Gnome 3 on my PC
Trying out gnome-shell on Debian
It’s been a fortnight since Gnome 3 was launched (6th April 2011) and today I got my hands on Gnome3 for the first time. The highly anticipated Gnome-Shell that’s supposed to make all other desktop environments archaic finally arrived at Debian‘s doorsteps (available for amd64 and i386 platforms right now). Well, it’s still in the experimental repositories but I was feeling impatient, so I decided to download the experimental version. It might be very unstable right now, and not really suggested for download. About a week ago I’d downloaded the 2.91 version from the experimental repositories and that really messed up my system, so I’d suggest novice users from installing gnome-shell just yet. It’ll hopefully be in the main repositories pretty soon. (However, since I’ve already unheeded my own advice, I’m free to try :P)
My first impressions of gnome-shell have been favourable in general but I agree that it’ll take some getting used to. I’ll miss the gnome-applets – especially netspeed (a nifty little applet that informed me about my network traffic) and the weather applet (update: Although it did not work on my Debian, many Fedora and Ubuntu users have confirmed that the weather extension provided by webupd8.com works for them. So try it). I will also miss Compiz and the wobbly windows 🙂 The lack of task bar is also a little discomforting. It will still be some time before gnome-shell can replace the traditional gnome-panel. I couldn’t even find Adwaita for Debian (update: installing
mutter and its recommended packages solved the problem. Its even extremely easy to edit Adwaita. It’s after all just CSS.) or successfully install the rpm package or do something as trivial as change the desktop background. I guess the things are better for Fedora and OpenSuse users since they were the first ones to be supported. And again, it’s unstable for now. In the very short period that I have used it, it crashed a couple of times (once while writing this post). I’ve posted a bug report about one of them (#623592) with the Debian bug tracking system. The other one (the one while writing) was too random for me to report. 🙂 But again, it’s still in the experimental repositories so I shouldn’t be so critical. Things will definitely look up.
It really does feel like the end of an era. Most of the things that we’re used to seeing in Gnome are gone. But at the same time gnome-shell brings new things along with it. The activities overview screen is awesome, and so is the smoothness. The whole desktop is very smooth and flowing. I love the way I can launch my applications in a few strokes of my keyboard. (I’d any day prefer a keyboard to a mouse. The mice are just very distracting and weak).
I’ll keep trying the new avatar of gnome and perhaps complain about a thing or two to the developers like any dutiful open source software user would. That’s it for now. A couple of posts are still in the pipeline that I’ll post in a week’s time.