Idea about a new DE Shell (What is your opinion ?)

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aliasbody
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Hello everyone !

I will be very brief. I love Unity, but I think that it is very badly managed (and uses too much Ubuntu dependencies). I love Gnome3 and Gnome-Shell but it really lacks of customisation (and they took a lot of directions that I personally wouldn't fallow). And KDE Plasma... well it is just awesome :D But I would love to have something like the two others (a little bit uniform if you know what I mean).

So I've was thinking of creating a new (Oh no not another one zs), DE Shell like Unity or Gnome-Shell, based on the ideas of design behind Unity2D. And I wanted to know what you people think of the idea ?

Something by really by the user for the user, everything in order to make Gnome more beautiful, and more customizable, with the possibility to work on every distribution without having those weird "blocked" dependencies, and with a new vision of the desktop that could be (by default) the best for everyone.

I am not saying something to use on Trisquel Gnu/Linux as default (even if the option is not discarded and that would be one of the best honours I would have in my entire life), but just something that all people, from all OS's could use to replace their actual Shell, and this, obviously, as Free Software :D

Thanks in advance for all the opinions !
Luis Da Costa

Horgeon
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I just left an elementaryOS livecd and see a lot of potential in Pantheon.

aliasbody
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Patheon is beautiful, it is true, I've already tried it and I really liked it. It is the best from Mac OsX and the best from Gnome in just one place. But I've found it too hard to customize :S... And that is the main reason that keep me from using it.

Horgeon
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The idea behind Pantheon is to unify all desktop elements based on statistical user feedback. And:

1) Customization needs more code to be written.
2) Users often break up their system while customizing too much (personal experience).
3) Most people who use a computer don't care about customization, not even about changing the wallpaper.
4) Being dumb-proof is important for marketing purposes.

aliasbody
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It is true that Pantheon win a lot thanks to that, but when I'm talking about customization, I am talking about basic customization.

Example, on Ubuntu you can't change a lot in the top bar, but you should be able to make basic customizations, like for example moving the Menu Bar/Dock to the bottom or even to the right. Something basic but something that works and won't allow the user to make it stop working because of the 1px bar with 70px icon for example.

The real problem is that, for me, every time I use any DE I have to do something because it isn't never like I would like (and I know that is more personal than anything else). The DE that I had made the less changes was the Custom Gnome-Classic DE of Trisquel, when I've only made the bar 1 pixel smaller in order to have the same size (in the eye), but a full button (since I use a huge resolution on my monitor, those little bars can be hard to see and use :S..), a solution for this could be solved for example by seeing the resolution, if it is superior to 1600 in width then it should be 43px instead of 44px for example (but once again this is only my opinion and this is why I started that tread :D).

PS : Thank you a lot for the feedback :D

Chris

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You are certainly right about the need for more options. The fonts for instance are not suitable for older people. Something that GNU/Linux as a desktop operating system is just perfect for.

I think what needs to happen is there should be an easy feature to lock/unlock customization options. However not one that can be accidentally clicked on. This way the support nightmare is reduced (which is what we had with GNOME 2) and advanced users are still easily able to customize the desktop or adjust it for less technical users (increase font desktop font size without messing about with configuration files).

aliasbody
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You mean like a lock button, that, when clicked, would ask for the administrator password in order to make any change ? (Like in some Gnome applications).

I love for example the option "Back to default" on KDE, the problem is that the option don't work as I would expect it to do. Instead of making it really default (overwriting the file with the original one), it just saves the last change done by the user and replace the new changes by the older changes.

And option like Gnome-Shell when an error occurs could be a nice idea too, like for example, if anything wrong happens, then it would be asked the user if he/she wanted to go back to the default settings for example.

Most people like to change things quickly and simply. for example (and I noticed that on older people from my family), when they use Ubuntu or Windows and I tell them that they can change anything that they don't like, they start clicking on what's visible like The Clock, the Unity (Windows) icons etc.. but not on the bar itself, because what they want to change is what is visible.

Trisquel with Gnome-Classic is very customizable, not as much as Gnome2 or Mate but still, and even knowing that I had a hard time figuring out that, to change any option on the Panel, I had to do ALT+Right Click.

But of course those little problems could be changed on the upstream project, and if they don't want to, it can be changed directly on the version that we use (like Ubuntu and Trisquel), but that would mean a lot of patches to do after any update, and this is why forks are becoming natural in the Gnu/Linux World....

