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    Fedora Linux uses stock GNOME, with the only addition of adding the Fedora Linux logo at the bottom right of the background. This approach, in my opinion, is what distributions should be going for.

    “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black”

    Then we can stop having distributions entirely and just let the GNOME council rule over everything.

    Theming can break things, but only if you’re written your application to assume a specific custom theme. If you properly design your application to support multiple themes, it’s relatively easy to let users and distributions theme it without trouble.

    Have standard themes in light and dark, both in high and low contrast variants, and encourage theme developers to use those as basis and force application developers to support all those four modes.

    Use local theme style overrides for areas instead of hardcoding colors (e.g., if you want a dialog element to show in light always, force it to the light style of whichever theme is currently selected, don’t hardcode colors).

    Always remember, the user should be the one in control, we as developers serve the user. We have no right to tell the users or distributions what to do, or what not to do, and we especially don’t have the right to use technical measures to restrict this.

    If need be, I’ll just maintain a patchset for libadwaita that adds theming via the standard path back in. I think it’s a massive overstepping of boundaries in the first place to make certain Gtk widgets to require adwaita by merging the HIG lib with a theme as libadwaita.

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      GNOME isn’t against theming, as mentioned in the article too. Users applying their theme of choice would be fine with them, because then they - the users - made the conscious choice to do so, and accepted the risks and challenges in doing so.

      Their beef is with distributions applying default themes that break, which in turn gives the impression that GNOME itself is broken. That was their beef, default theming. Not theming in general, not theming as a conscious user choice, but distributions overriding the default theme.

      They asked distributions to stop doing that, they didn’t, so they’re understandably tired of waiting, and took matter into their own hands. As it happens, doing so had other benefits, like being able to provide a consistent user experience out of the box. No weird stuff like it happens with OBS that is a QT app, but one that ships with its own theme.

      Yes, libadwaita makes customisation a bigger challenge. I don’t see that as a problem, the GNOME experience works for me as it is, and for those for whom it doesn’t, there’s KDE and the option to fork.

      The target audience of GNOME are people who like consistency, a great out-of-the-box experience. Libadwaita helps deliver that, so GNOME’s on the right track to serve its target audience well.

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        “The target audience of GNOME are people who like consistency, a great out-of-the-box experience. Libadwaita helps deliver that, so GNOME’s on the right track to serve its target audience well.”

        That assumes that this target audience isn’t already using macOS or Windows. Part of the problem over the years seems to me is that GNOME’s “target audience” and actual users are different personas - hence the popularity of distros that break with GNOME defaults & no apparent inroads to macOS or windows user bases.

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        Theming can break things, but only if [you’ve] written your application to assume a specific custom theme.

        Note that GTK+ 3 styling is a nightmare of unclearly grouped and wildly overlapping CSS rules, mixed with legacy GTK+ 2 properties, and it’s quite likely that an application will break with a custom theme if that theme strays too far away from Adwaita. Moreover, supporting both “light” and “dark” variants at once cannot be done particularly well, because contrast works differently in both situations, and applications don’t know which variant is used. I’m speaking as a custom widget writer.

        I haven’t been depressed over GTK 4 yet, but I wouldn’t keep my hopes high.

        GTK+ 2 was infinitely better in these aspects.

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        Thanks for reminding me - I just changed my OBS theme to System and it works with no issues.

        The take here seems to be “because it sometimes can go wrong, it should be impossible.” Actually, this seems to be Gnome’s approach in general. Well, I guess I simply disagree.

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          I think that’s a bit disingenuous. It’s more akin to the FF XUL deprecations to web extensions : we don’t want people to be relying on leaky abstractions to get things they want, so we will instead add features to make important things possible more cleanly.

          The fact that Ubuntu ships a theme that makes stuff look busted is indicative of something!

          That said KDE seems to get away with this pretty well… maybe qt does it better or something. I don’t know

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            I mean, I disapprove of that as well. (“We don’t want people to be relying on leaky abstractions, so we will not add the needed features ever and just move on with our life.”)

            I’d say “RIP TabMixPlus”, but actually I’m running Firefox with a skeevy Chinese extension that patches XUL support back in, so I can have both an up to date Firefox and my beloved multi-row tabs.

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              What extension is that, he asked apprehensively?

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                Ah, correction: probably not chinese, I judged prematurely from the name. Anyway, userChromeJS, there’s a guide in the TabMixPlus github, and note that these steps turn off Firefox addon signature checking globally.

