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The KDE vs. GNOME Schism In Free Software

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  • #46
    After using the betas, I didn't expect to like Gnome Shell - but I do! It has some great stuff going for it:

    + Extremely fast. For the very first time, I can actually autoscroll a browser window as smoothly as on windows on my AMD E-350 with the open-source drivers! Where Compiz and KWin scrolling stutters and jumps, Gnome Shell is smooth as butter. Don't underestimate the importance of a fast compositor.
    + Very simple to learn and use. It offers a specific workflow with a very shallow learning curve: you hit winkey or the top left screen corner and you already know 80% of Gnome Shell! Indeed, much fewer features than KDE and much less attitude than Unity. Less is more.
    + Desktop effects are subdued, smooth and fast, just like they should be.
    + Built-in color management tools, for the very first time!
    + Shell extensions are ridiculously easy to develop.

    It's not without its issues, though:

    - System settings use fixed-size windows, which are enormously annoying. I've always loved Gnome for its resizable windows and I'm sad to see this advantage starting to erode.
    - Default fonts (Cantarell) and font sizes are not very good and you need an external application to change them (gnome-tweak-tool). Even then, Gnome Shell is themed through CSS and doesn't follow my global font settings. You have to edit the CSS manually - sloppy!
    - Gnome Shell does have a couple of typical "gnomish" design problems. Dark-gray-on-black text in the calendar? This is unreadable in older monitors with deteriorated gamma curves.
    - No way to hide the top panel. I really don't need it visible all the time, I'd very much prefer it to appear only in dash mode.
    - Alternatively, show the panel all the time, but implement a global menu system for maximized applications. We already have an application menu with a single "Quit" item, this is the perfect place to add the rest of the menu items and reclaim screen estate.
    - Fglrx is horribly broken in Mutter.

    All in all, I like it much more than I ever believed I would. I was using KDE 4, but it became to cumbersome for regular use (its taskbar is a Win95 relic; frequent regressions on upgrades; many great features marred by pretty bad all-around performance). Ubuntu Unity is meaning well but leaves a lot to be desired - plus it has lots of annoying attitude that interferes with my workflow (Invisible menus? Invisible window controls? Badly designed launcher? UI that breaks Fitt's law in all possible ways? Terrible inconsistencies? Bad developer/designer attitudes, compared to KDE and Gnome?)

    Gnome Shell it is, then! It gets out of my way, is stable, performs well and its downsides are much smaller than the downsides of the alternatives.

    System: HP dm1-3100 (E-350 dual-core @1.6GHz, integrated Ati 6320m, 8GB memory, 80GB SSD).

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    • #47
      Originally posted by ciplogic View Post
      I can consider Gnome3 as two parts:
      - user interaction: Gnome Shell
      Gnome Shell for me was the reason I jumped to Fedora (even the distro instability regarding package management, make it to be not always so much fun). I also installed to untrained computer people and they did master it after fairly short time. If you use one or two applications Gnome Shell makes sense. If you use 10, I think the workflow have to be improved. If you use a combination of a lot of tray icons, Gnome Shell worked fairly nice for beginner and intermediate.
      What Gnome Shell does it enough well are: making panels linked to window (like Open/Save File dialogs, preference panels) which in my opinion can be invaluable for a not so good user, managing full screen applications and starting applications. A workflow like: I want to start SuperTux, I exit, I want to start Firefox and LibreOffice, most users will know how to handle it.
      - technology wise:
      + It removes deprecated APIs and made using "SEAL", in short to make all APIs accessed through properties, so the code will not be fragile in future. This in my opinion will guarantee that many applications will work after an internal rewrite of Gtk3 logic. This is a big bonus for binary compatibility, which for me is huge
      + GObjectIntropsection is something that puts GNOME as platform on par with Qt/Win32 COM regarding exposing APIs and services. This make a bliss to write python integration modules and made it smooth to migrate many applications to this new API. Again, for me this is huge
      + Theming is made via CSS, it integrates (again via GOI) a JavaScript machine (sadly is interpreted one), but make technology wise to be like Windows 8, so yes, you can write your JavaScript application in Gnome3. Gnome Shell is just one of them
      + Make use of a standard animation API (Clutter). Is not used enough, probably Gnome-Shell is the biggest "demo", but as things will go, it means that people can make things to shine without animating PNGs or other "dirty tricks"

      I can say that I started to like Gnome gradually, but certainly the biggest issues I had it so far are theming issues (because is based on Mutter) in LibreOffice or Firefox, I thought for myself it should be a preference to set the title bar height, and too few preferences in some places (is annoying a little to logoff before shutdown, at least for a beginner).
      I agree with much of this post. I think the gnome-devs were really forward thinking regarding the technology they built gnome 3 and gnome-shell on. Big improvements over gnome 2/gtk2 under the hood. I think the tech gnome-shell is built on puts it in a much more favorable position for the future over unity (unity's foundations just seem poorly thought out to me).