Chris

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I think forcing a user to enter an administrator password would work well. It probably should be used carefully though. You don't want to disable a non-privledged users ability to add a printer or do other essential tasks.

Maybe have an option on the main panel that said "customize" where if you right clicked this button it would pop up an administrator screen/password prompt. At which point everything would be customizable. Then you could drag the main panel, remove it, etc. After 5 or 10 minutes the customizations would be set in stone. Thus preventing accidental changes.

The back to defaults is probably a good idea too as an added option.

Have you thought of maybe working with Cinnamon, Mate, or one of the other projects? It definitely seems that we are duplicating a lot of work. Particularly when it comes to offshoots of projects which have paid developers. By that I mean GNOME developers are getting paid (a lot- not all) by Redhat, Unity developers are getting paid by Canonical (again a lot- not all), and KDE developers are getting paid by hmm (well- they were at one time!).

aliasbody
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The only problem with this is that, for this to happen (fallowing the Linux Permissions System Rules), the file they are editing must be in a "neutral" place like /etc/de_shell_name/configuration.cfg, and then asking for a password would be natural and not allowed for everyone. But that would create a simple and unique DE exactly the same for everyone and I don't think that this is good. But an idea behind that one could be worked with the same system, just don't know really how.

I haven't thought of working with Cinnamon, Mate or others projects to be honest. The best I thought was to take Unity2D and change everything that I think that should be changed, but in those cases I prefer to start from zero or from something more "accurate" then Unity2D, so maybe a Gnome-Shell (like Magic Banana proposed) could be a good idea, but isn't there already a big number of Gnome alternatives based on Gnome3 ? Would that make me depend on Gnome3 ? That is the real problem.

PS: About KDE I'm really scared about the fact that Qt as been bought... we don't know what the future deserves us... but I have to be on this situation of "We just don't know", it is the worst feeling a team of developers that worked on a project for YEARS could have.

leny2010

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PS: About KDE I'm really scared about the fact that Qt as been bought... we don't know what the future deserves us... but I have to be on this situation of "We just don't know", it is the worst feeling a team of developers that worked on a project for YEARS could have.

The digia press release says they are maintaining the commitment to a free software license version.

http://qt.digia.com/About-us/News/Digias-Completion-Of-Acquisition-Paves-Way-For-Qt-To-Become-Worlds-Leading-Cross-Platform-Development-Framework/

Sadly Qt4 is only licensed for LGPL, GPL 2 or GPL 3 not 'and any later version.' Not ideal, but common enough for code that has a commercial 'owner' for proprietary licensing.

aloniv

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Other desktop environments provide more customization, e.g. Xfce, LXDE, E17.

aliasbody
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But they are almost all the same. I love Ubuntu because of the new "Fresh air" solving a lot of Gnome-Shell problems... The only problem is that a lot of options are enabled in one version then disabled in another and Unity sounds more like a Russian roulette than a Shell.

This is why I proposed the idea of making one that would satisfy the needs of anyone, and that would be simple tu use anywhere with any Window Manager.

miga
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I'm actually trying to work on my own DE as well. It'd be fully scriptable and modular, and allows for the replacement of any part of it with another part (say, XFCE4 panel with GNOME panel, or Metacity with Emerald, and so on).

Right now though I'm still working on it and deciding how I'm going to go about releasing it. I use it on my main desktop PC running Parabola, and while it's proving to be very stable, I need to make it less 'hacky'.

My goal is pretty much create a 'base' that would install the necessary scripts and whatnot, then require the user to modify a config file to specify the components they wish to use for what. For example, a layout might be XFCE4's panel, Docky, Nautilus, and XFCE4's Terminal as the base applications; or another would be LXDE's panel, no dock, PCManFM and XFCE4's terminal. Maybe at a later time, I might make it graphical, and automate the installation process, making it easy for anybody to use. I basically want to make a sort of desktop environment that would allow the user to choose what they want to use.

Just thought I'd share since we're talking about DE shells.

Magic Banana

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Just to be sure: You guys (aliasbody and miga) are aware of the extensibility of GNOME Shell through this amazing site, aren't you? I would say that GNOME Shell is *highly* customizable via such extensions in Javascript (rather than Scheme, which is supposed to be the preferred language to extend GNU programs). Bradley Kuhn seems to be of the same opinion. In fact, he even said (in this oggcast probably) that GNOME Shell is the Emacs of the desktop because of its easy extensibility. As far as I understand, the Cinnamon desktop environment mainly is GNOME Shell + some extensions.

