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Monday, June 15, 2009

Gnome - The Curtain Is About To Go Up


My experience in the theatre is limited to high school productions. Lousy renditions of Bye Bye Birdie and West Side Story. All played on an aging stage in an aging gym in front of small town parents who had nothing better to do than come watch their kids do lousy renditions of Bye Bye Birdie and West Side Story.
Still though...

I remember the semi-dark backstage madness...the charged whispers just before the curtain went up. The smell of old wood, canvas, perfume and electrical cables...the glitter on the floor from over-powdered girls and that feeling in your stomach that ranged somewhere between nausea and the most exciting thing you've ever done in your life.

And the last minute prayer seconds before the curtain rose.

"God please don't let me suck."

This was back in the day when you had to actually get up out of your chair and physically walk to the television to change the station. Oh yes, there were such things as remotes back then.

They were called kids.

"Hey Skip...put it on three, the basketball game is about to start...and get me another beer."

There were three stations to choose from and the knob on the channel changer went "clunk, clunk, clunk when you turned it. The most popular toothpaste was a brand called Crest, the Chevy 409 was king, and that year the Chicago Cubs lost a bid for the world series in a way that is all but but impossible according to physical probability and statistics.

I'm sure the dynamics of theatre have not changed much...that knot in your stomach, the glancing around for the little taped squares on the floor that told you where to stand...that feeling you got just before the curtain went up.

Hey Gnome people...if you don't have that feeling right now, you are spending too much time in Gedit and not enough time looking around you.

Your curtain is about to go up.

"God please don't let them suck."

I see it every day...I feel it. The low rumble of an impending change that will alter the way people use their computers from now on. That change is Linux, and that change is going to be facilitated by Ubuntu.

Like it or not, that's the way things have shaken out and we have to work within these system-sets. While Gnome is as good as any other environment in my book, we have to remember that this is the environment that people are first going to experience. What I have found most frustrating is that things have been left half-done and half-thought out for several releases now and it's time to get them fixed.

Like Dood, Wherez my Filez?


The first thing a new user wants to know almost always is this:

"Where are my files?"

The file structure of Linux is a system shock within itself. Where users did have free-range in Windows, their new digs may seem a bit confusing and even a little restrictive at first. I've easily explained to most users that all they really have to be concerned with is /home/myfiles.

And if you disagree with this technique, let me give them YOUR number so when they delete their xorg files. They can call you.

Home is where the files are. Everything else is just gears and pulleys.

I base my opinions here on my experiences in Konqueror. In my opinion, Konqueror is the best file manager out there. You don't have to install "scripts" in order to do simple things...you don't have to drill down three menu entries to do the easy stuff. Take a look at my scripts folder and see what I mean. Note the file folder in the middle of the pack. Shouldn't it follow heiarchy and be at the top?

Right click - move or copy files.

There is even a little addon called "Kim" (konq-kim in some distros) that gives you amazing control over your images with a simple right click....and it's there right in front of you when you right click. You don't have to open a series of other folders to get to it. You don't have to add separate scripts to change from different formats. You can even make compilations or DVD movies from you photos and lay in music underneath the presentation.

What is so hard about that? Now there may be plenty hard about that. I don't write the code that makes the magic happen. I would have to assume that since the people that write Nautilus have not made these seemingly easy and often requested changes for years now, it must be something terribly complex.

Or maybe John Hall was right.

John, Tom King and I were privately discussing Gnome at the 2007 Linux Symposium here in Austin. John boiled it down so that all the clutter was blown away immediately.

"Gnome Developers have perfected the art of ignoring their users."

Another choice is also available. They just cannot do it. It may be designed to fail the ability to make these changes.

In talking with new users, I hear constantly the frustration of having to find features after the right click. According to them, and I agree, there are simple things that should be there natively. Move and copy files are obvious and in my mind the most important. Even everyday users find themselves in the file manager constantly. We need to make that experience as functional, efficient and user-friendly as possible.

Right now I don't think it is. Why are we adding an extra step of adding scripts?

"Oh, you mean I have to go out, find them, drag them home and put them in a file folder I can't see normally? I thought you told me that everything ELSE was gears and pulleys. Now I have them in my home file? And why are there "hidden" files in my home directory. What is there that I am not supposed to see?"

And no...I don't want Nautilus to be Konqueror...I want someone to have sense enough to realize that moving or copying a file shouldn't entail a drilling expedition.

Functional, efficient, and user-friendly.

I was told once by a third party that the reason Nautilus did not include these simple features was because they did not want to be perceived as copying the KDE guys. I honestly hope that isn't true. If it is, that means the development of the première environment for file management is being fueled by ego.

So given the fact that Gnome via Ubuntu is going to be the face of Linux, what changes do you see as an evolution of the system? Post them here and we'll cull the best and send them forward. No they probably won't listen, but you can't give up until you try at least once. You people are pretty smart...we'd like to know what your ideas are.

And don't make me quote Mad Dog again. He charges me a royalty every time I do.

All-Righty Then...

71 comments:

taurnil said...

I'll have to take your word for the Gnome environment. I stopped using it 4 years ago, and have been using KDE ever since. Not that one, one the whole is better than the other... that really boils down to personal preferences. But your comments about their approach to file management vis-a-vis konqueror are spot on. It turns my stomach to touch a system that does not have konqueror installed.

Blog of helios said...

I took refuge in Gnome while the KDE 4 turmoil was broiling. I have just never went back. I suppose I will someday, I am still liking the old KDE but I have to give my kids the distro most people use and that is Ubuntu with the Gnome interface. I do however show them KDE and many of them end up using it. I was a KDE user long before I was using Gnome and truth be told, I prefer it. I am just trying to get proficient in Gnome well enough to be of help to those that need it.

h

Carl D said...

After being a KDE addict for years, I moved to Gnome from KDE, mainly because Kubuntu's KDE 3 was buggy and my comp kept freezing up. Installed Gnome and it no longer froze. I've slowly learned to live without Konqueror. Then KDE 4.x came along and is even buggier, so I won't go back. Its like the KDE devs are concentrating on making it look good first, then thinking about usability and stability. The only KDE apps I use occasionally are K3B and K9copy. I used to use Amarok a lot more but now use Exaile mostly.