      Gnome-shell is great, but it is of course not perfect. Complaints about it not having enough options by default are spot on, font settings are a necessity for example (luckily a lot of these missing options can be found in gnome-tweak-tool).

      I can't say I've had much theming issues with gnome 3 though, care to elaborate? There are already some wonderful GTK3 and Shell themes available. The only problems I have are icon themes not designed to work properly with gnome 3's symbolic icons, but luckily the faenza/faeince themes have stepped up to the plate and offer proper gnome-shell compatability.
      Last edited by bwat47; 10-21-2011, 03:24 PM.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by bwat47 View Post
        I can't say I've had much theming issues with gnome 3 though, care to elaborate?
        Yes, LibreOffice and Firefox initially flickering menus, LO have flickering toolbar. It may be a driver issue or a compositor issue (I did not encounter them when I explicitly disable the compositor) but moving mouse over make things to appear. Is annoying but is not a showstopper as is for me.
        Firefox and LibreOffice do not use either Qt or Gtk but their controls for most parts, so this is likely the cause.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by ciplogic View Post
          Yes, LibreOffice and Firefox initially flickering menus, LO have flickering toolbar. It may be a driver issue or a compositor issue (I did not encounter them when I explicitly disable the compositor) but moving mouse over make things to appear. Is annoying but is not a showstopper as is for me.
          Firefox and LibreOffice do not use either Qt or Gtk but their controls for most parts, so this is likely the cause.
          I don't see that on my machine (intel graphics, Well... I actually do see flickering menus on firefox if I force layers to be enabled, but it doesn't just happen under mutter.) I don't see the flickering in LO at all. I can see how it would be annoying lol.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by ciplogic View Post
            Yes, LibreOffice and Firefox initially flickering menus, LO have flickering toolbar. It may be a driver issue or a compositor issue (I did not encounter them when I explicitly disable the compositor) but moving mouse over make things to appear. Is annoying but is not a showstopper as is for me.
            Firefox and LibreOffice do not use either Qt or Gtk but their controls for most parts, so this is likely the cause.
            I have the exact same problem with FF 4,5,6,7 in openSUSE 11.1 (yes, .1) and KDE 3.5, so it can't be Gnome. Do you have an ATI VGA?

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            • #51
              Originally posted by s91066 View Post
              I have the exact same problem with FF 4,5,6,7 in openSUSE 11.1 (yes, .1) and KDE 3.5, so it can't be Gnome. Do you have an ATI VGA?
              It is the same CPU that was reviewed to Phoronix: Intel SB 2630QM and Nvidia Optimus (that do not work, but is just fine) NV 540M.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Maxim Levitsky View Post
                Thats so true, it deserves to be a slashdot sig.
                And its sad too.

                Unity sucks. Unity sucks, Ubuntu sucks!.
                And yet I hate it only because of awkward interface and Mac cargo cult, the fact the its compiz based is fine, and I do use compiz
                Have you got emerald working with the compiz 0.9 series?

                The other windowdecorators seem like way too deprived in functionality to me.

                Emerald may be long abandoned software but for me it's still the best one in existence.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by dl.zerocool View Post
                  Gnome 3 -> Requires Pulseaudio, end of the story. A dependency like this one is just non sense for a desktop environment period.
                  You do realize it takes all of about 1 minute to disable pulseaudio permanently in gnome 3 right?!??!? lol.

                  While I agree (for me) PA is a waste of time, but some people do find it useful. I don't use it because i am a proaudio linux user, and PA is useless to me, since I am using Jackd 100% of the time (Jackd starts up on boot).

                  anyay, Yes, PA gets pulled into G3 ~ but to sum things up, it is easily disabled.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by ninez View Post
                    You do realize it takes all of about 1 minute to disable pulseaudio permanently in gnome 3 right?!??!? lol.