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                Shrug, I get it but for example XUL headaches actively caused support issues for FF (and a lot of “my FF is crashing” cuz of poorly written extensions). Tho FFs decision was easier cuz web extensions are very high coverage in general.

                You have your extension at least.

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                  Sure, it’s not like I don’t get it. But this transition was also used to get Firefox into this sort of “my way or the highway” approach - look at the hoops you have to jump through to hide the default tab bar (without invasive mods). I would have been fine with this transition if Firefox had actually kept their promises regarding extension support, but, well, to quote https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1332447 “we are not doing it.”

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            I wonder if anyone still remembers what the G in Gnome once stood for :-).

            With all the respect and humbleness owed to people writing a whole desktop environment, I just don’t understand how this problem is perpetuated.

            Gnome is released under an open source license, which explicitly allows, and to a community that encourages, people to read and alter source code. Why on Earth would you then complain that distributions alter your source code?

            If this really results in so many bugs that it has negative repercussions over the entire project, that’s a sign the theming engine is inadequate for the project’s audience – both formal (distros) and informal (users – with whom distort maintainers have to deal, too). Well, gee, you guys, I’m sorry we suck, and distro support channels end up dealing with such unreasonable requests as being able to read text in inactive windows or being able to use work-issued laptops with 1366x768 screens.

            I similarly don’t understand the reluctance towards changing the license. If what you want is to forbid downstream changes then just bloody forbid them already. It doesn’t have to be a proprietary license if proprietary forks are a concern, there’s plenty of software out there that’s source-available but forbids modification. Sure, that “100% goes against free and open source philosophy”, as the article puts it, but… so does forbidding downstream changes. I don’t understand how this is a dilemma. If a project’s goals don’t align with some parts of FOSS philosophy then just don’t license it as FOSS.

            I find this whole debate particularly distasteful because it’s entirely dismissive of legitimate use cases. I’m one of those irrelevant developers working in their mom’s basements, as one Gnome dev put it, who wrote a theme once (I find this characterisation entirely unfair, BTW, given that my mother doesn’t have a basement!). I don’t really care about desktop customisation, I’m one of those “use the default wallpaper” guys – I wrote it because I the old, crisp white Adwaita theme was hard to read on my old laptop’s monitor, and I kept using it because at some point the whole text dimming thing was introduced and I couldn’t read anything anymore. I would’ve loved to do something less frowned upon but… what, exactly, was I supposed to do? Squint? Get a new laptop just to use GTK applications? Show up at my ophthalmologist’s office and sternly demand that they fix my eyes because Alan Day disapproves of my genetics?

            All sorts of software out there, not just DEs but applications, too (e.g. Slack) support colour schemes because they have no control over the environment they’re used in – they can be used with all sorts of monitors, from super high-def ultra-vibrant extra-crisp 4K monitors to el cheapo dusty monitors they issue to interns at work. The same set of colours can look stellar on one monitor and be borderline unreadable on the next. If you don’t have control over your environment, insisting on just one particular colour set is not protecting user experience, it’s literally the opposite of that.

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              I see this as not dissimilar to what projects like Firefox do, where the license lets you do lots of things to and with the code, but the trademark (not copyright) also exists and is used as a way to say that despite this, only certain things can use the “Firefox” branding.

              Personally, I don’t mind in the slightest if a project wants to grant people the ability to modify code while also preserving their branding so that every random broken thing someone makes doesn’t get associated back. Though I can only imagine how much of a fight there would be if GNOME decided to do it; the history of people getting really angry over Firefox’s branding rules, and the resulting renaming forks that nearly always start out hostile, suggests it would not be pretty.

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                Yeah, but downstream change sets rarely consist of nothing but branding changes. A lot of distributions ship with more substantial modifications, including various pre-installed extensions and whatnot. In fact, the most widely-distributed incarnation of Gnome, as seen in Ubuntu, is barely recognisable as Gnome.

                This might, of course, just be that Canonical (and Pop!, and Red Hat and so on) are evil bastards, but my money is on them also doing it because they have a better and clearer understanding of their users’ requirements. So while some of the changes they make might be there because they want to brand their stuff, others might be there because Gnome’s user experience is not good enough for their users.

