My experience with GNOME 3 so far in 2015

Those who have wanted to do serious work with linux knows the frustrations that it lacks good ecosystem. Canonical is doing an amazing good job in bringing a sane ecosystem to the table. GNOME 3 is also bringing good things with its somewhat crippled version of user experience.

KDE is sort of… staying behind, I won’t lie I love KDE dearly. Sadly, whenever it comes to using KOrganize it dawns on you that KDE, while it’s an amazing desktop environment it’s not financially backed like GNOME or Ubuntu are. (As far as I remember)

And then there’s the user who swears to God all the users need is i3/openbox/whatever anorexic windows manager they are using these days.

GNOME, KDE, and Unity targets different audiences. In terms of usability KDE and Unity are up there, in my opinion. GNOME requires you to waste your time learning things that should be intuitive from the very start.

But well, my post won’t mean much to GNOME designers or developers. I remember reading that GNOME itself is losing users and it shows from recent polls that KDE is on top. It certainly doesn’t help that GNOME developers have dismissed user complaints as “people hate change”. Truly, something that will probably haunt them for a few years until eventually GNOME hits the stage that it becomes usable again. Maybe GNOME 4?

Anyway, we all know OS X has a very powerful ecosystem through its devices. Microsoft has done a lot to catch up with Surface, Windows Phone, etc.

Canonical also wants a piece of that cake with Ubuntu phone, so does Google.

I personally can’t wait to use an Ubuntu phone myself. I think most of us are looking forward to is “will it be usable enough that I can share my data (photos, videos, documents) easily with almost no tinkering?”

That’s the question!

I’ve been harsh about GNOME 3, and yes they do deserve all the friction they are getting.

GNOME 3 can still make it though. I feel like out of all the DEs available both Unity and GNOME 3 will be the ones pushing forward a better ecosystem.

So let me talk to you about my experiences so far with GNOME 3.

I started using it a week ago, note that this is my third attempt to use GNOME 3. I’ve become more “accepting” yet not so submissive to say that GNOME 3 is heading the right way. First, let’s talk about workflow.

GNOME 3 Workflow

GNOME 3 isn’t your traditional DE, we know that. What you don’t know however is that you have been actively stopping yourself from giving GNOME 3 a chance. GNOME 3 workflow takes a bit of learning because more than often you are required to memorize the key bindings.

Note that GNOME 3 itself does a very, very awful job in showing itself how it works. For example, in my first try of GNOME 3 I didn’t know the message panel that is at the bottom hidden existed.

Now, my workflow is incredibly simple and I find that “abusing” workspaces comes at a great price of having your desktop organized and task related. For example, in my first workspace I have Thunderbird which I use for my day to day communication. In my second workspace I might have Rhythmnbox or Spotify running. In my third workspace I have development related applications running such as vim, terminals, etc. On my fourth workspace I have Google Chrome running to go back and forth in terms of research, etc.

It sounds insane, right? How can I possible keep up with all these workspaces? Well, let me introduce you to the Super + Page Up / Super + Page Down keybindings. They are the ones responsible to switch workspaces. You can also turn on the workspace indicator through Gnome Tweak Tool. The keybinding also works inside the dash, meaning you can use it, then rapidly switch to alt + tab to select the application you want.

But that’s not all.

In terms of window management you can use Super + D to hide all windows, which is incredibly useful if you have a lot of windows in one workspace.

Also, you don’t have to do the resizing manually, sort of. You can use Super + Arrow Keys, where are left and right will resize the window half-screen and to their respective alignment.

There’s also alt+f2 which allows you to execute commands.

So what happens when a window lands in a workspace you don’t want? Well, let me tell you that all you have to do is use Super + Shift + Page Down / Page Up to move it wherever you want in the workspaces.

Finally, for fully task-oriented desktop turn on alt-tab only for current applications in a workspace using the command

gsettings set current-workspace-only true

Saving space

I realize that the header bar the DE sports is a bit bulky. Honestly? I think if you sit down and appreciate for a moment that you run all your applications at max size you’ll learn very quickly that there’s a lot of space that’s been saved. All you have if the top bar that has an Activities button, date, and the indicator tray.

In this, GNOME 3 shines in saving space regardless on how bulky the application looks.

Some visuals, because everyone loves visuals!

Remember to right-click and open the images in a new tab!


Not much to show here, just a fake busy desktop.

Cool features

I’m a fan of WWE and wrestling in general. I love that stuff. I find that being able to keep communicating through the message tray panel is incredibly handy. I just wish that Empathy offered a more polished experience. The UI feels incredibly lacking.

Remote Desktop

Both Ubuntu/Unity and GNOME 3 offers hassle-free screen sharing through VNC. These features works out of the box without any additional package. I’ve connected back and forth through VNC in my household and as always if you are in the family room or somewhere else chilling out or doing a different activity, connecting remotely is always the answer.


Dropbox is a very critical application for me. I’m still waiting for Google Drive to appear, geez.

Online Accounts

You have seen these countless times. I think it’s important for me to say that this feature here is what will keep the average joe glued to GNOME 3. Hassle-free seamless integrating through the plethora of GNOME applications is and will be one of the key features.


Now with soundcloud support 🙂


GNOME 3 may very well still rough around the corners. Let’s just hope that GNOME designers start listening to their userbase instead of ignoring them. As for me? I’m keeping GNOME in my laptop. I don’t have any real reason to remove it. Everything works as it’s supposed.

And to those wondering, I’m using Ubuntu GNOME 15.04.

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