If Steam really manages to bring all Windows games to Linux there won’t be any reason left, at least for my daily tasks, to prefer, or be forced to use, Windows, no matter what’s the hardware.
To clarify last bit, I’m just a more than occasional player, but when I play, I want to be able to access, and buy, and enjoy, any game I fancy.
On top of that, I think Gnome is definitively a superior experience, compared to both Windows and macOS, and not only for developers, just pretty much everyone.
The Gnome Desktop Environment looks good, performs good, it works well in pretty much every Linux distro, even if I suggest ArchLinux, and it’s based on Gtk 3, but it’s moving to Gtk 4 which should bring awesome performance boost thanks to the most recent Vulkan API alchemies.
And yet, something is missing … and I tell you now what people told me.
Quickly: where do I come from
In 1999 I used to be the technician at the computer shop in your neighbourhoods.
I’ve installed hundreds machines, and never since managed to drop that label of mine: “the computer chap”.
In 2018, whenever I visit my mom, my hometown friends, or simply check my partner’s laptop, I’m still considered that “computer’s chap”.
Becoming a 18+ years old software developer didn’t help neither, it actually enforced that label so there’s no escape 🤷♂️
Accordingly, I’m pretty confident all the feedbacks I’ve always received when I’ve installed any sort of Gnome on Linux distro, are pretty accurate in describing what regular PC users really want, and following there’s a list of questions, or doubts, I’ve got 100% of the time.
The Login Screen Background
Not so long time ago, Gnome decided to somehow compile the
gnome-shell.css file via an XML wrap so that
glib-compile-resources would be able to set back such css file as the one that dictates a simple background image for the login.
It doesn’t matter if you are just a user or a senior developer, whatever I’ve just written makes absolutely no sense, from a user perspective, and on top of that, it makes a Windows like login experience superior, and hard to achieve.
Where’s the nonsense ?
Gnome uses a CSS file, a format used on the Web, famous for its simplicity to style and/or edit, inside an XML wrap that needs to be compiled.
That’s friction number 1.
On top of that, there’s no tool, setting, utility, or out of the box “thingy”, that lets users set such image right away.
You set the background and the screensaver image?
Great, none of them will be shown during login, and no option would be given for the login screen by default.
Where does Windows win here ?
It’s pretty simple, when you switch on your Windows device, they might show you a new stunning image of some place, animal, anything related to planet earth, really, that makes you learn something new, and also start a day with a smile.
That’s the best way to switch your system on: something new, and absolutely beautiful, to see, or learn (there are info about the place or the animal, with links to Wikipedia and friends). You do like the suspance before reaching the login screen … “who knows what’s in there today!”
That, my dear Gnome enthusiasts, is the simplest deal breaker every user I know that used Gnome after Windows 8 or 10 complained about: “what is this empty, or non configurable, or random login screen? … Can I have the random beautiful images like I had before ?”
How to combine stunning pictures with no-profit Open Source ?
Well, unsplash.com is, as example, a great source of images.
Having once per week, on every Gnome screen, the most voted or popular unsplash image, with credits and, if available, details about it, would be just super cool, right?
Yet I’ve no idea how to make that happen with current convolute way to simply set a background image for the login screen … next one!
Amend — Random Wallpaper solved it all !
I have discovered the random wallpaper extension that works really well and it lets you auto fetch from unsplash too 🎉
Animated Screen Savers
This is another little gotcha developers might not get, ’cause developers rarely see a screen saver anyway …
So here the catch: in both Windows and macOS land, there are animated screensaver that could be highly interactive.
As example, a dear friend of mine asked me where was the Polar Clock screensaver … and after me replying something like “what? why would you even need that?”, he told me he would rarely switch the PC off and that the screensaver was that sort of useless gadget most of us have in their houses such a wall clock, a calendar, or an ambient light decoration.
TL;DR I’ve learned how much important a screensaver could be there for someone … and AFAIK there’s zero offer in Gnome for anything like that.
Next and last(?) one!
There, I’ve said that. AFAIK Ubuntu decided to stick with old version of Gnome until a new way to have Desktop icons is possible and I hate when software related companies do that: remove a feature before its alternative is available.
As ArchLinux advocate, where everything is updated, I don’t like sticking with depreacated software … and OK, they can get along without Desktop icons, but WTF folks, if users love and know a Desktop feature since the beginning of the time, how arrogant is it to drop such feature in users face without providing any alternative?
I don’t know whoever came up with a proper test on users asking them: “would you like not being able to add a bloody icon in your otherwise empty desktop?”
I’d like to shake the hand to whoever said yes, ’cause it’s clear that person never used a computer daily.
That’s pretty much it, really
These have been the 100% of the time complains I’ve had.
Other complains were not related to the system.
As example, Skype not allowing multiple conferences calls on Linux, or Web, has nothing to do with Gnome itself.
And so on and so forth, what I’ve learned in these years is that average users blame the Operating System for everything ’cause they don’t understand, when something doesn’t work, who’s fault is it.
In the Gnome case, there is a lot of software running there, ’cause there’s everything for Linux, free or not.
A little quick personal rant
Surely having Gnome Web as the only simple way to install gnome-shell extensions is not ideal but … nobody is perfect, and I’d love to see WebKitGtk there beating Chromium installations too (or Firefox).
Thanks for listening, and thanks for improving in the, hopefully near, future.