As for copy or move, I just CTRL+C or CTRL+X and CTRL+V. Only feature i'd like would be split window like Konqueror.

lefty.crupps said...

I find it sad that Ubuntu is winning this competition. Gnome is, in my book, a difficult DE for exactly many of the reasons that you mentioned -- try to actually DO anything and they have removed that option. I love my KDE 4 because it lets me work.

But beyond that, Ubuntu has just too many problems. Check out this bug that isn't affecting any other distro:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/119730
That bug is now over TWO YEARS OLD. Many other bugs, when I used Kubuntu, get ignored or I am asked to dist-upgrade to the next release to try it again. That isn't 18months of support at all, that is shifting the blame.

I have enough other reasons to dislike the Ubuntu-in-the-lead, but over all I think it is a good thing to have more Free Software and users out there. I just wish there would be someone to take KDE as far as Canonical has with Gnome (but, without destroying the connection to the parent distro, like Ubuntu has done with Debian).

Dick said...

I've had better luck installing KDE mainly because PCLinuxOS worked with my wireless. However, lately I've been able to get pretty much all distro's to work with my old laptop, either Gnome or KDE.
Now my latest quest is to get ANY distro to work with my SSID not broadcasting. All have failed. Sigh.
My thought is that a little less fragmenting of efforts in the Linux arena would result in more progress. I think you are right that Gnome will become the main desktop. That will probably result in more folks working on it and a better piece of software in the long run.

PV said...

My only real exposures to Linux came through GNOME; KDE seemed like this faraway other thing. Frankly, I prefer GNOME's simplicity over KDE's glossiness (and I know there's more to it, but the preference doesn't change), but the first thing that baffled me when I started using Linux Mint was the file manager system; I felt rather restricted in what I could do (versus Windows, which is what I had been using for the many years prior). My biggest mistake in that respect was probably my choosing not to migrate my files and folders to Mint Home. I've done that now with the upgrade to Linux Mint 7.
Ken, you basically said what I was thinking far better than I ever could. Bravo.

--
a Linux Mint user since 1 May 2009

Anonymous said...

I always used KDE from 1.x (where are the days) till now but I changed to Ubuntu to avoid the 4.0.x series.
I really wanted to like it but I got soo frustated at times.
For example when you come across a file where the DE doesn't know how to handle it. In KDE you get a nice menu-like widget which shows all the applicaties as in the menu to select from but in Gnome you're just thrown in the filesystem. How retarded is that?

jorge said...

I am confused, what exactly are you trying to do? You spend like 3 paragraphs complaining but never really tell us what you're trying to do.

wedgeshot said...

My main server at home has been running gentoo for I can't remember how long.
I used KDE solely on my desktop at work for years from the FC4 era until I ran into problems late in FC8 and then the complete blunder of FC10 including the KDE 4.X. I was thinking, WOW what a complete cluster-f@&k!!!! How can anyone deliver a distro with what I consider poor implementation and including alpha software ( pulseaudio completely borked, web plugins disappearing, Amarok, KDE suckage, unable to open samba file directly because of some extra workgroup password pop-up). I even did a complete wipe and install with no difference. On my home laptop which is an old Dell I had been testing the waters with Xubuntu since 7.x then 8.10 upgrade which has been solid and recently upped to 9.04. So, just recently at work I gave Ubuntu 9.04 a shot along with installing the kubuntu-desktop and boy what a difference the entire experience has been, not only everything broken above works flawlessly but also managing a debain based distro is a pleasure. I'm digging all the U/X/Kbuntu's so far.. give Kubuntu 9.04 a spin.

Chelle Minkin said...

@ Jorge

Correct me if I am wrong, but I would guess you write code for a living. Many of you guys have problems with coloring outside the lines, even if it makes the picture better. Let's you and I discover this author's piece together, shall we?

Now your question was what?

"what exactly are you trying to do?"

The rest of the kids don't seem to be having any trouble understanding that the author is bringing up some obvious and agreed-to problems in Gnome, specifically Nautilus. If you read Ken's work enough, you will come to understand that he likes to be a story-teller as well as a pundit. Nothing wrong with that Jorge...there seem to be a thousand or few that like his work.

He clearly states that his observations are based on his user's reactions, (he's installed close to 1000 Linux systems on new user's computers) he outlines what those problems or observations are and clearly sends a message to those who code the app that they need to fix specific problems in Nautilus. Quoted:

What I have found most frustrating is that things have been left half-done and half-thought out for several releases now and it's time to get them fixed.

I am not perceiving any ambiguity here Jorge...but maybe I've been reading the guy for years...maybe I just enjoy his ability to entertain while ranting. Ken chooses not to be a nailed-down technical writer although he is excellent at it. You can have your choice of them by the hundreds. I prefer Ken's way. I learn AND I laugh.

Chelle

jorge said...

@chelle

No I don't code, I am trying to understand what the problem is.

And yeah, maybe you have been reading the guy for years because I still am having a hard time wondering what the problem is. I've read your post three times and his post close to 5 times I have no idea what he is trying to say.

Clearly there is a problem with him finding files or doing stuff to them with the right-click menu. Is that picture what he's using now or what he wants it to look like?

Anonymous said...

Drives me nuts that in Nautilus you can't click a file, then click it again to rename it.

This works fine in Konqueror. Why am I always right-clicking and selecting 'rename' when I'm using Gnome? It's too many steps.

Renaming files is something I do ALL THE TIME and I want to yell at someone over at Gnome every time I have to jump through that little hoop. Fix it!

Anonymous said...

This guy is a frigging hoot to read. I've had more fun and learned things at the same time reading helios than any other blog. Sure he gets into detail but some of us like that. I think Chelle is right about Jorge. Code guys don't do well with ambiguities. They are there for facts and solutions. I am guessing Jorge was disappointed that there were not solutions offered. Ken qualified that by saying he didn't write code and that he was just bringing up the problems he found.

Thanks for that blast from the past helios. I identify the year you speak of as 1969 btw. Code guys don't have time for things like nostagia-sharing and the such...or laughing.

That has to suck.

Chelle Minkin said...

