Linux, Changing Tides
March 19, 2016

In the fall, I wrote quite a bit about my Linux travels, this post is a continuation of that discussion. Over the past few months, I’ve had what you could call a change of heart.

Minor things inside of KDE, started to really get on my nerves. KDE Plasma has quite a bit of power, but I started to realize, I really don’t need that power. I also came to realize, I really hate the traditional “desktop metaphor”, it’s just not efficient. Thus, I decided to take a leap, and go back to GNOME. At first, it was a pretty big change, I worked with GNOME fairly extensively when it first came out, but in the years since, GNOME has become a much more polished desktop shell.

I’m also quite happy to say, GNOME has far fewer stability issues when compared to KDE, I’ve had it crash on me only on rare occasions, and even then, most of the time, when it does, it immediately realizes that it has crashed, and recreates the GNOME Shell.

The window management metaphor used by GNOME, I also much prefer, as it’s incredibly visual, and intuitive. Using GNOME, it is incredibly easy to find what you’re looking for, it’s not a tiny icon, with a bit of text next to it, you see the entire window. The GNOME activity overview is also a very polished, well done feature, without any trouble, you can effortlessly create additional virtual desktops, and manage your windows.

GNOME also for me, has a lot of “little” things that just work well, and get out of your way. For instance, the GNOME keyring managing SSH keys, is incredibly convenient. The animations in GNOME, are also subtile, but effect, they really give the desktop a professional feel, where as the animations within KDE tend to feel a bit overbearing, or are simply absent.

I’ve also given the Ubuntu family another chance, and switched to Ubuntu GNOME. The reason for this primarily stems in the packaging of some proprietary software that I use. I decided that it just didn’t make sense to continue to fight the Debian ecosystem. The PPA system makes it fairly easy to get the few things that I need to be more “bleeding-edge”, and I’m not as invested in having the latest, and greatest everything, just for the sake of having it anymore. I still think OpenSUSE is in an incredible distribution, but for my uses, especially as I prepare to leave academia, I am sated with Ubuntu GNOME.

At the end of the day, if you get the feeling that you might want to break away from the traditional desktop metaphor, and try something different, I would highly recommend GNOME for its visual approach. If you’re feeling like trying a non-debian based distribution, I would encourage you to give it a go, but at the same time, be aware that you may have a struggle getting certain packages.