So, my question is: don't you think you could achieve your goals by writing extensions to the GNOME Shell? It looks thousands of times easier than creating a whole desktop environment from scratch. It would also avoid community fragmentation (I am mainly thinking of developers).

aliasbody
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Yes I know that all this exist, I created myself a lot of extensions for Gnome3 like the Dropbox extension to have it on the top bar (never published any because I didn't found them useful enough for other people since alternatives exist already). The problem is that I think (as I said in my last post a few seconds ago), that simple things should be done with simple acts and not with extensions... Extensions (in my mind) should be for heavy (not prepared) changes, like moving away the dock and putting it of the Activities Window for example, or even remove the bottom notification bar.

And yes in that point I mostly agree with you, it is better to have Javascript extensions than Gnome Schemes, even if it has it's down parts, like for example the fact that, if we want to change something, we can't navigate into a beautiful dconf-editor or gconf-editor... we need to find the file of the extension (or of the part of the shell we want), understand javascript programming, and edit the part hopping that it will not break everything (and then be able to make sure that a new update will not overwrite what we've done).

And yes Cinnamon is a good example of that :D (Even if I don't like Cinnamon).

To answer your question.. To be honest, it is something that I've never thought of. And before giving a final answer I would need to see the code behind the shell. Because, let's be honest, Gnome-Shell (at least for me), is very slow on netbooks (Unity isn't that much which is weird since it is slow everywhere else), and Cinnamon has the exact same flaws... so... could it be Mutter ? Could it be the Javascript base for visual transactions using OpenGL ? I don't really know. But I my little finger tells me that it is Mutter, or else they would create a 2D version of the shell instead of the "forever alone" Gnome Classic, that, in my opinion, can only involve into something usable with works like the one did in Trisquel (seriously... I won't get tired if saying this, but this is an amazing job :D I just hopped some HD and more "beautiful" icons for the systray but that's another point).

PS: The idea was not the DE but only the Shell. I don't know if you've already tested it, but you can use Unity2D everywhere where it can be installed ! And by this I mean KDE, Gnome3, Gnome-Classic, Openbox, it works on every Window Manager, and without losing is design :D And that is great ! That is my idea, something fresh, something new, written in QT (for example) that could be use anywhere without more fragmentation since the only thing that changes is the Shell, people could use any OS and any Window Manager they wanted (not like Unity3D that requires Compiz to work).

Magic Banana

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It is funny that you agree with me about Javascript extensions being better than Gnome Schemes... because I do not even know what a Gnome scheme is! :-)

I was talking about the LISP dialect named "Scheme".

Good luck with your project!

aliasbody
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I thought that you were talking about the "schemes" used in Gnome (that can be edited with gcond-editor or dconf-editor) xD My bad then.

miga
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My goal is to create something that could either be as lightweight (or even more than) LXDE or OpenBox, or as full as something like GNOME or KDE. It'd be up to the end-user.

theblackpig

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First of all I should make it clear that 1) I'm a newbie her and 2) I don't have a clue about coding.
I've been using different DE's for some years and the problem for Me (and I suspect many others)is that too much is installed as standard ,programs that people don't want and will probably never use!
Some time ago I decided to have a go a building My own OS ,using the ubuntu Mini iso and Mate De I came up with this

http://i.imgur.com/c5Q0U.jpg
Searching for a mini Gnome DE I found Trisquel, thought I would give it a try.
So finally the point of all My ramblings - a BASE Trisquel would be ideal for everybody, by that I mean it would have the following as standard :-

Bottom panel with access to
Abrowser
Synaptic
File Manager
Terminal
Add Remove Applications
Your average user could then add / remove programs that they wanted easily and simply. Just a thought.

This is My Trisquel desktop

http://i.imgur.com/tilq0.jpg

moilami
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Am I the only one here not hating Gnome 3? I hate more those traditional windows 95 legacy desktops. They are so freaking ankward after you have got used to Gnome 3.

Gnome is doing it pretty right and I have no plans to use anything else than it.

Edit: And I meant gnome 3 shell.

aliasbody
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Don't take me wrong. I love Gnome3 ! I Love the Gnome-shell more than I love Unity. I just hate that by default there is a lot of things that you can't do. I know how to program extensions for it, I already wrote one for dropbox to be on top with some custom features, but for me something as simple as :

1 - Change the position of the clock
2 - Add seconds, the day etc.. of the clock
3 - Change the "Suspend" button into "Restart" and "Suspend" or just"Shutdown..." with all the options
4 - There should be a possibility to manage the size of the icons on the Activities windows (on a bigger screen people don't see this as a problem, but try it on a netbook with 1333x768 and you will understand, after 8 icons when any new icon is added all the icons on the dock become very little and hard to see, and this, even knowing that there is a lot of free space on the bottom).

