From KDE to GNOME. Experiences, suggestions and comments

I tried to find a mailinglist for "general" GNOME-discussion, and this
seemed to be closest thing to that. My apologies if this is in a wrong

I have been using KDE for years. I started with SuSE back in 1998-1999,
moved to Debian, and from Debian, I moved to Gentoo. Then I took the
step to Kubuntu, and happily used it for quite some time. But I think
that it's a good idea to try out new things every now and then, and
while I had tried out GNOME occasionally, I decided to give it a
prolonged test. So this is not a case of being fed up with KDE. I still
love that desktop. I just decided to try out GNOME for a change.
Besides, seeing how GNOME does things might make me more productive
member of KDE-community, since I can learn from the good (and bad)
points of GNOME.

Anyway, I replaced my Kubuntu-desktop with Ubuntu-desktop. I also
upgraded to Dapper, which has GNOME 2.14, so I'm all set.

First things first: Do I like GNOME? Yes, yes I do. And I feel that the
more I use it, the more I like it :). Good job, GNOME-devels! You passed
the first test.

First, the good points:

- The UI is very clean and streamlined. I know it has been repeated to
death, but it's true. KDE is a bit on the busy side, whereas GNOME is
clean and more serene. And serene is good :).

- Most of the time, things just work. And that is a VERY good thing

Now, that's only two good points, but they are major ones. Transition to
GNOME has been pretty easy, so there's not really that much to tell. My
wife is using it without any problems, and she did have problems with
both KDE and Mac OS in the past. So it seems that the goal of making
GNOME easy to use, has been mostly achieved :).

Now, some downsides:

- GNOME does suffer from lack of useful features in places. I know that
some people feel that features get in to way of the "serenity" I
mentioned earlier. But that does not have to be the case. And related to
this: Maybe things "just work", because they don't do as much as their
counterparts in KDE do? That said, I have managed just fine without
those whiz-bang features from KDE (apart from few exceptions. Read on).

Now, some suggestions (I do plan to check the bugzilla for entries about

Regarding the features: I could REALLY like GNOME to have similar
"network-agnosticsm" as KDE has. Meaning: remote files and folders could
be worked on just like they were on the local machine. An example: I
have some photos on a remote FTP-server, and I wanted to import them to
F-Spot. Now, there just is NO way for F-Spot to directly import those
photos from the FTP-server. I tried adding a connection beforehand to
the server, but F-Spot would still not work with it. On KDE it would
have not made any difference where those files would be. I could have
imported them straight from the server. To the app, it makes no
difference that are those files in the local-machine or in a remote
server. In GNOME I had to first download the pics to the local machine,
and import them from there. All in all, it was a hassle, and there was
no reason for it to be so difficult.

I disabled the scheme where mounted devices (USB memory-sticks and CD's
for example) are shown in the desktop (I like my desktop clean). And it
works well. But that makes unmounting those devices very difficult. The
device is shown in "Places", but there is no way to unmount the device
from there. Nautilus is also opened by default when I plug the device
in, and it shows the contents of the device. But there is no direct way
to unmount the device from there either. How can I unmount it then? I
need to go to the "Computer", right-click on the device there, and
select "unmount volume". How about making it possible to unmount volumes
straight from "places" and Nautilus's sidebar?

OK, I just noticed a strange thing... if I have "Places" on the Nautilus
sidebar, I can't unmount the device from there. But if I change it to
"Tree", I can then right-click on the device and unmount it. Why the

Speaking of Nautilus.... There is one very strange thing in Nautilus.
When I have "Places" in the sidebar in Nautilus, why do I have to
double-click on the "Places" (filesystem, desktop etc.) in order to make
their contents be displayed in the content-area? In just about every
other system, it's enough to merely select the thing. As it happens. in
"Tree"-view, selecting IS enough to display the contents. Why the
difference in behavior? Consistency is the key, IMO.

Since I wanted to move to GNOME entirely, I decided not to use Firefox
(or Konqueror). Instead I decided to use Epiphany. And it does work
well. But there are few downsides in it. And just about all of them are
related to tabs.

For starters, the scheme of opening a new tab with the mouse is somewhat
strange. There is a menu called "Tabs", but it does not contain "New
Tab". "New Tab" is in "File"-menu, which IMO does not make sense. Yes I
know that Firefox has it there as well, but does Epiphany have to follow
Firefox here, when there is more logical alternative available? "Tabs"
is the place for all things related to tabs, yet it does not contain an
entry for creating a new tab. Weird.

There is also the issue of having several tabs open at once. And
Epiphany doesn't handle that situation that well. It can only display
handful of tabs at once, while Firefox can display lots of them. So I'm
quite often in a situation where I have to scroll the tabs around, and I
have to go through all the tabs, if I want to access a tab on the other
side of the tab-bar (scroll-buttons go through the tabs).

Regarding window-management.... There is one feature from KDE that I
REALLY miss in GNOME: Window-specific settings. Those made things so
much easier. In KDE I could have certain windows open automatically in
certain workspaces, making effective use of workspaces really easy. I
haven't found a way to do that in GNOME yet, which means that when I
want to have certain app in certain workspace, I either have to go to
that workspace before I launch the app, or I have to launch the app, and
automatically move it to the correct workspace. All that could be
automated in KDE. I could also use the window-specific setting to
automatically hide windows. When my GNOME-desktop loads, it
automatically loads GAIM, and it displays a window. I then have to
manually close that window. In KDE, I could simply tell it to not show
the window, reducing he amount of needed window-management. 

Also, if the user rolled the mouse-wheel over the desktop in KDE, it
automatically switches the workspace. I haven't found similar feature in
GNOME yet.

Related to taskbar: I noticed that GNOME has one cool feature I have
learned to like: If the titlebar of a window is really long, the buttons
in the taskbar increase in size so they could display the entire
titlebar. And that makes them very easy to hit with the mouse. But why
stop there? Why not make the taskbar-buttons use maximum amount of space
by default? If the user has only one app open, it's taskbar-button would
cover the entire taskbar, making it VERY easy to hit that button. When
the user launches another app, the taskbar gets halved between the two
apps. If the user launches a third app, each app get a third of the
taskbar, and so forth. Why should there be un-used space in the taskbar?

One more thing: Cut & Paste. Is it just me, or does the UNIX-style
select & copy work weird in GNOME? If I select a block of text, unselect
it, and click middle mouse-button in some other app (for example, when
copying text from Gedit to Evolution compose-window), it does not copy
the text. I have to leave the text selected in order for middle-button
copying to work. Is there a way to REALLY make the system copy the text
to clipboard the moment it's selected? OK, I just tried copying
addresses from one text-field to another in Evolution, and middle
mouse-button copying would NOT work. Is there any way to make this work?
Please? Or is this a distro-problem?

Now, when you read my text, you might think that I have lots of
complaints. But that's natural, since I used another system for years,
and I came to appreciate it's features. And when I move to a system that
does not have them, the complaining starts :). But I DO like GNOME, and
I will probably stick around using it. But if some future version of
GNOME would have those pet-features of mine, I would be one happy
camper :).


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