@ Jorge

"Is that picture what he's using now or what he wants it to look like?"

Quoted:

"Take a look at my scripts folder and see what I mean. Note the file folder in the middle of the pack. Shouldn't it follow heiarchy and be at the top?"

My apologies for the code reference Jorge. I work with developers all day and am sick of dealing with people that couldn't get a joke if it slid down their pants. Maybe something sliding down their pants once and a while would loosen them up...just a female perspective. Sorry with lumping you into that group Jorge...that was catty.

Chelle

Blog of helios said...

ROFLMAO @ Maybe something sliding down their pants once and a while would loosen them up

jorge said...

"Take a look at my scripts folder and see what I mean. Note the file folder in the middle of the pack. Shouldn't it follow heiarchy and be at the top?"

I've never seen GNOME ship with anything like that, is there some extension or something installed that adds all that? Maybe it's a bug in the plugin?

Elder Geek said...

I have to agree. Facts are facts. For those outside of the Linux community Ubuntu is the face of linux. And I do mean Ubuntu, not edubuntu, or xubuntu or kubuntu. Ubuntu with Gnome. Good, bad or ugly. Canonicals favorite child is Ubuntu. They will let us play with the others. But the bulk of the work goes into Ubuntu.

Now let me rant. I don't like gnome. I have just ran it for 2 weeks. I am now back in Fluxbox but that is OK. I am a power user. I still love the KDE 3.5 apps, but unless you know how to add the correct ppa you don't get them. The say KDE 4 will be great someday. But in the meantime, you will have to live without about 40% of the functionality of KDE 3.5. Forget Amarok 2, it is unusable. Only about 20% of what Amarok 1.4 can do.

I am currently running Ubuntu, now with fluxbox on top, a ppa to get Amarok 1.4 and custom compiled Project-M with Pulse Audio. Oh the fun. But it all works.

I tend to install Xubuntu and them put Fluxbox on top of it. There is bug where an audio cd or a video dvd won't launch right. This is because it is launched by totem cd:/ or totem dvd:/ instead of totem cd:// or totem dvd:// which would work. I even posted the solution to the bug...which still has not been fixed in the last 3 xubuntu releases.

And thunar is much better to use than Nautlius but still not as good as konqueror. Dolphin should just be put out of it's missery.

Now I am done ranting.

Ubuntu is the face of linux. They are doing great things. Pulse Audio (Thank you Fedora) is going to be great. In a years time we should be able to boot in 10 seconds and 5 more seconds to a working desktop.

Ubuntu is doing good. They are focusing on where they can make things better and NOT telling Gnome how to do its thing. And if it is an easy fix, they take care of it themselves. But for the most part. Gnome is a mess. It suffers from what I can the "itch you can't scratch" syndrome. You can almost do what you want, but not quite get there.

As long as a new user will swear allegiance to Gnome and to walk the path of Gnome and learn to love the way they have deemed things to be done, they can be happy.

The reality is, this is not most new users. Hopefully Ubuntu is the recreational drug that gets people using Linux before they move onto something that does not tie them down to Gnome.

Anonymous said...

I must be stupid today, I can't see any problems using the Nautilus file manager.



Right click to rename a file. To move a file from one directory to another either use the <CTRL>X <CTRL>V key strokes, or simply drag it from one directory to another.



Or alternately use the 'cp' command in a terminal, which is what I use when moving files from my home directory to directories controlled by root.



If I wanted a "Genuine Microsoft Experience", I'd buy a copy of their O/S.



Nobody I've taught to use Linux to, has had a problem moving or copying files using the standard GNOME desktop.



Nivag

Anonymous said...

Hmm...


GNOME under Ubuntu, is not as easy to use as GNOME under Fedora.

At work I had to use Ubuntu, and found the GNOME less functional than under Fedora 9.

Maybe the problems are more to do with Ubuntu, than GNOME?


-Nivag

Chelle Minkin said...

is there some extension or something installed that adds all that?

They are called Nautilus scripts and they are added to the gnome2 (hidden) folder in the home directory. You can download buckets of them here. http://g-scripts.sourceforge.net/

That is what Ken is talking about. Many of these "scripts" should be implemented natively into Gnome. The user shouldn't have to hunt down scripts and put them into a folder he or she can't even normally see. I was a Linux user for 4 months before I knew anything about these things or that there was such a thing as "hidden files". You have to go to Nautilus view, then checkmark "show hidden files" and then find gnome2 and put them in there or extract them. Some come packaged in bunches so you can put them all in at once. Problem is, you get long lines of "features" like the picture shows. There has to be a better way.

I think they can do better than that and obviously, so does helios. If the Konqueror guys can do it, so can Nautilus. I would think anyway.

Chelle

mrwn said...

maybe you should checkout nautilus-action-config...
definitely can reduce your right-click clutter :D
I use it almost all the time

Kyin said...

I don't use nautilus, though I do use Ubuntu on my desktop. I just use Krusader, my favorite file browser.

I too used KDE until the 4.x series. However, recently testing out FC11 I have to say the Fedora guys hit a home run. I'm thinking of installing Leonidas on my laptop.

The only thing keeping me back is I'm a Debian freak, I don't what I would do without apt. If I could use apt, or aptitude on Fedora I would definitely go for it though.

All in all, I think the best thing is to just not use Nautilus. Krusader was simple to install, and the extra libraries don't take up too much space.

Blog of helios said...

@ mrwn

beautiful tip...checking it out now.

@ mrwn and Kyin

The point is that a new user should not have to use nautilus-action-config or Krusader. These actions/features should be in Nautilus natively, or at least in readily-available plugins within the app (get more plugins here) Works for amarok...it should work for Nautilus. Adding things on just convolutes the application. You and I may be comfortable with stuff like that but the new Linux user isn't going to be.

mdg583 said...

There is nothing wrong with ignoring your users :).

If software is free, the developers must be free to work on what they enjoy working on. Which for a lot of developers is things like a cool new filesystem abstractions, etc. To expect more is unreasonable.

Hopefully with easy in-between developing technologies, like python or javascript in gnome-shell, there can be a lot more developers who don't want to/don't enjoy digging through abstact internal things of how the program works, and can instead focus on what they (might) enjoy - making things nice, useable, customizable, etc.

