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View Full Version : Why do all Gnome 3/shell distros look the same?



BigSilly
October 17th, 2011, 05:08 PM
I'm a massive fan of Gnome 3/shell. I used it for 6 months on openSUSE, when I switched away from Ubuntu during Natty's launch, and it was just brilliant. I took to it very quickly, it seemed to make sense and was attractive. There was no distro-tailoring that said "this is openSUSE", but it didn't matter as it was released after their Gnome 2 version had already shipped and was only obtainable via a 1-click installer and not part of the main 11.4 release. Nevertheless, it worked extremely well and looked/looks fantastic. But I expected to see, as more distros adopted Gnome 3, some branding and tailoring to make each individual distro stand out, just as they had with Gnome 2.

But now I look at the next releases using Gnome 3.2, and they all look the same. There's nothing, at least visually, between the G3 offerings from openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch etc. They all look the same. Now obviously under the hood they'll have their differences, but I am very surprised that they haven't added their branding and identities to their Gnome 3 releases.

Is there a technical reason for this? It seems very odd if a distro cannot add their own unique ID's to their releases. On that score at the very least I can understand why Ubuntu decided to go it alone with Unity. At least when you see it, it says uniquely "this is Ubuntu".

I'm not ragging on Gnome 3/shell, as I love it, just as I do Unity. It works well and is very pretty by default to be fair. But it does strike me as odd that while people are having a go at Ubuntu for offering their vision of the desktop that the user cannot customise, no-one is saying "but hang on, Gnome 3 is inflexible too".

What gives?

sanderd17
October 17th, 2011, 05:15 PM
Well, gnome shell is very tweak-able. You can have custom CSS themes and JavaScript extensions. So in any case, for an OS maker it should be easy to provide their branding (except for Arch, who always uses the vanilla package and nothing else, but even now, I use a theme with an Arch logo on the activities button).

There is an extension to move the activities bar to the bottom, an extension to get the old gnome menus back etc.

I wonder why no OS maker uses those things.

BigSilly
October 17th, 2011, 05:19 PM
Well, gnome shell is very tweak-able. You can have custom CSS themes and JavaScript extensions. So in any case, for an OS maker it should be easy to provide their branding (except for Arch, who always uses the vanilla package and nothing else, but even now, I use a theme with an Arch logo on the activities button).

There is an extension to move the activities bar to the bottom, an extension to get the old gnome menus back etc.

I wonder why no OS maker uses those things.

So there is no technical reason that stops them? Then I'm really confused as to why they haven't done it! Surely it makes sense to differentiate just a little visually.

kaldor
October 17th, 2011, 05:30 PM
I wonder this too. Even Fedora uses the GNOME icon theme by default instead of their own which is preinstalled still.

grahammechanical
October 17th, 2011, 07:05 PM
Not knowing what you are talking about I did a search and found this:


GNOME 3.2 in openSUSE looks identical to what you'll find in the recent Fedora 16 beta release. Unlike previous versions of GNOME, where the menu layouts and desktop environment could be tweaked to create considerable variation, there is – thus far – little that downstream distros can do to customize the look of GNOME 3. A few outside GNOME Shell themes do exist, but they primarily consist of changing the menu colors.

And I found it here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/17/opensuse_12_point_1_review/

There is also this comment:


Out of the box, there's now little visible difference between openSUSE 12.1, Fedora 16 or even Ubuntu 11.10 if you swap out Unity for GNOME 3.

I wonder if these other distros will get the hate mail that Unity has received?

Regards.

sanderd17
October 17th, 2011, 07:15 PM
GNOME 3.2 in openSUSE looks identical to what you'll find in the recent Fedora 16 beta release. Unlike previous versions of GNOME, where the menu layouts and desktop environment could be tweaked to create considerable variation, there is – thus far – little that downstream distros can do to customize the look of GNOME 3. A few outside GNOME Shell themes do exist, but they primarily consist of changing the menu colors.


I don't get it. They can still change the GTK and mutter theme like before. There are no changes on that point. And for the shell interface, they can change everything too. Look at the extensions like the places menu (http://joesteiger.com/2011/07/26/install-places-menu-gnome-shell-extension-gnome-3-ubuntu-11-04/) or like the bottom panel extension (http://www.webupd8.org/2011/06/bottom-panel-gnome2-like-panel-gnome.html). Themes only change colors and maybe things like rounded corners, but extensions can change everything.

