting. I came to Linux desktop (ZorinOS) from Windows. I can't pretend to be a normal "Windows consumer-user" as I worked in the trade so to speak, so have experience of other OS not just desktop OS. However, I still have not fully migrated from Windows to ZorinOS. It is hard to cast aside years of DOS/Windows desktop experience and app usage even for me.
My wife uses the Zorin laptop, but she doesn't care what OS it is. She just wants to use FF and Thunderbird. Leaving me the sys admin role. For that, she is happy with Zorin as it serves her needs and prolongs the working life of a solid 2008 vintage laptop.

1 Like