But as may be apparent I am not totally sold out on the concept of free (money-wise) software.

satsujinka said...

Since I actually have gnome on my computer for a change (typically I use e17 or xfce) and I can't believe I never noticed you can't rename files without right-clicking...
Though as to the move and copy bit, I'm also a ctrl-x/c/v kind of person so that doesn't bother me.
Anyways, I suppose I could say something about kde or gnome, but honestly I don't really care much for them (I just install them every now and again to see if anything interesting's happened to them.)

Kevin said...

@jorge I'm just as confused as you are about this post. My only guess is that helios wants to replicate all the functions of konquorer in nautilus, so he set up a bunch of scripts to do so. I fail to see any valid point in the post besides the fact that nautilus lacks a lot of the options konquorer does and if one creates scripts for it, it doesn't work the way he wants them to.

Justin Hall said...

I started out using KDE back in 1999 because at the time I could not get Gnome to do anything useful. So for many years I was a Kde guy. However before KDE4 even came out, a few months before a friend suggested given gnome a try again. I have to admit I like the look of gnome, its no nonsense simplicity. I just want the GUI to stay the heck out of my way. Features will be added by installing programs. Now tho, I am feeling an itch to try kde out again, 4 is finally taking up shape and the rumors of the up coming gnome 3.0 make me suspect the user revolt will dwarf what happened with kde4 or Vista. I just whish the default KDE desktop didnt look like it belonged on Sesame street.

Anonymous said...

When saving a file, I often find that there already is a file with the name I want for my current file or that I spot a file or folder with the wrong name. I wish one could rename existing files from the File Save dialog box. I mean, every other OS allows this. Having to open a second application and navigate all the way down to where I had just navigated to is so backwards that I have simply moved to KDE instead. :P And I am happy that I did. But, if as you say, Gnome is going to be the face of Linux, I wish this glaring omission was corrected.

Anonymous said...

"I fail to see any valid point in the post besides the fact that nautilus lacks a lot of the options konquorer does and if one creates scripts for it, it doesn't work the way he wants them to."

The only point TO the article is that Nautilus lacks needed functionality if it is to compete in the open market of Operating Systems. He repeats that several times in the blog. He did it in an entertaining and non-hostile way I might add. And again, he does NOT want Nautilus to be Konqueror.

"And no...I don't want Nautilus to be Konqueror...I want someone to have sense enough to realize that moving or copying a file shouldn't entail a drilling expedition."

What other point did you expect? He's highlighting weaknesses in an application that is going to take center stage soon. Instead of doing a facepalm, I am sure the developers will either get all defensive or just do what they've done since Gnome began.

Ignore the users and do what the fsck they want.

23 out of 25 understood the post clearly.

hmmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

@ Nivag


If I wanted a "Genuine Microsoft Experience", I'd buy a copy of their O/S.

Nobody I've taught to use Linux to, has had a problem moving or copying files using the standard GNOME desktop.


Who said anything about a Microsoft experience. I believe the author was talking about the features in Konqueror kicking Nautilus' a$$. Even Microsoft doesn't offer the things he states that Konq does and he is right. I personally just load the libraries I need and make Konq my default file manager in Gnome. It takes a bit of doing but it can be done. Besides, he is right about the ease in Konq.

Me: Right click, copy file to directory. Done.

You in Nautilus. right click file or ctl c, open nautilus, focus mouse, right click field or ctl v.

Took me 3 seconds less than it did you. What was the words he used...let me go look.

Functional - efficient - user friendly.

Which one of the two scenerios best meets those things above?

That was his only point.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Linus' opinion of Gnome?
http://linux.com/archive/feature/114231
Ken, he agrees with you.

However, he switched back to Gnome after KDE 4.0 came out.
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/012209-open-source-identity-linux-founder.html?page=6

I never liked KDE, just a question of aesthetics (too much like Windows?). But I have always detested Nautilus. So I switched to using Xubuntu. Still too much gnome. Now I switched to Openbox. I really like Thunar.

I see where this is going. I will end up on the command line ;-)

Winter

Anonymous said...

Thank you helios for another reason to bookmark your blog.

I have been so sick of Nautilus in the past month, I just went ahead and installed Konqueror in Gnome. I had a pretty good idea it was going to crater my system but fortunately, so far it has not.

I had never heard of that Kim thing you talk about but man alive is it cool. Thank you much for bringing that up. I was opening Gimp for some of the stuff I can now just do with a right click.

Don't waste any more effort on the Gnome people Kenny. For two years I submitted bug reports, became active in their irc chats and boards but in the end, John Hall is right.

They could give a crap about you and me. They are gonna do what they do. They remind me of today's journalist. They don't report for us, they report for each other.

If Gnome isn't careful the same thing is going to happen to them. The only people "watching" them will be other Gnome Developers.

James B.

Anonymous said...

The people that say they moved to Gnome because of KDE4.0 amazes me. If you were needing a working machine, you should have stuck with KDE3.5. Its your own fault if you couldn't understand what a developers release is all about or all the warnings that came with KDE4.0 about its reason for release. i guess most of you are just gnome trolls.
There are more people using KDE in Brazilian schools that there are using Ubunutu worldwide.
Gnome gives you no choice, its like Microsoft, "my way or the Highway", with KDE its up to the distributor to package a default set up for you, and they if you don't like it you can change it.

Ian

Reece Dunn said...

As a developer, I prefer to program for the Gnome programming interfaces as I find them easier to use than the Qt/KDE interfaces.

From an aesthetic point of view, I like KDE4. It's usability and functionality is improving as time goes on. I have found that it does occasionally crash, but this should improve as it matures.

As for Gnome 3, I'm not sure. Gnome Shell and Zeitgeist look interesting, but I'm wondering how practical and usable they will be to the average user. Also, will this distract the Gnome developers from fixing core UI and usability issues.

For me, the perfect desktop would be a hybrid between Gnome and KDE, with seamless UI for running commands from an interactive shell (for the advanced users and for people who want to run commands posted on help forums).