I don't know if they are still maintained (and work with Gnome 3.2), but it should be simple for a distribution to keep it maintained. They maintained other tweaks to Gnome 2 too.

KiwiNZ
October 17th, 2011, 07:19 PM
Change how a Distro looks? that will work and be accepted;):rolleyes:

ratcheer
October 17th, 2011, 07:23 PM
Phoronix is currently running a Gnome survey:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTAwMjI

Tim

BigSilly
October 17th, 2011, 08:41 PM
Phoronix is currently running a Gnome survey:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTAwMjI

Tim

Thanks very much for that. I've filled it in and voiced a couple of issues, but to be fair I really like Gnome 3 so I had little cause for complaint about it, just a couple of suggestions.

I'm still a bit unsure about why the distros aren't adding their logos and whatnot to their Gnome 3 releases, but hopefully that will change.

el_koraco
October 17th, 2011, 08:57 PM
Because logos look horrible on the Gnome Shell bar. Debian has the fugly spaceship wallpaper to go with Shell since yesterday, when it hit the Sid repos.

t1497f35
October 17th, 2011, 09:07 PM
Ubuntu doesn't care much for Gnome 3 since _Unity_ is the default and for a reason. Like it or not but Ubuntu has no plans to invest a lot into something that Mark Shuttleworth himself decided to ditch in favor of Unity (don't confuse gnome 3 with gtk 3).

screaminj3sus
October 17th, 2011, 09:37 PM
I'm a massive fan of Gnome 3/shell. I used it for 6 months on openSUSE, when I switched away from Ubuntu during Natty's launch, and it was just brilliant. I took to it very quickly, it seemed to make sense and was attractive. There was no distro-tailoring that said "this is openSUSE", but it didn't matter as it was released after their Gnome 2 version had already shipped and was only obtainable via a 1-click installer and not part of the main 11.4 release. Nevertheless, it worked extremely well and looked/looks fantastic. But I expected to see, as more distros adopted Gnome 3, some branding and tailoring to make each individual distro stand out, just as they had with Gnome 2.

But now I look at the next releases using Gnome 3.2, and they all look the same. There's nothing, at least visually, between the G3 offerings from openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch etc. They all look the same. Now obviously under the hood they'll have their differences, but I am very surprised that they haven't added their branding and identities to their Gnome 3 releases.

Is there a technical reason for this? It seems very odd if a distro cannot add their own unique ID's to their releases. On that score at the very least I can understand why Ubuntu decided to go it alone with Unity. At least when you see it, it says uniquely "this is Ubuntu".

I'm not ragging on Gnome 3/shell, as I love it, just as I do Unity. It works well and is very pretty by default to be fair. But it does strike me as odd that while people are having a go at Ubuntu for offering their vision of the desktop that the user cannot customise, no-one is saying "but hang on, Gnome 3 is inflexible too".

What gives?

There's no real technical reasons for it. Gnome-shell is new and distros haven't really started putting personal touches on it yet. I think since its so new distros are concentrating on getting gnome 3 ready and stable for the first round of gnome 3 distros. There's a lot of big changes under the hood.

Gnome-shell is actually pretty customizable, there's plenty of really nice shell themes, extensions and gtk3/2 themes. The shell can be extended and themed using javascript and css.

boydrice
October 18th, 2011, 12:22 AM
GNOME Devs don't really want distros or users for that matter tweaking the desktop. GNOME Devs wish to have the GNOME desktop remain identifiable, retain its brand if you will. http://text.derstandard.at/1313024283546/Interview-GNOME-Designer-Jon-McCann-about-the-future-of-GNOME3

Fedora 15 shipped GNOME 3 vanilla with upstream artwork as a tip of the cap to GNOME Devs although I Fedora will use its own artwork for Fedora 16.

wolfen69
October 18th, 2011, 01:12 AM
I'm still a bit unsure about why the distros aren't adding their logos and whatnot to their Gnome 3 releases, but hopefully that will change.

Why is a logo important to you?

8_Bit
October 18th, 2011, 05:09 AM
GNOME Devs wish to have the GNOME desktop remain identifiable, retain its brand if you will. [/URL]
One has to wonder if this has anything to do with the GNOME OS they murmured about in the past.

boydrice
October 18th, 2011, 05:26 AM
One has to wonder if this has anything to do with the GNOME OS they murmured about in the past.

