#ubuntu1804 and #gnome

I had been running the Artful Aardvark, and decided to upgrade to Bionic Beaver. I downloaded lubuntu, because I wanted a lighter-weight install, and I was ambivalent about Gnome.

After awhile with LXDE, I decided to install Ubuntu’s standard Gnome desktop.

A big dislike I had with Gnome is the “workflow”. If I am working on a development project, I like to have a large half-width vim session open on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side I will Firefox for reference purposes, and umpteen other terminals. These terminals are used for compiling, grepping, running unit tests, and ad hoc testing.

This creates a clutter of terminals, and it’s not easy to navigate to the right one if it is obscured by Firefox.

So my main gripes with Gnome are/were:
* poor support for complex layouts
* resource pig. My PC is fairly quiet. It is a small form-factor PC, with a tendency to be throttled at high CPU intensity. Gnome and Firefox seem the biggest consumer of resources, and I dislike hearing my fan whirling around as it tries to service these apps.

I would say that Gnome, and in particular Ubuntu’s styling, to be the best I have ever seen on any platform. The styling has come a long way from its monkey-excrement brown days. Windows XP/7 default scheme is not to my liking. However, it only takes a few short tweaks to make it look much more serviceable. I tried Windows 8 layout for a short while, and I have seen what Windows 10 looks like. Both are retrograde steps.

I have stopped using Macs in 2010. I bought one in 2007 (Tiger?). The styling, as you’d expect, was excellent. I upgraded the OS for free (Lion?). In some ways, the styling was better, and in some ways it was a little worse. It was gorgeous, but I think that in the final analysis, it was “overproduced”. Its failing was that it was “too” gorgeous, if that makes sense. The Macs typographical choices could have been better. Windows fonts tend to be dull, but serviceable.

To recapitulate, Windows XP/7 tend to be too saccharine out of the box, but they’re easily tamed into something dull, but working. Actually, dull but working is a good thing! Windows 8/10 … well … what were Microsoft thinking?

Gnome, as I have said, has the best aesthetics I have seen. I am glad that, FINALLY, someone gets desktop design. UI design is about a subtle combination of good looks and RESTRAINT.

The icon set of Gnome is appealing and the fonts are pleasant. Linux has traditionally been poor on fonts, and has been something that has bugged me for a long time. The fonts on Ubuntu are faultless.

One UI design that I like to see is the convention that active windows should have a distinctly darker title bar from inactive Windows. Nearly all window managers just don’t get this simple design right. Gnome is also remiss on this score.

Exploring LXDE, I find there’s a couple of things I miss from Gnome. I am exploring using LXTerminal on Gnome. This allows multiple tabs on the same terminal. This allows me to have the multiple subtasks that I need for carrying out development, but I can switch between two major terminal tasks using Win-`.

So I think I will stick with Gnome for awhile, and see how the combination suits me.

Perhaps using something like dwm is a good choice for me, too. I shall think about it.

Really good usability has yet to be cracked for complex tasks. One idea that I had was for multiple layouts. I do not mean virtual desktops. What I mean is the same windows laid out in multiple ways. You would then switch layouts for the subtask in hand.

Finally, a rant about Firefox and web designers. FFS, how can rendering web pages be so resource intensive? What is wrong with everyone? Can we not just keep poxy javascript to a minimum? Web pages should be mostly just text. OK, if you’re Youtube, you get a pass for resource usage and web complexity.

And here’s something that I think is poor design: web banners! Think about it, the top of web pages normally have large banners on them. So the most useful part of the page is covered by pictures that convey very little information. Sure, the page may look good, but I place emphasis on functionality over form.

Now, I’m off stop install an adblocker.

About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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