Another thing that is potentially interesting is Mozilla's look at refining and possibly redesigning the web browser UI (with some even looking at how to create a UI that just has the web content). While some people think that everything will be on "the cloud" (or whatever buzzwords are being used these days), I am not confident about having all my files stored remotely.

Anyway, when I write open source code, I write it as a user. This is how it should be. If you find something cumbersome in something you have written, you are more likely to fix it.

I wonder if the Gnome developers are using nautilus, and how many of those are so used to it that they don't see the problems that new users do.

teoten said...

My very first experience using linux was that using Xubuntu (6.10 I think it was). It ran buggy in my old machine. Then I tried Fedora 6, I loved it; everything ran just fine.

What can I say about Nautilus? Yeah, you're kind of right, I started thinking like that after a pair of months using KDE 3.x I liked it very much, until KDE 4.x came up... it disappointed me, so I found a reason to switch back to GNOME. With time these omissions within comparing Nautilus to Konqueror came just as sterile as anything else, even when I almost get used to the right-click menu in Konqueror.

Anyway, I don't see a major force reason not to include these features in Nautilus. Now that I remember I have included some scripts for easing some work in Nautilus.

(C'mon I'll have to enable again those scripts when I have Fedora 11 installed in my laptop)

Regards.

Anonymous said...

I like both. For me, Gnome is simple, KDE3 is more sophisticated. KDE4 is elegant and stylish.Since 4.2, it seems pretty solid and usable.
If you'd like to enjoy KDE3, try Pardus 2008.2, you won't be dissapointed. Kubuntu is not the only KDE distro out there.
And now that KDE4 is actually usable, Pardus 2009 will come with it as default. give it a try.

rossperk said...

I totally thought you were building up for a DTV transition post when you started to talk about how things were and got to the clunk of the dials. :P

But about Gnome... well, my mouse has a button on the side of it that rests under my thumb. In most other applications, when I press this button, it's like clicking the "back" arrow for that application. Nautilus has a back arrow, but what happens when I press this button on my mouse?

Nothing.

Anonymous said...

Even in konqueror, although you have to allow mouse gestures and it can be tricky to find, you can use that mouse button. Starks is right and for those that are chiding him for writing this, I'm glad you have time to piss away, I don't. There isn't a "back" feature or copy and move feature because the developers think if it's good enough for them then we can go pound sand.

Starks didn't come anywhere near "whining" about anything here...people talk crap when they have a keyboard to hide behind. That post was rude and I am glad it got modded. There IS a PG 13 rating here and that person ought to be ashamed for posting such tripe after reading the childrens warning before they posted. I'd like to help him assemble the tubes he talked about.

T

Dante said...

Would I use KDE 4 once it becomes stable? Yep. I strongly feel they need to 'pull a GNOME' and just have a few bug fix releases.

Do I dislike GNOME? Not really, sure, it lacks eye-candy in many areas, and there are valid points raised here (like GNOME throwing you into the file system to find a program to open an unheard of file)
but, it works. For better or for worse. The only sane release of KDE 4 was Fedora 11's, and even then, they threw in KPackageKit, the most backwards in usabilty but forwards in art package manager if I ever saw one. They also included the rather brilliant NetworkManager, which is far better (but nowhere near as pretty) then KDE's own network utility.

A lot of GNOME's default apps are half-arsed programs that provide basic functionailty, and I'd have to agree with you on the half arsed completedness of the whole thing. Sure, they provide bug fixes, but hardly any bug fixes when it comes to the end user other then it'll work on their computer.

Rovanion said...

You can always press F2 to rename a file in nautilus.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned earlier that one could always use Nautilus Actions Configuration.

I thought the guy was coming at this from a new user perspective. NACT would no sooner be usable to a new user than python scripting. that is the most difficult, contrary piece of drivel to ever make it into a distribution. You import the schema you download and error messages start coming in immediately. Nothing in the documentation readily explains that you have to further "refine" the damn things before they work/

Why not just have the new Linux user learn to code in C before they ever install. Then they wouldn't have to ever ask another question, they could just write their own apps/

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the post here, I started to worry about the quality of thoughts by some Linux users .

Those who think Gnome is better than KDE should read this article.

Introducing KDE 4 plasmoids

Those who switched from KDE to Gnome because of issues with KDE 4.0 are naive. They have be warned about them and they always had the choice to keep using KDE 3.5.x. They should have kept using KDE 3.5.x, which in my opinion (using Linux for over 10 yrs), is still much better than the latest Gnome release. I ran KDE 4.x series on a test machine but with KDE 4.2x, I now have it on my three systems. Yes, it still have few issues, especially excessive CPU usage, which will be taken care of soon I am sure, but in my opinion, there is no comparison between KDE and Gnome. KDE is at least 3 yrs ahead of Gnome. Gnome 3.x wouldn't have surfaced if it wasn't for KDE 4.x shaking the foundation of Gnome. FOSS is anti-stagnation but Gnome has been a symbol of stagnation in DE technology. KDE is sprinting into the new era of computer desktop

Some might think Gnome is the face of Linux for new users, in my opinion, it is not because Gnome is better or superior, not at all, it is simply because Ubuntu popularity forcing it down the new Linux users throats. Eventually, they will try out other distros with KDE as the default DE. They will see the difference in features, capabilities, user friendliness and overall superiority of KDE 4.x desktop.

Did I ever ran Gnome? I sure did. I periodically test it out just to get an idea about the latest improvements, unfortunately, I was disappointed every single time.

Ken, your article was very legitimate and spot on, and more importantly, I am sure creating a flame war is never your intention.

Regards,
-Abe

Blog of helios said...

I am sure creating a flame war is never your intention.

No Abe, it was not, and never is...it's just a byproduct of our community and shows how far we have to go to achieve unity.
h

Énio said...

"These actions/features should be in Nautilus natively, or at least in readily-available plugins within the app (get more plugins here) Works for amarok...it should work for Nautilus."

@helios are you reffering to amarok 1.x or 2.x? if you are refferenig to 2.x series that's part of kde4 and is a system to get new content called kgethotnewstuff, not specific to amarok.

Anonymous said...

Gnome, Windows, MacOSX = one-pane file managers. so I always have to open two copies of the file manager to move or copy files.

This is so lame and unproductive.

