Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Mon 23rd May, 2011

GNOME 3 improved

As part of starting at my new place of employment, I've installed the beta of Fedora 15 (because the real thing comes out tomorrow, curse it). With it comes GNOME 3, the latest update of the GNOME window manager.

So far my experience is pretty good. Yes, it's different, but no, it's not that different that I can't learn how to use it. It's a case of not thinking "why can't I do that the old way" but "I wonder what the new way is", and for the most part it's not that painful. Of course, there were a few things that I did want to make work the same as my previous GNOME setup and the main one was focus following the mouse pointer. After a bit of research on the net, I found the necessary command and will post it here for reference:

gconftool-2 -s /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode -t string mouse
(I'll spare my readers my cunning arguments about why focus following the mouse is the obvious, natural and optimal system for interfaces with an explicit focus indicator such as a mouse pointer. Save to say, just use it.)

Another thing that's changed is that Alt-TAB now groups all windows by application - all Firefox windows are treated as one group for the purpose of tabbing around, for example. When one application has multiple windows open, a little down-arrow appears at the bottom of its icon and, by mousing over it, you can then select the sub-window you require. This, however, is inconvenient if, like me, you use the keyboard a fair bit - moving to use the mouse takes time and effort. I discovered, with a bit of experimentation, that you can use the arrow keys for this as well - press Alt-TAB and use either TAB and Shift-TAB or left and right to navigate; when an application with sub-windows is selected, use down to show a list of its sub-windows and left and right to select from there.

Maybe there are other ways of using this; that's what worked for me. But it shows that a bit of experimentation can take less time than grumbling about how everything's changed and it no longer matches what you see.

And I think it's going to be a surpreme bit of irony that there'll be all these Linux experts complaining about how GNOME has broken everything and they want their old GNOME look and feel back - the same people who keep on looking down on their friends for not wanting to move from Windows or OS X to GNOME because "it's a different look and feel". Take it on the chin, people.

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