                This isn’t dysfunctional, this is exactly why open source works so well and why it ate so many big vendors: because it enables people to modify software to better suit their needs, and to distribute copies of modified version to others. These are two of the four fundamental freedoms of free software – you can’t forbid them and stay within the realm of free software.

                You can certainly make it harder for people to do these things. Pre-libadwaita Gnome did exactly that (probably not deliberately, though, I don’t think there’s some conspiracy here, just a case of misaligned priorities) – by making design-related changes hard to make and maintain. Instead of leveraging the strengths of the open source community by making it as easy as possible to change their software to fit people’s needs, Gnome chose to make that harder.

                That’s their trade-off to make, of course – every community is free to set its own agenda and priorities. But, as in every other realm of life, you get to live with the choices you make. It can’t be surprising that, unless you give them a better mechanism, downstream developers and application developers will resort to CSS hacks to keep their users happy.

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                  If what Ubuntu is shipping is something that literally breaks apps – which is what’s claimed – then Ubuntu and nobody else should be responsible for it, and Ubuntu should probably put more effort into QA.

                  GNOME doesn’t owe anybody theming support, and if you look at most of the popular commercial platforms, the level of “theming” being asked for is basically never offered. Many platforms nowadays have a light UI theme and a dark UI theme, and that’s it – completely relocating, re-skinning, and/or replacing major UI elements the way people historically did in “desktop Linux” environments is just not a thing and, arguably, shouldn’t be a thing in the default desktop environment’s feature set. People who want that can always go get it from some “use at your own risk” fork, and people who just want a consistent and well-designed desktop environment to get work done on can stop having to deal with the mess that theming leaves behind.

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                    This isn’t about anyone owing anything to someone. It’s simply how open source works. Either you accept that people are going to scratch itches downstream, and you give them the tools to do it properly – otherwise you end up with broken apps downstream – or you don’t accept that, in which case, like, just don’t. Don’t expose any mechanism for it, forbid it through licensing, whatever works.

                    This middle ground, where you accept that they’re going to do it but you ship them a dysfunctional mechanism for it, and then complain that people downstream are using it, is just bad open source work. People have fixed harder problems in more closed software that used worse things than CSS. If all you give them to keep their users happy is CSS hacks, well, sure, CSS hacks it is. Ubuntu – and application developers, too – don’t owe GTK and Gnome anything, either, their efforts are concerned with their users, not design purity.

                    Also, no amount of QA was going to solve the kind of breakage that Ubuntu shipped. The problem wasn’t that they were careless and shipped insufficiently tested software, it’s that the theming mechanism that used to be available was insufficiently capable (IMHO it’s too early to tell if libadwaita fixed it) and unstable. GTK (and Gnome applications) were basically the only ones suffering from this problem. That’s not because everyone else owed anyone good theming support, but because they realised it was going to happen for legitimate reasons, and the ones that accepted it was going to happen chose to ensure it’s done well.

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                      Again: if Ubuntu shipped something broken, I think that should be blamed on Ubuntu. GNOME folks seem to think users are encouraged to blame it on GNOME, though. And seeing as you also seem to be trying to do that – calling out GNOME for a “dysfunctional mechanism” and so on – I guess they’re right about that.

                      But even if we grant every single technical critique you might want to make and admit that it was “dysfunctional”, the right thing for Ubuntu to do is not dump that on their users. Ubuntu didn’t need to re-brand GNOME. They could have just shipped it as-is. They didn’t. Therefore the fault is with Ubuntu.

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                        Gnome keeps trying to make this about branding but IMHO that’s completely in bad faith. First, the article (and your arguments, based, I’m guessing, on the article?) keep glossing over the fact that this only broke applications and shell elements that also used custom CSS hacks. The “Please stop theming my app” letter could’ve easily been a “Please stop using non-standard interface elements” letter, with many of the same arguments – it breaks UX cohesion, it makes the interface inconsistent, it breaks user expectations. Second, and more important, it ignores the fact that most of the changes in downstream themes have nothing to do with branding.

                        I’m not sure what elegant term I could use for the fact that, when distros do it, it’s branding and it’s buggy, but when app developers do it, it’s “improv[ing] certain aspects of the interface, i.e. accessibility, cosmetic, etc.”, as the article puts it. If you yank out the custom colour definitions in e.g. Yaru, the Ubuntu theme, that’s like 50 lines, less than 1%, and the branding is gone.