On KDE, a two pane manager is standard, and I am forever spoiled. Of course, you can download a cross-platform GPL alternative (muCommander, for example) but KDE "just works".

FWIW, konqueror runs on MacOSX, via fink.

bash-3.2$ which konqueror

/sw/bin/konqueror

My recommendation for a happy Ubuntu experience is to install gnome first (you need the libs and some core apps) and then kde-desktop for usability and productivity.

Magice said...

Since when has Ubuntu and GNOME become "faces of Linux"? Oops, when did "Linux" become the name for the whole system, whose many parts are not Linux? So, now "Linux" is the new Windows, right? Instead of empowering, it will now dictate what is best for the users, right? No more choosing: here is GNOME, cope with it.

Again, why would you use Ubuntu if you don't like GNOME? I mean, there are literally tens of distros that are completely compatible with Ubuntu but don't use GNOME. At the very least, use Elive (it is combination of Debian and E17, or so I was told). Ubuntu is not even that good as a distro to start with (I have always have troubles with how it tries to cuddle the users), so why bother?

This, again, reminds me of what we are sacrificing for popularity. If we cannot help other people to understand what they have, well, why impose GNU/Linux upon them? If Windows works fine for them, and they have no needs for freedom, and they think that enslavement is a good idea, well, why bother sacrificing our freedom to court them over? GNU/Linux is supposed to empower its users, helps them realize that there are more ways to personalize their system than just, you know, GNOME.

kozmcrae said...

I can't understand the problems people are having with KDE4. I've never had any problems at all with KDE4. I've never used it. Never even tried to use it. I let everyone else suffer the pain for me. Thanks guys. What is supposed to be so good about KDE4 that one should abandon KDE3.x? Or, look at it this way. What is so bad about KDE3.x that one should jump to KDE4 ASAP? I have no desire to introduce a disruption into my life unless it's absolutely necessary. Life has a way of doing that far too often all by itself.

So while I wait for KDE4 to become painless, me and my computer are purring along on KDE3.5.10.

On Gnome. When I first used Linux, Gnome was the default desktop. When I finally learned how to change it to KDE everything suddenly got easier. I've dabbled with it since then. I know people do (obviously) love it, but I cannot fathom why anyone would want to use it. I read somewhere that Gnome developers increase usability by increasing simplicity. They accomplish that by removing features. My suggestion would be to make KDE look and act mostly like Gnome. My second suggestion would be to use Xfce.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I wouldn't use any desktop that embraces Mono. Although I do use some Gnome applications in KDE, I avoid any that use Mono. It just feels too dirty.

Jae said...

Well here's your big chance as far as Ubuntu is concerned:

https://edge.launchpad.net/hundredpapercuts

aikiwolfie said...

I'm a bit confused. In my experience moving or copying a file in Gnome is almost the same as it is in Windows. It's certainly nothing so weird it can't be learned.

Dragging with the left mouse button down will copy the file if you drag between two Nautilus windows. A simple cut and paste is all you need to do to move the file between two Nautilus windows.

If you're working within a single Nautilus window, "left click" and drag to a sub-folder in that same window then the file will be moved instead.

If you can't figure out or remember the keyboard short-cuts of Ctrl+x the Ctrl+p for cut 'n' paste and Ctrl+c then Ctrl+p for copy 'n' paste. Then the right menu brings up the context menu. Cut, Copy and Paste are all right there at the top level of that menu. There's no "drilling down" really.

Fortunately Nautilus and Gnome in general are high script-able and configurable. I've noticed the right click context menu executes on the "mouse-down" event rather than a full "click" event.

If Gnome won't fix this perhaps Canonical will. The Gnome desktop is open source after all.

Énio said...

To all gnome haters: if all you are gonna do is tell us how much better kde 3(or anything else) is better than gnome/kde4 don't even bother posting, really, all you accomplish is waste everyone's time.

What the author asks is ideas to improve nautilus's right click menu.

BTW here is a good starting place to make your ideas known to the devs.

Purple library guy said...

I have my problems with Gnome now and then, but I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what Helios is complaining about.
I don't mean that in the usual aggressive kind of way. I mean I literally don't understand just what problems he's identifying, so I can't tell whether I agree that they're there. Some sentence somewhere in which he just comes out and says "In Gnome, you have to do X in order to accomplish Y, and this sucks" would be helpful. I have a feeling that the problems he has aren't ones I'm encountering, but I'm really not sure.

I disagree about hidden files, though. There's all these scads of config things and I don't want them in my way; they clutter the place up. I can look at them if I really want to. Some people don't know how to unhide those hidden files--those are the same people who probably shouldn't be messing with them until they learn a bit more, so that works fine. Aren't those same files hidden in KDE? I *know* I've done a similar "Show hidden files" thing in Konqueror.

. . . not that Konqueror is relevant to novice user discussions any more anyway, because they have this Dolphin thing now. You can still use Konqueror, but only people who know they want to will find it and use it.

segedunum said...

I am still liking the old KDE but I have to give my kids the distro most people use and that is Ubuntu with the Gnome interface. I do however show them KDE and many of them end up using it.

Hmmmmmm. So you've just described why the functionality of Ubuntu's desktop is inferior, described how even the most basic of file management operations is below what people expect on Windows, Mac and KDE, even after Eazel threw a ton of other peoples' money at Nautilus years ago, and you've even got people who end up using KDE given a choice............and you still think you should be using Ubuntu?

Ubuntu's hypnotism is nothing if not interesting.

As I've said before elsewhere, no one has ever sold a piece of software to people based on it having less features:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000020.html

It's why you *never* see people buying into cut-down office suites or text editors because of the 'simplicity'. You could never sell licenses for such software in a million years, nor can you make people use it even if it's free.

When you're up against proprietary software that has more features than Ubuntu's desktop has, with a market share lead, then Ubuntu starts to look rather daft.

Énio said...

@Jae I think it's better to report usability stuff directly upstream since canonical is (in)famous for not giving back (or so i've read).

Anonymous said...

I have my problems with Gnome now and then, but I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what Helios is complaining about.
I don't mean that in the usual aggressive kind of way. I mean I literally don't understand just what problems he's identifying, so I can't tell whether I agree that they're there.