So that is my real problem with all those DE, simple things can't be done easily. I have the exact same problem with KDE. We can change EVERYTHING on KDE it is amazing :D And this is why I LOVE KDE !... but... You can't change the clock in order to have the hours in the right of the Date... you need to have only the Hours or the date at the bottom.... I love the clock of Trisquel because of that, we can do whatever we want :D And that is fantastic !

Magic Banana

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I may be wrong but those points look like details that can be handled by extensions (your third point already can be fixed in this way). I do not really understand why you consider installing an extension difficult. It requires about two clicks! I understand you would like those features by default. However people have different tastes. And, in the same way that the most popular Firefox extensions have eventually ended up in the default Firefox, I believe the most popular GNOME Shell extensions will eventually end up in the default GNOME Shell.

By the way, I love GNOME 3 too! :-)

aliasbody
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I'm not saying that they couldn't be handled by extensions, I'm just saying that they shouldn't have the need to be handled by those extensions. In my opinion Extensions are like PPA's... you can use them, I can provide them if anyone want and there is no one out there for their needs but I really have to use xD (mostly PPA's... I really have those ones... seriously... really really really xD I even thought of creating 1 PPA with everything inside so that everyone that wanted will only use 1, like if it was an official repository server for updated stuff).

And because people have different tastes I think that everything should be proposed at start :D Once again this is what I love about trisquel, there is nothing until now that I wanted to do that I couldn't :D:.. Euh... wait ... yes there is, the snap window on the Top, Left and Right ... I really miss that :S And the fact that there is no real transparency... Okay but beside of that there is nothing :D (and yes I know I can install compiz to accomplish that or any other Compositor Manager like xcompmgr, cairo, compiz etc..) but that would mean configuring something that is not integrated and that can become really messy over the time xD

PS: I am a "Gnome3 lover" like you don't interpret me wrong :D It's just that... With proprietary drivers and my nVidia there is a huge Memory Leak. With nouveau and my nVidia it is slow at some time. With my netbooks it is slow every time that I have the GPU Cache used by Gnome-Shell (had a really long time figuring this out, and when I found the problem, I couldn't find a way to disable it xD). And this is why I don't use Gnome-Shell as my main Desktop but KDE instead :D (even if now with trisquel the only thing that I change is the 1px size bar, and the wallpaper... everything else is at my needs and I love that :D (ok not the packages but that's another question).

Magic Banana

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By "snap window on the Top, Left and Right" you mean for maximizing or taking half of the screen (on the left or the right)? If so, it is the default behavior in GNOME 3.

aliasbody
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I know, but is not in Gnome Classic used in Trisquel. It is not in Unity2D, it is not on Xfce4 and other like this :D

Magic Banana

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I thought you were using GNOME Shell (and I am confused why you don't given what you wrote about how much you love it).

For anyone who wants to try GNOME Shell in Trisquel, it is a matter of installing the gnome-session package (with Synaptic for instance), logging off, selecting the GNOME session and logging in.

aliasbody
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I love it but I prefer KDE because it is more customizable for what I want :D That is why I thought of creating a mix of what I (and anyone else) love of all DE Shells.

PS: It is the 3º DE that install on trisquel, but they don't copy the .desktop file to the /usr/share/xsession, and because of that I can't select it on the login window... A possible bug :S ?

malberts

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> Euh... wait ... yes there is, the snap window on the Top, Left and Right

When I moved from Gnome Shell (which has that behaviour) back to Gnome
Classic, I was frustrated without that feature. But I recently found a
way that you can simulate the snapping.

1. install wmctrl
2. make the following executable scripts:

/home/[user]/bin/wm-left :
WIDTH=`xdpyinfo | grep 'dimensions:' | cut -f 2 -d ':' | cut -f 1 -d 'x' ` \
&& HALF=$(($WIDTH/2)) \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b remove,maximized_horz \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,maximized_vert \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -e 0,0,0,$HALF,-1

/home/[user]/bin/wm-right :
WIDTH=`xdpyinfo | grep 'dimensions:' | cut -f 2 -d ':' | cut -f 1 -d 'x' ` \
&& HALF=$(($WIDTH/2)) \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b remove,maximized_horz \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,maximized_vert \
&& wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -e 0,$HALF,0,$HALF,-1

3. If using Trisquel Gnome Classic, open System Settings > Keyboard >
Shortcuts
4. Add custom shortcuts. For example, Name='WM Left' and
Command='/home/[user]/bin/wm-left'. I used Mod4+Left to replicate what I
used in Gnome Shell.