                        The rest, thousands of lines of SCSS, are very much improving cosmetic and especially accessibility, in various areas that upstream disagrees to be problematic (or, from downstream’s perfectly justifiable point of view, in various areas where upstream refuses to fix problems in Adwaita). And they work for all applications except those where someone else tried to improve it further. Actually, it even works for many of those, as they have a whole series of workarounds for applications where people tried to, erm, improve certain aspects of the interface.

                        So “the right thing” could have been any of:

                        • Downstream shipping Adwaita with different colours, and deflecting all bug reports about Adwaita to upstream
                        • Fixing Adwaita upstream
                        • Application developers not relying on non-standard constructs
                        • GTK improving its widget extension mechanisms to better deal with application demands
                        • GTK improving its theming mechanism to better deal with application and theme demands
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              It seems GNOME’s building for a wide audience of “normies” while their actual users are “geeks”. Their hear in the right place wanting accessible and nice looking UI but the completely miss what their users want. They want freedom to tinker and break their stuff at expense of accessibility and nice UI.

              GNOME should stop fighting their users and stop breaking stuff out of spite. Any support request for a broken theme should be redirected to distros who shipped it. Yes, it’s a big burden and might look like finger pointing at times but so is the cost of FOSS. As OP rightly mentioned no one has infinite support capacity and most GNOME users understand that.

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                I’m a GNOME user, very much a geek, and I love the direction they’re taking. I don’t want to mess with my UI, I want it to get the out of my way and let me use the computer. GNOME does that spectacularly well, much better than any other DE I have tried over the years. I love that I don’t have to tinker with it, because that lets me focus on what I want to do, rather than having to fight my DE. I do not enjoy tinkering with my desktop, it is not my area of interest. If it would be, I’d use something else, that’s the beauty of having a diverse set of options. That GNOME focuses on providing an accessible, consistent experience out of the box with only a few knobs to tweak, is great. It’s perfect for those of us - geek or non-geek alike, and anything inbetween - who just want to get shit done, and honestly not care about tweaking it to the last detail.

                GNOME stays out of my way, doesn’t overwhelm me with tweaks and knobs I couldn’t care less about. It’s perfect. It’s perfect for me, a geek who keeps tweaking stuff that matters to him (like, my keyboard firmware is still not quite where I want it to be after half a decade of tweaking it). I love tinkering with things where tinkering makes sense. Tinkering with my firmware makes me more productive, and/or the experience more ergonomic, easier on my hands and fingers. Tinkering with my editor helps me get things done faster.

                My DE? My DE stays out of my way, why would I want to tinker with that?

                As for theming, I’d much prefer a single theme in light & dark variants where both of them are carefully designed, than a hodge-podge of half-broken distro-branded “stuff”. The whole “lets make the distro look different” idea is silly, if you ask me. A custom splash screen, or background, or something unobtrusive like that? Sure. But aggressively theming so it’s distro-branded? Nope, no thanks. I’d much prefer if it didn’t matter whether I’m using RedHat, Ubuntu, or whatever else, and my GNOME would look the same. That’s consistent. I don’t care about the brands, it’s not useful.

                So, dear GNOME, please keep on doing what you’re doing. People who don’t like the direction, have alternatives, if they like to tinker so much, they can switch away too. Those of us who want something that Just Works, and is well designed out of the box, we’ll stay with GNOME.

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                  I think the problem is, you’re not getting a desktop you don’t have to fight, you’re just getting a desktop that you can’t fight.

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                    I am getting a desktop I don’t have to fight, thank you. I don’t want to fight it, either. If I wanted to, there are many other options. I prefer not to, and GNOME does what I need it to do. For me, that’s what matters.

                    It doesn’t work for everybody, and that’s fine, there are other options, they can use something that fits their needs better. But do let GNOME fit ours.

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                      I mean, I guess I just don’t see why removing options would give you a desktop that you don’t want to fight. You don’t have to fight KDE either. The only difference, aside default preference, is that you can fight KDE if you want to.

                      If Gnome can be a desktop you don’t have to fight without customisability, it can be a desktop you don’t have to fight with customisability just as easily.

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                        You misunderstood. I don’t care about customizability of my desktop. I want it to stay out of my way, and provide a nice, cohesive design out of the box. Simple as that. If the developers believe the best way to achieve that is libadwaita, I’m fine with that. I don’t want to tinker with my DE. If I have to, I’ll find one where I don’t.

