GNOME shell – a brief hands-on

This post deals with an older version of GNOME shell because, well, the most recent one didn’t compile. It kept telling me that my automake and sth else were outdated (in fact they are NOT).

I got a working version out of the Mandriva repository. It’s kinda outdated, though.

At first sight, I like the shell. It’s fast (though GNOME 2 loads app menus faster), quite stable and usable, and has cool visual effects. .


I guess that’s not very important (as it’s an early version of the shell) but anyway.

  • I hate reading white text on black. But I know that the shell is going to be themable (at least recolourable!).
  • The animations are quite smooth and inobrtusive (though I miss Compiz’s wobbly windows). I hope there’ll be a way to customise animations somehow, I mean turn particular ones on and off (like in Compiz).
  • The app menu (when you click on More in the app well or whatever you call it) is slightly transparent. It’s very nice.
  • The larger icons in the app menu are GREAT.
  • What I didn’t like is the “info” button next to every app in the menu. The app descriptions aren’t worth opening such a huge window.
  • The side panel is UGLY so far.


  • At first I was scared about what happens to an app when it is minimised. In fact, there’s nothing scary: minimised windows are re-maximised by choosing them in Alt+Tab.
  • I really liked the Alt+Tab view with huge icons and window previews.
  • I have a habit of putting my mouse pointer into the top left corner when I don’t need it (like reading text). And then I have the Activities view pop up. I wonder if it will be possible to change the hot corner (and move the Activities button around the panel).
  • I miss panel applets!!! on my GNOME 2 desktop, both panels are full of all sorts of applets and launchers. I find them very comfortable. I mean, can we haz panel applets in GNOME 3?
  • And can we haz the possibility to add more panels if we want to?
  • Does the Activities panel have to be on the left side? Will we be able to change its location in the final version of the shell? Will we be able to have a horizontal Activities (I’d prefer having it open at the top or bottom of the screen)?
  • I don’t understand why there’s the name of the open app on the panel. It occupies space and has no purpose. I mean, I know what app I’ve opened, don’t I?
  • The Recent Documents list is larger but that makes it very messy. I wish the user could add some categories to it depending on how many projects s/he has
  • Can we haz an (optional) window list on the panel? Maybe in a drawer or so? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.
  • I can’t see why this is simpler than GNOME 2 (which is very simple compared to KDE, especially KDE 4). Yes, it’s different and unusual in a nice way. But simpler?


  • The terminal window kept displaying error messages, but there were no experienceable (?) issues.


  • My first impression was somewhat spoiled by my failure to compile it (I’m not a n00b, really!).
  • I liked the shell in general, but I don’t think I’ll use it on an everyday basis so far. GNOME 2 feels comfortable enough.
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One Comment on “GNOME shell – a brief hands-on”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Azalea Wynters. Azalea Wynters said: wrote a long list of #gnomeshell impressions […]

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