                    While I agree (for me) PA is a waste of time, but some people do find it useful. I don't use it because i am a proaudio linux user, and PA is useless to me, since I am using Jackd 100% of the time (Jackd starts up on boot).

                    anyay, Yes, PA gets pulled into G3 ~ but to sum things up, it is easily disabled.

                    So when it's so easy to disable. Why is it a hard dependency in gnome3?

                    It kinda requires me to install and figure out how to disable a Software I will never use.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Ragas View Post
                      So when it's so easy to disable. Why is it a hard dependency in gnome3?
                      It was a design choice, by the developers. Basically, linux has always been plagued by multiple soundservers, esd, OSS, ALSA, etc. But slowly PA has emerged, as it provides better functionality as a server, than ALSA does. (makes it easier to run multiple audio apps, with mixing, allows networked audio, etc). Gnome developers did not want to have their Desktop to have to maintain a bunch of different sound APIs, and they think PA is the best current solution, for them. So they went with that. I've actually discussed this with some of the Gnome developers, as like you i am not a fan of PA.

                      in the end, it is what it is. PA is not hard to disable, so it's not a big problem.

                      Originally posted by Ragas View Post
                      It kinda requires me to install and figure out how to disable a Software I will never use.
                      Yes, it does. unfortunately.

                      I don't have a link off-hand, but basically there are only a few quick edits to do to disable PA.

                      1. you have change /etc/asound.conf to point to your card and not PA

                      it should look someting like this, after

                      Code:
                      pcm.card0 {
                          type hw
                          card 0
                      }
                      ctl.card0 {
                          type hw
                          card 0
                      }
                      2. you have to disable PA's 'Autospawn' feature, which is defined in pulse.conf - i believe (can't remember where it''s located). you could probably just google 'pulseaudio + disable autospawn' and find the solution/steps.

                      3. you need to open your 'startup applications', and make sure Pulseaudio is not set to start on boot

                      Then what i do anytime i get a PA update;

                      Code:
                      sudo rm /usr/bin/pulseaudio
                      that way if an update touched one of my files, it doesn't matter ~ PA can't execute, because it doesn't even exist. It's probably redundant, though.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by ninez View Post
                        Yes, it does. unfortunately.

                        I don't have a link off-hand, but basically there are only a few quick edits to do to disable PA.

                        1. you have change /etc/asound.conf to point to your card and not PA

                        it should look someting like this, after

                        Code:
                        pcm.card0 {
                            type hw
                            card 0
                        }
                        ctl.card0 {
                            type hw
                            card 0
                        }
                        2. you have to disable PA's 'Autospawn' feature, which is defined in pulse.conf - i believe (can't remember where it''s located). you could probably just google 'pulseaudio + disable autospawn' and find the solution/steps.

                        3. you need to open your 'startup applications', and make sure Pulseaudio is not set to start on boot

                        Then what i do anytime i get a PA update;

                        Code:
                        sudo rm /usr/bin/pulseaudio
                        that way if an update touched one of my files, it doesn't matter ~ PA can't execute, because it doesn't even exist. It's probably redundant, though.
                        Jeah i know how to disable it. the Problem is that I still need to install it just because Gnome is too stupid to have a flag that disables Pulseaudio Support.
                        I'm a Gentoo user so I don't like useless stuff on my hard drive.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Ragas View Post
                          Jeah i know how to disable it. the Problem is that I still need to install it just because Gnome is too stupid to have a flag that disables Pulseaudio Support.

                          I'm a Gentoo user so I don't like useless stuff on my hard drive.
                          Well, i am sure you have other crap on your disk, that probably takes up 20X the space of PA;

                          *pulseaudio takes up 5.3mb installed*

                          no joke, dude. lol.

                          Anyway, i know for fact, that Gnome-Shell source code has a flag for disabling building PA support. Chances are that other parts of gnome that support/require PA, might also have an option to disable it from being compiled in the first place....it might be worth a look. - For me no, but maybe for you.

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                          • #58
                            I installed Arch/KDE with pure ALSA (no pulseaudio for a change). The result? atrocious sound quality, CPU usage and latency, applications bypassing the mixer and hogging the output sink, a fucking nightmare.