                        Besides, libadwaita can be customised. Perhaps not themed, as in, completely change it, but it does provide the ability to customise it. Pretty much how macOS Carbon does customisation. Personally, I find libadwaita’s customisation a lot more approachable than GTK3’s theming. It’s simpler, easier to use.

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                          I think people misunderstand - it’s not just “less options as simple for user”, but also simpler for the people maintaining the application, as the application has less permutations of configuration to test and debug.

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                      And what happens if I’m using KDE and need to use a single GNOME app?

                      You install one GNOME app, which, so far, was automatically themed with Breeze and looked at least somewhat like a native app, and used native file pickers. Now with the recent GNOME changes, just installing a single GNOME app forces you to look at their theme, and forces you to use at their broken filepicker.

                      Apps should try to be native to whichever desktop they’re running it, they shouldn’t forcefully bring their own desktop into whatever environment they’re in.

                      GIMP isn’t using adwaita on Windows either, and neither should Bottles bring adwaita into my KDE desktop.

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                        And what happens if I’m using KDE and need to use a single GNOME app, and now I’m forced to look at their hideous and unusable adwaita theme?

                        Then you go and write - or fund - a KDE alternative if you hate the GNOME look so much, and there’s no KDE alternative.

                        GNOME is like a virus, it infests your desktop more and more.

                        Every single toolkit is like that.

                        QT isn’t any different. macOS’s widget set isn’t any different. Windows’ isn’t any different. They all look best in their native environments, and they’re quite horrible in others. The macOS and Windows widgets sets aren’t even portable. QT is, but even when it tries to look native, it fails miserably, and we’d be better off if it didn’t even try. It might look out of place then, but it would at least be usable. Even if it tries to look like GNOME, it doesn’t, and just makes things worse, because it looks neither GNOME-native, nor KDE/QT-native, but a weird mix of both. Yikes.

                        GNOME is doing the right thing here. Seeing apps of a non-native widget set try to look native is horrible, having to fight to make them use their native looks rather than try - and fail - to emulate another is annoying, to say the least. I’d much prefer if QT apps looked like QT apps, whether under KDE or GNOME, or anywhere else.

                        The only way to have a consistent look & feel is to use the same widget set, because emulating another will always, without exception, fail.

                        Now with the recent GNOME changes, just installing a single GNOME app forces you to look at their theme, and forces you to use at their broken filepicker.

                        Opinions. I see no problem with the GNOME file picker. If you dislike it so much, don’t install GNOME apps, help write or fund alternatives for your DE of choice.

                        Apps should try to be native to whichever desktop they’re running it, they shouldn’t forcefully bring their own desktop into whatever environment they’re in.

                        No, they should not. Apps should be native to whichever desktop they were designed for. It is unreasonable to expect app developers to support the myriad of different desktops and themes (because we’d have to include themes then, too).

                        KDE/QT apps bring their own desktop to an otherwise GNOME/GTK one. Even if they try to mimic GNOME, the result is bad at best, and we’d be better of if they didn’t try. GNOME is doing the right thing by not trying to mimic something it isn’t and then fail. It stays what it is, and so should QT apps, and we’d be free of the broken stuff that stems from apps trying to pretend they’re something they really are not.

                        GIMP isn’t using adwaita on Windows either

                        Last I checked, GIMP isn’t even using GTK4 yet to begin with, so it doesn’t use libadwaita anywhere. They didn’t make a windows-exception, they just didn’t port GIMP to GTK4 yet. Heck, the stable version of it isn’t even GTK3, let alone 4.

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                          help write or fund alternatives for your DE of choice.

                          Considering the funding for open source projects is limited, this means I’ll have to try to get Gnome users to stop donating to Gnome, and instead donate for my own project. I’m not sure if you actually want that to happen (because it’d mean I’d have to actively try to defund Gnome).

                          It’d be much better if we just had one, well-funded project that looks native in multiple DEs, than separate per-DE projects

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                            Considering the funding for open source projects is limited, this means I’ll have to try to get Gnome users to stop donating to Gnome

                            Huh? Why? They use GNOME, why would they want to fund something else? People should help projects they use.

                            and instead donate for my own project.

                            Find your own users. Seeing the backlash against GNOME - usually from people not even using GNOME - suggests that there’s a sizable userbase that would be interested in having alternatives to some applications that do not have non-GNOME alternatives. Perhaps that’s an opportunity there.

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                              Huh? Why? They use GNOME, why would they want to fund something else? People should help projects they use.

