How I fell back in love with GNOME

A love story with a happy ending, thanks to GNOME Shell.

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Many years back, I was a GNOME guy. (At least it feels like many years, at this point.)

GNOME 2.x was my preferred desktop environment. I loved it. It was fast, stable, and it worked... just right. Then GNOME 3.0 came along and, with it, GNOME Shell, which was slow, crashy, extremely different, and made me a seriously grumpy Bryan.

Since then I have been "a man without a home," or, at least, "a man without a Desktop Environment." It seems like I jump from one environment to another every month. KDE. Xfce. LXDE. Xmonad. Awesome. And about 17 thousand others. I've tried them all. 15 times.

It's not that I haven't been a fan of much of the work that the GNOME team has been doing. Quite the opposite, in fact. I thought their technical strategy had real merit, and their design work (both in terms of look and usability) was, while not 100% perfect, quite excellent.

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I think, in a way, I was having an emotional reaction to the dramatic change that came with GNOME 3.0. It was just so different that I couldn't get myself to use it without being, well, "Grumpy Bryan."

Recently, that changed.

When openSUSE 13.1 was released, roughly two months back, I made a deal with myself. I would use the stock installation of GNOME 3.10, that came with it, for 60 days. If I still wasn't happy at the end of those 60 days, I would write the most scathing review of GNOME 3.10 I could muster. I was really going to roast the heck out of it, and never look back. GNOME would be dead to me.

Here I am, a bit over 60 days later, and I am still using GNOME as my primary Desktop Environment. By choice. Crazy, right?

I don't know if it simply took me this long to get over my prejudices and preconceived notions about what a “GNOME Desktop” should be like, or if GNOME 3.10 is truly that much of an improvement over past releases. Or perhaps openSUSE 13.1 and their usage of GNOME is just that much better than Other Distro/GNOME combinations I've used in the past.

Whatever it is... I'm happy here.

I'm finding GNOME Shell to be enjoyable to use. It took me almost a full month before I got to the point where working with the Shell, and all of its nuances, became second nature to me. But once I hit that point, I realized I was more comfortable and productive now than I was in the GNOME 2.x days. I can do things slightly quicker than before, and I like that.

I've also noticed a truly significant speed improvement over some of the other modern environments – specifically KDE 4.x (which I am a huge fan of) and Unity (which I have mixed feelings about). Even on my low-end, Atom-powered netbook, GNOME 3.10 is... peppy. Responsive. I never feel like GNOME is slowing my system down. (A feeling I get, rather often, on this machine with both KDE and Unity.)

Are there improvements I think could be made? Most certainly. But, for the first time in years, I have a Desktop Environment that I can call home. And I have the GNOME team to thank for that.


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