Wibbly Stuff

Do we really need Gnome 2 Forks?

I came across an article on +OMG! Ubuntu! about a new Gnome2 fork, called Mate. In the past, we also have seen another attempt called the Blue Bubble project, which was also an attempt to keep Gnome 2 alive. The point is, do we really need such a totally unnecessary wastage of time and resource to keep the old (Which will obsolete soon) software alive? No I'm not just a Gnome Shell fan. Yes, I like Gnome Shell, but agree on that it is not quite feature complete. But I just don't see any point in maintaining the old packages, when other active projects exist, having similar goals, and need developers.

Gnome Shell is way smoother than Gnome 2+Compiz. And doesn't feel buggy like Compiz now feels. I use Gnome Shell with Fedora and Gnome 2 with Linux Mint. And I can say, I quite love Gnome Shell, except those few things to which was habituated. But once you get used to it, you will enjoy it.

Don't like Gnome Shell? Well, it's not the only choice GTK3 is giving. If you are so willing for a Gnome 2 like panel based experience, why not use XFCE? It's lighter and mature too. XFCE is an active project and needs more development work actually.

If you want and only want to use Gnome that way, then you can. I'm talking about the Fallback mode. If you don't already know, you can enable a Gnome 2 like fallback mode in Gnome 3. Just navigate to the System settings from the User menu and you will find it under System Info.


Yes, you'll get Panels, like in Gnome 2. The whole interface quite resembles Gnome 2. Including those Minimize and Maximize window buttons. The only difference is that it is in GTK3.


Yes, you cannot customize them by right clicking. You have to Alt+Right Click! And you get a menu similar to Gnome 2.


If you like having applets, then you can also add them. For now, there are not quite a lot, but I'm sure the things will change, only if we spend our resources on this in stead of keeping those old bits.


Removing an applet or moving it, all are there like in Gnome 2. The only thing changes is that you have to Alt+Right Click!


The panel is as customizable as in Gnome 2. You can set it to autohide, change its size and orientation just like in Gnome 2.


The only annoyance is that the panel theme looks horrible. I guess the panel can be also themed, but no one has attempted due to ignorance. May be I am wrong. But why care? You can change its color or set a background image as well.


And if you want visual effects, you can also install and use Compiz(compiz --replace). It is not compatible with Gnome Shell, but that doesn't mean it won't work with Gnome 3. Ubuntu uses Compiz in Unity and Unity is also based on GTK3 in Oneiric. I know, Compiz is buggy in fallback mode. But that's probably Compiz's fault. You also can use Mutter as the window manager(mutter --replace). it's nowhere close to Compiz, but will provide you simple visual effects.

You might say GTK3 doesn't have those lots of cool and nice themes like in Gnome 2, or may say it lacks many settings options. Well, Gnome 3 is relatively new and not mature enough. Many themes for GTK3 have been released and more will gradually come out. About the settings options, I see many are there, but hidden. It would be worth the effort to make those settings more accessible, or making front-ends for those which don't exist.

Gnome 3 panels have all those glory and customization options that Gnome 2 had. Apart from the missing support for old applets which need to be updated in order to work with the new panel, I didn't find a single option missing.

And you cannot deny that GTK3 has lots of improvements over GTK2. Then what is the point in maintaining Gnome 2? I personally think it will be more reasonable to contribute for improvement of Gnome 3 rather than sticking with Gnome 2. Forking or porting diverges developers and the maximum benefit would be obtained only by collaborating. I know Gnome 3 is not mature and needs lot of improvements. But it'll take time, especially if developers continue creating forks and ports instead of improving the existing one.