                              The absolute majority of GNOME users only use it because they either don’t know of alternatives, or because they have to use a few GNOME apps because there’s no alternative. If true alternatives existed, a lot of people would stop using and funding GNOME.

                              (This sentence was written by me using Budgie, which uses parts of GNOME, solely because I need to run a GTK based desktop just for one single app that doesn’t properly work otherwise. If I could, I’d never touch Gnome or GTK, ever)

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                                The absolute majority of GNOME users only use it because

                                Do you have a credible source for that? Because my experience is the exact opposite. Every GNOME user I know (with wildly varying backgrounds), are aware of alternatives, yet, they use GNOME, and are in general, happy with it.

                                If true alternatives existed, a lot of people would stop using and funding GNOME.

                                I very much doubt that people who otherwise wouldn’t use GNOME, would fund it.

                                solely because I need to run a GTK based desktop just for one single app that doesn’t properly work otherwise

                                I very much doubt that there’s a GTK app that cannot be used unless you run a full GTK desktop. Link, please?

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                                  n=1, but the reason I threw up my hands and stuck with GNOME on Fedora 36 was because my custom theme wasn’t entirely broken. Some apps use libadwaita and stick out like a sore thumb, though at least I can still move the window buttons to the left which is where I prefer them (for now?), but others still use the theme, and my system-wide font choices are apparently still honoured (again, for now?). But none of this means I don’t think that their UI choices are wasteful of space or find some of their design decisions personally suspect. I tolerate it, but I’m increasingly not happy with it, and eventually it will exceed my daily inertia. I have a custom window manager I’ve been working on, and I might be able to make KDE into enough of what I want that I have alternatives.

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                                    You dislike the direction GNOME is taking then. That’s fine, and understandable: neither the looks, nor their approach suits everybody. Thankfully, in the free software world, there are alternatives.

                                    I hate that KDE has so many knobs, it’s overwhelming and distracting. The default theme looks horrible too, in my opinion. So I don’t use KDE, because I accept that I’m not their target audience. I don’t complain about it, I don’t hate on them, I am genuinely happy they take a different approach, because then other people can choose them.

                                    Sometimes the DE we use takes a different direction than one would like. That’s a bit of a bummer, but it happens. We move on, and find something else, because we can. Or fork, that happened too before, multiple times.

                                    Taking a different direction is not wrong. It’s just a different direction, is all. You may not like it, there are plenty who do.

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                            The macOS and Windows widgets sets aren’t even portable.

                            Tell that to the wine darlings.

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                              Apps running under Wine stick out like a sore thumb if they’re not basically compositing everything, in which case it’s at least on purpose. I believe that was Algernon’s point.

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                                Then every widget set is cross platform, because we can just run stuff in emulators. Good luck trying to look native then!

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                                  run stuff in emulators

                                  wine is not an emulator. It is an implementation of the Windows library on top of Linux. It is exactly as equally “native” as GTK and Qt, which are also just libraries implemented on top of Linux.

                                  The only question is what collection of applications you prefer. That’s really how native is defined on the linux desktop - that it fits in with the other things you commonly use.

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                              I mean you’re the one choosing to use a Gnome app. “A Gnome app looks like a Gnome app” is, at its core, something that makes sense imo.

                              That said I would like for there to be more unification on the low hanging fruit.

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                            It’s not “spite” - there are a million Linux desktops for tinkering and breaking. Give “normies” something productive and usable in the meanwhile and they might not all neglect what could be the best platform for their purposes. I use Gnome 4(?) on Wayland and it’s great - I had it basically looking clean enough as macOS without the ugly icons in like 10 minutes. Real geeks waste their time in the terminal anyway, not customising it. (:p)

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                              It’s not “spite”

                              Well, what is it then? For decades GNOME had flexibility, users created horribly broken themes and everyone was more or less happy. GNOME was happy to have users. Users were happy they had freedom to do whatever. Yes, not everything was perfect. Custom widgets were mostly broken, accessibility was lacking, etc.

                              As I said, GNOME’s heart in the right place to want to have a working/accessible default but does it have to be at expense of flexibility? OP presents it as if there’s only two options: either we let users do whatever, or we have a good nice looking theme. And the main driving force behind the decision to remove configurability was distros having a bad default theme.