It does. If you follow the mailing lists and interviews the GNOME OS concept is still actively discussed. Keep in mind that in no way do I believe GNOME OS is somehow nefarious, in some ways it is a similar concept to what Canonical is doing with Ubuntu and Unity.

Alwimo
October 18th, 2011, 05:57 AM
Installing gnome-shell in the current OpenSuSE has a spiffy green and black theme. But Gnome Shell is young in terms of being released as a default shell. And the change to 3.2 broke some themes. But diversity will come with time.

I use Mint X (I think that's its name) for the shell theme with Zukitwo and a light blue wallpaper. Very pretty.

Grenage
October 18th, 2011, 09:41 AM
I kind of like the fact that they are currently rather similar, but variation can't hurt. I moved over to Fedora 15, and am finding GS to be very intuitive.

mcduck
October 18th, 2011, 09:59 AM
GNOME Devs don't really want distros or users for that matter tweaking the desktop. GNOME Devs wish to have the GNOME desktop remain identifiable, retain its brand if you will. http://text.derstandard.at/1313024283546/Interview-GNOME-Designer-Jon-McCann-about-the-future-of-GNOME3

Fedora 15 shipped GNOME 3 vanilla with upstream artwork as a tip of the cap to GNOME Devs although I Fedora will use its own artwork for Fedora 16.

I wonder if you actually read through the article you posted. :D

At quite many points McCann specifically states how useful stuff like extensions are, and that while having a standard look for the desktop does have many benefits, customization is something they'll never want to prevent.

sanderd17
October 18th, 2011, 10:08 AM
I wonder if you actually read through the article you posted. :D

At quite many points McCann specifically states how useful stuff like extensions are, and that while having a standard look for the desktop does have many benefits, customization is something they'll never want to prevent.

Yep, it has a reason that there are "official" Gnome Shell extensions (extensions made by the Gnome team). The biggest part of the hacks on Gnome2 came from other teams like compiz. Gnome didn't want this ugly hacks anymore, so they made an extendible DE by default. And they give examples on what you can do.

Mad-Halfling
October 18th, 2011, 02:26 PM
I actually quite like the fact that they leave the desktop roughly at it's default. There's the other way of looking at the role of a distro is to sit underneath the window manager, set up the default applications within it and to provide package management, optimisation, different facilities, etc, but the less it interferes with whatever window manager the user installs, the better. My concern, if the distro interferes with the window manager too much, is that this may introduce problems with software being installed - if it requires or conflicts with the tweaks that can influence problems on other distros/that distro, respectively.

That's just my way of looking at it, it's really one of those personal taste things and there are pros and cons of both sides.

boydrice
October 18th, 2011, 03:44 PM
I wonder if you actually read through the article you posted. :D

At quite many points McCann specifically states how useful stuff like extensions are, and that while having a standard look for the desktop does have many benefits, customization is something they'll never want to prevent.

I wonder if you actually read my comment or the article. :D

The question posed in this thread is why do all the GNOME 3/shell distros look the same and the answer is that GNOME Devs prefer a uniform look and the Fedora team does not deviate from upstream. Someone will ship a modified GNOME Shell at some point (I saw pics of PCLinuxOS GNOME Shell and it will look different) the point I was trying to make is that is not the wish of the GNOME Devs.

mcduck
October 18th, 2011, 04:16 PM
I wonder if you actually read my comment or the article. :D

The question posed in this thread is why do all the GNOME 3/shell distros look the same and the answer is that GNOME Devs prefer a uniform look and the Fedora team does not deviate from upstream. Someone will ship a modified GNOME Shell at some point (I saw pics of PCLinuxOS GNOME Shell and it will look different) the point I was trying to make is that is not the wish of the GNOME Devs.

Sorry if you didn't actually intend it as a rant about how Gnome devs are ruining all the fun for all the people. That kind of stuff seems to be around a lot at the moment so perhaps I misunderstood your meaning.

Anyway, distros clearly are free to do any customizations they want, and Gnome dev's are not against that (even if they might hope that distros would maintain somewhat unifrom UI), so if all the distros decide to ship with the default look that's their own choice. I mean' it's not like they had confined themselves to what Gnome dev's want before, and there sure isn't anything restricting them from making their own design choices now either.

