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With new 'Classic' mode, forking GNOME 3 is a waste of time

The beloved former default Ubuntu user experience is back as part of the recently released GNOME 3.8, making all attempts at forking GNOME 3 to get a more GNOME 2-like interface futile.

By Bryan Lunduke on Thu, 03/28/13 - 9:56am.

Yesterday, we saw the release of GNOME 3.8.

And with it came significant enhancements to searching, application launching, new privacy settings and some seriously major improvements to smoothness and performance of the user interface animations. These are all awesome things. Very awesome, in fact. But let's talk, for a moment, about one new feature in particular...

Classic Mode.

"Classic Mode," in a nutshell, brings back a significant portion of the GNOME 2 user interface. The one that so many people (still) love and cling to. The one that Ubuntu utilized as its default user experience – before switching over to the in-house developed Unity Desktop.

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In fact, GNOME 2 remains so beloved by so many that some have gone to the (fairly desperate seeming, in my opinion) measure of forking GNOME 3 with the intention of modifying it to provide a more "GNOME 2" style experience for their users. This includes the Linux Mint team with their Cinnamon environment.

These forks of GNOME 3 have confused me right from the start. You see...GNOME 3 is designed to be highly customizable. Building a GNOME 2-styled user experience (the top and bottom panels, the Application menu, etc.) on top of GNOME 3, utilizing extensions, has been done since almost the very moment that GNOME 3 first launched back in early 2011.

"So why," you may ask, "would someone make a complete fork of GNOME 3 just to do something that could be done primarily with a handful of JavaScript extensions? Wouldn't they be creating a lot of extra work for themselves? And doesn't it seem likely that the GNOME team will come out with an official GNOME 2-styled option in the near future if people are in such need of it?"

And, if you did say something like that, you get a high-five. Because you just nailed it. The talented developers that forked GNOME 3, for this purpose, (such as the Cinnamon crew) have just wasted a significant portion of their time. That time could have been spent working with the GNOME team to add new functionality and improvements. And that loss of time and progress is a major bummer.

So kudos to the GNOME team for another excellent release. It looks most outstanding.

To those who have forked GNOME 3 with the intention of building a GNOME 2-looking desktop...allow me to recommend that you simply join in with the GNOME community and help them build the future of the very Desktop Environment that you love. Just seems like a better use of time.