[OT] A couple of links about Gnome and usability

Richmond richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Fri Mar 23 14:37:03 EDT 2012

On 03/23/2012 10:37 AM, Peter Alcibiades wrote:


  "Me, I have moved to Fluxbox, because it gets out of the way and stays 
out. Everyone I support will be moving to xfce over the next few months. 
With any luck, they will not notice its not Gnome2....!


Since XFCE allowed transparencies and icons on the desktop it really is 
95% GNOME 2 (the only beef I have
is that I cannot get the desktop icons to sort themselves into some sort 
of order).

What annoys me is not GNOME 3 or UNITY or KDE 4.5 (even though I don't 
like any of them), but that they have been
pushed at the expense of GNOME 2 and the earlier versions of KDE.

What should have been done, is that GNOME 2 and KDE 3.x were retained so 
that people could choose.

What seems to be happening in the Linux world (well, the Linux Desktop 
world at least) is remarkably similar to what
has been the case with commercial OSes since the year dot; a real case 
of Henry Ford (black, black or black);
increasing restriction of choice, not for those in the know who are 
happy to mess around with the dear old command
line and install Fluxbox, LXDE, Icebox and so on, but for people like my 
Dad, who bunged an Ubuntu disk in his Laptop and suddenly
(at the age of 79) had to learn a new paradigm, something he could well 
do without . . .

. . . or, put it another way; thanks to effing UNITY (United we stand, 
United we fall - the latter being all too often the case),
my Dad and I spent far too long hunched over his laptop last New Year 
when we could have spent the time on something
more rewarding (such as chewing over Zeno's paradox, ha, ha)!

While my example may seem banal and trivial, ultimately completely 
rejigging a GUI without:

1. Let end-users know that they are suddenly going to get a rude 
awakening,  and

2. Giving them a choice to revert (Ha, flaming-well ha, have you seen 
the GNOME "fallback" thing - a sort of castrated GNOME 2
obviously designed to make people go "Oh, F***" and get on with learning 
how to manage with either GNOME 3 or UNITY???)
to what they have got used to.

And my Father, far from being the exception, is fairly 
middle-of-the-road for desktop users who have, at least, managed to
be seduced away from Windows XP (which, face it, is almost the same as 


Tried MATE; not what it seems at all; but then why on earth should 
anybody expect it to be anything at all; it is an
(admittedly brave) attempt to produce a GNOME 2 clone in no time flat; 
unsurprisingly it doesn't really cut the mustard.

Tried Cinnamon; ditto.

But, then, these "clones" shouldn't be necessary; it is ONLY because the 
Linux "Gods" (who, increasingly can be seen to have
feet of clay; or, maybe, feet that are inclined to dance the way of 
fashion) have removed GNOME 2 from the repositories that
they were thought to be in the first place.


Why is Richmond taking up so much space on a Use-List that is not, quite 
frankly, aimed at people fussed about the Linux desktop?

Good question.

BECAUSE, ultimately, we all are involved to some extent or another, with 
producing software that people will have to use on
all sorts of GUIs; and choice made about stuff such as UNITY and Windows 
8 affect our work and decisions we will make about
our interface design.


I am well aware that many of the people who read this Use-List are going 
to snort a bit and say something rather like "Oh, there's nutty 
Richmond, Peter and no-quite-so-nutty Richard again": but they would do 
better to follow this discussion because, to misquote
a certain throaty-voiced singer of the sixties "The interfaces they are 

Richmond Mathewson.

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