Copper Bezel
October 18th, 2011, 04:51 PM
To me, it seems like the extension base is precisely for the purpose of distributor modifications to allow each distro to have a "vendor-customized" look and feel. However, Fedora and Arch aren't going to deviate from the upstream look and feel, Ubuntu doesn't use Mutter at all, and SUSE favors KDE, so who does that leave?

Ubuntu would have tweaked the hell out of Shell if they'd used it at all, and Mint plans to, apparently, but that's a work in progress.


Ubuntu doesn't care much for Gnome 3 since _Unity_ is the default and for a reason. Like it or not but Ubuntu has no plans to invest a lot into something that Mark Shuttleworth himself decided to ditch in favor of Unity (don't confuse gnome 3 with gtk 3).
Actually, you're confused, but let me fix that. = ) Unity is a Gnome 3 distro. The only change is the window manager, which provides a different shell than Mutter does. GTK3 is the toolkit used by Gnome 3, but it's a tiny part of the desktop environment, and Ubuntu uses the whole stack (except for the window manager.)

BigSilly
October 18th, 2011, 05:13 PM
Why is a logo important to you?

It's not that the logos or branding are important to me. It wa simply that I was looking at screenshots of the new openSUSE and Fedora releases, and it occurred to me then that a new user would not see or necessarily know the differences between them. When Gnome 2 was around, though there were similarities, there was often lots of differences that you could spot in a shot that would give away which distro you were looking at. Things like the SLED menu and whatnot.

I'm not being disrespectful or anything about Gnome 3/shell, as I think it is fantastic, I really do. I suppose I'm just keen to see the major distributions add their tweaks and flavourings to it, but that will no doubt come in time if what you guys are saying is right.

Also, on Ubuntu, the way I see it is Ubuntu is (still) very much a Gnome 3 distro, but they've just created their own shell rather than use the Gnome 3 shell.

ArtF10
October 18th, 2011, 06:42 PM
To me, it seems like the extension base is precisely for the purpose of distributor modifications to allow each distro to have a "vendor-customized" look and feel. However, Fedora and Arch aren't going to deviate from the upstream look and feel, Ubuntu doesn't use Mutter at all, and SUSE favors KDE, so who does that leave?

Mint and PinGuy OS. That's it!

I must say, I thought that Gnome3 was going to be far more popular thna it seems to be. It has more (and, based on your taste, better) eye candy than Unity.

The masses don't seem to have latched on to it though, for some reason.

BigSilly
October 18th, 2011, 06:54 PM
Mint and PinGuy OS. That's it!

I must say, I thought that Gnome3 was going to be far more popular thna it seems to be. It has more (and, based on your taste, better) eye candy than Unity.

The masses don't seem to have latched on to it though, for some reason.

It's early days yet. ;)

Copper Bezel
October 18th, 2011, 07:41 PM
Mint and PinGuy OS. That's it!
Very funny. I meant out of distros that matter. (I don't know how I left out Debian, but they might make some kind of adjustments.)

screaminj3sus
October 18th, 2011, 07:47 PM
To me, it seems like the extension base is precisely for the purpose of distributor modifications to allow each distro to have a "vendor-customized" look and feel. However, Fedora and Arch aren't going to deviate from the upstream look and feel, Ubuntu doesn't use Mutter at all, and SUSE favors KDE, so who does that leave?

Ubuntu would have tweaked the hell out of Shell if they'd used it at all, and Mint plans to, apparently, but that's a work in progress.


Actually, you're confused, but let me fix that. = ) Unity is a Gnome 3 distro. The only change is the window manager, which provides a different shell than Mutter does. GTK3 is the toolkit used by Gnome 3, but it's a tiny part of the desktop environment, and Ubuntu uses the whole stack (except for the window manager.)

Even fedora has always at least had a custom theme and artwork for their gnome 2 desktop, suse even though they favor kde has always had one of the most customized default gnome desktops, and suse 12.1 will bring gnome 3.2... We will eventually see more variance, its just because gnome 3 is still young.

There's plenty of other distros out there too, mint will have a gnome 3.2 version too.

wolfen69
October 18th, 2011, 10:08 PM
It's early days yet. ;)

Exactly. Look how far kde4 has come since the first days. Now people love it, and will be crying once again when kde5 comes out. It never ends.

