You don’t see too many of these posts anymore, I suspect because most folks (Myself included) are pretty set in their ways so if they haven’t switched to gnome3, they aren’t as likely to anymore. Mostly I wanted to look at wayland and gnome3 in rawhide has a handy way to do that, so I decided I should try and give gnome another try (it’s been years) and see if it still wasn’t for me. Also, I thought it would be good to get some better up to date info on things to help other users out, even if I did go back to my regular desktop. Also, there has been a fair bit of talk about capturing the ‘sysadmin’ user for Fedora workstation, and since I am a sysadmin, I thought it might help out if I tried things out and pointed out issues I ran into.

Sadly, the wayland/gnome-shell in rawhide right now (at least with my hardware) is very crashy. It’s not really possible to use it day to day and get any kind of feel for things. Also, things like tap to click aren’t possible there and thats way way too disruptive to my workflow to handle right now. So, I decided since I was already trying things out, might as well just give gnome3 under X a shot again. Of course this is rawhide, so some things I ran into could well have been bugs or general brokenness.

Some ground rules I decided for myself: I wouldn’t tell anyone in advance I was doing this (so I could ask them later if they thought I was more or less productive) and I wouldn’t seek help on IRC or mailing lists, only ddg searches or looking around myself.

I probibly spent about an hour configuring my apps and basic stuff so it would be usable at first, then poked at various things as I went along and they bothered me.

Here’s a list of observations, in no particular order:

  • There’s amusingly only 1 gnome extension available that works with the gnome version in rawhide. World clock. I was confused for a bit before I saw the dropdown to have it search for all versions.
  • Of course this meant that I had to search out the magic incantation to disable the version check so other extensions would work. Perhaps this could be added to a UI somewhere? Or at least gnome-tweak-tool?
  • Some extensions still wouldn’t work or install, and I could see no feedback on why. Perhaps allow some kind of log viewing from the extensions setting pref?
  • The two finger scrolling is fine, but I was used to edge scrolling… wish there was an option for it, as it feels more natural to me. Of course it’s only one synclient command away.
  • I am very very very anoyed by not being able to set it to do nothing on lid close on AC power. Of course I can and did, but I had to bypass the settings entirely and add my own startup script with an inhibit. I understand that the default should be for it to suspend, but not allowing users to override this is doing them a disservice. I’d be happy if there was a warning, or even a dconf key that you had to look up, or anything. Just removing any way to do it within gnome makes people go and bypass it (in systemd or via a inhibt script), so you don’t really get anything positive by forcing them to do this other than the impression that you don’t care about their perfectly valid use cases.
  • For many many years I had a small script that I used with xscreensaver. It would listen for lock events and run ‘ssh-add -D’ and tell the keyring to forget my gpg passphrases and tell keepassx to lock. I couldn’t find any way to get gnome screensaver to do this. Would be wonderful if it was a pref. I think there’s lots of folks who don’t want their keys to be unlocked on their laptop while they are away from it. Alternately a timeout after which it would forget, or a option to make it always ask for your passphrase would be welcome.
  • Not natively saving sessions seems odd to me as well. I was easily able to add my apps via gnome-tweak-tool, but why wouldn’t you want to restart all the things someone had running after a relogin? Restarting apps all the time is a waste of time, especially when you run rawhide and reboot daily or so.
  • The message tray doesn’t really do too great with non native gnome apps. Hexchat for example shows up there, but I can’t see any of it’s back notifications or anything. Some notifications appear and then go away, never to be seen again. I’d really love a queue I could scroll through and clear. I gather a revamp of notifications is planned for 3.14, so we will see. Also, it seems some notifications do show up ok from hexchat, so not sure what causes some of them to not stay around.
  • One amusing bit of fallout from disabling suspend on lid close: My laptop has a touchscreen and sometimes when closed the keyboard presses on it somehow and generates events. One night I closed the laptop and went to bed, only to be woken up a short time later by my Girlfriend. She indicated my laptop was making crazy noises. It seems it managed to enable the ‘screen reader’ assist on the lockscreen and was trying to read the garbage in the login box. I then disabled the ‘show assistive menu’ option. 😉 I guess no one runs into this because they suspend always on lid close. 🙁
  • One issue I ran into a few years ago was that I switch between things a great deal. I want it to be fast. I am happy to say that alt-tab is working pretty nicely to switch between applications now. It’s nearly as quick as a desktop change in Xfce. I’m pretty impressed with the advance in graphics handling.
  • A few times now I have had gnome shell suddenly make everything unusably big (like it forgot it’s on a HIDPI display). I haven’t been able to pinpoint what causes this yet, but definitely a anoying bug. When I happens sometimes I need to reboot, sometimes just restart the session/gdm.
  • I wish there was a way to save the positional settings for gnome-terminal better. I can get it to start one on login, but then I need to move it where I want it, start another few, etc. For sysadmin use, terminals are really important. Remebering which were tiled, how many tabs, etc would be very helpful. I finally settled on 2 terminals tiled to each side and running tmux locally on one and the other for remote tmux on our Fedora admin host. Having to set them up each time was a bit of a annoyance tho.
  • works nicely (at least until I suspend) for autorotating on my yogo 2 pro. Nice work! 🙂
  • The “shield” has some issues as many folks have mentioned of late. I would be very happy with the proposed patch that makes it appear on any one keypress and go away on any second keypress. I always use shift or control on screensavers so as not to send input to them I don’t intend or can’t see. It would also be nice if the shield detected the lid was closed and just refused anything until the lid opens.
  • (very minor) The menu has “Location” and says it’s enabled. If I click on that I get a “disable” Option. How about displaying what it thinks my location is there? Or an option to ‘refresh’ or something.
  • I like having a UTC clock, and was able to add one with the panel world clock, but there was no UTC option, I had to read comments to see I needed to select some city in iceland. Please add a UTC option.
  • The brightness I have selected doesn’t seem to persist through reboots. 🙁 systemd correctly resets it when I boot up, but then when I login I get 100% full brightness. Not sure if thats intentional, or a bug.
  • I’m not really using workspaces currently. It seems like they should be more useful, but it just seems like they make things harder to switch between. I suppose if you had several very clearly different tasks that you switched between rarely it could be nice.

So, thats after a week of use. 😉 Am I going to stick with it? I’m not fully sure… I think I could be productive and use it full time, but a few of the issues are irritating. I’d put the lid suspend issue at the top, then saving of terminal positions next, followed by the inability to hook into the lockscreen or have options for forgetting ssh/gpg. All the rest are pretty minor overall, and I don’t think I was all that much less productive.

I’ll likely file a few bugs I ran into and chime in on a few more and see what happens over the next few weeks on those…