Eight Ways GNOME Could be Improved

A longtime GNOME user suggests a number of improvements to the Linux desktop, some simple, some major.
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Not too long back, I highlighted my feelings on KDE, detailing some of its shortcomings and talking about why it’s not necessarily the de facto desktop I’d recommend to people.

In this piece, I want to show you that the GNOME desktop has a number of issues that need attention as well. I’ll outline eight areas in GNOME that need to be improved for a better user experience.

1)Why Nautilus?

No seriously, why is GNOME relying on this bloated file manager when it could instead be taking notes from the design of XFCE's Thunar file manager instead? Having used both file managers, I find that Thunar's performance is much less intense and provides everything I could ever want without the extra resource overhead.

2) Applications almost always are gray.

Despite KDE providing "options overkill," GNOME's simplicity may be a little too...simple. I love the simplicity of the desktop at its core, but the appearance of the applications can be a real downer. While I can theme my desktop easily enough, why not allow me to theme Evolution or other GTK-based applications running on the GNOME desktop? I believe that having access to cleaner menus and more color choices doesn't really seem like all that much to ask for on the GNOME desktop.

3) Panels appear unstable.

The GNOME panels are not normally so bad at first, but I have had instances where my CPU throttling applet would not load right and instead displays a gray box where the applet should otherwise appear. On other occasions, one of the GNOME panels might simply crash and find itself having to automatically restart itself. Not a deal breaking issue per se, but definitely unappealing for most people.

Now, to be ultimately fair, I should concede that I’m unsure if this is actually a GNOME panel problem or a video driver rendering issue with the various desktops I’ve witnessed this on. It only happens occasionally, yet I’ve seen the problem on NVIDIA, ATI and Intel video card-based computers. This leads me to think this may be a GNOME issue based on the findings. But there may very well be a non-Desktop environment issues at hand here. I’m leaning toward thinking it’s a GNOME problem, though.

4) Functions within any GNOME app are boring.

Taking the complaint about a lack of any real creative UI design with applications even further, the GNOME desktop suffers from the same boring buttons of all GNOME apps. I'd love to see a little bit of animation with a subtle slide as I open something, but without needing to rely on Compiz Fusion to do so. Surprise me, try something unique and different with the GTK based menu – please!

5) Lack of a control panel installed by default.

Despite having one available in the repositories for easy installation, the GNOME desktop lacks this by default. Some will point out that this is more of a KDE approach to a menuing layout, but I beg to differ. The control panel has been around for a long time now for GNOME users. It's nothing new, rather something that is not included by default for some unknown reason.

Considering this does nothing to change or otherwise hinder the existing menuing experience, perhaps it's worth adding this feature in with default GNOME installations? Many people are unaware of this as an option otherwise. It might be helpful to give the new GNOME convert a second means of navigating through the GNOME based menus.

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Tags: Linux, Linux desktop, open source tools, Gnome, KDE

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