Why Gnome Desktop Will Never Give Me A Useful Right Click Menu!

Few years ago when I first came across Linux (which was like way back in 2002-2003), Gnome was the first Desktop environment that I ever used on a non-Microsoft operating system. It was Red-Had Linux and not sure the version but anyway, as a user who's been using Microsoft as the primary OS Gnome was (well Linux in general I guess) was something that was totally strange to me.

Official logo of the Gnome Desktop
We all have these habits of "pick ups" as life goes on. Some are useful and some aren't. But as a computer user and like many others I had this habits of continuously "refreshing" my desktop on Windows based OS via the desktop right click. So I tried to do the same thing with Gnome, and guess what the "refresh" option was "missing". Being a newbie to Linux I thought

"hmm, Gnome is still kinda new and when looking at the desktop it lacks some serious GUI improvements... it could be still in a developing stage, so hopefully in a future upgrade it will be available!".

I mean no disrespect, but even at then, when looking at the desktop it gave me the impressions of an unfinished desktop. And maybe the reason is because I was "looking through the Microsoft's glasses" but still I didn't feel "finished". So time went on and when the next major update came I got the Red-Had cd/s which was really hard since those days, ADSL or any high speed internet connections weren't simply around..

Anyhow I got it and installed it. And you may think I'm silly, but I even a notice a change in my heartbeat when logging into the Gnome desktop hoping that "refresh" button will be there. And yet again Gnome failed me!. And then as the time went on actually I realized that Gnome in fact wasn't an unfinished desktop but it was the way it was and it ain't gonna get better either.

But make no mistakes, and I should have told you this before, I am a Gnome user!. Even though I'm not the only one accusing Gnome for being over simplified. If you want to know why it is the way it is, then I will give you my opinion about it.

Gnome has this philosophy or the believe of being simple means useful. Although it is not something new or I'm not saying no either, but still I feel like they've focused so much on making it more and more simple thus have arrived at a point where now it is simply an over simplified desktop environment. And when something is over simplified, it is not simple anymore, neither useful either - again my opinion only.

It's not about the right-click menu

*. Although I'm pretty sure anyone can see that I'm talking about the general terms here but still I just didn't want to look stupid ;-).

For instance take the default right click menu on Gnome (below) and the right click menu on Windows. Although on Windows when installing applications they add more functions thus "enhance" the usability, but even without installing anything, right out of the box, I find the right click menu is better than Gnome.
Windows XP

And unlike in windows even if you install software on Gnome desktop they won't necessarily add functions of their either. The best example is the OpenOffice. I have never installed it separately since almost all the popular distros do come it preinstalled, so I'm not sure if it adds a menu of its own if you install it separately, but I think everyone would agree on the fact that even the major office package for the Linux, the OpenOffice (it may not be anymore by the way) fails to add that.

The reason is actually simple, it is not that they can't do it, but they won't!. The reason is simple actually. almost everyone who uses GTK as the building block for their programs (including opeoffice) GUI builder are forced or "agrees" that over simplification is a must. If you don't know what GTK is all about, to put it into simple terms, it is one of the software tool kits that was used to build the famous Gimp image editor and then it expanded its features over time and is now one of the most commonly used cross-platform GUI builder as well. 

Anyhow, again it is not that a software such as the open-office can't do it, but they simply wont. Although from sometime now Gnome includes the "open terminal" in the right click menu, which actually suffered its presence if you were a Fedora user (they also seems to really like "simplicity"), which however is not included in the Fedora desktop I think.

Not only the desktop, but this "idea of simplicity" is everywhere. It's in the nautilus file manager, Totem, player, control panel, archive manager, ... I could go all day long.

Out of my anger I used to use KDE but to make things worse, it was the total opposite of Gnome. It had to "pack everything" under every menu they could get their hands on, thus if you're a newbie, and have used the old Konqueror (file manger for KDE), if you right click on it it would give you a HUGE menu which used to scare me away!. Although I'm not going to talk much about it in this and haven't used the KDE4 version, but in the version "4" they seems to have done a good job of removing some of these "mammoth" functions.

Although Linux Torvalds does not like KDE4 at all, in fact he used to hate Gnome just like I am not (although I like it too ;-) ) and he used to be a KDE lover but now all of a sudden, because of the recent changes in KDE4, he has ditched it and switched to Gnome (but he still finds it "less"...).

Now they say Gnome 3 is going to be a bit different, which I'm pretty sure it is and haven't used it since it is still in its beta stage, although it does bring some significant changes with it, still as long as they stick with that arrogant believe of over simplifying things, and claiming it is the best thing to do from the user point of view, until they make a shift from their "philosophy", I'll be just another Gnome version in my opinion. 

My last thoughts about it

So as an ending note, am I going to switch to KDE or something that uses it as the primary desktop ?, Nope. I'm gonna stick with Gnome apart from all these "insults".

Why!... well as far as I'm concerned, Gnome is the most closest desktop to the GNU and when considering recent conflicts with Ubuntu and other software developers, I came to realize that, commercializing things is not a bad thing, it does help to bring our ambitions thus serving others as an outcome but, the lesson I learned was that in order not to let those ambitions fall into the dark side of the force  ;-)...

We should emphasize the value of an open community rather than letting our ideas (by whatever the means they represent themselves - and OS in this occasion) fall into the hands of a few who's going to make decisions based on their interests rather than of the whole community.

Making things "complicated/difficult" is not simplification...

That is my humble opinion. So again, apart from all the differences and other what-nots... I'm still going to keep using Gnome as my primary desktop, and hope that in the future (or the upcoming version 3 perhaps ;-) ) they'd listen to us and would "correct" those few minor issues.


John Antony said...

Making things "complicated/difficult" is not simplification...

Gayan said...

@John Anthony,

Exactly!. Thanks for the comment, this post is really lonely :)...

Post a Comment