If you play with the xdpyinfo command and create a HEIGHT variable you
should be able to do top, bottom and 3x3 grid snapping if you want.

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Morne Alberts

malberts

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Adding to my previous message, my solution is just for the keyboard (as
I prefer). But if you want to do it with the mouse, you could look at:
http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/09/aero-snap-ubuntu-easystroke/
which uses Easystroke to run a command after a mouse gesture.

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Morne Alberts

malberts

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> Am I the only one here not hating Gnome 3? I hate more those traditional
> windows 95 legacy desktops. They are so freaking ankward after you have
> got used to Gnome 3.

Initially I disliked Gnome Shell. Then I started using it for a while
and changed my mind. Unfortunately I had to stop using it on my laptop
because the onboard Nvidia graphics card causes graphical corruption
that eventually crashes the whole desktop.

After going through many extensions to see what would be interesting, I
eventually ended up just hiding the top panel and working without any
distractions. Besides that, I personally don't really care about what is
going on nor is there anything considerably ground-breaking in Shell
that I use. Despite people saying that Shell is touch-bound or requires
many more clicks to do things, I actually found the opposite. I use the
keyboard more with (default) Shell than I do with (default) Classic or
with (default) Gnome 2. And that is a good thing.

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icarolongo
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I use Trisquel 5.5 with GNOME Shell on Macbook 5.1 with NVIDIA and nouveau works fine.

malberts

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> I use Trisquel 5.5 with GNOME Shell on Macbook 5.1 with NVIDIA and
> nouveau works fine.

What card do you have, though? I've got an nVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M (in a
Thinkpad T61). I tested Shell 3.4 + Ubuntu 12.04 + Nouveau on the same
laptop and I got the same corruption. I did not test with the
proprietary driver.

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leny2010

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On Wednesday 19 September 2012 18:03:22 Morne Alberts
wrote:
> What card do you have, though? I've got an nVIDIA Quadro
NVS 140M (in a

Morne,

Have you tried Trisquel 5.5 with the most recent kernel from
jxself
and libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental installed? I have three
NV50 'cards'
(as is your 140M) and they're all rock solid with those
installed.

Leny

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As for myself with the NV92 (nVidia 9800GT) I have OpenGL 3.0/3.1 with the experimental mesa stuff, and that is great :D

malberts

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On 19/09/2012 18:33, Andrew M. 'Leny' Lindley wrote:
> Have you tried Trisquel 5.5 with the most recent kernel from
> jxself
> and libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental installed? I have three
> NV50 'cards'
> (as is your 140M) and they're all rock solid with those
> installed.

I'm running:
Trisquel 5.5
linux-libre 3.5.4
libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental 7.11
xserver-xorg-video-nouveau 1:0.0.16+git20110411

Everything is from the Trisquel repository except the kernel.

I also tried running Gnome Shell 3.4 from a PPA on the same
configuration (but an older ~3.3 kernel) and I got the same graphical
corruptions.

There was also a (possibly unrelated) Plymouth corruption that got fixed
with one of the newer kernels. IIRC, that was due to some framebuffer
thing that got changed between Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10. But I also read
some bug reports on Fedora that mentioned some problems with the Quadro
140M's NV86 sub-family and Gnome Shell. But I'm not sure if they apply.
I've also tried doing suggested tweaks to Clutter. So after a few months
of struggling I just gave up with Shell for the time being :).

BTW, I've never had issues with Compiz's 3D effects on Trisquel 4.5 and
5.0 on this laptop.

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leny2010

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How perfectly infuriating. My 8200, 9800 GTX+ and 220 GT just get more and more reliable. My only problem is dodgy USB on the youngest desktop (4 years old) and that existed even with the non-libre distros I used in the past.

t3g
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For a modern look, I am still in favor of Unity but for those who are into the classic look, there's always MATE and XFCE that can be tweaked to look like older Trisquel.

Recently Cinnamon 1.6 was released and has a 2d option for non accelerated cards, but I heard that mode is still early and performance isn't great.