Back in 2005 when I first start to use Linux as my primary desktop, I ran Gnome 2 on my Ubuntu 5.04, as it was included as default. When Compiz then came along I was very excited by its cool 3D effects and spent hours on getting it to run and behave as I liked.
Then later on I was curious to try something else. I glanced a bit at KDE, but found it to be (and still does) too cluttred and glossy.
I then ran FluxBox and OpenBox for a while and was pleased by its simplicity, but missed the 3D effects provided by Compiz.
Then I turned to Xfce as it was more lightweigth than Gnome 2, but was compatible with Compiz. Since then I have been running Xfce/Compiz for some time now.
However, when I read about the all new and shiny Gnome 3 I saw that it has start to combine the elements I like both from Xfce and Compiz.
So after running Gnome 3 for a couple of days this is what I think:
- The structure of the new Gnome Shell is very nice and simplistic. The overview and desktop search functionality gives you easy access to all your programs and windows
- The clock and build in integration with the calendar in the status bar is awesome and gives you a good overview of the current schedule
- The vertical tiling functionality of windows (á la Window 7) is also something I been missing in Linux. Nice!
- The GUI feels overall very responsive and stable
- Settings dialogs! Hey, I love my terminal, but sometimes you just want a rich settings interface with nice buttons and sliders instead of hacking a bunch of text files that you have to find first. This is certainly the biggest flaw of Gnome 3. The so called Gnome Control Center contains far too few settings to please a power user like me. This comes like a bit of a surprise as Gnome 2 had a very rich settings manager. Well, I hope new settings will be added continuously to give the user more control (and we all love control, don't we?)
- Poor selection of extensions. This does of course also have to to with the maturity of Gnome 3 and I am sure that more will come along
- Coming from "the desktop cube" world of Compiz and not being able to use horizontal vertical desktops creates a bit of annoyance
Overall, Gnome 3 has a high potential and I will continue to use it and is hoping for new exciting features and improvements soon. But for now Gnome 3 is a bit as Chrome was in the beginning stable but lacking of extensions and configuration.