                              I think GNOME is completely misguided in their approach. Instead of creating a good, pretty, accessible default theme and telling people use this if you want a good, pretty, accessible theme, they decided they won’t let distros break their default theme and lump in users into the distro category. It goes completely against the spirit of FOSS. Instead of creating better options for users they chose to remove options.

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                              It seems GNOME’s building for a wide audience of “normies” while their actual users are “geeks”. Their hear in the right place wanting accessible and nice looking UI but the completely miss what their users want. They want freedom to tinker and break their stuff at expense of accessibility and nice UI.

                              I mean, technical professionals are trying to get their job done. Give me a desktop that works well, and I don’t want to touch it beyond using it. I want to work with compilers, not window managers.

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                                Give me a desktop that works well, and I don’t want to touch it beyond using it. I want to work with compilers, not window managers.

                                I’ve said before that this is why Apple ended up being the manufacturer of the default “developer laptop”. They never really set out to do that, they just wanted to make nice and powerfully-spec’d machines targeting a broad “pro” market. But as a result of accidents of their corporate history, they ended up doing what no Linux distro vendor ever managed: ship something that works well and is Unix-y enough for developers at the same time.

                                I ran various Linux distros as my primary desktop operating system for much of the 00s, and I know my first experience with an Apple laptop and OS X was a breath of fresh air.

                            3. 4

                              I’m very conflicted on this. On the one hand, I use GNOME everyday, and I really, really appreciate the cohesiveness that their way of doing things brings to the table. I’m sure folks love KDE’s infinite customizability or i3’s minimalism, but I really want something that Just Works when I need it to. GNOME has been by far the most “Just Works” for me - the defaults are coherent when you use them with a keyboard + multitouch trackpad, all it takes is a couple keybinds for Guake and an app launcher, along with Touchegg to modify the trackpad gestures a bit, and I’m at full productivity.

                              On the other hand, I’m constantly worried that someday those couple keybinds and Touchegg and whatnot will stop aligning with the views of the GNOME developers and then I’ll be stuck with a system that doesn’t work for me. This already happened once before - Flameshot does not provide a good experience on GNOME Wayland since they decided unilaterally that the GNOME screenshot tool ought to be enough for everyone. I switched to the GNOME tool and thankfully it was not a big adjustment this time, but if they break something like Guake I’m not entirely sure what my next steps will be.

                              Ironically, I tried to use KDE and got turned away by its lack of customization in certain areas - Yakuake does not let you change the font size with a keybind because Konsole decided that no other terminal needs access to Ctrl +/-. And unlike GNOME with Touchegg, KDE seems to have no support for changing trackpad gestures at all, so I can’t change the defaults to something I prefer. So it’s not even like GNOME is alone in this respect - I guess they just apply the same philosophy everywhere, rather than just to the more “niche” features.

                              1. 2

                                I’d be less against this decision, if adwaita wasn’t a horrific waste of desktop real estate.

                                Unless GTK3/4 is focused on productive corporate environments, its going to be a half touch half desktop joke. There is countless studies showing more scrolling or less information presented in all sorts (like finance, programming, creative writing etc), leads to more mistakes.

                                But yet, this is the default theme (gtk4) next to a custom one (Mojave-dark). Pointer (mouse precision) is increasing, why on earth would I need such a bloated UX.


                                1. 1

                                  I just remembered another platform that was suffering from the “distributions overriding the default theme” problem.

                                  Android. It wad Android.

                                  Before 4.x which mandated an unmodified Holo theme, phone vendors (in their “distributions”) customizing the default theme was a hilarious trainwreck.

                                  1. 1

                                    One of the main reasons I moved to Pop!_OS is so that I didn’t have to spend time modifying GNOME when setting up a new machine (also to avoid snap packages, which also make it hard to modify GNOME because the Firefox extension doesn’t work from a snap package).

                                    I like that distos can curate and improve synergy between extensions. Also the fact that so many distros do modify default GNOME might show that GNOME has sub-optimal defaults for most users.

                                    1. 2

                                      Also the fact that so many distros do modify default GNOME might show that GNOME has sub-optimal defaults for most users.

                                      …or that distros are hell bent on “branding”. I mean, it’s not like none of them went out of their way to fight for more control of the desktop even at the expense of users (cough Unity cough Mir cough). It’s not like they introduced what they thought best, dumped them on upstream (if they did even that) and then refused to cooperate, because they were hell bent on being right. None of them suffer from NIH syndrome, either, nah.