When I asked several people why they liked GNOME3 or GNOME-Shell, the most common answer was “the extensions system that allows you to customize your desktop.” GNOME3 simply wouldn’t be popular without the extensions system that allows developers to write and publish desktop extensions.
Customization is at the heart of every Linux desktop. A long time ago, when GNOME2.0 was the standard, customization was openly allowed on Linux systems, and everyone used that freedom in different ways. Everyone tweaked their desktop differently, and made it feel like $HOME in different ways.
But recently there have been changes in two major Linux desktops that seek to limit customization and development. I’m going to call it what it is… if it seeks to limit development, it’s antidevelopment!
Antidevelopment is any change made to the user experience that is not beneficial and serves only to limit or restrict what the user wants to do, especially in the field of customization.
I read an interesting post the other day from deviantART user half-left. He recently had a falling out with GNOME3 because of the same antidevelopment I’ve seen in GNOME3 and Ubuntu Unity.
half-left journaled it this way: “Apparently, GNOME upstream thinks their users don’t customize their desktop… because they are so detached from their user base.”
I would extend this to include both GNOME and Ubuntu Unity. GNOME3 and Ubuntu Unity seems to be completely detached from their user base. Why are they so detached from their users?
The GNOME team has made such puzzling changes in the past year that it is clear that they aren’t connected in any way, shape, or form to their users.
Mouse cursors? - You can’t change them and expect the change to stick. When I filed a bug about the problem with mouse cursors, I was told "Don’t change the mouse cursor. DMZ-White is good enough for every user. Problem solved." That’s the solution! Don’t change anything; just stick with default… and there’s no problem.
Changing the mouse cursor can be more important than just the desire to tweak a new theme. What about users who have trouble seeing the DMZ-White cursor and need to change to a larger cursor? This could be considered a bug in Accessibility. Because mouse cursor changes have been ignored and largely removed by GNOME3 and Unity for the last 2 years, I claim that this is antidevelopment!
Screensaver? - What screensaver? Oh, the GNOME screensaver? There is no screensaver, anymore. For many years the GNOME screensaver was frustrating because it had no user controls to set screensaver properties. Now… all it does is blank the screen. There are no controls or screensavers left in the screensaver package! GNOME has apparently decided that its users don’t like using screensavers so they took all the controls out! This is antidevelopment!
Themes? - What themes? There are 5 themes provided in Ubuntu, and only 1 theme provided in GNOME. Only recently did Unity add the ability to change between the 5 themes that came installed on it. But no ways have been provided in either Unity or GNOME to import user themes. This is antidevelopment!
Extensions? - Ubuntu Unity does not support extensions at all, period!
GNOME3 maintains the veneer of supporting extensions, but once you start digging you realize the truth… GNOME3 extensions are barely supported at present. Many extensions only work with older versions of GNOME3. My favorite piece of evidence that GNOME isn’t supporting extensions is this: There is a website which explains how a user can make and submit an extension to GNOME, but it’s completely out of date! It explains how to make extensions for GNOME 3.0 and there’s a link to how to update the extension to 3.2… but, we aren’t using 3.2 any more! GNOME is at 3.4! And there is no documentation at present on how to update extensions to be compatible with the current version. Which means, every time GNOME updates, ALL the extensions break! This is antidevelopment!
One user explained the frustration this way to me on IRC: “I get the feeling that the so called gnome-developers do things in ‘their perspective’ rather than the ‘Gnome users’. The most important problem I see is that many of the other “modern” desktop environments are forks of GNOME…”
Another themer said: “…they even want to delete the applications categories selection. Pretty soon there will be nothing left in GNOME3 to theme.”
When you are too stuck up to listen to your users who are asking for the ability to customize their desktops, and you are actively developing the desktop in ways to limit the user experience… you are stuck in antidevelopment.
When it comes to changing themes and cursors… you can do more with Microsoft Windows than you can with GNOME3.
Microsoft listens to its users. Sometimes changes don’t come for years, but at least they listen. The same can’t be said for Ubuntu or GNOME3 though. They are currently stuck in antidevelopment.