In talking with new users, I hear constantly the frustration of having to find features after the right click. According to them, and I agree, there are simple things that should be there natively. Move and copy files are obvious and in my mind the most important. Even everyday users find themselves in the file manager constantly. We need to make that experience as functional, efficient and user-friendly as possible.

Right now I don't think it is. Why are we adding an extra step of adding scripts?


I base my opinions here on my experiences in Konqueror. In my opinion, Konqueror is the best file manager out there. You don't have to install "scripts" in order to do simple things...you don't have to drill down three menu entries to do the easy stuff. Take a look at my scripts folder and see what I mean. Note the file folder in the middle of the pack. Shouldn't it follow heiarchy and be at the top?[Photo]

Pretty much sums it up. Not too much confusion on this end. Nautilus needs to implement some of the features KDE has to make it user friendly. Adding scripts is some developer's idea of fixing the inherent lack of move/copy features in Nautilus. Helios is right, these and other things should be native in Nautilus, not some script that has to be hunted down and installed into some obscure folder.

Anonymous said...

I have my problems with Gnome now and then, but I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what Helios is complaining about.
I don't mean that in the usual aggressive kind of way. I mean I literally don't understand just what problems he's identifying, so I can't tell whether I agree that they're there.

In talking with new users, I hear constantly the frustration of having to find features after the right click. According to them, and I agree, there are simple things that should be there natively. Move and copy files are obvious and in my mind the most important. Even everyday users find themselves in the file manager constantly. We need to make that experience as functional, efficient and user-friendly as possible.

Right now I don't think it is. Why are we adding an extra step of adding scripts?


I base my opinions here on my experiences in Konqueror. In my opinion, Konqueror is the best file manager out there. You don't have to install "scripts" in order to do simple things...you don't have to drill down three menu entries to do the easy stuff. Take a look at my scripts folder and see what I mean. Note the file folder in the middle of the pack. Shouldn't it follow heiarchy and be at the top?[Photo]

Pretty much sums it up. Not too much confusion on this end. Nautilus needs to implement some of the features KDE has to make it user friendly. Adding scripts is some developer's idea of fixing the inherent lack of move/copy features in Nautilus. Helios is right, these and other things should be native in Nautilus, not some script that has to be hunted down and installed into some obscure folder.

Reece Dunn said...

Some things that annoy me that could be done better:

1. better archive integration -- I shouldn't need to launch an archive manager to go into and extract files from it.

2. 'open with...' > 'other application...' does not have a "remember this action prompt"; kde4 has this feature which is very useful.

3. delete does not prompt for confirmation (as has been mentioned before), unless the drive does not have delete support (i.e. a trash/deleted items directly)

4. no option to permanently delete a file (not going through the deleted items folder), no ability to always do this, and no option to undo the "always do this" action

5. auto-play of audio files does not work in list mode

6. compact mode clips the text of long filenames with no way to resize it and no tooltip to show the full name (likewise in other contexts, such as the places pane) -- dolphin and konqueror in kde4 also have this issue

7. no way to access the visible columns or view mode without going to the menu/toolbar (no quick right mouse button access)

8. right mouse button on a tab switches to that tab

9. cannot shrink name column in list view (name -- huh?) mode below a certain size that varies percentage wise depending on the size of the window

Anonymous said...

"And why are there "hidden" files in my home directory. What is there that I am not supposed to see?"

Yeah, like there was no "Documents and Settings\user_name\Local Settings" or "Users\user_name\AppData" folder right there in their home directory, on Windows accounts... And yet, dot-files in Linux are strange, while hidden folders in Windows profile are okay. A swift bit of irony. :-P

Dante said...

I would use KDE 3, were it that my machine could acutally connect to the net with it.

Blog of helios said...

@ Dante,

I don't mean to start a pigpile on KDE because I do actually like and use it, but...case on point.

Using one of the Debian variations, I have a 250 gig mini drive that I use to take out on installs and service calls with me. It has every tool and distro imaginable on it and I can actually usb boot 7 different distros from it.

On my KDE 3.5.10 machine, the darned thing went stupid. Every five minutes or so it would crash and immediately change filenames. Like if it was sdb1, it would crash and reset itself as sdc1, then the window would pop up and axe me if I wanted to open it or whatever. I believe I got all the way to sdm1 before I just pulled the damned usb plug. It was making what Steve Gibson calls "the click of death"...a sure sign that your drive is about to go to digital heaven.

I rebooted with it engaged in the slot and started the painful task of transferring all my important files over to another portable drive and I was just going to pitch the portable 250.

Well...after it chugged and changed file designation names about 16 times, I got them transferred, unplugged it and tossed it into the bin for recycle.
A month ago I put hacktolive's SuperOS on this machine because I really like what he's done with Ubuntu and just for kicks plugged in that wasted drive.

It's been working ever sense. Turns out that it was a KDE issue all the time. The drive is fine. All of this to tell you that sometimes people give up on a platform too fast, before trying another environment.

It can make all the difference in the world. the bug report still hasn't been accepted by anyone to work with.

Figures...only thousands of drives are being potentially thrown away needlessly.

h

fred said...

@Reece Dunn:
"As a developer, I prefer to program for the Gnome programming interfaces as I find them easier to use than the Qt/KDE interfaces."

You must be an uber programmer :O Every single programmer out there that I know (including me) prefers C++/Qt compared to C/GTK+.

Reece Dunn said...

@fred: ^_^

There are the C++ bindings to Gnome (Gtkmm, etc) that I find easier as a C++ developer (but that may just be me ^_^). They are by no means perfect, but they were easy to follow through the tutorials and documentation. I like the actions/signals/UIManager interaction.

Anonymous said...

For Nautilus split view see: http://berndth.blogspot.com/2009/06/nautilus-split-view-update.html

Anonymous said...

Here are my two cents:

I find both Konqueror and Dolphin much better than Nautilus.
KDevelop is much better than GEdit.

Otherwise Gnome is much better than KDE (any KDE, 3 and 4).

KDE crashes and the menu structure is horrible. I can never find anything. The default setup with the bouncy-bouncy mouse cursor gets on my nerves.

The best distilled version of Gnome is in Mint.

clamshell.php said...

