Is GNOME the best Linux desktop?

Today in Open Source: The GNOME Wars continue to rage between desktop Linux users. Plus: A former GNOME user falls in love with it again, and a GNOME 3 dissident speaks out

GNOME: The best Linux desktop?

A Softpedia writer proclaims his love for GNOME.

Happily for me, GNOME works exactly the way I want it to work. I can bend it and customize it to look and act how I want it to (at a given moment in time), because like many of you, I get easily bored by one configuration and I am constantly searching for a different look all the time.

Don’t use GNOME just because you’ve read this article and you think it looks cool. If you never used GNOME before, or if you had a bad experience with previous versions of GNOME, I suggest to get a Linux distribution that provides a pure version of GNOME (the latest version), such as Arch Linux or Manjaro, give it a try for a few weeks and then see if it’s good for your or not.

More at Softpedia
GNOME Best Linux Desktop
Image credit: Softpedia

GNOME users sure are a passionate bunch, as you can tell from the article quoted above. I got a taste of this when I wrote a review of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 for Desktop Linux Reviews.

My initial take on Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 was quite negative, mainly due to the fact that I have never been able to adjust to GNOME 3. I used to love GNOME back before the changes that came with version 3. After that, I just couldn't use it.

Well, I got quite the earful in the comments section of the review as you can see if you read through the comments. The readers who posted had some fair points, so I took another look at the review and made some changes while trying to look at Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 from a more neutral point of view.

I noticed that the Softpedia author also changed the title of his article. No doubt there have probably been some passionate responses in the comments from some non-GNOME users to the initial title that touted GNOME as the best Linux desktop.

So is GNOME the best Linux desktop? It's certainly not for me. I can use it but it doesn't please me the way it does the Softpedia writer. I tend to prefer classic desktop interfaces (Xfce, MATE, etc.) rather than the Unity or GNOME 3 ones. I can't help it, it's just how I prefer to use my computer.

I think GNOME is mostly a "love it" or "hate it" kind of desktop these days. The folks who love it defend it passionately while the ones who hate it will deride it with their last breath. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of middle ground in the GNOME Wars.

It's a shame that perspectives on GNOME have become so polarized, but that seems to be the situation right now. Perhaps this will change eventually as GNOME itself changes, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

The Linux Tycoon loves GNOME too

Softpedia isn't the only site with a writer who loves GNOME, Network World also has an ode to GNOME.

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?

More at Network World

The author's point about openSUSE's implementation of GNOME is worth noting. Sometimes it's not the desktop environment itself that causes people to like or dislike it, it's how it is used in a distribution. It's entirely possible that his experience might have been less positive if he'd used a different distribution.

So it's always a good idea to keep VirtualBox handy. If you find yourself disliking one distribution's version of a desktop, try a different distro and see if that version of the desktop appeals to you more.

A negative take on GNOME

Since the first two articles are quite positive about GNOME, I thought it only fair to include one that takes the opposite point of view. This blog entry from back in June 2013 covers some of the problems with GNOME 3.

Two years after the first release of GNOME 3, once GNOME developers have had the time to polish the rough edges, it’s time to make the call; GNOME 3 sucks.

Even to this day people keep complaining about GNOME 3, how the interface doesn’t make sense, how the developers don’t listen, and how the design is brain-dead.

There’s no other way to put it; GNOME 3 was a mistake.

More at Felipe Contreras
GNOME 3 Sucks
Image credit: Felipe Contreras

His post sums up some of the criticisms of GNOME 3, and it certainly provoked some passionate responses in the comments section. GNOME 3 has become a lightning rod for controversy, the only other desktop I can think of that provokes similarly passionate criticism is Unity.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other desktop environments for Linux users. If GNOME doesn't appeal to you then you can choose from a bunch of other options. The large menu of desktop choices is one of the best things about Linux.

What's your take on GNOME? Are you a fan or a foe? Tell me in the comments below.

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