                            Two days later, I installed pulse and guess what? Sound quality and CPU usage improved instantly, latency fell, and applications suddenly started cooperating. I installed a single package and my sound started working!

                            Pulseaudio is the solution we were always waiting for. Linux audio sucks without it.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
                              I installed Arch/KDE with pure ALSA (no pulseaudio for a change). The result? atrocious sound quality, CPU usage and latency, applications bypassing the mixer and hogging the output sink, a fucking nightmare.
                              1. Odd, on any linux system i have ever used/installed, Pa uses more resources than ALSA, not only that PA does NOT produce lower latency than ALSA, it's not even in PA's design/spec to be a low latency sound server. to get PA to work at lower latencies it costs more CPU cycles vs. ALSA, and that is quite factual. - try actually configuring PA to work at the lowest latency and then compare it with ALSA (properly working) - I've done this before PA can almost keep up but at much higher CPU usage.

                              Typically, PA by default buffers the audio longer, for that 'glitch-free' audio experience, as the hype was a few years ago - which AFAIK larger buffer equals more latency, not less. To me, it sounds like ALSA wasn't configured properly.

                              2. Sound Quality - AFAIK - PA doesn't improve your sound quality, your soundcard supports what it supports, as definition is concerned. ie: 16bit/44100 24/96000, etc. There should be no difference *whatsoever* in sound quality between ALSA, PA, Jack, etc using the exact same card. Again, it sounds like something was improperly configured.

                              3. mixing, i can totally agree with ALSA/dmix can be a pain.

                              Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
                              Two days later, I installed pulse and guess what? Sound quality and CPU usage improved instantly, latency fell, and applications suddenly started cooperating. I installed a single package and my sound started working!
                              Have a look through the Archlinux forums, and see just how many people who have had nothing but problems with PA. In some cases, for them - it is the exact opposite - disable pulseaudio and sound works perfectly. It really depends on what you want, and how you want to use it. Also, you say latency 'fell' - can you actually provide any data to support this claim,? because it really does sound like this is either BS or you just think it was lower latency, based on what, observation?

                              again, PA is not designed with low-latency in mind. it's design it centered around powerful mixing capabilities, portability, networking audio, and providing a glitch-free audio experience, as in no 'clicks' or 'pops' (which requires more frames/higher latency).

                              Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
                              Pulseaudio is the solution we were always waiting for. Linux audio sucks without it.
                              Speak for yourself. I think PA is essentially junk, it just gets in the way, and not really upto snuff at all - and i am not the only one who thinks so, if you ever talk to Wine Devs, there is a reason the don't officially support PA, mainly because it has a harder time keeping up in Windows/Wine audio than ALSA, OSS or Jack. ie: it is not as low latency as the other drivers/servers.

                              But hey, I am an Audiophile. Use Both Mac and Linux Platforms/ ie: write music, play multiple instruments, sing and have a Archlinux-based Audio Workstation/Rackmount ...

                              Yet, even on my desktop PC - PA is disabled.
                              Last edited by ninez; 10-23-2011, 10:20 AM.

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                              • #60
                                @ninez: my browser crashed while replying and there's no way I'm typing my whole reply again. However:

                                (a) the PA resampler is more efficient than whatever dmix uses.
                                (b) the PA resampler offers better quality (and a huge selection of settings for quality vs speed)
                                (c) the PA mixer is more efficient than dmix (timer-based scheduling for one).

                                In short, better quality and lower CPU usage out of the box. For the CPU usage you get with dmix, you can use PA and achieve lower latency.

                                For me, the turning point was when I tried to use a MIDI keyboard with pure ALSA. Impossible! I had to decide between 200ms latency (dmix) or audio dropouts (direct hw access and multiple applications - e.g. the MIDI keyboard and a metronome).

                                The solution? Pulseaudio. A trivial configuration change and I get 20ms latency - and that's on a netbook, of all things! And just with that I have multiple applications working, seamless switching between headphones and HDMI (digital out to dedicated sound system) and dynamic source->sink routing (music on speakers and communications on headphones? Done.)

                                ALSA without PA feels like a Win98 system - it works but it's impossible to do anything remotely complex without it going belly up. I guess some users may be ok with that, but there's no way I'm ever going back. Hell, even OpenWRT routers offer PA now - consider that for a moment!

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