You would think by now that computer users would understand that the only constant in computing is change. I personally embrace it and roll with the changes. I'm just glad developers aren't stick in the mud types.

Why didn't we just stick with the Model T car? It worked and got us from point A to point B, didn't it? Why change the way cars were made? Gawd I'm frustrated with people's attitudes.

mips
October 19th, 2011, 03:25 PM
Exactly. Look how far kde4 has come since the first days. Now people love it, and will be crying once again when kde5 comes out. It never ends.


Initial KDE4 releases were buggy and without features. Thing is they never really changed the 'normal' desktop concept like Unity did. Unity is like hobbling a horse.

Smilax
October 19th, 2011, 04:13 PM
Why didn't we just stick with the Model T car? It worked and got us from point A to point B, didn't it? Why change the way cars were made? Gawd I'm frustrated with people's attitudes.


well, we did, didn't we,

4 wheels, check

steering wheel, check,

fossil fuel engine, check,

2 seats at the front, long one at back, check




now if you give the car legs and a steering twig and 1 siting ball and said, hey , at least we're not stuck in the mud,

i think gnome 3.shell is fine,

if u use a computer for looking up facebook and listening to beyonce,

try doing some work on it, and you soon see the problems. and there are many.

Copper Bezel
October 19th, 2011, 06:19 PM
Please stay on topic and don't turn this into yet another Gnome Shell thread, or even further off topic, a Unity thread. This is a thread about the question of why the current Gnome 3 distros (other than Ubuntu) haven't yet differentiated themselves from the standard look. It's nothing to do with Gnome 3 itself (particularly since, as has been noted, the interface is quite extensible.)

mips
October 19th, 2011, 06:53 PM
This is a thread about the question of why the current Gnome 3 distros (other than Ubuntu) haven't yet differentiated themselves from the standard look. It's nothing to do with Gnome 3 itself (particularly since, as has been noted, the interface is quite extensible.)

Probably because it's all still new and not many themes are out in the wild.

kaldor
October 19th, 2011, 07:07 PM
try doing some work on it, and you soon see the problems. and there are many.

Been doing so for the last 4 months. The Activities overview feature is the best thing to happen to my work flow since I switched from Windows to Ubuntu back on GNOME 2.20.

Edit for the actual topic:

I do hope that Shell distros diversify. Apart from a default wallpaper there's no way to tell the distros apart. An OS should build their own ideas on top of the DE the way so many GNOME 2.x distros did.

Smilax
October 19th, 2011, 09:09 PM
Been doing so for the last 4 months. The Activities overview feature is the best thing to happen to my work flow since I switched from Windows to Ubuntu back on GNOME 2.20.

Edit for the actual topic:

I do hope that Shell distros diversify. Apart from a default wallpaper there's no way to tell the distros apart. An OS should build their own ideas on top of the DE the way so many GNOME 2.x distros did.


don't know what kind of work u do,

but for me, it gets in the way at every point,

it's just not set up for having 30 or 40 different things (with 5 or 6 different program) open at the same time all coming together to make my activity.

it just wants to treat one program as my activity,

no good.

sanderd17
October 31st, 2011, 03:07 PM
Look here: http://www.webupd8.org/2011/10/pinguy-os-1110-gnome-shell-edition.html

A customised Gnome-Shell OS in development.

BigSilly
October 31st, 2011, 06:16 PM
Look here: http://www.webupd8.org/2011/10/pinguy-os-1110-gnome-shell-edition.html

A customised Gnome-Shell OS in development.

It begins! Thanks for the link.

I like that. Very nice. Not sure why it needs another dock bar at the bottom as well as the one on the left, but I'm sure it will work well as the developer intends it.

It's clearly an attempt to add some Gnome 2 functionality back and as such will suit those people well I imagine. I'm glad to see distros starting to theme it though, and look forward to seeing Linux Mint's version before too long.

Copper Bezel
October 31st, 2011, 09:56 PM
The dock on the left is just a list of location shortcuts. Odd choice, certainly. But it is neat to see someone doing something with it. I'm using that global menu extension myself, and it's not at all terrible.

Alwimo
November 2nd, 2011, 11:37 PM
That version of Pinguy looks like it will be great. I'd uninstall the docks and cardapio, though. And move the clock to the middle of the top panel.