The theatre experience is still the same :)

Just graduated. Now I can start my education.

And begin Linux evangelism.

Your blog is a great inspiration!

FelixTheCat said...

@Magice
"Since when has Ubuntu and GNOME become "faces of Linux"? Oops, when did "Linux" become the name for the whole system, whose many parts are not Linux? So, now "Linux" is the new Windows, right? Instead of empowering, it will now dictate what is best for the users, right? No more choosing: here is GNOME, cope with it."

Where in the blinking world did this come from? Holy cow! Because Ubuntu is winning a popularity contest doesn't mean it's the only game in town. In fact, there are probably a scant few fanatics that would dare say Ubuntu is the end-all be-all for Linux. The rest of them would most likely state it is one of the better starter distros but should never be the distro.

With your last sentence I do agree, though. Again, although Ubuntu is the "official" distro, they do have, ya know, other versions.

And where in blazes did anyone say you must use Ubuntu???

Dante said...

Just an update, I took the plunge and went straight into the world of KDE 4.

At first, I was lost, my early GNOME days not being that far away in my mind, I set about learning the desktop.

I'm sorry, I'm really, honestly sorry.

But I prefer KDE 4 over GNOME.

Putting aside it's sleek appearance, the apps 'just work' better then anything GNOME had to offer me. Excluding KPackageKit (with Synaptic instead) and KNetworkManager (wicd replaced it) I have a lean, mean desktop thats just as ready to show off as it is to function

There are a few bugs, but my machine is quite literrly purring. I was using insane amounts of processing power in GNOME to run it's apps. Now I'm barely scratching the surface.

Again, I'm sorry, GNOME devs and fans, I know you've done your best and I appreciate that, I think GNOME is excellent...but it's large list of wontfixes and lack of usabilty compared to KDE just make it...well, medieval, in my eyes.

KDE devs just seem to be closer to their community, inviting wishlist features and linking into the community (the 'get from KDE-look.org' link-in in plasma is one example)

I use Kubuntu 9.04..kinda wish Canonical would do a bit more work on it, just to tidy things up.

Is it free of problems? No, nothing ever is. But my own bugs are already being addressed and for most of them a fix is in the works.

(Note; everything said above is my opinion, I am not stating it as fact. I have no intention of causing another war over this much-debated topic)

Blog of helios said...

I am, in all probability, about a week away from agreeing with you. Remember, I took refuge in Gnome when the kde landscape was a bomb blast. KDE 3.4.10 had almost broken my portable drive by renaming the /dev/sd?/ every 15 seconds and to this day I don't know why it did that...I just know that I cannot afford anything to crater my mission-critical data.

I don't know that gnome is all that bad...I think there is a long way to go to answer user issues and therein lies my basic problem with the gnome environment, as you state, kde guys listen...gnome guys do what the fsck they want and pretty much ignore you.

When the next stable release of kde comes out, I am in...but still.

You gnome devs need to remember who makes you.

h

Anonymous said...

Well I will tell you why I just told Gnome to KMA...and it was something simple.

I use 4-6 desktops and I use different wallpapers as visual cues. Did you know that in this day and age, you CANNOT, without writing a GD script, have different wallpapers on different desktops?

What kind of crap is that. I mean, that's the easy stuff I would think.

I was willing to let it go until I googled it and found out that this feature has been begged for since Roy Rogers for God's sake.

The Gnome developers refuse to even consider it. I gave those pukes 200.00 last year and it pisses me off. I just wiped my Ubuntu drive after backup and am now using PCLinuxOS. At least the 3.5.10 desktop there lets me do what I need to do.

Pukes.

Kevin said...

"The only point TO the article is that Nautilus lacks needed functionality if it is to compete in the open market of Operating Systems. He repeats that several times in the blog. He did it in an entertaining and non-hostile way I might add. And again, he does NOT want Nautilus to be Konqueror."

@Anonymous

Here is my specific confusion. Under "Like Dood, Wherez my Filez?" he first complains about linux folder hierarchy. Then says that it's a necessary evil. Then he talks about how great konquorer is for having tons of options that need to be implemented as scripts in nautilus. Looking at his screenshot he has a disorganized list of scripts, many are redundant with nautilus's preexisting features (archiving scripts for example).

He claims that new users want to have a way of moving files after a right click. Ok, fine a little unintuitive I guess. But, I believe, instead of the complicate route that Helios takes, he should just encourage bookmarks so that the user can simply drag and drop files/folders into the side menu. Perhaps that is too much of a shift in user's thinking? He assumes this in argument that was hidden in the story. After reading again, and your post, I believe his argument boils down to "users always know best". This, to me is the thing he needs to argue, not how bad scripts are implemented in nautilus and not that there are too many "missing" features.

His only argument lies in where he mentions how gnome devs ignore their users (which is mostly true but not an original statement). The thing that gnome wants to do is avoid billions of options in their desktop environment which leads to clutter. If a user wants a ton of options, then perhaps Helios should direct them to use KDE. I know Helios says that he doesn't want nautilus to be Konquorer, but if nautilus looses one of the fundamental principles of gnome, then why should it be gnome's file manager?

Adrian said...

I can relate to a lot of the comments here. I like kde 3.5, haven't yet seen anything in kde4 that makes me feel it's worth the change, have been trying Gnome (easiest for new users, but not to my taste). Tried Xubuntu (Xfce) in the past, good for older machines, but I hate that your first contact with it assumes you have a working mouse.

That covers 3 standard flavors of Ubuntu, but I've recently found Crunchbang Ubuntu, and I like it a lot (so far). Surprised it's not more popular (yet?).

Evan said...

Don't want to be a jerk, but what is so hard about drag and drop copying? I mean in Konquer/Dolphin/Nautlis/Thunar/Explore you have to a source file in a directory to that you want to copy and you have to have open the at some point target location. What is so hard about drag and drop. To read the comments that option does not exist, and it is an unnatural burden to need to right click select copy, then right click select paste.

I mean really, most new Linux user are ex Mac or Windows users, and thus used to that operation. And for the few true new computer users, like the ones Helios Project can encounter, they have no preconceived notions of how to use a computer anyway, so it will all be foreign to them.