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Gnome Interface Quirks on Linux - 5/20/2000

Since I spent a while on the Linux machine today, I think this needs to be said. I find the Gnome GUI the most frustrating graphical interface I've ever worked with. I've worked with Windows for years and helped my parents learn to use their Macs, one of which I now have. For almost a year I used OS/2 Warp as my primary desktop machine at home and recently I've spent a while with Motif on my Solaris PC. I don't recall that I've ever had to go to the documentation to figure out the GUI basics. On each system there have been some oddities that need to be looked up but I'd class these as more advanced. Gnome just seems an unending exercise in frustration.

The only reason that the Linux machine is even useable is because I do almost all the real work at the command prompt. Gnome just lets me run a couple of copies of Netscape, a file manager and one or more terminal windows. The desktop is set up to be four times the size of the window. This used to be handy because there was a four tile button in the task bar that let me switch between the four windows easily. This disappeared and I can't figure out how to get it back. Every time I minimize a window, it now just disappears. It's not on the desktop. It's not on the task bar. I can't find any trace of it anywhere.

I've actually been using this interface off and on for about five months now and still can't find a reliable way to switch windows without grabbing the mouse. I swear that sometimes [Alt+Tab] works but not most of the time. When I open a window, it doesn't have the focus until I click on it with the mouse. I've found a setting to control this but it will give the focus to any new window. I hate it when I dialog box pops up and forces me to deal with it before completing what I'm working on so I don't want to change this setting. It should be obvious however, that when you launch a new application from the menu, task bar or desktop that you want to use that application and it should start with the focus.

I'm sure there are some regular Linux users that must be saying this guy is really dumb. All I can say is that there aren't very many people around with the real working knowledge of the variety of GUI's that I've used and when a new GUI makes me feel this dumb or frustrated there's something really poor in its basic design.

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