Simple review of GNOME
Posted by Steve on Tue 28 Sep 2004 at 18:23
I've never used the GNOME desktop environment before, although I've certainly heard a lot about it over the past couple of years (along with it's competitor KDE).
When testing out my new sid installation on a laptop (Dell Inspiron 8100) I decided to install it to see how well it behaved.
Moving from using a cut down environment mostly consisting of the IceWM window manager I was expecting some sluggish behemoth which would reduce my machine to a crawl.
Happily I was wrong.
Running apt-get install gnome was painless - although it did take around 40 minutes to download all the packages and install them.
Once I logged in for the first time I saw a brief flicker of my old wallpaper before the screen went blue and I saw a progress bar showing the desktop loading.
The progress bar, or splash screen, showed the environment starting up until finally it was done. (This takes around 15 seconds on my machine).
Once the environment was loaded fully I was left with a suprisingly clean desktop in a default state.
When GNOME is launched for the first time you will find a task bar across the bottom of the screen which shows all the windows open upon your screen. You also have a panel along the top of the screen. This contains a couple of menus for lauching actions and applications.
The screen itself has a few icons on it, for accessing your home directory, the waste paper basket, and a couple of other links.
Mostly I was able to navigate my way around very easily, there were just a couple of small wrinkles.
I was used to 'Ctrl + Esc' bringing up the start menu under the IceWM. This wasn't supported under GNOME and I had to add it using the keyboard binding applet.
Moving between open windows worked just fine with 'Alt + Tab', and there was a nice touch in doing this. The windows that are being cycled through show an outline upon the screen.
When it comes to new window placement things are less good. New consoles and other windows just appear to stack starting at the top left of the desktop.
One nice touch for the laptop was that the "logout" action brings up a dialog box allowing you to turn off the computer. This doesn't require a root password either.