Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fedora 19 Desktop Edition: Pleasantly Surprised by Gnome 3.8.3

by Dietrich Schmitz

No, this isn't an act of contrition.  It is a confession.  How so?  Let me explain.

Life is experiential as they say.  And with experience comes wisdom--hopefully, gradually, learning accretes.

Gradually, what was important yesterday is no longer important today as we reach new plateaus and learn what is truely meaningful and cast aside things which do not accrue to our general well-being and happiness.

Some days, you discover things you never imagined would happen.

Take for example Gnome's GUI.

In the past, I have been quite clear on how I have felt about this project's decision making along with my displeasure with Canonical's Unity GUI.  Neither was my cup of tea.  And, fortunately, alternatives have been around which have made possible avoiding their use entirely.  I am not unique on that count.

So, without apology, I will confess that today I decided to do:

$sudo yum groupinstall "Gnome Desktop"

into my already tweaked Fedora 19 Xfce Spin, which as you might have guessed I am quite happy with, given its meager system requirements and given that I am writing this story on an Acer Aspire One D260 Netbook sporting 2GB ram.  I've also installed OpenBox and found it makes the machine perform with near CrunchBang 11 Waldorf-like speed.  All well and good.

So, the groupinstall finished in minutes and I then dispatched to doing a logout, select GNOME from the session manager, and logged back in.

Now, mind you, there are still issues in my mind concerning Gnome, but this time around, I will tell you that Gnome 3.8.3 is what I call 'minimally functional' in its 'out of the box' default form.

Prior to Fedora 19 Desktop Edition, I could not recommend Gnome.

Today, I can say:

I like Gnome 3.8.3.

But, it took some tweaks coming from the Gnome Extensions Website to make it provide equivalence to what I have set up in the Xfce spin.  I will live with Gnome for the time being and share information with you in updates when and where I can as warranted.

Here are the extensions which I have installed thus far:

Installed Extensions


 Drop Down Terminal

 by zzrough
Drop down terminal toggled by a keystroke (the key above tab by default) for advanced users.


 by Panacier
Gno-Menu is a traditional styled full featured Gnome-Shell apps menu, that aims to offer all the essentials in a simple uncluttered intuitive interface.


 by gfxmonk
Speed up the gnome-shell animation speed

 Notifications Alert

 by hackedbellini
Whenever there is an unread notification (e.g. chat messages), blinks the message in the user's menu with a color chosen by the user.

 Pidgin Persistent Notification

 by nemo
Adds a persistent notification if a new message in Pidgin arrives. The notification is reset if the conversation window is focussed. Works best with the pidgin status integration extension.

 Show Desktop Button

 by l300lvl
Places a button to the left of the Window List to hide all windows, and the overview when active, and show the current desktop(credit: MGSE, erguille, madkristoff, mbokil).

 Status Area Horizontal Spacing

Reduce the horizontal spacing between icons in the top-right status area


 by ag
Shows legacy tray icons on top

With these tweaks, this puts Gnome on a footing where I can honestly say, that everything is working satisfactorily.
Your preferences will be different, naturally, but I tend to be minimalist by nature, so that means 'nothing more, nothing less' style of configuration.
I especially like pressing the backtick/tilde key to get a drop-down terminal, Quake-like style.
I added GnoMenu, but decided to toggle it 'off' for now and see if I can live without using it as a 'crutch'.  My concern is and will be as time goes by, usability of Gnome in its default form.
As for ram use, this wouldn't be an issue if I had a Desktop system with 4GB so I discount its importance using this Netbook, in terms of any perceived latency or swapping.  My swappiness is set to 10, which means swapping will be 'aggressive' and do as much as it can with existing free ram.
Chrome, my preferred browser, is notorious for gobbling up ram, and I don't fault it for that, but it does at times put a strain on this Netbook.  It's a non-issue as I said with most of today's machines, so enough on ram.
Well, there you have it.  I am liking Gnome 3.8.3, Fedora 19 Desktop Edition's default GUI.
People can change.  I have and do, every day.  So can you.  Grow. :)

-- Dietrich
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