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GNOME usability or unnecessary dumbing down

7 replies [Last post]
libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04

I've just read the article which quite vividly points out a usability weakness of GNOME and a good deal of its applications: Usability: is Gnome configurable enough?

Basically, the preferences in most GNOME applications tend to be so minimal that you really start to miss something and I think even "newbie" users would find something to miss. They've taken the "don't confuse the user with too many options" approach to extremes as it would seem and I would really like that they reconsider this.

I would usually defend this approach as part of what makes GNOME what it is. This philosophy is probably partly responsible for GNOME being so slick and clean looking, but going to extremes in hiding features ceases to help. GNOME has a lot more going for it these days than its "dumbability" so I think it should loosen up a bit on it. They are still by far the best when it comes to theming your desktop, the cleanest looking (not as cluttered, IMO) and intuitive. That's enough to keep it going.

It might as well even be more popular than KDE at this point, considering how major distros like Ubuntu and Fedora enable it by default so I think they really do have some space to experiment with a bit different approaches.

Anyway, I'm thinking of switching to KDE for a while just for a change (been using GNOME for very long now).

What's your take on this? Smiling


dylunio's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
I'm not at all bothered

I'm not at all bothered with the lack of configuration options. I've never felt a need to change anything save maybe the wallpaper, so I'm fine with it. It also imo makes using programmes easier since there is less clutter etc.

But KDE is also very nice, I need to find a distro which installs it by default (slackware maybe?)


libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
I am mostly not having

I am mostly not having issues with it on GNOME either, but what that article describes does seem like an issue. I too would like to be able to actually change where my photos are put and F-Spot as it is just plain doesn't offer that option.

Another case I can remember is on Ubuntu Dapper when the screensaver options didn't have a preview button. They fixed this in Edgy (or GNOME 2.16) though.

As for a distro that pre-installs KDE, one is Kubuntu and yes I think Slackware comes with KDE by default. Dropline GNOME is available for Slackware only after download.

tbuitenh's picture
Joined: 2005-12-21
The most recent version of

The most recent version of f-spot is 0.3.0, you would expect a few missing features. Making this an example of what GNOME usability is like is unreasonable.

If you dislike one app, you could use another without having to switch from one desktop environment to another.

free-zombie's picture
Joined: 2006-03-08
mandriva and SUSE are KDE

mandriva and SUSE are KDE by default.

a thing's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20

This dumbing down is exactly why I can't stand GNOME.

ma_d's picture
Joined: 2006-07-07
Did you check...?

Did you check GConf? Anything that Gnome programs have as configurable are usually there (assuming it's truly a Gnome program and not just a GTK program). GConf-editor is your best friend if you're a Gnome user.

If it's Metacity you want options for, good luck, they seem to think a Window manager should suck: Much like they do on Windows and os x.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
I never really played much

I never really played much with gconf-editor or gconf itself as I never really felt the need for it. Overall GNOME desktop pleases me mostly because it feels so clean and polished and I like the way GTK looks can be easily changed by changing and selecting themes.

It's very rare that this "dumbing down" actually affects me, but when it happens it feels rather dubious. I can definitely appreciate the power and configurability of KDE though and would serious consider switching to it for more than just a tryout if it would at least make creating, installing and changing themes as easy as in GNOME and start looking cleaner and more polished than it does now.

I'm looking forward to what KDE 4 will have to show. Smiling

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