GNOME Reviews

Gnome looks plain and difficult, but it's actually friendly and attractive after a few minutes of adjusting

Positive Review by JohnFastman
about GNOME and California, Xfce, KDE Apr 2017

The Gnome desktop environment is one of many available for Linux. Opinions about it vary as widely as in any typical debate about something that, ultimately, comes down to a matter of taste and personal preference.

When Gnome 3 first came out, it divided opinion because it moved dramatically away from the established ways in which desktop environments behaved. (Gnome 2 lives on in the form of Mate, which now feels a little dated.)

Critics of Gnome usually say it's less intuitive or customizable than, say, KDE's Plasma, XFCE or Cinnamon desktops. However, intuition is relative. I believe that users more used to Mac will find Gnome easier to adjust to than Windows veterans.

Moreover, although it's perhaps true that Gnome comes with a rather plain look, slightly fewer features and fewer easily-accessed customizations out-of-the box (for most Linux distros, at least), don't be fooled: Install the Gnome Tweak Tool (if it's not installed already) and use it to access hundreds of Gnome extensions and themes that will turn your Gnome into a very usable and attractive looking setup. It might just take that extra 20-30 minutes of effort before you see Gnome rise to its full potential.

Moreover, Gnome has some lovely little touches: dialogue boxes appear with a very subtle animation, highlights expand in a lovely radial effect; they've put the effort in to make it look nice, and that's actually important to make Linux a viable competitor with the likes of Apple. After using OSX and Windows for years and years, I have to say that my present Gnome setup is the most attractive desktop to look at and click around that I've ever had. From that angle, it beats KDE's Plasma (v5.9 is harder to theme) and XFCE (easy to theme but looks more dated).

In its current iteration, Gnome 3.22 (although 3.24 is very soon out), there's a lot to like. A lot of excellent features are included/available in a way that strikes a good balance between functionality and user-friendliness. Yes, if you're coming from another desktop environment, you might need to re-learn where a couple of things are, or it might take a while to realise that Nautilus (the file manager) supports tabs. (Install Nemo if you prefer that.) But overall, Gnome is a very friendly, usable and attractive place to be after a little theming and customization. Just search online for images of Gnome desktop themes and you'll see what's possible.

Despite trying for 7 years, in April 2017 the most popular and, arguably, most beginner-friendly Linux distro, Ubuntu, has ditched its attempt to make its own desktop environment (Unity) and announced a return to Gnome as the default. That speaks volumes about what Gnome can do for the common Linux user and how hard it is to beat.


Some hints to speed things up for beginners:

Install the Gnome Tweak Tool (e.g. from your distro's repository) and try the following:

Extensions:

Applications menu
Axe menu
Clipboard indicator
Dash to dock (a must)
Places status indicator
Recent items
Removable drive menu
Status menu buttons
Trash
User Themes (a must)
Workspaces to dock
System monitor
Open weather
... and don't be scared to fiddle with the options for each. There's a lot to choose from!

Look and feel:

Icon themes: Numix circle, Sardi (and its variants) and Paper
GTK themes: Vimix, Numix, Arc (and their variants)

Gnome specific apps to try:

gnome-calendar, a.k.a. California (it's otherwise difficult to find an open source, attractive calendar)
gnome-todo (a simple todo list)
gnome-maps (a Google maps alternative made from OpenStreetMaps)
gparted (a partition manager)
guake (a dropdown terminal activated by a shortcut key)

Make Qt applications look nicer:

Some desktops, like Gnome, are written using something called GTK. Others, like KDE's plasma, in a thing called Qt. You can run applications from one on the other, but you might find it hard to figure out how to make them look like they belong; by default they won't look like they are using the desktop theme.

In Gnome, you can adjust how Qt apps (e.g. KeePassXC - an excellent password manager) look by installing and going into the Qt5 Configuration Tool and setting the 'Style' option to GTK2.

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No so works 1 Helpful

Negative Review by coth
about GNOME Aug 2016

May be it works, but not on desktops. Its Menu is entirely touch oriented and incompatible to desktop. Requires too much mouse movements and clicks to open and then way too giant, hard to use on desktop screens.

Unity didn't went much further, but at least it's not that pain. Xfce on a other hand is a great alternative in GTK-based shells. MATE looks nice in Mint version, but has no high DPI support and will stay on ancient GTK2. Cinnamon might offer a bit more functionality, but looks laggy and buggy.

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Gnome

Positive Review by hexluther
about GNOME Jun 2015

Gnome is great cuz its simple and it works. I reccomend gnome

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